Feet of Clay

Remember that one time when I said I was probably going to lose my marbles this summer? Well, I think it might have happened this last week. Specifically, three nights ago, when I had the shattering epiphany – possibly accompanied by ugly crying – that my slavish devotion to researching the shit out of every country we “visit,” finely honing my bulletin-board decorating skillz, and imposing random art projects on my children (who are not interested) and their friends (who are, bless them), is probably less about giving my kids a fun-filled-yet-highly-educational summer experience and more about showing the world that I really *can* do things with my brain and that I haven’t completely gone to seed in the years since I quit working full-time.

This is a lowering realization on several fronts. First, it means that those moms? The ones I sneer at for being all “craftier than thou?” I AM ONE OF THOSE MOMS. Argh. Second, as a lifelong feminist, I strongly object to the stereotyping of stay-at-home-moms as ninnies whose interests are limited to Kinder, Küche, Kirche. But apparently my own brain engages in precisely such stereotyping and is making me crazy because of it. Stupid brain. And third, FUCK I hate being so goddamn insecure about who I am or what I want to be when I grow up (and when does that happen, exactly?) that I feel like I have something to prove. To somebody. Maybe myself. Probably. Oh, and fourth, or maybe third-and-a-half: I’m an IDIOT, because it’s not like I have a fucking supervisor in this job. So, I mean, for whom am I performing? Who is supposed to be lauding me with praise for doing such an all-around swell job with this summer camp? Which I’m not even doing, given that I spend more time prepping each week than I do, say, interacting with my actual children. Not that it matters, because THIS IS NOT SCHOOL. THERE IS NO FINAL GRADE. I can’t “win” the contest to be, like, best mom or something, a contest that would make me cringe even if it existed, WHICH IT DOESN’T.

So: yay, insight into personal motivations!!! Boo, emotional breakdowns and crazy internal monologues!!! But the real question you’re asking is: What now? Or I’m asking it, at least. One thing’s for sure: this camp thing is going to be dialed down a couple of notches. We actually had a great week on France, links for which will be up shortly, but then we got a little bogged down in India, much like the British in the first half of the 20th century. Unlike the British, we only spent two weeks there, and the girls now kind of know what a sari is … and they can recognize Ganesha when they see him … and they might be able to tell you what the OM symbol means. Also they like yoga, but almost certainly have not retained that it is Indian in origin. Ditto yogurt. This coming week is supposed to be Mexico, and I’m trying to figure out how to do a lite version of that country while simultaneously prepping for the roadtrip we’re making at the end of the week, down to my sister’s house in Knoxville. (Or, as Sylvia pronounces it “Knoxpital.”) Maybe we’ll … eat quesadillas while listening to mariachi music, and then work on the great coloring pages sent to us by a friend doing a similar summer camp? Or we could visit one of the many mexican groceries in town. I dunno. Or we might just have “prep for epic roadtrip” week, and see if I can break my decade long streak of not packing until the night before we leave.

Speaking of epic roadtrips, I’m not even going to MENTION the children’s audio books I’ve gotten from the library for the trip. Or the totes cute three-ring binders I’ve spent hours making for each girl, filled with games and stories and activities to entertain them in the car. Or the roadtrip bingo cards I found online, printed out, and laminated. Or the car-organizational ideas I found on Pinterest.

It’s an illness, y’all. That, or I really need to get the hell back on the career path. Once I figure out just what career I’m pathing, that is. In the meantime, if you see me obsessively checking Pinterest or hoarding toilet paper rolls for future art installations, please feel free to tell me to Calm The Fuck Down. I probably won’t listen, but it might make me giggle.

6 responses to “Feet of Clay

  1. Okay, here is my take on that research-the-shit-out-of-stuff-your-kids-don’t-actually-want-to-do thing.

    1. You are showing them that learning isn’t just something kids do and that teaching takes work–something they wouldn’t get from the standard school-year-w/teacher-who-you-never-see-outside-the-classroom-&-summers “off” thing.

    2. Duh, you know this: teaching takes prep time. Especially when it’s a new prep.

    3. Also duh: the fact of the matter is that full-time parenting has looong stretches of goddamn boredom in it. You can fill that time with crafts, or with cleaning, or with reading books, or with fiddling on the internet, or with doing stuff for kids–running them places, shouting at them to do homework, or creating cool projects and learning opportunities. Or you could stare at the wall. But sadly, kids *do* need adults available to them pretty much on demand, which is why you can’t just leave them alone and go to work–so one has to do *something*.

    4. Which gets back to #1: you are showing them that one way to entertain yourself is to freaking learn shit, as opposed to sitting around watching tv or obsessively dusting. I mean, come on: you could be doing *much* worse.

    5. Yes, the gap between what kids your girls’ ages get from a project and what a bright adult like yourself gets from the same project is going to be HUGE. This is why you and I did not prepare for a career teaching very young children. That said, it’s a good thing for very young children to have teachers who do actually know way, way more than they do about the stuff they, the kids, are interested in/learning; a sense of depth is important, I think.

    6. In other words, Calm The Fuck Down about your over prepping ;-).

    • It’s like you know something about this topic … 🙂

      One of my other teacher friends had the same reaction: of course you’re over-prepping, that’s what teachers DO. But I hadn’t thought about the possible benefits for the kids of seeing prep-in-action. And you’re right: I most certainly, and intentionally, did NOT prepare for a career teaching very young children. This is one of the reasons I feel like it must be getting close to time to get back into the workforce at some level: I need an older audience!

  2. I second every word that Tedra said above. Also, might I suggest margaritas for your Mexican-themed week? I would be more than willing to serve as a stand-in for your under-aged children if need be.

  3. Hilde Lindemann

    As youzual, Tedra has hit the little brass picture-hanging nail right on the head. Calm the fuck down and show your clever, kind girls what a margarita looks like! Cannot wait to see you in Knoxpital.

  4. You need lotsa margaritas, yo, like Shannon and Hilde say. You could incorporate camp Nelly Bly into this by teaching your girls how to make margaritas and serve them to you on a tray. Then you could be THAT kind of mom. Sorry I don’t still own one of my Mexican Village hostess dresses to give you for this epic event.