In a fit of an 8 year old's doubt, O decided to set a "Santa trap" (see pic at left) on Christmas eve. Unlike the kids who resist the people who tell them there is not a Santa Claus, the boy -- the product of a household that has never perpetuated the Santa myth -- was determined to prove that Santa didn't exist. He decided that he would rig the little fake tree in the living room so that it would rattle if someone tried to put presents under it. His assumption was that it would not rattle and therefore all the deluded believers (that would be the kids at school, I'm guessing) would be proved wrong and would stop talking about this Santa crap. But then his desire for presents kicked in. What if the Santa trap kept anyone from putting out more presents for him? Conflicted, the boy finally when to bed, announcing that what ever happened, happened and he would not be sleeping in the hallway trying to catch anyone. And he woke up happy to find treats in his stocking and a number of delightful and thoughtfully chosen presents for him from... me :)
Kids trying out new dress up duds from Value World (left) and Emma passing our presents at my brother and sister-in-law's house (right).
In a new nature preserve, there is evidence of the land's earlier use as a dumping spot.
The pond was frozen. Next time? Ice skates!
O makes ice balls for Boone to chase.
The early season snow has hung around and now that the kids are on break, I've been taking them out to explore. We found woods and a frozen pond on Christmas eve and then played on the icy banks of the Huron River in Frog Island and Riverside parks on Christmas afternoon. Both adventures were lessons in the awesomeness of winter, kids in nature, dogs with kids, and ice (and a very good counterpoint to overabundance of plastic stuff this time of year...):
Finished the grading for one class. Whew. Two more over the next few days and then I'll be done. While I spent large chunks of the weekend grading, I also managed a grown-up dinner out with people, a lazy morning, a party, and even the HoliGAYs Extravaganza at the Blind Pig. I didn't, however, see my kids other than for a brief moment on Friday. I can't seem to put all the parts together these days and having the kids at W's meant that I didn't have to for this brief moment.
My reserves of tact and patience seem to be spent. I realized this this afternoon while sitting in a faculty senate meeting, trying to explain to the provost how her "process" is less than transparent. I kept a lid on my rant (barely), but that was only because some good colleagues helped carry the issue forward (in a much more civil manner than I would have been able to muster) and my frustration was temporarily overriden by bouts of resignation or maybe it was apathy...
I'm not sure why I've ended up here. The term has been tough, but there wasn't anything particularly novel about it. My sense is that students needing special tending (extensions, alternate arrangements, hand holding) has risen, but I'm not sure if it is really worse or if it just seems that way because I am so worn out. I do know that as students flail and flounder in front of me about why their papers are late, etc., etc. I can barely force myself to actually listen. I just don't seem to care, because behind them is a line of students who also need something...
In my personal life, I seem to have only two settings: fury and apathy. I can't even seem to muster the energy to be actively disappointed in one moment -- or I'm having a flash of anger. Fortunately (perhaps) one seems to cancel out the other.
I feel like I've hardly been out in the world in the last few months, hardly seen anyone beyond the most immediate circle. I did spend last weekend in Buffalo with friends, but even there, it felt like my social skills had atrophied. Certainly my ability to be a cheerleader has evaporated. And now my ability to tolerate the regular old bullshit of academe has headed south. Tomorrow's meeting of the economic history search committee ought to be a blast. An overeager chair who apparently has nothing else to do is nipping at the heels of the rest of the committee and I'm about ready to... See? That's what I'm worried about. My tolerance is gone. And I'm really at a loss as to how to recover it.
I'm not sure what happened, but in the last few days I've been pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of the girl child. On Friday, she spent 1.5 hours folding household laundry. On Saturday, she got annoyed at me and just to spite me, she cleaned the whole kitchen. Then this morning (and without being angry at me), she did 90% of the shoveling -- moving crunchy, icy snow in bitter temps. In my current world, I don't feel terribly well supported and my reserves are running very low after a particularly stressful term. Kid help is most welcome. Kid help that is not coerced is priceless.