Saturday, April 09, 2011

4/9/2011 The Hamburger

A rock acting as a hamburger??

4/9/2011 Soccer Game

I've had a most extraordinary few days. Too much so.

Thursday, I had my annual employee review, which is supposed to be with my manager to go over my strengths and weaknesses and performance ratings.

But Mr. Horrible took over my review and saw it as an opportunity to take pot-shots at me, apparently completely confident that he can do whatever he wants and it will have no repercussions. Despite the best efforts of my real manager, my review was filled with unsupportable nonsensical complaints, including that I'm pretentious. Pretentious! Anyone who knows me and my formidibale portfolio of faults knows that I stink at pretense.

But Human Resources reviews are a rare link between we peons and the real world. And they're in writing. We've shifted to my element.

I've spent 2 days crafting a lengthy 9-page response, with hours of Dave's help in editing, and am bracing myself for a major fight next week. This is WAY preferable to enduring the astounding incompetence, nepotism, and personal attacks I've had to live with in the past year. I'm so ready to expose these ridiculous open secrets. We've all been playing this game of "The Emporer Has No Clothes," pretending my boss's boss is competent, sucking up to him because he has some sort of history and common culture with his boss. But now it seems I'll be the child who finally blurts out the obvious truth.

Two nights ago I was up until almost 4am, and last night again very late. The tension and stress is indescribable, how this consumes and eats at me. I just can't stand the wrongness of it all; I can't live with it and brush it off and compartmentalize as my far more mature and secure (real) manager and some coworkers can. The wrongness and injustice burns away at me.

But this has a serious personal cost. I spent last Thursday night snapping at everyone in my family, then holing myself up in the office and writing almost nonstop until well into the wee hours. Much of the next morning and night were spent doing the same, and I delivered my extremely strong, damning, 9-page written complaint very late Friday night (or early Saturday morning if you want to be technical about it).

So task #1 today was: de-stress. Get yourself out of Norma-Rae mode. Not easy when people you care about are seriously suffering. Dave and his very strong work ethic, high personal standards and exemplary work performance allow me to put myself in a position to be fired or quit, but many of my coworkers and my manager are their family's primary support and don't have that luxury. The rabble I'm rousing will create serious heartburn for other people, even if they agree it's necessary. Thanks to Dave, I'm have the financial wherewithall to make waves, but I'm painfully aware that my actions can put others into far deeper dilemmas than I have. And this creates tremendous stress on me, even if I believe I'm doing the right thing. What even is the right thing -- maintaining your professional ethic or supporting your family?

So when Gabriel had a soccer game today, I decided to stay and watch, be outside for a while, and wrestle my burdened mind out of its dark abyss.

Gabriel and I arrived half an hour early, same as the coach had requested last week. We never got an email this week, so I wasn't sure if we needed to be early, but in my life now I err on the side of early. My poor friends in high school waiting for me for over half an hour on smelly subway platforms would be shocked at my grown-up attention to promptness!

Turns out, no one else except another kid arrived early, but he and Gabriel practiced together. The other kid is a tall, skinny 10yo 5th-grader who's remarkably calm and polite. I liked him immediately, and cheered loud when he scored a goal during the game.

This week, Gabriel wasn't goalie the whole game, so he did a lot of running. I was interested to see how confident and competitive he is -- he gets right in there, aggressively going after the ball.

Though I miss the pomp and circumstance of baseball, soccer is a lot more exciting to watch. It helped that the coach of the opposing team was a longtime friend from Las Madres. Our sons had the same due date, though hers was born premature and so now is in 4th grade -- but here we are, 9 years later, watching our sons play each other in soccer!

The game was pretty unmatched though. Soccer lends itself to stars, and it seems Gabriel's team has a few stars, including his coach's son. When that kid gets the ball, he blows everyone else away and changes the whole game. It's really cool to watch, though it's sort of outside the "spirit" of kids' sports. No wonder when Gabriel was goalie last week he didn't do much -- his teams' offense is so strong he was alone on his end of the field for most of the game.

With 2 extra players, some of Gabriel's team had to sub out, and Gabriel's coach wisely had his superstar son sit out some of it. That made it possible for Gabriel's teammates -- including Gabriel to some extent -- actually play, and then it looked more like a 9-year-old boys' soccer game. (While that's all warm-n-fuzzy, truth is I missed watching the awesome kid.)

Gabriel really stands out from his team in certain ways. He's by far the shortest and skinniest. He's among the weakest in skills, and no wonder -- many of the other boys have played for 4-5 seasons now, and some have played together for numerous seasons. This really counts in soccer, I observed today.

Gabriel is also one of the most clueless -- he doesn't understand the rules of the game, or the routine, such as when halftime happens and everyone is off the field getting a snack or a drink. He's still out there staring at the sky!

But he has his strengths. He's competitive, he's aggressive, he's confident, and he's in the game. He had the nerve to call to the super-duper kid "I'm HERE! PASS TO ME!!" At this age and skill level (everyone's accepted), boys are only so-so at passing to each other; they get the ball and they want to keep it. I noticed that the boys who've played together for a few years seemed to radar each other and were much better at passing.

Gabriel's team dominated the game as they had last week, so toward the end, the coaches instituted a "two-touch" rule, meaning, a player on Gabriel's team could only touch the ball twice, then had to pass. I knew Gabriel would have no idea what this was about, and he didn't. Then later they designated just one kid at a time on Gabriel's team who could score. And since no one on Gabriel's team wanted to be goalie, they stopped bothering with sticking a kid in the goal position -- all the action was at the poor opposing team's goal anyway.

Despite these measures, Gabriel's team won easily anyway. He was thrilled, but I'm not 100% convinced that having a few boys on his team who are so outstanding is so good for him. No wonder he wanted to be goalie last week, he knew he was outclassed by his teammates, and I saw that today!

At the "U10" level (that means young-age-10 and under), self-esteem still factors into the rules, and the games aren't allowed to be total blowouts. Hence the "two-touch" and "only-one-player-can-score" rules. Self-esteem and confidence have never been in Gabriel's top 20 of issues, so it's almost a shame he's not on a worse team, since he can totally take losing. On the other hand, it's probably also good for him to be around other boys who are so good. And around other boys in general,
especially the super-nice kid Rishi who he practiced with before the game.

Regardless of quality of teams and games, it was great for both of us to be out there. Did I once say I would never be a soccer mom?! What ignorance! It's great!!! And so much better than the alternative.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

4/7/2011 Migraines?

I got a call from the school this morning. Julian had gone to the office complaining of a headache, and saying it felt like an electrical wire cutting through his head.

He's complained of headaches before, and I'm never sure how severe they are or even how true it is. They certainly hear me complain of headaches a lot, do they even know what it means? But there have been days in which Julian said he had a headache, and was consistent throughout the day, such as genuinely wincing when I accidentally knocked him in the head. His description of the wire cutting through him is all too familiar. Also, the school administrator said that turning off the lights and closing the curtains in the nurse's office made him feel better.

In the end, he was sent back to class, and had a horrible day, not doing his work and disrupting the class. At the CDC, he was hitting other kids again (in play but it's not allowed), and then egregiously shoved Gabriel completely unprovoked. We're not sure how to get through to him!

I doubt his behavior today was related to his morning headache, since his behavior has been a problem for a few weeks now. But I am starting to wonder if he really does get migraines.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

4/6/2011 Tetherball

Today Gabriel had soccer practice, so I left a little early from work to pick up the boys and take them to the soccer field. I was really bummed when Gabriel told me he hadn't finished his homework -- we have a deal! He's got to do it at the CDC on soccer practice days!

So I took him to the soccer field, and then made him sit in the car and do most of his homework before letting him go to soccer practice. I couldn't do that indefinitely, since I did have to pick up Katrina.

Meantime, Julian went to the playground, and found two tetherball courts. What the heck! So we played tetherball together for a while. That was fun. I'm no good, but I won due to my unfair advantage being taller. I was in the mood to punch something, so that was good.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

4/5/2011 Julian's poem

Julian told me this poem during his bath:
A tyrranosaurus hired me
to help him be a winner
But one thing that he didn't say
is he wanted me for dinner!
The boy has a talent!


Monday, April 04, 2011

4/4/2011 Kindergarten girl?

I thought we were past Katrina's "leaking" issues -- she stayed dry for many weeks, but she started the "I forgot" thing last week again. I weakly attributed it to the heat wave we had last week (like 86 degrees?! crazy!!) and playing at the water table at preschool, but she leaked all weekend long too.

Today when I picked her up from preschool, her teacher told me she'd had a full-on accident. Thing is, she doesn't care -- she doesn't even mention it. She walks around with wet smelly pants like it's no big deal. When we talk to her about it, she giggles.

Tonight at home, I was just about to serve dinner when Dave noticed a wet spot on the floor near the table. No food or drink had made it to the table yet, so he immediately checked Katrina -- soaked. She'd just peed all over the floor and just carried on like nothing!!

Well, I sure am glad Dad is back, because he took matters into his own hands. He took her upstairs, made her change, and put away all her dress-up dresses (she was wearing her favorite "ladybug" flamenco dress from Spain at the time, and it's wet), and insisted she wear a Pull-Up the rest of the day. If we had a diaper in the house, I'd make her wear that. I've discovered that the piano seat smells, her carseat smells, and anything she sits on on a regular basis smells. This is a PROBLEM!!

She screamed her head off for over half an hour about wearing the Pull-Up and sitting on the toilet until she peed before dinner, but it was worth it. We're going to talk to her preschool about the feasibility of putting her in the "baby room" for a day, with the other young toddlers who aren't potty-trained yet. The teachers have suggested giving me a real diaper and telling her she will have to wear it next time she leaks or wets her pants. This is not a medical issue, she just doesn't care. (Remind you of anyone???)

Katrina reads at at least a first-grade level, and she writes extremely well too. Her teacher told me she learns very quickly and is blessed with a fertile, vivid imagination. This child has so much potential -- but she can't go to kindergarten peeing her pants all the time!! That's a showstopper!

Well, thank goodness I finally have something real to stress about.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

4/3/2011 Y day

The only place we went and only thing we did today was go to the Y. I was going to let Gabriel stay home, but he decided to join at the last minute.

Rare chance to get all 3 in a photo, but only with the promise of fresh cinnamon rolls when we got home! (I'd made them last night and had them ready to bake.)

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up around the house and garage, in and out of the house. Gabriel is on a sudden archery kick, and made a bow out of a pencil and a rubber band, and an arrow out of another pencil. Julian followed suit and they spent a lot of time trying to poke through some newspapers they taped up as a target. I think that counts as plain old-fashioned childhood fun being creative with basic resources!

I don't want to go to work tomorrow. I'm even more upset today than yesterday about the creepy, evil experience of having a complete imbecile condescend to me and forgive me oh so understandingly about my previous insubordination and disrespect and poor work, and for thinking that he's "turned me around." I hate how it feels to act a lie, it feels dirty and disgusting and totally wrong, but there was no way to state the truth without causing a tremendous confrontation, one which I wasn't prepared for and would be sure to lose. So now I have to do yet more pretending and lying tomorrow just by not throwing up in his presence.

But at least I got started on my resume this weekend. Tempting as it is, I'm not just going to walk out, as that's unprofessional and puts a burden on my coworkers. I have a few small projects to finish and I'll plan my 2-week notice -- with a several detailed letters to the upper management in hand. Such a shame, I really like my coworkers and like the work itself -- I like almost everything about this situation except this one major malevolent element. The stress and internal conflict are too great though -- the emotional energy and depression of this weekend clearly indicate that. My job does not include being insulted or lying.