In which I uncle

Intellectually, I knew that my own son was quite large when he was born, and that my nephew, a day short of six weeks old in this picture, was an average-sized infant, but … man. Lil’ dude is teeny.

Between having to share a queen bed with my wife last night when both of us are used to a king, the lack of a fan in the room, and the barely-functioning air conditioner– I do not have anything nice to say about the hotel we stayed at– I am crabby and tired at the moment, and am very likely to go to bed absurdly early tonight. Tomorrow, I start formally Planning and Preparing. We’ll see how much I get done.

I hate it here

My son has a peanut allergy, along with a handful of other other allergies, and while we’ve never had any sort of medical emergency related to his allergies we have always kept EpiPens on hand, both in the house and at school. He’s going back to school next week so we needed another one.

They wanted four hundred and fifty dollars for a pair of EpiPens, and the ones they had on hand had expiration dates in December.

Four hundred and fifty fucking dollars for something that, if you don’t have it on hand when you need it, you’re very likely to die. $100 more than the last time we ordered them, and the last time we ordered them they were also obscenely expensive.

Go ahead. Ask if we have insurance.

In which my mother is laughing at me

When I was in fifth and sixth grade I was in a special program for academically talented kids called DEPTH. I will, if I live to be a hundred, never forget what the acronym stood for: Differentiated Educational Experiences for Promoting Talent Development in Highly Capable Students.

Yeah, it’s not the most elegant of acronyms.

Anyway, they took a bunch of fifth- and sixth-grade smarty-smarts and put us in an honest-to-God trailer in the parking lot of the school with the lowest standardized test scores in the city and then bragged about how that school’s scores had gone up the next year, which was an early lesson for me in both the abhorrent cynicism and blatant manipulation of basic mathematics that grown adults can get up to when test scores are the only metric of a school’s success that anyone pays any attention to. And if you’re doing some strategic guessing and theorizing that maybe the gang of imported smarty-smarts weren’t, shall we say, a good demographic match to the rest of the school, especially given the optics of literally separating us from the rest of the students in the school … well, pat yourself on the back, because we learned some things about institutionalized racism along the way too.

That’s not why I’m talking about that program right now, though. Those first three letters– Differentiated Educational Experiences? The idea was that the class wasn’t all taught the same stuff at the same time. The teacher was supposed to be a facilitator of those differentiated experiences, and we signed contracts with her each week that specified how much work in each subject we were supposed to be doing– the idea being that the contracts would be tailored to each student’s individual needs and preferences, and we were all off learning at our own pace.

I played a lot of D&D in fifth grade.

I also managed to go something like three months without doing any math at all, because my teacher was (I thought, at the time) lazy and was probably (I think now, reflecting on this nonsense) massively overwhelmed by the immense amount of record-keeping and paperwork she was expected to keep track of, and no doubt undertrained as well (she was literally the only teacher in the corporation with this job) and one way or another I figured out that so long as I told her I was doing whatever math assignments every week, she wasn’t going to check them.

Well, that fell apart eventually, and my parents, who were already not happy with the school for a variety of reasons (my favorite: we were sold shirts emblazoned with the logo and name of the program and our names on the back, and then the school declared that we weren’t allowed to wear them to school. This was way before uniforms were a thing, mind you) basically landed on me like a ton of bricks, and I basically had to do three months worth of math over one long, miserable fucking weekend, and then my poor fucking teacher had to grade all of that shit over the next week and give it back to me, so that I could correct anything that I’d done wrong.

So. Fast forward, oh, 32 years or so.

My son has been working from home all year. My wife works, broadly defined, in the healthcare field and I’ve obviously been home all year as well, and both of our dads live alone and one of them is seriously immunocompromised, so all of that has made us just a touch more paranoid about the virus than most. My kid hasn’t seen another kid in person in nearly a fucking year. His science teacher either forgot to let him into class today or had technical difficulties and wasn’t able to and she emailed me to let me know what had happened and tell him about his assignment. He’s got a packet for this science unit and he was supposed to do pages 17 and 18.

Go ahead, take a moment and make some assumptions. I’ll wait.

No, of course there wasn’t a single fucking mark on pages one through sixteen. Now, I’ve not torn the boy’s head off yet, because I don’t know how this teacher runs her class, and it’s possible– I don’t think it’s likely, mind you, but it’s possible— that she’s either jumping around or they’ve been working through this as a class and he hasn’t necessarily needed to write out his answers. It’s possible. I’ll withhold my swift and terrible retribution until I know for sure.

But yeah. Just one more piece of evidence that he’s my goddamned kid.

In which he doesn’t like it

Does anyone else out there have, or did you at one point have, a kid that just wouldn’t fucking eat?

I’m not talking about picky eating. This is not a situation where the kid will only eat French fries and chicken nuggets or some shit like that. This is “it is 4:15 PM and my son has not had a meal yet today, because he’s refused every offer of food I’ve made and has not gotten any for himself, and it’s probably the fifteenth time out of the last twenty days that that’s happened.”

Once dinner rolls around, he will eat three or four bites of something and then proclaim himself full. And he’s not filling up on junk food, either; I literally just handed him a bowl of chips to get him to get some kind of calories inside him, and he handed it back to me.

He is not underweight and he is growing like a weed; at nine years old, he is alarmingly close to my wife’s height already. But … shit, if child protective services were to show up at my house and start interrogating my son about how much he eats, I’d end up in jail, and I would understand why. It’s like he lives on air. I don’t have the slightest idea why he’s not incapacitated by hunger right now, but he’s not. He’s completely fine.

Someone, please, explain this to me, or at least reassure me that eventually it’s going to stop.

This is happening

This … is my wife, wearing my son’s Halloween costume, as he’s discovered walking around in it is kind of annoying. So they’ve put her in it and they’re going out anyway, with the boy handling candy-collection duties.

I felt like it should be memorialized.