Thursday, January 22, 2009

I stand chastened

The same school district staff member who insulted me so deeply with the implied criticism that I righteously griped about in the last post also sent a vision screening report home about YuYu and it said that YuYu also flunked her eye test.
So, being the heads up parent that I imagine myself to be, I hustled her skinny butt into the optical shop and sure as shooting, my babe has become near-sighted since her last school district vision screening test. She needs glasses on her sweet face which I thought would be more of a challenge to choose. YuYu's face is practically bridgeless, just a blank spot where the bridge of her nose should be, but totally yummy and gorgeous, just not much to hang her specs on. But we picked a tough frame for everyday and a fun frame for the back up pair. She just beamed when she put on the fun pair. I'm sure she thought she looked like a hip teen-ager. Thank the fates that Costco was having a $25 off the second set of glasses sale this week because the moths are flying out of my pocket book what with YuYu's rotten teeth and my own adventures in oral health. I learned a new vocabulary word this month, trismus. It's getting better, but who knew that wasn't supposed to happen after a root canal?

So, yay, you go school district vision screeners, you rock. Unless, of course, I think you are being critical of my parental care-taking skills, then not so much rocking.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lost in Translation

I know that I do go on about how charming I find YuYu, my DD#3 in acronymland, to be. I find everything about her to be, objectively speaking, adorable. I don’t get aggravated when I ask her to go see if we have any more milk in the downstairs refrigerator (necessitated by the 1950’s size fridge nook in the upstairs kitchen) and she comes back up, hands empty, and says “yes.” I don’t get too upset when I go through her assignment folder and find finished homework packets that should have been turned in weeks ago but she “forgot to remember.” I have vast patience for her new developmental phase where she has to ask me to choose between two impossible and/or unlikely events: “Mom, would you rather step in goat’s milk or vinegar? Which would you rather lose an arm or a leg? If you were a dog, which would you prefer, Booda bones or jerky treats?” etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum. All cute, all good, all adorable, classic YuYu, I'm so excited to know the adult she will become, she is really something. Objectively speaking, of course.

So one of the things I like best about YuYu is her “good ear.” Most people wouldn’t consider a good ear (and I just don’t have a better shorthand way to describe that she can carry a tune, so good ear it is) to be particularly remarkable, but I do, I really do. I come from a family with a deep genetic legacy for ears of the tin variety. We, my parents and all my brothers, lack the ability to carry a tune in a bucket, or as the French would say, we sing like casseroles. And even though the genetic link is missing, my other three DDs will sadly carry this family trait forward into future generations, but not YuYu. YuYu of the lilting voice will sing for us all, or not, because she’s so shy about it. Don’t’ misunderstand, YuYu is not shy socially, but no way no how is she going to sing in front of people by herself, not on her life, isn’t going to happen, mores’ the pity.

But I give you this background only to illustrate her current use of her talent. Her good ear gives YuYu the ability to memorize and repeat movie dialogue verbatim and with the right accents. And don’t you know, her knack for listening and regurgitating is a cool parlor trick and can be hugely entertaining on long road trips. However, her newest source of material has made me more aware that I have to start being a lot more careful about what she ingests and spews back out. She is starting to use this talent to entertain friends and non-family members and certain words of which she has no understanding of the meaning are creeping into her vocabulary and it might not reflect well on my parenting.

And by certain words, I mean “bollocks.” The first couple of times she used it, and appropriately I might add, I just hooted. Hearing my 8-year-old American kid saying bollocks, a British curse word, it was funny, I just thought it was funny. She watched “Mama Mia” a zillion times during the Christmas holiday and memorized all the words to all the ABBA tunes and flits around the house singing “money money money, it’s a rich man’s world.” She also picked up the word bollocks from the Colin Firth (yummm, Colin Firth) character who exclaims “Bollocks!” in fine BBC English when he misses the ferry to the island. I should be happy because the Pierce Brosnan character exclaims a word that is universally renounced as a bad potty word and she didn’t pick that one up, thank the fates.

But here in the Western United States, at least as far as I know, we don’t so much know from bollocks, so I have just let her use it for my own perverse pleasure because I think it is cute and not too many other people know what the word means. Can it be a curse word if no one knows the meaning? I say no. But this morning, we were hustling around, cleaning up and getting ready for Ellie’s sleepover friend to leave with her mom and YuYu dropped her box of many toy horses, the pieces scattered and YuYu exclaimed “Bollocks.” The word did not seem to resonate with the mom who was here to pick up the sleepover friend, or at least she showed no reaction which could have just been gracious good manners, which would have been different from me if I heard someone’s kid say bollocks, but it made me think.

I fired up the computer, went straight to the definitive source (she typed facetiously in reference to folks (okay, my mother) that don’t understand that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable and irrefutable source of information) and found out that the “relative severity of the various profanities, as perceived by the British public, was studied on behalf of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, BBC and Advertising Standards Authority. The results of this jointly commissioned research were published in December 2000 in a paper called "Delete Expletives?". This placed "bollocks" in eighth position in terms of its perceived severity, between "prick" (seventh place) and "arsehole" (ninth place). By comparison, the word "balls" (which has a similar literal meaning) was down in 22nd place. Of the people surveyed, only 11% thought that "bollocks" could acceptably be broadcast at times before the notional 9pm "watershed” on television (radio does not have a watershed).”

Oh, well, now that I am educated about the relative severity of profanity (I love that phrase) and since I wouldn’t let my kids say either of the other swear words that bookend bollocks on the BBC list of bad words, it looks like I better weed bollocks out of YuYu’s vocabulary before her potty mouth spreads and she starts sounding like a British sailor, assuming that British sailors still curse as badly and richly as the stereotype would lead us to believe. Now I just have to figure out if I was bird, would I rather land on a branch or a telephone wire and if I missed either perch and crashed into a wall, would I say bollocks or balls?

(I had to add this photo of YuYube, the bruise on her chin? otherwise preoccupied, she walked into a wall, the blood blister on the inside of her lip was huge, HUGE, that's my girl)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Does not respond well to criticism

Whether implied or direct, when I feel unjustly criticized, I can get my back up so fast you might mistake me for the Incredible Hulk.

Ellie brought home a Salt Lake City School District Vision Screening Referral Form, again. Every year the same drill: Could not see the line on the chart appropriate for child's age. But this time, the district staff person who conducted the screening test checked and circled "3rd Referral!!" on the Symptoms line item and I can't help but feel criticized by that, like I'm somehow to blame that my kid with the glasses thicker than pop bottles can't see the eye chart and shouldn't I be aware of that and what kind of parent lets their kid go to school without 20/20 vision and good hell woman, this is the "3rd Referral!!", so do something already, what more do we need to tell you so you will stand up and be a better parent and do right by this child already. You can see that implied criticism of my parenting in "3rd Referral!!", can't you? It seems so obvious to me.

I can only speculate that the five prior referral forms upon which I have diligently obtained the signature of her pediatric ophthalmologist (which requires cover letters and SASEs and more time tracking it down by phone and busy work I just don’t need) who practices at the world famous Moran Eye Center and who has treated her since she was four were missing from the file that the district staff member was referring to when she conducted the vision screening test on Ellie. I guess the brand new and stylish pair of pop bottle lens on my child did not give the district staff member any confidence that a concerned parent was on the job and everything that could be done was being done so this child can see the damn white board and get an education.

Here is the measured response I just dropped in the mail. The first draft was a lot fiercer, a lot, this is milk toast comparatively, but I’m nothing if not measured and thoughtful in all things:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have enclosed an unsigned copy of the vision screening referral form for my sixth grade daughter E* (Ellie) H*. I have also enclosed a copy of her most recent optical prescription dated September 12, 2008, written by Robert O. Hoffman, M.D., Moran Eye Center. Her vision is corrected to the best possible extent. Ellie is wearing a brand new pair of glasses with lens ground to the most current prescription. Nothing more can be done to improve her vision. Everything that can be done is being done for her, she is not being neglected. Ellie will continue to fail all vision screenings even though she is wearing glasses as thick as pop bottles because her vision cannot be improved any more than the current prescription allows.

I am not forwarding the vision referral form to Dr. Hoffman for signature. You can confirm that Ellie is his patient and under his continuing care and has been since she was four-years-old by calling his practice at 801-581-2352.

If you have any further concerns about the level of care Ellie is being provided for her bad eyesight, please call me at either number referenced above.

M* H*

Although the signature line would have been more accurate if I had typed:

M* H*
Touchy Touchy Touchy Parent, Back Off You Overbearing Officious Creeps

Defensive much? Who me?

Friday, January 02, 2009

smells like a holiday card

Here's to our friends whose addresses I didn't get updated on the master list and the card I mailed just barely before Christmas bounced back, undeliverable. You know what I love though? when USPS returns a card mailed to an address with an expired forwarding order with the recipient's new address listed on the yellow sticker. Hey, USPS, just keep moving it forward I'm thinking, why bounce it back? but there must be bigger brains at work who reached the decision to make me put another stamp on a new envelope, see? there are big brains at work at USPS. But blogspot and I showed them a thing or two, hah! take that USPS, no stamps needed. And so, without further ado:

(l-r, Nora, YuYu, Ellie and Mimi)

Hanson Family Christmas Letter 2008,
If the Hats Fit, Wear Them, Again

Yes, the Santa hats are a rerun, you’ve seen them before, two years ago, when a similar lack of foresight found me lining the kids up in front of the fireplace and snapping picture after picture trying to get one shot with all four sets of eyelids lifted higher than half mast. Some day, some day, they’ll all be wearing matching holiday outfits while standing in a field of new fallen snow, wearing the hats, of course, but the effect would be so much jollier. Some day, or not. I mean, I’m a single parent of four active kids and I work, a lot, so while you’ll likely see the hats again, don’t hold your breath for festive. It’s just a real good thing for me that the girls are flat out gorgeous and don’t need any fancy props because it isn’t going to happen.

Ellie is 12 and finishing her elementary school career this year. Will someone tell me where the time went? Hard for me to believe that my baby will be in junior high school next year. I’m not sure how that happened because I haven’t aged, so, you know, who knows.

YuYu, my funny, sweet and flighty little third grader is 8 and over the top excited to see her foster family when we travel to China next summer. We are going to see her foster brother graduate from college, well, a military university, sort of the West Point of China, so it’s a big hairy deal and I’m willing to break the bank to get us all over there for his big day. This trip is like a vacation budget black hole, sucking travel money from this year, next year and many years to come, but to reunite YuYu with her beloved foster family? So worth it.

Mimi and Nora are in second grade this year. Mimi is 8 going on 15 and mad about Hannah Montana and begging for a cell phone. Nora is 7.5 going on 4 and crazy about Webkinz and playing dress up. Real studies in contrasts are these two girls: no cookie cutter parenting allowed. It doesn’t make it easy for me, but who needs dull, boring and predictable when you can have Nora?

Merry Christmas from the Santa Hat Gang. We hope your holidays are full of cheer and great memories this year.