Friday, January 09, 2009

1/9/09 The Last Resort

It's horribly irritating to be in the car after The Three are re-united at the end of the day -- they're incredibly loud, so active the car rocks, and in under a minute, someone is crying (often me).

I found a way tonight to keep things calm -- an obvious one, and one that wears off fast, but if I keep it fresh it should keep working. I played one of my favorite Eagles songs, called "The Last Resort," about missionaries taking over Indian land. It starts with some piano, which caught Gabriel's attention immediately. With him focused on the music, the other two's antics were reduced to mere childhood play. It was magical.

The only strange thing is when we get out of the car, and Gabriel stated evenly: "Definitely a transposed F-sharp."

I'm not sure what he meant by that exactly, but he makes these sort of comments from time to time. It's eerie. It reminds me of the kid in The Sixth Sense: "I see dead people...." I know there will come a time when he knows many things I don't, but I'm not ready for that yet. Right now, for a short time anyway, I'm still smarter, faster and stronger. But I've never heard music the way he does.

I'm still not over the supreme irritation of the "Heritage Doll" school project. Thank goodness we have such an alligator-skin kid, who's not too embarrassed by the minimum begrudging effort his parents put into helping him with this grotesque, creepy figure.

Basically I printed photos onto a piece of cardstock, which he cut out and glued onto the doll template. Well, she did say to "be creative," does that have to involve yarn and macaroni? Dave also talked to him for a while about our history of motorcycling together. I'm sure that was the point. Yeah, whatever.

But it doesn't end there. Gabriel's school is on a mission to force parents and children to spend their idea of the right sort of time together.

Today Gabriel came home with a notice about a numbered book bag he's going to take home every week, with a journal and instructions for activities. The notice specifically says not to have the child read the book on his own, it's intended for the parent to read with the child, then we do a writing activity with the child to put into the journal. "This is a great opportunity for you and your child to share the joys of reading. Have fun!"

Please cover your ears while I SCREAM!!!!!

Does it not occur to them that perhaps that isn't the way we WANT to spend time with our child?! It takes away from time we spend together, especially relaxed, productive -- or not -- time. Never mind the two other children we would like to spend time with. I'm sorry, but my two-year-old isn't interested in your idea of how to spend precious minutes with our first-grader. We might prefer to do, say, piano practice.

Or science experiments. Julian got a book on experiments for Christmas (birthday?) and he's been looking at it a lot. He'd picked one experiment he really wanted to do, so we did it together tonight -- lamely, we didn't have the right materials -- but the boys and I had fun trying.

There'd have been no room for this on a weeknight if a "writing activity" were demanded.

Apparently the vast majority of kids in Gabriel's class don't have two parents who work. But even if I weren't working, I'd still resent this assumption that we parents want to put so much into school-dictated activities at home. Homework and required school projects are already a huge drain on our time together -- quantity and especially quality -- now this??

Besides, I have other things to worry about, like this corner cabinet in my new kitchen. I love open shelves, and specifically asked for some, where I'd planned to put frequent-access items: plates, glasses. But the frame around this opening creates a lip -- 1-1/2 inches deep!!! -- that prevents sliding things in or out easily. It also encroaches into the opening on the sides and the top. It looks great, but it works horribly. I know it won't "look right" without the frame, but it won't work right with it.

The last person I want to go up against is my kitchen designer, who's been a source of respite and peace through all this. It's my kitchen, I know, but, can't we just all be friends and agree on everthing?

That squishy sound you hear is my backbone melting.



Stephanie said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the heritage doll. It's perfect!

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Louise said...

Sounds like Gabriel has perfect pitch, a mixed blessing. I've heard it can drive you crazy when music is played in the "wrong" key (different than how you learned it/how it was originally recorded/written) or when the instrument or voice is not in tune. I can hear when things are flat, but usually not if a whole song is transposed.

I'm not familiar with that Eagle's song, so I googled it. It is written in E major, and changes to G major in the middle. G has only one sharp, F#. Maybe that F# really stood out for him? Or maybe he thought the transition should have been to the key of F# and that it had been "transposed" to G?

Fascinating and pretty neat-o to watch an unusual talent emerge! I bet he'll be a brilliant mathematician who jams on the weekends, kinda like Robert Kennedy :-)

mommieN. said...

"The Last Resort" is the last song on the Eagles' album Hotel California. My favorite song is "Wasted Time" -- it became sort of a graduate school mantra, though it's really about failed relationships.

Robert Kennedy agrees that perfect pitch can drive you crazy and distract you. I wouldn't know!

Ironically, it looks like Gabriel's going to take a break from piano lessons. He loves to play, but isn't taking direction well, or the lessons themselves seriously. And this is as good a time as any for *us* to take a break! Maybe during the break he'll learn the song "Wasted Time" :)

Charles said...

dig the doll

call the school, tell 'em to kiss your keester, you'll spend time beating your kids as you want. Oh, I mean reading to them.... :P