Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being Sad Vs Being Angry

I'm (mostly) pretending to be bummed out. Eddie, the younger, is in kindergarten, and is predictably acting out. He's not terrible, mind you, but his behavior warrants damn near daily write homes from the teacher.

Well, that's not the whole story. He brings home a daily behavior scorecard every day--if he behaved well, he gets a "wow!" stamp. If he behaved poorly, there's generally a short note describing the infraction. Straight "wows" gets you an ice cream on Friday, but the E Man either doesn't give a shit about ice cream or can't grok a reward that is five days away.

Worse, he's not really motivated at school. He's easily distracted, and most of his troubles can be classified in the "isn't paying attention" section of the daily report. It sounds a lot like me as a young adult, actually, which scares me enough that I make a pretty big deal about "wows" and bad days.

But the poor guy just can't seem to catch on. He'll do well for a couple of days, and then slink home with bad reports for the next three. There are discussions nightly about what happened, good or bad, and he's actually gotten better about retaining what he got in trouble for. But that's just the first, really low, hurdle.

Worse, I'm not sure the freakin' teacher's on the level. K thinks "she's kind of a hippie," and some of the bad conduct reports seem pretty small minded. "Skipping in line" comes to mind, and "pushed the button on the water fountain while in line" does too. On the other hand, "poked another student with a pencil" and "playing with acorn instead of listening in class" come to mind, too.

As a parent, I learned pretty quickly that you have to be pretty careful about getting angry as a means of controlling the kids. It's not that it scares them or gets my blood pressure up, it's that there's just not a lot of wiggle room in being mad. Threatening a 3 year old, while fun, has to escalate pretty quickly into giving a spanking to said 3 year old, which isn't really fun at all. And from the beginning (age 3), that's about all Eddie understood.

But he's fucking FIVE now, and he's learned about all the lessons that I think spanking's going to teach him. He's got all the major rules down, and is, in fact, a very well behaved and polite child. Not to mention sweet and cute and all that other stuff. We're past the power struggles, in other words, and I think now it's more an issue of motivating him to do well.

The problem is that not much seems to work. The stick (spankings) is no longer really appropriate--he doesn't do anything bad enough to warrant a serious punishment like that. However, carrots don't have much of an effect either--witness the utter lack of ice-cream Fridays in his life.

Treating him like an employee hasn't worked very well, either. "So, Eddie, your productivity has been down this week. Is there something I can do to help you?" Hell, he doesn't know anything other than he's constantly getting in trouble for not paying attention. I can see it in his eyes: "yeah, you can help me. Get in my brain at school and make me pay attention."

So tonight's discussion ended with me telling him I was very sad that he wasn't working hard enough in school, disappointed with him about his behavior, etc etc.. I'm just at a loss as to where to go from here.

Oh, in other news I've been promoted, temporarily, to call center supervisor. More money, for the next couple of months, and some unknown increase in responsibilities. It's kids all the way down, it looks like.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pity, Not To Be Confused With Friendship

So I've been living with Kimmie for over a year now. Next month we'll have been dating for two whole years, although it seems like much longer (and might be-perhaps I should look at the GCalendar). We have a really good life--enough money, and bad enough financial habits that we treat each other pretty well; good kids, who enjoy watching me play video games; and a pretty decent set of friends, most of whom show up for dinner now and again. Ahem.

I've said for quite a while that I feel like I'm living in the opening scenes of a horror movie. Something this good and stable cannot merely be the beginning montage in a cheater's melodrama. There's going to have to be some serious ectoplasm, and probably some dwarves, before this is all over with.

But my nervousness at the perfection of the situation was assuaged when Kimmie told me about her friend Kelley, a horrible old hippie redneck biker chick that she's been friends with for the last few years. I'd met her once last year, when she made the trip up from Houston to spend the weekend for Kimmie's birthday. At the time, I felt that she was one of those annoying but distant friends that I'd probably have to deal with a couple of times a year.

Kelley's been officially destitute for a couple of months now, and with great reluctance (and a little bit of assholish behavior), I consented to let Kelley stay here to "get on her feet."

This is a big deal for me. I don't LIKE people in my space, yo, and there are days when I crave that hour of quiet like I never, ever craved beer, sex or cocaine. My oasis of calm has been the "office," which has really developed into my old apartment in microcosm, only cleaner. The most important feature remains, naturally, my computer, although a close second would be the futon. It doubles as the guest room, you see, and thus it's been effectively off-limits to me since August 1st.

Which is why I'm writing this on a bad ass new laptop, incidentally, but I digress.

This woman is maddening in the extreme--not just because she's an obnoxious loser, but because she can get her act together for just long enough to make me look bad. I could have sworn at the outset that she wasn't going to even get a job, for instance, but she's now got three part time gigs. Now, none of them are stable, and I would still bet the farm that she's not saving any money towards Getting The Fuck Out of My House, but she's got three damn jobs.

Worse, she's a cryer. She exhibits more self pity than Bill Laimbeer on the floor of wherever the Detroit Pistons used to play. I've yet to hear her say anything was unequivocally her fault, and most of the drivel I've accidentally run into (because I learned really quickly to stay back here in the bedroom with the ipod turned up and the door shut) runs along in the "why is this happening to me?" or "I can't do this, I need help" vein. It's sickening.

I knew we were in for it, friends, when Kimmie went down to help her move and found that a) nothing had been packed, but b) a couple of friends who were willing to drop everything to ensure that Kelley got out of Houston with absolutely no reason to come back, ever. They even gave her a car, ladies and gents, and drove here to drop off clothes when it didn't look like the UHaul was going to hold everything.

I've watched with horror, pity, and a little bit of self-righteousness (Kimmie would say a LOT of that, probably) as things have gone from bad to (slowly, subtly) worse. The husband she decided to "leave for good" has taken to calling and texting her regularly, then blocking her for reasons unknown on various social networking sites. She can't seem to make it to ANY of her jobs on time, and for various reasons all three of those won't keep her on past February. Which would be OK, for me, because I was smart. I set ground rules:

1) December 1st, she moves out. That's four months of living rent, bill, and food free.
2) She doesn't pay a dime, as you might have guessed-every penny she makes should go to Getting Out of My House.
3) No Dudes. You're destitute. You're not schtupping some gi-tarr player on my freakin' futon.
4) Monthly updates on how the move is going. How much money you'll need, how much money you've saved, etc etc.. This should be a no brainer-she's in her late 40's, after all.

But alas, she's done more whining and excuse invention than she's done anything else. She's quitting the one decent semi-permanent gig because they want to drug test her, the other weekday temp job will be over by February, although it may get moved to San Antonio before that, and her third (weekend) job is selling powdered energy drink at a stand in a San Antonio Costco. Though I hear that job may go the way of Jolt Cola pretty soon too.

But Kimmie's doing her best. I, at least, can come back here and blog. She has to listen, counsel, and Be a Friend.

It's gonna be a long couple of months. And at the end of it, I'm going to have to be a dick. I can feel it.