Friday, June 29, 2012

Mental Exercise, Physical Exercise, Creative Expression, and Household Contribution

I'm bad at keeping up on diaries. Always have been, ever since those padded fabric-covered journals in the mid-nineties (there's a box of them around here somewhere, or maybe in my mom's attic). I can't be the only one with this problem: When lots of stuff is going on, there's no time to write about it. And then, when things slow down a bit, the thought of getting caught up on everything that happened is too overwhelming, so you never quite get around to starting and you end up just starting another diary the next Christmas when you get another blank padded fabric-covered book.

I'm now facing the added bonus that I don't want to write about the bad stuff. I am in denial about the impending avalanche of teenage behavior, and I'd like to pretend that Twelve will keep on being a sweetie pie/smart-ass as we transition our mother-daughter relationship into a relationship of two adults.

A couple of weeks ago, Twelve was sullen for the first time. We were at a cookout at which a live band was playing, and instead of hanging out and making herself occasionally useful, Twelve had a piece of chicken and half a bag of chips, then declared the band to be the "worst music she's ever heard" and went and sat in the car.

For over an hour.


Texting me periodically: "Let's go!!!!!"

We were back to normal afterwards, so that evening felt like a fluke, but still. Sullen. 'Twas a new one on me.

I also had a bit of a chat with one of Twelve's teachers last week. We're going to need to keep closer tabs on school performance next year; my suspicions that Twelve is an underachiever were confirmed. "She's smart, she just needs to apply herself." Lovely. Just fantastic. I've taken a step back from my employment obligations for the summer and next school year with the idea of actually focusing on my dissertation, and I'm super duper excited about monitoring every seventh grade deadline and reviewing every seventh grade assignment.

In hopes of sparking some interest in something, I've told Twelve that she needs to come up with a schedule for herself for the summer that gives her something to do in each of four categories each day: Mental exercise, physical exercise, creative expression, and contribution to the household.

She's supposed to make a list of topics for the mental exercise category. In my imagination, she goes to the library in the morning and pores over a pile of books about, say, volcanoes, and then uses four-by-six note cards to compose a one-page summary of what she's learned. By the end of the summer, she'll have discovered a fascination with ancient Egypt, and we'll build a scale replica of Tutankhamen's tomb together, complete with the wadded-up linens that the priests shoved back in the trunks any which way.

In reality, maybe I'll get her to watch a few documentaries and poop out some lackluster run-on sentences.

We joined our neighborhood gym in pursuit of physical exercise today, Twelve because her doctor has prescribed core training to improve her posture and spinal alignment, me because it was a screamingly good promotion, and R because of the hot tub and sauna. Un/fortunately, Twelve cannot go to the gym by herself until she is fourteen, so I am destined (doomed) to become a gym goer.

JoAnn's had a big clearance sale a few days ago, so I picked up a few boxes of blank cards, lots of stick-on rhinestones, and some packets of fancy cutout accoutrements. Twelve was thrilled! And has yet to actually assemble a single card. Also: Does sticking stuff to pre-folded card stock count as creative expression? We'll see.

Twelve remains fun to buy things for because she understands that we don't buy things indiscriminately and is is gratifyingly appreciative. On the way home from the gym, we found her some workout clothes and the kind of chair she's been wanting for her room. (Side note regarding workout clothes: When did this become a special fashion category? What happened to the regular ol' sports bra and the ordinary t-shirt from last year's district track meet?) When we got home, Twelve (magnanimously - it's really obvious and very cute when she's feeling this way) offered that she would rake up the grass clippings in return for me buying her everything within a dozen blocks of home. Almost before she finished the sentence, you could see the gears turning and she appended that she'd get it done within the next couple of years.

Girl, you're too smart. Apply yourself to the rake and gather up those clippings.

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