* Boys Night Out

Boys Night Out 2
Originally uploaded by Renee May.
Well, I nearly talked myself out of this blog but now that my hormones have stabilized I'm not ready to give up on it entirely. I think the lesson here is not to be so attached to my standards of perfection. Because you know my blog has to be perfect! Perfectly hilarious, entertaining, insightful, informative and updated daily.

And then there's reality. Life gets in the way. So be it.

Besides, most of my faithful readers are family and friends who want to stay in touch with Rio and I, and I would hate to let them down:)

So today, dear readers, I give you a shot from our Boys Night Out last weekend. Rio's Papa is in town and he's been watching little Hercules over Spring Break. It's been a real pleasure to have him around and it means the world to Hercules, believe me. We started the week off with an outing to the pool hall. One of Pa's younguns accompanied us as well, and I snapped photos while the boys played pool. It was great fun! You can see more pics if you click on the photo, or just visit my Flickr photostream.

* Second thoughts

I hate to raise this question so early in the life of this blog, but I'm wondering if I can really stick with it. It was fine during the winter doldrums here at work, when I could blog from work with little or no guilt. But those days are behind me now, or at least far more infrequent, so I have to reconsider this venture.

I'm not giving up just yet, but I'll be doing some real pondering over this issue for the next couple of weeks. And if I'm not able to post more than once or twice a week, I'm not going to keep doing this for much longer. I just can't justify the time commitment that it requires. I'm already overcommitted to a bunch of projects that I may never complete. Such as:

  • Painting all the rooms in my new house.
  • Restoring the used sailboat that I just received from a generous freecycler.
  • Making prints and framing my photographs, so I can display and sell them.
  • Landscaping my yard and planting a garden.
  • Creating a digital portfolio to show off my new design skills, so I can get a better, more satisfying job.
  • Collaborating with The Diva to produce a TV show for the local public access channel.
Just thinking about that list makes me cry. Because I want so badly for all of those things to get accomplished, and I just don't know how it will ever happen.

Besides, Rio is doing great these days. This new school seems to be a much better environment for him, and I don't need to spend every day worrying about when I'll get the next phone call from his principal.

The BIGGEST reason I wanted to do this blog was to force myself into a regular writing practice. Writing is my first love, and my most neglected one. As a mother, stepmother, and wife, there is no way I can find the kind of time and solitude I need to organize my thoughts, to brainstorm ideas, to piece together a story. As Virginia Wolfe knew so well, without a room of one's own, women will always struggle to find their creative voice. At least until the children are grown.

I've just about talked myself out of it already. However, I am aware of the fact that PMS is kicking my ass this week, so I'm not going to make any rash, hormonal decisions just yet.

* Brave explorer

Brave explorer
Originally uploaded by Renee May.
Before it's too late, I must direct your attention to Self-Portrait Day, the latest meme designed to introduce new faces to the blogosphere. Check it out! Yours truly is right there at the top this week:)

As for our little Hercules, he's been doing great all around except for some icky flu bug that's been pestering him since Saturday night. He's been throwing up at night all over his bed. This is not fun for me or him, trust me. The weird thing is, he's fine pretty much all day. He's only sick at night, and then it all comes up. If he does it again tonight I'll take him to the doctor tomorrow. I'm hoping it has passed, but only time will tell. The night is young!

Today I'm sharing a photo of Hercules exploring Flat Branch Creek near downtown. It's a pretty cool place. If you click the picture you can go to my Flickr site and the next picture in the set is from the same expedition.

* Happy Hercules

Tree climber
Originally uploaded by Renee May.
Young Hercules has really been at his best lately, and it's a huge relief. I have to admit that I anticipated a lot more trouble with this transition to the new school. I'm convinced that all of our preparations made a huge difference, and I can't say enough about how grateful I am to everyone at his new school for their cooperation in that effort.

Rio also started Tae Kwon Do and we tried out a place that had a free 2-week tryout. I was not impressed. The instructors are two women who seem to have good intentions, but their class is out of control. It's pretty chaotic, and I don't think Rio is going to learn anything about discipline in such a setting, regardless of their intentions.

Unfortunately, this was also the most affordable program. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for! However, my second choice is only another $20/month, and they allow you to come in as often as you like during their operating hours. That's actually a pretty good deal, so I'll be checking that one out next. The only problem is that they are open in the evenings, not weekends, and Rio is usually so overtired after school that he tends to be in a sour mood. However, a little Tae Kwon Do may just do him good, since it's something that he's personally motivated to participate in. We'll see how it goes!

* Prologue, Climax, and Epilogue

I’m sorry, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. Once again I have put off blogging too long and now I have to backpedal just to catch up. Lets see . . .

Friday Rio and I visited his new school, met his teacher, toured the building, and it was a great success. He was wound up and very goofy, but that’s why it’s good to have a dry run like that, to introduce him to a new environment prior to the real thing. There was no school that day, so he was able to explore his new classroom all by himself. Afterward, we romped on the playground for a while. We had some exceptionally beautiful weather that day, so later on we went to another park and brought the dog along for a bit of hiking and exploring. It was great fun and Hercules and I really got to spend a wonderful day together.

Prior to that, I went to a Parent-Teacher conference the night before. This is worth noting primarily because Rio’s teacher, Mrs. K, seemed genuinely sorry and regretful about his departure. She even teared up on a couple of occasions. When I told her that his new teacher has full-time help in her classroom, she gasped and cried, “If I had helpers in my classroom, Rio wouldn’t have to leave!” She really seemed sad about the whole situation, and confessed that she felt as though she had failed Rio somehow. I’ve always had very good interactions with her throughout this experience. The principal is the one who has given me the most grief and aggravation, and that night I got the distinct feeling that Mrs. K was not at all happy with how this situation was handled, even resentful that she wasn’t able to get more assistance in her classroom. This cements my suspicions regarding the principal and her agenda.

God bless Mrs. K. She did the best she could. I wish her only the best.

Another thing that developed late last week was my realization that I was playing into a victim complex and allowing Rio to do the same. The Diva gave me a nice reality check there, and so I made sure to let Rio know that he had to accept responsibility for his behavior and that that was why he wouldn’t be allowed to stay at his old school. Like it or not, he propelled this whole series of events by his classroom outbursts. He’s not going to learn anything by blaming others for the consequences of his own actions.

But today was the Big Day. Today Hercules went to his new school and all morning I was anxious to know how it was going. And wouldn’t you know it, but I got an email from Mrs. L, the school counselor, and she gave me an update around lunchtime: He’s doing great! He was a little bummed out because his new teacher had to leave in the afternoon and so they had a substitute after lunch, but he handled it well nonetheless. Mrs. L let him know that she would be telling me how good he’s been today, and that seemed to please him. I really love that Mrs. L, and I am incredibly thankful for her efforts to make this transition as painless as possible for Rio.

So it was a good report on a fine day, and all is well in the world. At least in our world, that is. And for that I am infinitely grateful.

* Looking ahead

Today I met with the folks at Rio's new school: his new teacher, the principal and the school counselor. They were all fantastic! Prior to today I had been speaking with the counselor to make all the preparations for his transition, and she is wonderful. She is eager to address my concerns, to listen to suggestions, and to make this whole process as painless for Rio as possible. But she won some BIG points with me today when she confided to me that she shares my doubts about the relevance of a psychiatric diagnosis that is based on a very limited interaction with the child, nor does she advocate medicating children as a first solution. I nearly kissed her.

Rio's new teacher also scored lots of points with me, too. For one thing, she doesn't like negative reinforcements, so there are only smileys on her behavior charts, and if the child doesn't earn a smiley face during a certain activity, that space is simply left blank. Brilliant! Beautiful! I love her already. Also, she has a pair of full-time helpers in her class who can provide individual attention as needed. Personally, I think all teachers (and students, no less) could benefit from having that sort of help in the classroom, but obviously there's never going to be enough funding for that in public education.

So I'm feeling better than ever about this whole situation, even if I am just a little apprehensive about how Rio himself feels about it, and how he will respond to this big transition. Yesterday the school counselor (at his current school) gave him the news, and then called to tell me that it went really well and he responded very positively. But when I picked him up, I told him we were going to find his teacher and talk to her about planning a going away party for him. He wanted to know why he was getting a going away party. When I explained it to him he said, "You mean I can't come back to [this] school?!?"

He apparently was under the impression that this whole "new school" adventure was just some sort of temporary arrangement, like a visit, a field trip, an adventure! Weeeee! Not a permanent change in his daily school routine. He cried and cried and wanted to know why he wouldn't be allowed to come back. I felt like hunting down the principal and demanding that she give him some answers. I resent being the one in that position, dammit. But I did my best, and then, thankfully, we found his teacher, who was very helpful. She told him that he could write letters to the whole class and she would share them with everyone, and then we planned his going away party. For the time being he was pacified; tragedy narrowly averted.

Tonight he shed some more tears as I tried to sell him on this whole idea. I told him how impressed I was with his new teacher, and how she doesn't believe in sad faces, and how she wore an Eeyore suit to school today, and won't it just be great? But no, his school is perfect and no other school will do. I decided to leave it alone for now. We'll visit on Friday together and he can see for himself first-hand. I think once he gets there, he'll be just fine.

I hope. There's just no telling with Hercules.

Even though the first couple of weeks may be a little rocky, he'll prevail in the end. I have to keep reminding myself that, because it's true, and I tend to worry too much. But that Hercules, he's something special, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Great things are in store for him, I just know it. All this Kindergarten melodrama will be something we'll laugh about when he's all grown up, a famous actor/rock star/pirate king, remembering the good ol' days when he used to terrorize his teachers.