My mornings are shot

I had been working on the diss for an hour every morning. This still happens, but only about twice a week. I’ve shifted my work to the evening, which works, but my brain is sometimes a little mushy after a full day at work.

The main reason for the lack of morning work? My children. They’re killing me. For the first month of school, Geeky Boy hopped out of bed at 6, took a shower and got himself ready. But about a month in, the newness had worn off and he was staying up too late, not hearing his alarm go off. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if when I went to wake him up at 6, when I got up, he actually got up. Most of the time he goes back to sleep. And so I have to march upstairs at least once and sometimes two or three times to rouse him. These interruptions are not conducive to focused work, as one might imagine.

I have to admit that I’m a bit angry about this. I remember when I was in middle school. I woke myself up with an alarm clock. My mother used to check to make sure I was awake, which after a while, pissed me off because I could take care of myself, dammit. Part of me thinks that Geeky Boy should be the same way. But here’s the sucky thing. I’ve thought, well, I’ll just wake him once, and if he goes back to sleep, that’s his problem. But it’s not his problem, entirely. It will be looked at as my problem, too. If he’s late to school, the onus is on the parent to provide an excuse. How bad does it look to say, “My son was late because he wouldn’t wake up”? People will be thinking, “Lady, why didn’t you wake him up?” Sigh. This is the trap of parenting. You try to give your kids some independence and rather than doing things for them all the time, you give them greater and greater responsibility, but then you’re up against the parents who do do stuff for their kids and there’s just no comparison. Up until this year, there were always kids whose parents “helped” with their kid’s homework. Kids who did their own homework just couldn’t compete.

I’m also angry, of course, because this is eating into my (very limited) work time. I estimate that I’ve got about 2 weeks of work left before finishing this chapter. Every morning I don’t work adds a day, perhaps, to my time. Gah. It occurs to me that maybe I should just tell Geeky Boy that. It’s obvious he doesn’t understand how his behavior affects those around him. I wouldn’t mind waking him up if I didn’t have something to do. It might bother me a bit, but it wouldn’t make me angry. Helping your kid grow up is hard.

Handwriting update

I’m not sure what to make of the response. It was what I expected, that this whole thing is about neatness. I hate, hate, hate the focus on neatness in grade and middle school. I mean, really, what is the point here? Okay, so neater writers do better on the SAT. That is not right. They should be graded on content and structure and sophisticated argument.

She claims that she brought up that she would be going over penmanship (specifically “how to make letters”) at back to school night. I do not remember this. I remember her saying she wanted the notebooks to be neat. What’s interesting is that in the email she sent me, she said that the notebooks were there to demonstrate their knowledge of the topics covered. I find this contradictory. Do perfectly shaped letters demonstrate knowledge? I can understand if the writing is illegible that maybe that would be a problem? And I can see neatness being, say, 10 points of the whole assignment, but I just have an issue with this focus on the insignificant details.

The thing is, this is a pattern in our lives. Maybe it’s just my kid, but I have battled neatness issues with my son for his entire school career. He just not neat. He’s not going to be neat and in five years, he’ll be typing everything anyway. And I have to say that this focus on the minute details is something I struggle with in my teaching too. Students very often have been trained to focus on these things–the commas, the correct citation method, etc. It’s not that the details aren’t important. Certainly when you’re ready to submit something for a grade or for publication, you want to cross every t and dot every i, but first you must focus on the bigger picture. And I guess I see this misplaced focus in the schools.

I sent a fairly pleasant response back, thanking her for her explanation and explaining that neither Geeky Boy nor I knew the intention behind the assignment, which I hope was a nice way of saying, “Be more clear about why you’re asking students to do things.” So, for now, I’m laying off, but I’m still keeping my eye on this one.


I’ve just fired off an email to Geeky Boy’s social studies teacher complaining that 1) they spent two days in class practicing handwriting and 2) they had homework to practice handwriting. I said I was disappointed that she considered this 6th grade level work and asked for an explanation for why she was doing this kind of work in class and not something more substantial. I said I didn’t consider handwriting a particularly important skill at this grade level (especially in social studies!)

I’m sorry, but I usually sit back and let the teachers do their jobs, but I find this egregious. I can’t even begin to express my anger over the fact that someone thinks handwriting is going to help get a student into a good college! Please.

Week in Review


The work week was kind of crazy. I worked on Monday since it was the first day of classes. And as you could probably tell from the previous post, I was a little stressed out.  On Wednesday, I spent about 2/3 of the day answering Blackboard questions. As I indicated below, part of my frustration with answering these questions was that most of them (there were a few exceptions) were easily answered via the FAQ.  I still managed to get a fair amount of other stuff done, but it felt really squeezed. I know that things will settle down next week and I can step back a little more and assess what really needs to be done.

On the plus side of work, I finally received my new computer. I chose to replace my desktop with a MacBook Pro.  I am so happy about my choice. One of the best things is that I installed Parallels so that I can virtually run Windows and Linux on my mac.  It’s really useful to me to be able to test things on different platforms and to explore applications.


The last few weeks have been pretty productive in terms of writing.  I wrote about 30 pages over the last two weeks, writing only about an hour a day. I didn’t write every day. The pattern that’s fallen out so far has been 3 days a week during the work week and both weekend days. I’m seriously considering filing an extension for May.  I have one more chapter to write and although my goal is to finish by the end of September, I just don’t think there’s enough time for my committee to read it, for me to make revisions and to get it all in on time for the December 7th deadline. I’ve been running about 2 weeks behind my imposed deadlines, so that pushes the final chapter to mid October. If I didn’t have to file an official extension, I wouldn’t think twice about this, but because I have forms to fill out, I’m a little reluctant to take this route.  Generally, I’m happy with my progress.


The first two days of class have gone pretty well.  I had really bonded with my last class and I’m sure this class will be similar.  We’re blogging again, along with several other classes. As last year, it takes a while for the students to get a hang of the blogging thing. Different from last year is our focus on a particular topic–higher education.

The kids and home

We’re all adjusting to being back in a routine and an earlier one at that. The first day, of course, everyone popped out of bed the minute the alarm went off.  Now we’re all dragging a little.  We’re actually getting up a full hour and a half earlier than we did last year.  Geeky Boy seems to be adjusting well to middle school. Mr. Geeky meets him at home at 3:00 and then he does his homework. He seems more organized so far than last year.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

Geeky Girl also changed schools although her new school is the school where her afterschool program was located, so it wasn’t totally new. She’s a very different being than Geeky Boy–kind of an organization freak.  But she doesn’t always read the directions very thoroughly or interprets things however she wants.  When we suggest she might be wrong about her homework assignment, she gets upset.  So that’s challenging.

Mr. Geeky’s on leave which I think is good for us right now. He has work to do, of course, but his pace is slower than the rest of us.  It’s especially good for me with the dissertation thing going on. It’s good to have one person in the family who isn’t going full steam ahead.

I’m planning a fair amount of downtime this weekend, starting with taking today off to make up for Monday. We’ll be going a bit slower this weekend since we’re not gearing up for school, which will also be good.


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