Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where the Boys Are (Not)

The Matron is currently teaching a basic writing and research skills course, one that constitutes the bread and butter of her English faculty existence.

Graduating from this particular college? First, you must pass English 1009.

Merrick: first you must learn to read! That seems like a separate story, but is it? A steady fretter about her youngest, the Matron has long worried that her son's disdain for all things academic is simply setting him in the middle of the male pack.

And just how is that pack doing up the road--the boys in college?

Please do return to the topic of English 1009. In her online sections of this class there are 57 registered students. Of those 57 students, just 14 turned in rough drafts of the first paper. It's okay to gasp here. She did and had to steady herself on a desk.

Of those 14, guess how many were women?

The ONE man to turn in a rough draft is an adult student pushing forty. The Matron has barely heard from the 18-24 group. The English 1009 Online Discussion Board?

Courtney to Elizabeth; Brandee writes to Deirdre; Sandy asks Elle a question; Veronica to Brittany (one of the thirty); Katie queries Catherine.

You get it.

This trend is not simply anecdotal.

Scrolling down a decade to the college student in the making, the Matron has been scheming for ways around Merrick's deep tissue resistance to reading--to touching a book, even.

The person to finally make the most significant breakthrough to date is a family member about whom she is not allowed to blog, HE WHO CANNOT BE NAMED (because the neighbors are watching) and the only person in the family advancing to a regional scientific competition and currently the proud possessor of grades that only include straight A+s. . . . (that's a plus, folks, not that she's bragging? well, sorta). . . .

Merrick has been introduced to the magazine version of Think Geek.

This magazine features gadgetry and gear beyond all measure! Light sabers, pepper shakers in the form of R2D2, mini Darth Vaders, lights, lasers, mini-cameras, key holders, spy cameras, thermometers . . . you name it!

Yesterday, not once, but several times, the Matron came into the kitchen to find Merrick at the table absorbed with the turning of pages.

"Mom? Does this mean fowty dollaws to buy?"

! Yes! He now knows some numbers!

"Mom? This wowd is 'sale' wight? Does that mean we can buy it?"

Merrick can read. Still below grade level. Still stwuggling. But the child has discovered the world of shopping by catalogs and cannot be restrained. Better than nothing. The Matron is thinking of this breakthrough sorta like her son's own little rough draft, turned in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bad Choice, Mama

Merrick is all into the bad choice.

John: "Merrick! Time for bed!"

Merrick: "Daddy, that is a bad choice. Make good choices like let's stay up fow ice cweam."

Carrots at dinner? Bad choice.

Homework? You know the drill. But add REALLY before bad.

The Matron was reminded of this recurring family anthem early this afternoon when she decided to get gas and wash the van.

Pause here.

Do you live in California? Kansas? Oregon?

If so, you have absolutely NO IDEA what "wash the van' really means. This is MINNESOTA. Today was a typical weather day: wrapping up 8 inches of snow, 19 degrees and a whopping north wind. If you want to walk or drive, you are required to plow through six inches of gray slimy half-snow half pollution half dirt gunk. Which gets on your car.

The Matron washed her van about eight days ago. This afternoon, the vehicle was unrecognizable as such but instead a murky gray-grown palette of slush. Windows and mirrors, unusable. Parking in the lot at her very fine community college, she emerged from meetings to find this swiped into the dirt on her van:



Okay, okay. . . why does her thirteen year old follow her everywhere?

But here's the deal.

The Matron tried very very hard to run her vehicle through the car wash. But here's the deal. The Matron? Brave, true, tried, humble and all get out great --- has a pathological fear of car washes.

Here she is, in the middle of the brush, valve and soap, LOCKED INSIDE, and creating her obituary:

"Local woman crushed in bizarre car wash accident when soaping suddzers went amuck and crashed into the front seat."

The details of the narrative vary but the end result, the same. Death to the Matron. Poor dear (Me, Her) cannot sit through a car wash without panic, sweat and anxiety attack. And that dratted obituary.

"Death by soap brush."

"Woman drowned in car by bizarre car wash breakdown."

"Mother of three crushed when car wash took on a life of its own, plunging massive scrubber brush into front seat of minivan."

"Why don't car wash doors open in emergencies?"

Today, friends, she made a choice.

The van was black. Windows unusable. Car wash? Horrifying.

So when she filled up the car with gas? You know those little pouches of window wash with the squeegee? The Matron decided to wash her van with that. Sorta like the window but the whole vehicle.

Picture this. Heels, good coat, nice hair, tidy. Disgusting everything else falling apart as she's streaking the van with industrial strength wind-shield washer. Mind you, she got under the wheels really well even if it meant exposing thigh (with wind chill).

Between the ruined shoes, the ridicule, the gas station worker running out and asking "are you all right," the streaked ugly van, and the children's horror?

Bad choice.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baby Games



The cycle of life both began again and came to a grinding halt at 10:17 this morning when the Matron's little brother and his beautiful (true) wife welcomed their third -- and currently unnamed -- son into the world!

The Matron recommended to her brother that he allow his older sons -- six and nine-- to make that final name decision from a short acceptable list, just as she did. With mixed results as Merrick is now unfortunately named after a Yu-Gi-Oh character.

And what's so final about a new baby? This is the end of the reproductive road for the Matron's siblings. All those grandchildren and cousins? All here: five boys and Scarlett. Who never fails to address this issue at family gatherings.

Scarlett: "It is not FAIR. Where is my sister?! Where is my cousin?!"

To imagine the volume and intensity of this lament, the Matron opens a wee window into this morning's before school scrimmage. Scarlett, who has been on antibiotics for strep throat since Thursday announced today that the infection must have spread to her stomach and right hip because both were causing her UNBEARABLE pain.

She limped around the house, dragging the game leg behind her and moaning about the stomach (and throat). The Matron became aware of this emergency while in the basement. Scarlett was on the second floor. She has projection power second to no one.

Gee, you would think those antibiotics would have kicked in by now.

Matron: "Scarlett, you can use a hair dryer to dry your hair before school."

Scarlett: "No I can't. My hair doesn't dry normally. Dryers don't work on it."

Some days, the Matron is very very glad that there is just one other set of ovaries in this particular roost because she thinks one hysterical operatic hypochondriac with hair unable to dry normally is about all she can handle.