Tuesday, September 26, 2006


and there is a good reason for that and yes I'm YELLING because I'm so frustrated with myself. I know that frustration and aggravation are not uncommon feelings when it comes to your kids' homework. Studies show that 99.9% of parents get frustrated when they have to help their children with homework (and you know that's a bogus number, but who WOULDN'T get frustrated? really who?), but what the hell is wrong with me that I can't make it through one work sheet before I go all Donald Trump and want to start firing everyone for sub-standard performances? Nora is SO proud that she has homework and is SO eager to get to work on it, she really really thinks that having real homework is the best thing about school so far, homework just like Ellie and YuYu and I went and stomped all over that tonight and I feel like shit and this is my blog so yeah, I can say shit.

I made it through the "tally" sheet, e.g., drawing tally marks to help them learn to count in fives because I could see that she had ABSOLUTELY NO COMPREHENSION as to what the hell we were trying to prove with the hash marks, did not compute, not even close, so I just kind of did it and showed her how to do it and helped her draw the tally marks, but it was not sinking in. Then we got to the beginning sound worksheet and she really knows all the sounds for the letters with this neat little action = letter sound system (thumb down = d, itch like a monkey = i), but cannot, CANNOT associate the letter sound with the printed letter making the sound. So I'm thinking, wait a minute, she immediately says the sound associated with the gesture, but CANNOT relate it to a letter, huh, why? this is not new, she has been here 9 months, including several months at Montessori and many many hours at home with the letter books, puzzles, and reading time, and I lost my patience, just a little, but then she teared up and started to leak and instead of easing up, that made me more insistent, until I had to time myself out and fold up the homework tonight and she went away feeling bad and I feel bad and I've scared her about her homework and taken away some of her joy and I really am a genuine all leather heel.

To all the teachers and parents who have the patience to work through problem after problem with a child who is not learning, or slowly learning, and keep their cool and make the child feel good about their progress or lack thereof, I stand in awe. I need to paint a big sign that says "It's about positive reinforcement, stupid" and look at it often during the nightly homeworkathons at Casa de Hanson. The homework is brutal, who knew? and this is still grade school, oh lord help me, says the secular humanist.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"I a good family"

Picture it: Movie night, Japan's finest animation, whimsical yet carrying a strong message about being loyal to yourself, yes, none other than Kiki's Delivery Service, rent it, it's great. All the kids and big ol' mom piled on couch with essential snack items, e.g. huge bowls of microwave popcorn and Hawaii's Own orange guava drink in one HUGE c-store mug, w/ lid (I'm up to here with the spilling), five color-coded straws, I've trained myself not to think about the very real swishback possibilities. Ellie the popcorn hound scarfs down all the Orville Reddenbacher's in her bowl and starts wheedling her sisters for some of their popcorn rations. Nora pipes right up, "Eldie, you have my pahcorn," and hands over her precious portion. "Wow, Nora, you are so kind, that was generous, you really know how much Ellie loves her popcorn," says big ol' mom, sitting with her big ol' arm locked in Nora's small little arm. "That okay, I a good family," she says humbly. Big ol' mom dabs at hormonally induced eye leakage and basks in unexpected surge of maternal pride. She really is a wonderful child and I really have to get some industrial strength emotional duct tape to frap* down my big ol' buttons so Nora's spot-on button pushing won't get any bounce.

*Check it, it's a real word and one of my favorites ever since my own girl scouting days. I was sent into fits of giggles when a pretty ordinary looking teen-aged Eagle Scout (who, because he was all alone in a fire circle full of girls (at that great boy scout camp at the North end of Immigration Canyon, the Idaho end right before Ovid, can anyone remember the name? Camp ?????, shoot I hate aging) took on a much more desirable aura) was trying to teach us knot-tying and used frap as an instructional word. I thought he had made it up to impress the ladies and I just got so tickled by that I could not stop laughing. I think I've matured since then, but not by that much.

Friday, September 15, 2006

When bad moms happen to good kids

Oh, the shame, the shame. Can you read this? Can you see that it says "Dear Tooth Fairy: MY TOOTH!" Did you know that it is possible for the tooth fairy to forget the recently desiduoused tooth of a fabulous 9yo (who is just in it for the money at this point, but still) for three nights in a row until it gets to the point that the bad mom goes to her room to get ready for bed and the good but impatient kid has had to leave a NOTE for the hack fairy to remember about HER TOOTH! Did you know that guilt ridden tooth fairies are especially generous? Did you know that the good kid is only $6 away from having enough money to buy the ORGANIZER of her dreams, the one she has had her eye on at OfficeMax for over two months? Don't you think that an organizer is kind of a strange thing for a good kid to be lusting after? So many questions, so few good answers when bad moms happen to good kids in the heart of the lonely city. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Three rounds and one square

Tomorrow the service comes to cover the pool and put it away for the winter. It was an unseasonably hot day today and when we got home, Mimi suggested one last swim. However, I had not left the pool heater on in anticipation of one last swim, so the water temperature was not unseasonably warm, it was pretty darn nippy. They only lasted in the pool a few minutes. I always make them take their wet swimsuits off so they can warm up in the towel faster. So Mimi and YuYu dried off and went inside (Ellie was at soccer practice) and I sat and watched Nora swing, naked, in the sun for a long time. She had her eyes closed against the setting sun and I could tell she was trying to sing one of Miss Judy's Classic Kindergarten Tunes but was just making up 90% of the words. So I sat there, watching this gorgeous child swinging and singing and I was scouring my interior for even a hint of affection. I know I can always get a rise out of myself when I let my mind go to the birthmother angle. Here I am with the opportunity to love and nurture this child largely because of a failed political and economic system (one can assume, who knows she may have been love child of a forbidden romance between a man trapped in an unhappy marriage and his one true love he had to forsake to marry a woman he did not love in order to honor a family obligation, who knows, it could have happened that way) in a vast and crowded country. So my interior motivational speaker was giving myself this rousing pep talk about honor and privilege and duty and my interior wise ass was flipping her off. I just was not feeling it.

So fast-forward an hour and I snap when she snaps and it’s fast and mindless and sudden. What is it that makes me snap so quickly when Nora expresses her unhappiness about her lot in life with her particular flair for the the whiny, floppy, surly, sulky, sullen mode of delivery? Apparently I have a zero tolerance level for crabbiness that sets wheels in motion over which I have no control, apparently. Nora was not happy being the child at the end of the couch when Ellie wanted to read Disney princess stories out loud. As I walked in to see what was going on, she chose to slide to the floor with arms flailing as if every nerve had suddenly gone dead while moaning in a loud and complaining voice and I didn't even give her a chance to redeem herself and stop it. I took her by the flail arm and led her quickly to her bedroom and at 7:45 pm I was done with her. She screamed herself to sleep within minutes, before I could even go in to explain my decision to remove her from the little couch reading vignette.

Meanwhile my three round pegs sat together contentedly on the couch reading about Ariel and Belle. I went back in to watch my three round pegs and my heart simultaneously swelled with enormous love and pride for these three and overwhelming discouragement about my feelings for Nora. I still see Nora as a square peg who is making a pig's breakfast out of that one remaining round hole I had saved for my last child. Adjusting to her is painful and slow and after my hair-trigger reaction to her loss of composure tonight, I wonder just how long I'm going to make myself suffer with this adjustment before I crack the code. Because even though I just artfully used myself as the subject of the prior sentence, like I am the one doing all the adjusting and I'm such a hero, what I really really want is for her to get on board with the pleasant family interaction agenda and completely re-adjust herself to us, not the other way around. But seriously, how much adjusting can I expect an emotionally immature five-year-old to do? Oh great, now that I've come to the conclusion that we're both emotionally immature five-year-olds, or at least that's how I feel when I let my whole body turn into one HUGE button that reads "PUSH ME" on top. But it really is my job to make the changes, because, good hell, she's only just turned five. But ooh ooh ooh, some of her behaviors just set me off like a Saturn rocket and compassion, understanding and any affection I've been building for her get burned up in the launch.
I need to do some serious readjusting of my expectations regarding her emotional abilities or I'm just going to make myself nuts and Nora very unhappy. Shoot, every day in every way is work with her, shoot.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just thinking out loud loud here, but

Nora plays SO well with Lan Lan (4) when the Ellisons come up to visit the cultural capital (TWO Asian food stores within eight blocks, it doesn't get much more cosmopolitan than that) of the Intermountain West, that it does make me think about the possibility of maybe, some day, adding another, heck, it couldn't hurt, Nora's emotionally immature, a younger soulmate sister would be so good for her, we have room for another, never say never, it could happen and maybe . . .

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HAH, had you going, that will NEVER happen, tick tock the game's locked and NOBODY else can play, no more Hanson sur-named female type children will be sashaying around these parts until they look up and call me Grandma. HAH, adopt another child? preposterous, absurd, and I do mean NEVER! I'm saying NEVER and I pretty much mean NEVER.

So this Kindergarten thing, hope it works

Mimi and Nora started Kindergarten last week. There are more parents who want their K-graders in the one all-day classroom than can fit in the classroom (even in Utah, land of HUGE class sizes). I asked for both girls to be included in the all-day program and ver, ver, ver thankfully, both of my darlings were placed in the same class with The Divine Mis Judy, the most incredible, fabulous, organized, loving, experienced, energetic best K-grader teacher in the known world and her wonderful aide Miss Elaine.

But, I still have big fears about Nora and whether she will be able to progress to first grade next year. My thinking was, shoot, I can pay grundles of money to keep her in Montessori K-grade this winter and start her in public school next fall as the oldest in her class -OR - I could save a grundle of $$$ that I simply don't have after two adoptions in 18 months what WAS I thinking and let Miss Judy take a crack at her. I just figured, hey, if she can't cut it, I'll make the decision to hold her back in K-grade next year in public school. Now I have the big guilty doubts about that strategy. If she can't advance with her peers, she will be crushed, crushed and humiliated. If she can't advance with her peers, me thinks I'll be paying grundles next fall to send her to another year of private K so at least she has a year of separation from her former peers before she has to start first grade the same time they (including her sister) are starting second.

It may just be that I end up paying later rather than sooner, but I'm going to cling to the hope that one of the BEST educators ever to sing good morning in circle time can crack her code and help her learn.

I actually had no fears about Mimi and Nora in the same class together. They play very independently of each other anyway, there isn't any strange dependence vibe happening between them. That was how they co-existed in the same class at Montessori, so I had no qualms about them spending this one year in school together in the same class.

Yeah, and when did I turn into the mean kind of mom who makes her children wear shoes to school instead of kicky fun sandals you may wonder? From always, just ask Ellie who suffers so in her sneakers when all around her are in flip flops (until it gets too cold). So, yeah, Nora looks clod-hopperish in her cute swishy skirt and HUGE shoes, but she won't be coming home with all the skin scraped off the ends of her toes and slivers from the playground wood chips embedded in the soles of her feet either. And good hell, she doesn't know how bad it looks, let me have a few more years of picking out their footwear.

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Monday, September 04, 2006


I don’t know, and those who know me well know that I spend less than any time worrying about it either, but I’m using the template to guide my reactions to Nora’s behavior. But instead of pondering the imponderable, I ask myself this: “how would you be reacting to this if you loved her?” and who knows, that’s kind of on the imponderable spectrum too, isn’t it. I have to stop and do this because I’m not fair to her. To those I’m about to offend, forgive me, but forget astrology, it has to be bunk because the chart next to the comics in the Tribune says that I’m a Libra, but how can I be a Libra because I’m not fair, I play favorites like a demon: the scales they need adjusting.

I was embarrassed a few weeks ago because I started to go off on Nora because she had taken one of those slick little single serve Crystal Light tubes that turn your little bottle of store-bought water into a soft drink in a jiffy into the bathroom and from appearances, kind of didn’t get much of the contents of the spammy little tube into the smallish neck of the little bottle and there was too much cleaning up of raspberry delight going on for my lazy-would-rather-not-be-cleaning-the-bathroom-again-this-month sensibilities. I was reading her the riot act about asking permission, food is NOT prepared in the bathroom, ewwww, germs, ewww (and for those that know me, that’s a little bit hypocritical, what’s the opposite of germophobe? Oh yeah, slob), don’t do it again, ever. I took away one of her three wrist bands (ponytail holders) which meant she did not earn back her Barbie battery-operated toothbrush and her heart heaved itself into two pieces and she was bereft, bereft, and I left her to cry/think/feel bad for a minute. During Nora’s “quiet contemplation time,” I went downstairs and noticed that the light was on in the downstairs bathroom where I discovered that YuYu had done the same thing to that bathroom except that she had chosen the lemonade palette, umm, pretty. It looked like I had sons instead of daughters, if you know what I mean.

So, I called YuYu down, helped her clean up, did not rant, did not take away a privilege, made her promise not to make drinks in the bathroom and it was over. It did not even occur to me at the time how embarrassingly different I had treated them for the same crime discovered within 15 minutes and even worse, YuYu was aware that I was coming down on Nora for the spilling and the spreading about of much color and she did not say anything, didn’t even try to go cover her tracks. She was clueless at best and deceitful at worst and with YuYu, you can always go with clueless as the safe bet (the girl who brought home an open cup of chili in her backpack because she was saving it for later).

So as I was dropping off to sleep that night, it finally registered what I had done to Nora and how unfair I had been to her, what a schmuck I can be at times. And I don’t think it’s because I wore out my anger by the time I found YuYu’s mess, it’s just because I love YuYu, I have patience and forgiveness for YuYu and I don’t have those baseline feelings for Nora yet.

Now I am trying to make myself sloooooow down before I tee off on Nora when she pushes my buttons. The other three are not angels all day all the time, they need correction too, and it’s just that their misbehaviors don’t send me into orbit the way Nora’s can. Like today, when Ellie noticed on the calendar that she starts Girl Scouts on Wednesday afternoon, and Nora started the stamping and complaining that “I want go girl scout too,” even though she has no earthly idea what that means, she just knows that it is something she is not going to get to do, my first reaction was to tell her to “please Nora, please stop complaining all the time.” And truth be told, yeah, that’s what I did say, at first. But then I stopped, thought better, engaged her in a little conversation about why Ellie was a big girl and could scout and Nora will too someday, and I know it feels bad when Ellie can do more things because she is older and I gave her the attention that she needed/wanted and stopped grossly over-generalizing, because, yes, she does complain, but not “all the time” and her complaint this time was valid. But, sheesh, can I tell you, this gets tiring and tiresome to put this much thought into so much of my interaction with this child. I want it to be a cinch, it’s not. Come on cupid or cupid equivalent because I’m not looking for romantic love here, just good old mother love, please, please, sting me. My girl needs me to love her before I really cause some damage here. In the meantime, I step back several times a day and try to visualize how I would react if I were coming from love and hope for the day I don’t need to take any additional steps.

P.S. that's the sulking face that sets me off so badly, almost, a partial sulk, not fully developed, she was unhappy about the size of the box she was given to play with, so in between having fun, she was being petulant, so the sulk look didn't get the full lip thrust that day.