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4 kittens

No sense in being house-poor.

Posted on 2016.08.28 at 22:09
We called a real estate agent that we know, and took a walk-through of that big stone house that I posted last time. Mostly to satisfy my curiousity. We will never, ever move there in a hundred years, because of this: the lower roof comes about 2 feet off the ground, and from the lower roof, it is easy to climb up on the two story roof, and the whole roof looked like a playground of death.

I didn't like the kitchen, because it was completely interior to the house. There'd be no way to add a window. We'd all have bigger bedrooms, and more of them, but the communal living area wouldn't feel much that much bigger. I loved all the quirks - the original light fixtures, the oddball rooms and doors to nowhere, the cedar closet. The old stone, the eccentric windows, the curved architecture. But this is all pretend and moot, because we really could not afford it. There's no sense in being house-poor.

Afterwards, I fell back in love with our current house. It's just right! It's also quirky, and we've made all the decisions exactly to our liking. So what if we have tiny bedrooms. It's cozy and lovely.  Afterwards, Jammies began to feel the creep of uncertainty about our current house, and began to feel lust for this other, equally charming house, but so much bigger. So much more closet space.


We have new neighbors on both sides. Both sides have been empty since the flood last October. On one side is a pair of college students, and the other side is a family. We've never had a family this close before! Our kids actually want to go outside and play. It's very exciting.

The family has eight kids, ages 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. All their birthdays are in April. Their names are J/ace, J/oel, J/ordan, J/essica, J/eremiah, H/onesty, L/evi, and H/eavenly.  You have to admire that the parents changed their horse, midstream, in naming those kids. "Fuck it, I don't want to dance with the cowboy that brang me."  The eldest is in Hawaii's class at school. (Hawaii told us several times that they had eight kids and the oldest kid was eight, and we frankly didn't believe her. But she was right.)

The parents are generous to a fault and ply our kids with treats and toys.  I'm a little concerned about their financial stability - I'm pretty sure they're living on fumes. The mother told me that her husband sells firewood, which...nobody uses firewood. We live in a hot infernal oven. (We believe the husband also does some landscaping.) Eight young kids. I asked the mother how unpacking was going, and she said it was easy, because they'd lost all their stuff in the floods in their old town, a few hours away. She keeps saying how glad they are to be here. I told the mother about the floods here, and she nodded and said she knew. Above all, they are disconcertingly upbeat and cheery, as they present in the direst of straits. I hope they really are okay. I think it is a two bedroom house.

They also have a friend who hangs out there a lot, named Nick. One of the college students, on the other side, is also named Nick. The guy across the street is also named Nick. We all agreed that regrettably, E. Messily must now be known as Nick. She pointed out that Fluffy Kitty's real name is actually Nick Jr, and thus we already have a Nick. Nice try,  E. Nickelbacky.

Hawaii has twins in her classroom, named G/eronimo and K/evin. I love these inconsistent parents. (There's actually two sets of twins in her class, but the other is unremarkably named.)


This is the white-flight school outside of SadTown, that I pass on my way to work. This was their first day of school:

All assholes ahoy!  Keep out anyone diff'rent!  (I know in other parts of the country, "no shots" may be a legitimate screen for anti-vaxxers. That is not what they're getting at here.)


So how was Pokey's first week? On Monday after school, he was bouncing with glee - exuberant like I've never seen him be. He literally only uttered the word "booya" for the first few hours, mostly yelling and singing the word. That is a word which generally annoys me, but I love my kid,  and my kid was so happy, and I started to feel fondness for the word.  Great!

Did the good feeling persist? Not really! By the end of the week, he'd gotten two folder marks out of five, which is pretty terrible. (Every six weeks there's a big schoolwide party, and you can only attend if you average 80% or better on folder marks. So he is already in the hole.) When I picked him up from after-care on Friday, he was aimlessly wandering in circles, wailing at the top of his lungs. He was drawing a lot of attention. His paper airplane had gotten stuck on a high windowsill. A different teacher - not the one dealing with the paper airplane - said that earlier he'd let loose with a string of expletives, after hitting Hawaii with a basketball, and gotten super rude and belligerent. They weren't sure how to control him.  (After-care is run by college students. They're not exactly board-certified in fragile five year olds.)

By Friday I was feeling a little panicky. I believe that Pokey knows what behavior is expected of him, and that he is capable of behaving, but that he is not motivated to behave, whatsoever. That it serves him in some way to cause a big scene and escalate the tantrum to heights exceeding anyone's expectations. He gets to dominate the situation, and say 'fuck you' to whoever is trying to control him. My friend who teaches four year olds recommended positive reinforcement, in very tiny intervals.

So we did. On Saturday, we bought a set of legos, the $10/box kind with 100 pieces. If he is well-behaved for one hour, he gets to put one lego in a jar.  Pre-Lego-jar on Saturday morning, Pokey was an angry, rude mess. Post-lego-jar, he was sweet and kind. I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but at least for this one weekend, we had sweet Pokey here. It has been wonderful. He has earned about 12 pieces. (During the week, he'll gets one piece if he doesn't get a folder mark, another piece for after-care, another piece for piano lessons, another piece for the morning and evening at home, and so on. Tiny intervals.)

At a birthday party last night, Hawaii smacked the pinata wide open. I was so proud of her.

My classes began. They're fine! Kids are always so nice at the beginning of the semester. (And in the middle and then end. Really, teaching math is the best, because they are so scared of the material and see me as their lifeline.) Anyway: we now can recycle cans in my building. This is a serious game changer. I've been waiting for this moment.


(Anonymous) at 2016-08-29 15:22 (UTC) (Link)
(Anonymous) at 2016-08-29 15:28 (UTC) (Link)
panisdead at 2016-08-29 18:00 (UTC) (Link)

Good luck with the Legos! I was thinking of him this week.
heebie_geebie at 2016-09-06 02:57 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! The legos were (predictably) not a panacea, but maybe nudged him in the right direction for a few days? I'm sure this is well-trod territory in child development, but it's still hard to figure out how to loosen the knot in your kid's brain.
rebeccastob at 2016-09-02 05:49 (UTC) (Link)

school etc.

I think Kindergarten is rough. The incremental rewards thing is good - I did sticker charts for a while when I was having a super rough time with M - and I sure bought a lot of obnoxious nerf dart gun thingys as rewards. Then I got lazy because sticker charts are a lot of work and the behavior was better anyways. School doesn't start for M&P until the 7th 1st and 2nd grade - and I will have them for the first 3 weeks of school since Eric is going on a business trip to Dublin (maybe he'll get a new wife there - haha - as far as I know he's still married to the other one but that doesn't seem to stop him) Anyways - I had them for the weekend but otherwise over 2 whole kid free weeks! In which I did a lot of laundry, jigsaw puzzles, work and not a lot else. Wow that is a lot of kids all in April - good lord - P and M are June, July but that was only 2!
heebie_geebie at 2016-09-06 02:58 (UTC) (Link)

Re: school etc.

Sticker charts and incremental rewards are really such a pain in the ass. Ugh, we have to break again already and get out the supplies and go through this ritual AGAIN? We've done it 20 times this week already. It's really hard to maintain.
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