When preschoolers attack.

He doesn't look like a boy who is being traumatized by school three times a week, does he?

I really thought we might be able to do the drop-off this morning without tears, and though he was brave, when faced with entrance to the classroom, he lost it.

His behavior was hideous all day yesterday, just wild and whiny and demanding of my attention all day long. And then at 7:00 in the evening, he started fake crying and boo-hoo-ing. Sure enough, he was already bulled up about school. I tried to engage him in a conversation about school. "What is it about school that you don't like?" I asked, gently.

Eventually, he told me that he doesn't like it when they're in the gym or on the playground and there are too many kids and he's afraid one of them is going to attack him. That's what he said. "I'm just afraid a bigger kid is going to attack me." (Accompanied by sniffs). Now. This is ridiculous. But, it could be true. Eliot is a tall but slender, wiry little kid. He's "slight," we'll say. He's not exactly timid, but he is a thinker. He thinks things through before acting. He was (and remains) the only baby I've ever seen who would stack blocks on top of one another to build a tower and then carefully dismantle the tower block by block rather than knocking it down. He does not like chaos, unless it's a carefully controlled chaos of his own making. So I can understand how a gym full of running, yelling, playing 4 yr-olds not only offends his sensibilities, but scares the living shit out of him. I totally get that.

 I assured him that while accidents happen, no one is out to attack him. I reminded him that the other kids were telling him it would be okay and trying to help him to feel better. I reminded him that Miss_____ is there to make sure everyone is safe. We talked about how kids can sometimes be rowdy and that people do sometimes end up getting hurt. I had a tough time determining if this was a legitimate concern of his or just one more made up reason why he hates school, the real reason being separation anxiety.

I told him I would give him something of mine to always carry with him so that when he gets sad, he can look at it, and touch it, and think of how Mommy will be there soon. We looked around my craft room and decided on a "special Mommy bracelet," which is a piece of embroidery floss tied around his wrist. Every school day, he gets to choose a color of Mommy's floss and wear the special Mommy bracelet, and he thought that was a pretty cool idea.

It was an idea that got us all the way out to the car, through the grocery store for a special breakfast donut, and all the way into the very school building. Once in sight of the classroom, however, the special Mommy bracelet was powerless against his sorrow.

I'm looking forward to picking him up this afternoon and hearing how his day went. Maybe the bracelet helped a little? I hope he had a good day. I hope he got to be the line leader, or better yet, the person who feeds the fish! And on Monday, we'll try again.

After all, if this is a kid who requests a pear for a snack when he's hungry,  ("Don't cut it up, Mom, just wash it and give it to me." My kid eats fruit! On purpose! I have photographic evidence!) I'm convinced he can do anything.


I'm too sad to go to school.

My child is desperate not to be left at preschool. Over the summer, he was excited about the prospect of going to school in the fall. We talked about how he would make new friends and learn more about the alphabet and counting, and he was pretty positive about all of that. Once we visited the classroom, he couldn't wait for school to start. Now that the time has come (this is his second week of school), he does not want to go. Well, he DOES want to go, he just wants me to come with him. And stay with him. And if I'm not there, he doesn't want any part of it. I have heard all of the excuses listed below, in addition, I'm sure, to some I'm forgetting:

But what if I have a fever?
I'm too sad to go to school.
How will I ever find you when you come to pick me up?
Does my teacher even know your phone number?
I have a headache.
I can't do it.
I don't like school.
We don't learn anything there.
It's not even a REAL school, like big kids go to. It's not even kindergarten!
I'll just stay home by myself.
I'll just come to work with you.--You can leave me in your office while you teach.
What is my dad doing today?
Can't we just ask someone we like to babysit me?
Three times a week, I carry him into the building and down the hall to his classroom. He refuses to walk into the building. He refuses to stand up. Three times a week, his teacher, Miss____ gets the job of physically peeling him off of my body as he cries hot tears and snot onto my shoulder. This morning he snagged his foot in my knee-length skirt and accidentally flipped it up over my hips, giving the entire 4 yr-old room a nice long peek at the tie-dyed men's underwear I was wearing. (Don't judge! Men's underwear are comfortable, and tie-dying them makes them pretty, too.)

I know that Eliot enjoys at least some part of preschool. When I come to pick him up in the afternoons, he is invariably sitting alone, waiting for me with red-rimmed, watery eyes, BUT there is also proof that he has not cried all day long. After he shakes off the sorrow and injustice of parental abandonment, he smiles and holds my hand and calmly walks out to our car telling me stories about his day. He proudly tells me he was the calendar person, or the lunch person, or the line leader. He made a ladybug with googly eyes (!), or he drew his name in glitter, or he beat the first level of an "I Spy" computer game. He had a corn dog for lunch, and he dipped it in ketchup.

He told me on his second day that he had made friends, "a girl friend, and a boy friend," and that they had tried to make him feel better. Unfortunately, "their ideas didn't work," he reported, shaking his head. So it isn't as if the other kids aren't nice to him, or that he doesn't like his teacher, or even that he doesn't enjoy the classroom. He has no trouble with lunch. He reports that he uses the bathroom on his own just fine, and Miss _____ helps him with zips and snaps if he needs help. The problem seems to be that he is just absolutely determined not to like preschool. Just because. Probably, it is due to the fact that, like all children, his purpose in life is to break his mother's heart into tiny pieces. Repeatedly.

I hope it gets better.

I'm sure it will get better.

It has to get better.


Back (that ass up) to school.

Today was the first day of classes at my lovely little Midwest university. I've been ready for awhile. Sort of. I've been ready for the routine late August brings, the renewed sense of purpose, the eagerness on the faces of new students, and the bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.

Nope. No one gave me a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils. Damn. Where is Tom Hanks when you need him the most?

In any case, both my a.m. classes went rather well--students seemed attentive and ready to get the show on the road. My 2:00 section seemed like they would rather be taking naps than doing anything else. I was a little punchy myself. I DID tell them that every time they plagiarize, a tiny woodland fairy dies. "So turn in original work--if not for my sake, for the fairies'. Do it for the fairies!" I begged them. I kind of wanted to gauge how many of them were listening and see how many would roll their eyes or laugh nervously, or look frightened of my apparent mental issues. We'll see how that goes.

Since I have put on so much weight recently (Food is yummy. Exercise is not fun.), I have no decent work clothes. I've traipsed around town this summer in gaucho pants paired with baggy, unflattering t-shirts or too tight, unflattering tank tops. I've been seen in public like this so many times that I'm not even very ashamed anymore, only about 7% shame, and 93% kiss my grits. Luckily, one of my sweet sisters who has lost weight recently and my mom both combed through their wardrobes for skirts and tops to donate to my cause. (The "Friends Don't Let Rachel Wear Gaucho Pants to Work" cause--we don't have a kickstarter or anything, but we DO accept Paypal.)

So here's a little peek at my back to school outfit:

I only added the Wonder Woman button to my lapel after lunch, because I had a chili cheeseburger and slopped it on my white jacket. Necessity is the mother of fashion choices, right? I think that's what they say. I'm pretty sure that's what they say.

Today was also remarkable because I am now in receipt of my new glasses! Yippee! I bought a pair of vintage frames at Brooklyn Flea late this summer and had my prescription put in them. They are darling, if I must say so myself. And even my mother commented that she is glad I got a different pair, because while she liked the purple frames, she's "over them." For reals. My mom said that. "I'm kind of over the purple frames," she said.

In other news, I also learned today that young people do not use Twitter. But they are very aware of the existence of Twitter, and they DO use Twitter-like hash tags in their Facebook status updates from time to time. But some of them report that they are "kind of over it." #I'mtoooldtobehipanyway


All I need is a time machine...and a quiet place to stitch.

One of the reasons embroidery has become my favorite crafty pastime is because it's all so portable. I can gather my floss collection, needle, scissors, and whatever piece I'm working on, throw it all in a canvas tote bag and carry it around with me. I've stitched in the coffee shop, the library, in my front yard on a blanket (back when it wasn't so deathly freaking hot).

The other reason is that it's so full of possibilities. I can stitch anything I want! Anything! It's like coloring, but with a needle and thread. Here's the first project I've completed without a pattern. Inspired by Robyn, I wanted to stitch a Delorean. (If you haven't listened to Robyn since the '90's, you should check her out again. She's a fellow Gemini--a mere three days older than me! Also, according to her Facebook fan page, she's "the most killingest pop star on the planet." If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.)

Since I can't draw worth a good goddamn, I did a google search for photographs of the car, found one with an angle I liked, saved the picture and used Picnik to transform it to a line drawing, then traced most of it onto some tracing paper and taped it to my fabric.

Then, I simply stitched through the tracing paper. (If you're going to do this, it's better to have a larger sheet of paper and hoop the paper along with the fabric so that it doesn't move around. Tape worked out okay, but was definitely more tedious.)

After I had the basic outline of the Delorean stitched, I ripped the tracing paper away to reveal just the stitches. This process can sometimes suck--you often have to use a pair of tweezers or your needle to remove the bits of tracing paper from beneath the stitches--but I think it's worth it when stitching a complicated pattern, or one with lines too close together to use the iron-on transfer pen effectively.

All the supplies I need fit nicely
on the arm of a comfy chair in the library.

Well, and at my feet. :)
There's nothing better on a too hot day than finding a comfy indoor spot, soaking up some air conditioning, popping in the headphones with some Pandora radio on, and stitching up a Delorean. That's what I always say.

The picture is somewhat dark, but here is the finished hoop:

I might have to work on some LMFAO inspired stitching next. Eliot is a pretty big fan of "Party Rock Anthem."


Either I have adult ADD, or I'm just really lazy and lack focus.

I have a talent for starting projects. Oh, yes I do! I am the self-appointed Queen of Good Intentions when it comes to...well...just about everything. Crafting, writing, blogging, lesson planning, sending thank you cards, walking the dog (Wait...I don't have a dog. Thank God!), Basically, you name it--I've got big ideas for it. And that's all I've got.

Initiative? follow-through? tenacity? Hmmm...what do those words mean? I couldn't possibly tell you. Most of my ideas languish and die without ever escaping the black hole of my good intentionism.

But enough of that. Here's the beginning of a project that I might someday finish, thereby surprising myself and the world at large. It's a Cate Anevski facebroidery pattern. (She's amazing, by the way. Check her stuff out!) I've got five facebroidery patterns, and my plan was/is to stitch each of them up in a single color and frame them in a differently colored hoop.

(Does that even make sense? I'm getting distracted by the woman sitting in a chair across from me here at the library. She's in a very deep sleep, possibly a coma. I'm so in awe of people who can sleep in public spaces. I would never feel comfortable enough to lose control that way. Seriously. I could go over there and draw on her face, and she wouldn't even know.)

So, theoretically when I finish the series, I'll have a rainbow of facebroideries. One stitched in orange, framed in yellow, one stitched in red, framed in orange, etc. 

With this one, I also experimented with using scrapbooking paper to back the hoop, rather than fabric. Because I have a ridiculous amount of patterned scrapbook paper. Ree. Dick. U. Lus.

I still haven't really found the best method of backing my hoops. I've experimented with a couple of different tutorials. These are my favorite two, from Polka and Bloom and Maximum Rabbit Designs, if you're interested. I've been using a sort of variation that lands somewhere between these two. Once I figure out my preferred method, I might just post my own tutorial. (Hahahahaha. Yeah, right! Remember what I said about good intentions?!)

Disclaimer: The fabric on this try looks like crap; I'm usually not that bad at it.

The moral of this story is: in a few weeks, someone needs to ask me, "Hey, Rachel, by the way, did you ever finish those facebroideries you were working on?" and give me all kinds of shit about it, because otherwise, they will not get finished. I'm serious, people. Set an alarm in your cell phone right now that says, "Ask Rachel about her rainbow facebroideries." I need you to keep me in line here. Cause you know where good intentions lead, don't you? I do. I was raised on Randy Travis.

Thanks, y'all are the best. :)