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Wigging Out

posted Tuesday October 11th, 2011

If Annabelle remembers anything about the fifth grade, I hope it’s the bright red wig I bought her one Friday after school.

I wouldn’t typically indulge one of my kids like that (have you bought a wig lately?! expensive!) but she’d been asking for weeks — said she needed it desperately to complete her Halloween costume, she’s going to be a devil — and one afternoon I gave in. I needed to see her smile.

Years from now, she might not remember the wig. I did an inventory, and here’s what little I recall from my own fifth grade experience:

1. Around Christmastime that year, a kid kicked my Snoopy lunch box — hard — and informed me that the Jews killed Jesus. (Awkward, since I was one of the only Jews at the school.)
2. A boy named Jay (I don’t recall his last name, though I remember his straight, blonde feathered hair) gave my friend Ilene Becker a gold “s” chain necklace, and announced that they were going steady. A few days later, she gave the necklace back. I never knew why.
3. My teacher, Mrs. Creighton, accused me (wrongly) of plagiarizing a social studies paper. To this day, my mother holds that up as an indication of my academic prowess. (I tended to get shitty grades, though I could write okay — she had to have something to hold onto.)

That’s it. A whole year, three odd memories. After watching Annabelle suffer through the first few weeks of her own fifth grade experience, I’d like to grab one of those wands they use on Wizards of Waverly Place and make it all go poof.

I haven’t written much about Annabelle’s time in fifth grade so far, mainly because lately I’ve had that feeling that I have when I see women breast feeding kids who are walking and talking and doing calculus. My feeling — and consider the fact I was never able to breast feed, so maybe I’m bitter — has always been, “If you’re old enough to ask for it, you’re too old to get it.”

In other words, Annabelle’s getting too old to blog about. Perhaps her experiences were always her own — and I am a terrible mom for publicly documenting any of them, ditto for Sophie — but now that she’s asking me questions about my blog, questions like, “Do you write about me on there?” it’s seeming like it’s definitely time to leave her be.

(And I promise to do just that — as soon as I’m done with this post.)

“Maybe you’ll start your own blog sometime,” I told her during one of these discussions. She liked that idea, and even came up with a name: Masquerade Ball.

But there hasn’t been time to start a blog, not for Annabelle, who is completely overwhelmed by her new school. I try explaining that cramming choir, piano and dance on an almost daily basis alongside academics means a lot of pressure, and I know she gets it on an intellectual level, but emotionally it’s tough. She’s getting good grades, turning in her work, even admitting (some days) that she loves her ballet class. But she’s so stressed out. The other day she told me that it feels like she’s forced to play that game where you bounce a tennis ball on a racquet, keeping the ball in the air — all the time. And she desperately misses her friends and teachers from her old school. Even after almost two months.

All my friends with older kids at the school warned me this would happen, that fifth grade simply sucks — but after that, new study habits will be in place, schedules will run like clockwork, it will all be worth it. I believe them. But it’s so tough right now. For years, in parent/teacher conferences, my one question for the teacher has always been, “Is Annabelle happy at school?” I want her to be happy, to be stress-free, to excel but to love it. I don’t want her to be the neurotic mess I was (and am).

Too late. I just hope it doesn’t last — or that the memories don’t. One thing that’s gonna last is that wig. It looks like it could withstand a nuclear war. Which is good — since for what I paid for that thing, it’s your Halloween costume til you’re 18, Annabelle.

As for Sophie, I’m not done blogging about her. I’m just not sure what to say about her latest parent/teacher conference. I’ll be back when I figure that out.

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Tags: Filed under: charter school, family by Amysilverman

2 Responses to “Wigging Out”

  1. Masquerade Ball is a great name for a blog!

  2. You are a wonderful mama…

    That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say.

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