Middle School Anxiety Day 1

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Middle School is off to a roaring good start and by roaring I mean the very loud gut-wrenching vocalizations of an angst-ridden tween who is losing her mind. I’m not so sure Bug would appreciate me making fun of her here on my blog but she is always telling me to write a graphic novel so we’ll just put these sketches here and say that they may not be the whole story. I’ll give her a chance to make fun of me too. SHE has plenty of material to do so with.

I really was that horribly embarrassing parent on orientation day. Me being me, I decided to walk the dogs before orientation which was at 10am. I left at eight-ish.  Plenty of time right? My walk usually takes 45 minutes and then I take a shower (because I am the walking sweat machine). Then we’d walk to school her and I. No big thing.

Well…one thing lead to another and five minutes from getting home from walking the dogs I get a frantic call from Bug. “WHERE ARE YOU MOM?! I’M GOING TO BE LATE! I NEED YOU TO DO MY HAIR!!” fret fret fret, freak-out, freak-out, freak-out. So I rushed home, jumped in the shower, barely dried my new hairstyle of a hair cut and quickly braided her hair. We walked as fast as we could to school and then stood in line for an hour.

My wet hair was dripping all down my back and I was sweating because it’s been hotter than dog’s breath lately and it’s terribly HUMID. All the water was cumulating in the swell of my back where my butt sticks out. I can’t help it. I have a bubble butt. Bug was beyond embarrassed. If she has more acne than usual on her forehead it’s because of all the face palms. I tried my best to ride the wave of embarrassment by pretending that nothing was wrong. I greeted all her friends and their parents and we had the usual parenting social hour which you know is the worst torture ever for budding young middle-schoolers.

We survived orientation and we were both pretty excited about middle school. We went back-to-school shopping and bought about a thousand surf-related t-shirts. She got a new back pack. All was going well.

But I sensed it wasn’t so smooth-sailing when she called me twice from her Dad’s to make sure I would be there Thursday morning to do her hair if her dad dropped her off early. Poor kid. She was fretting over everything. She made a special notebook with folders and her schedule clipped prominently inside. She made sure she went to bed early two nights before so she would be in the habit of getting up early and then called me in a panic because her dad was NOT getting up early on her practice going-to-school-days. I told her not to worry. Her dad would indeed get up in time on the day he actually needed to get up early.

This is what it’s like when you have anxiety.

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Today she showed up extra early. Almost an hour before school started. We took pictures with her dad and then went inside to do her hair. I went over her list of things she’d need for the day. Did she have her notebook? Did she have her lunch? Did she have her schedule and ID card? Wait What?!! OH NO SHE DID NOT! She forgot everything at her dad’s house and there was no time to go all the way to his house to get them!

Oh crap.

Much weeping and wailing went down while we packed another lunch, printed out her schedule from online and sat down to practice her new combination lock she would need for her locker. Oh my goodness, you’d think figuring out a combination lock was something out of National Treasure with secret compartments and dead sea scrolls. Turn the lock three times to the right, then two times to the left, then one time to the right…

Mom, stop screwing me up! I don’t think in pictures like you do!”

Albeit, I was trying to explain how the levers worked inside the lock with hand movements. I guess imagining the internal mechanisms of a lock don’t help everyone like they do me.  In the end I just let her muddle through it and somehow on the seventh or eighth try (after two freak-out melt-downs) she figured it out.

Hell-LAY-lujah.

Kids, man. They just don’t want to be helped. But if you don’t help them YOU ARE THE WORST.

She did want me to walk her to school though which surprised me because I’ve been preparing for the parental rejection years since kindergarten. I know I’m embarrassing for her. I embarrass myself!  Surely she doesn’t want me walking her to school. But she was nervous. The whole lack of a schedule and an ID card was nerve-wracking. So I walked half way and then her friend showed up. Her friend is the exact opposite of her. Cool as a cucumber and not one bit worried about anything under the sun. She shrugged off Bug’s worries as if they were mere dandelion seeds flying in the wind. No schedule, no ID card, no problem! It’s the first day of school nobody expects you to know what you’re doing. Today is a free day!

I love her friend. I’m super sad she’s moving to New York in two days. I think we both need her.

Piano Reinvented

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A long time ago an old woman died and left me her piano. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe 12? I’m not sure. It was a really big deal that she left me the piano. I think it was the biggest thing I had ever owned and it wasn’t that I was that close to her and had spent many days playing her piano. I do remember her being very very sweet and quiet. For whatever reason she decided to will her piano to me and not to her children. Maybe they were grown and had their own pianos. I don’t know. I was taking lessons at the time and showing a real interest in playing. Every time I played that piano I thought of her and what an amazing gift it was.

It wasn’t the greatest piano. The lower “A” key never played which made for interesting arrangements to get around that missing note. But it was a cool piano. It had a lot of decorative wood and I loved it. But I could never have it because I always lived in an apartment that was too small to haul a piano into. So it lived at my parents’ house and I would play it every time I visited.

Over the years it got more and more decrepit. At one time Rapunzel drew all over the keys when she was little. It got dustier and dustier and more and more out of tune. That poor old sad piano. But my parents kept it for me hoping that someday I would rescue it. Someday I would pay for it to get tuned and find a home that it would fit into.

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That day never came. In fact, that poor sad neglected piano sat in my parent’s mobile home for so long that the floor started falling through underneath it. It started to be a problem for my parents. Then my parents started cleaning up their property so they could move out of their neighborhood that has been continually getting worse and worse. All the old stuff had to be gone through and hauled off to the dump. My piano became more and more of a burden. Finally my parents gave me an ultimatum: Come and get your piano or we take it apart and haul it off to the dump. They didn’t want to take my piano to the dump of course but nobody had the $400 to pay a piano mover to move it and I didn’t have a space big enough in my house to put it if I did finally get it moved. And I still didn’t really want to give it away. I still loved that piano. It didn’t play very well but it was so sentimental because of the old woman who had given it to me.

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So my parents took the piano apart and saved the pieces for me. The big metal harp had to go to the dump but all the decorative wood and keys were saved for me. They got stuck in the back of my parents SUV and one day they brought them to me.

Poor Payam, all the pieces got to live in his wood shop for a month while I got my head around what we were going to do with it. They took up a lot of room. They seriously cramped everyone’s style. But I couldn’t let go.

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We played with all the pieces. I talked about hanging the decorative middle panel as an art piece. We thought about making a 70’s-style starburst clock out of the keys…but it’s not like we have a lot of blank walls in our house just waiting for art. We have art coming out of our ears and no walls to put them on. So we settled on a bench. We would make a pew style bench and put it in the foyer in front of our front door. It would be amazing.

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It still has a long way to go. We plan to stain the legs so everything matches of course. I do feel a bit sad putting it out of doors in the weather but I know Payam will help me weather-proof it and it is under the eaves so it’s not like it’s going to get rained on. What is cool is that it will be used. I can foresee many photo shoots in the future with friends and family sitting on this bench.

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We still haven’t figured out what to do with all the pieces but I have a feeling they will all turn into something loved. And someday I’ll buy a house with space for another piano. Not this piano, sadly but that’s okay because this piano is going to stay in the family (as a bench!) for as long as I have a say.