November 28, 2008

A Card Carrying Member

My sisters and I are going out dancing next weekend. It's an unspoken rule that whenever my oldest sister is in town, we have to go out dancing. As my younger sister and I were discussing this she said to me, "I want you to let loose while we're out. Just go wild and have fun." I found this amusing. You see, I always do let loose and have a great time. I don't drink and so I'm the designated driver. And there isn't anything I say or do that I would be embarrassed for anyone else to know about. But it hammered home a truth that has divided me and my sisters since the day I was born.

I am a nerd. (If you grew up with me at all, this is not a revelation.) But I'm not the techie, computer geek type that now seems to be the "cool" kind of nerd. I am a nerd in the purest, most picked on sense of the word. I was always the teacher's pet growing up. I got straight A's up through high school and graduated with honors. I was never fashionable and always seemed to have a bad perm.

I always asked for extra work and was the first to sign up for summer reading programs. I love to read. I can't tell you how many times my sisters came into my room while I was reading, begging me to do "something fun". Hello?! Can't you see I'm having fun already?

You know those people that you went to school with that always seemed older and put together and just plain cool? I was the opposite of that. I never even seemed my own age, much less older. Not a year went by that I was not teased, picked on, ridiculed endlessly.

I was always the goody-two shoes of the family. I was the tattle-tell, the party pooper. Both my sisters had problems in school and seemed to get in trouble. I could never understand why anyone would want to do something that would make their parents upset with them. This is not to say that I never did anything bad. I've had my moments of rebellion and stupidity. And there were plenty of times that I would try anything to fit in with my sisters or people at school. It never worked.

It's not just reading that I enjoy. I could pass away hours happily organizing something, anything. It's makes me happy to see something in its place. (Just don't ask me to clean said place.) Last year my husband finally bought me a gift I've been asking for for years. He bought me a label maker. He's so good to me. He's in construction and sometimes he'll bring home catalogs of organizing units and pieces for your kitchen. That's hours of entertainment right there. I drool over the pages in my scrapbook magazine of perfectly organized craft rooms and scrapbook corners. I love to look at the closet organizers at Home Depot. A fun evening out for me would be to walk around the Container Store. (At least I'm a cheap date!)

I also have a thing for spelling. If I see something misspelled, it stands out like a flashing neon light and I can't get past it. If it's something coming from a friend or something personal, it's not such a big deal. But if it's on something professional? Oh, that irritates me to no end. Don't they pay someone to check these things? Can they not hit the spellcheck button? How are you supposed to appear professional if you can't even spell it?

I don't drink, smoke or cuss. I've tried all at one time or another and enjoyed none. Mixed drinks always taste better without the alcohol. I love the smell of wine, but it smells better than it tastes. Cigarettes are just NASTY! Cussing stuck around longer than anything else but even that didn't last. It just doesn't seem to fit. And this one always amuses me because I think there is a blue streak in my genes. The women in my family can swear in a way that would make a sailor blush. I do have to admit that I did have one favorite word that I used all the time. I always said "crap". Which, when you think about it, is still a gross word. But I always figured it was nothing compared to what you might be hearing everywhere else. Until I had kids. Once I had kids, I started thinking about these words coming out of the mouths of my little children. Suddenly, it sounded a whole lot worse to me. I had to train myself not to say it. First, I had to stop saying it. Then, I had to stop thinking it. And then I had to come up with something else that would be appropriate. I came up with the most ridiculous thing I could think of and started using it instead. My "go-to" word has now become "heavens to Betsy." I'm not sure exactly how but it works. It's hard to stay upset about anything after saying that.

I didn't enjoy the same things that my sisters did growing up and so I've always been the big nerd, the snob. Imagine the excitement for my sisters when their stuffy, prudish sister started going to church. That was the best thing that ever happened to me. It wasn't until my junior and senior year in high school, when I mostly hung around with kids in the youth group, that I started to accept (and dare I say embrace) my nerdiness. Did I still want to fit in? Absolutely. But I became a lot more comfortable with being an outsider. And I don't care who knows it. I'll be the first person to volunteer to do something completely humiliating...and have a great time doing it. I have been teased and picked on since preschool. I figure people are going to think whatever they want to about me. I might as well enjoy myself.

So this is me. A full-fledged, card-carrying member of the Nerd Herd. Label maker in one hand, a good book in the other, calling out to other geeks-in-hiding. Embrace your nerdiness! (Just leave out the pocket protectors.)

November 11, 2008

All About the Kids...For Once

I thought I would take a break from talking about me for once and spend some time on my kids. OK, you don't have to cheer so loud. I do realize that life is not all about me...sometimes.

I was driving Bubba to speech/playgroup last night and he was fascinated with the moon. It was a full moon but it was slightly veiled through the clouds. It was an incredible sight. Even as we were driving he had to keep watching it. Then he asked me a great question. He said, "Mommy, do you think there's anything undiscovered on the moon?" Those were his exact words. I love that question. After Bubba lost his first words, he never said anything until after he turned 4. Now he's 8 and asked me that. I'm just amazed at his brain and the things that come out of it.

All 3 of the kids are taking piano lessons now. Howdy is doing it somewhat reluctantly. He'd rather do guitar lessons. I told him he has to give me a year of piano first. It seems to come more naturally to Bubba and Sassy than it does to Howdy. This makes sense if you know them. Bubba and Sassy are more analytical. They love math and numbers and patterns. Howdy is my artistic, creative one who struggles with math and the concrete side of things. I sit in the room while they have their lessons. Their teacher does this exercise with them that I love to hear. It's my favorite part. She gives them certain keys on the piano to play and then they are to accompany her while she plays a particular piece of music. They get to play their keys however they want. For the most part, when Bubba and Sassy do this, it actually sounds good. It fits. They do their best to follow the rhythm and stay on beat. However, when Howdy plays, it usually makes my hair stand on end. It's just not obvious to him where the notes should fit into the music. I'm not too worried because they are just starting. And they don't get to practice a whole lot at home since we don't have our own piano or keyboard. But when I was watching Howdy last week something looked different. He looked very natural at the piano. And he looked like he was trying very hard and enjoying himself. I'm not sure why but I was very proud of him as he sat there on that bench.

Bubba picks up on music pretty quickly, as I suspected he would. He can look at a new piece and figure it out without too much help. But he tends to be impatient. He thinks he knows everything there is to know and doesn't always have the patience to listen to instructions. We just have to take our time with him and have patience ourselves. I'm so used to always having to repeat and go over things that I forget there are some things he's way ahead of me on.

Sassy is my prodigy. OK, so she's not technically a prodigy. But I've secretly thought her a genius since she was about 2. At 5, she's reading chapter books, playing solitaire, doing first grade addition, memorizing worship songs from church and showing the boys how to do the laundry. I remember when Bubba was in preschool, I asked one of his teachers if there was a way to get Sassy's intelligence tested to see if she was beyond her age level and he kindly brought me back to reality. He told me that she probably just seemed so smart because I was comparing her to Bubba at that age. Well, he had a point. I can't remember what Howdy did at that age (that's why I write things down) and I know Bubba wasn't doing any of those things when he was that young. But I do know that she is slightly above her age level. (Does that sound unbiased enough?) When you look at how she's grown up though, it's easy to see why. She has 2 older brothers for one thing. If you're going to be the youngest and the only girl, you'd better catch on quick or you'll be left behind. Plus, Sassy's always been the one who's been with Bubba while he was in speech or being quizzed with flashcards or learning his letters. When we found out that Bubba was learning his words by memorizing them, we went through the house and labeled everything. We've read to the kids almost every night before bed since they were born. She has grown up surrounded by words. Bubba's area of expertise is math, anything with numbers. During the summer, he actually asks me if he can do math worksheets. If Bubba is doing math, Sassy wants to do math. So she's had a pretty good jumpstart on a lot of things. But since I'm her mother, would it still be alright if I quietly think of her as a genius?