The Zion Chronicles

The Zion Chronicles: Prelude to a break through...or break down.  


Today, I decided to let go and let my son take his educational reigns as he believes he knows far more than I do about, well, EVERYTHING. I can safely say that everyone in this house is 100% miserable based mainly in the fact that Zion can't get it together academically. Now I'm for sure not trying to say it's his "fault" it's just that all the screaming, crying, cussing, fussing, breaking of things has left our spirits a little worse for the wear. Btw, go ahead and call DSS if you want. I could use the break.

I'm just plain damn tired, and I want to love my son unconditionally, and look forward to seeing him after school, and not get a stomach ache when thinking about homework time with him. Now some may be shocked when I ask for the ability to love my son unconditionally. Aren't we supposed to love them with our whole entire selves the second they slip out of that warm inner dwelling called our womb where for nine months (give or take) they have drained us of nutrients, made us nauseated, caused us to projectile vomit in some cases, gave us gas, indigestion, made us raging bitches, weeping dish rags, gave us high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, swollen feet, aching everything, and a general case of the why-am-I-alives? Yep, that'd make anybody brim over with love and adoration.

Old folks say they didn't ask to be here. They're right they didn't, and you know what they didn't ask for either? All the shit we expect of them. If my last 11 years with my son has taught me anything it's that he is his own person with all the rights and privileges that come with it. We in our infinite need to control our destiny and the destiny of everyone else have concocted a fantasy of what our children will be and how they will please us and make us proud and validate our sub par existence. Horse shit, all of it. First, how self centered is it to think that we are SO important that a brand new life has been created to generate happiness for us by becoming miniature more successful versions of ourselves purely for our satisfaction until we die. Second, we're afraid that if they don't it some how reflects some great flaw within ourselves (again self centered). And third, heellloooo? don't you remember how bad you hated your parents and other adults for trying this shit with you?

Which brings me back to the beginning of the end, the letting go of the reigns. Yes, it does sound strange to leave an 11 year old in charge of his academic affairs but I don't know what else to do. The realization that Zion is not going to become what I envisioned and that I have completely no control over it is terrifying, but I'm glad I came to this realization. The truth is that I become down right rageful and verbally abusive when homework isn't going well. It simply isn't worth it to try to maintain some illusion of control at the expense of my child's self esteem, mental and physical well being. I'm definitely not turning my back completely, I've told him if he needs genuine help, I'll definitely be here. Disrespect disqualifies him for any help (which is an issue he has at home, but fortunately not at school give thanks for small miracles.) So we'll see where it goes from here.

Keep me in your prayers and pagan ceremonies!


The Zion Chronicles: Slap goes the two piece


To give you an example of just how damn QUICK it gets on and poppin' between my loving son and I:

Friday afternoon. An easy pick up day as the weekend is upon us and there was no need to deal with homework right away. Wait? I'd already said I wasn't anyway. So there really shouldn't be an issue right? Ten minutes into our car ride I remind him I had a show and see if he still wanted to go (as he said he wanted to earlier). He says yes, so we head off to get some subs before I'm called. We get said subs, everything is going great and we strike up a conversation about acting.

I have always said and believe that my son is a stronger actor than me. He just has an ability to shed fear instantly when faced with an audience that I have yet to acquire. He says he didn't know I felt that way. I once again acknowledge what I'd said. Then I'm not sure if he starts to analyze any of my prior performances in his mind, but a second or so later he tells me that he'd noticed how nervous I'd always seemed on stage. I, having to perform that night am not stomaching this too well (maybe I would have at a different time, but not just then. Alas children have no filter.) I ask him firmly and repeatedly to not use my compliment as a weapon to make me feel bad about myself. He glares at me momentarily, and as I'm asking him to confirm that he won't he refuses to open his mouth. I told him since he can't answer me he could stay home because I didn't need to bring that type of negativity with me to a performance.

(side note: This is a pet peeve of mine. Why the hell do people always want to stir up some unresolved whatever or some new bullshit right when you are about to do something major?! Aarrgh!)

I let it go with little struggle, and even managed to turn on some music for the remainder of the ride home. We get to the house. He rushes out of the car, and speed walks to the door not wanting me to get the opportunity to unlock it. He bangs on it so his Grandmother will answer. She does. He jams through the door. She give me the "What-happened-now" face. I tell her what happened and mean while Zion has descended upon her left over two-piece chicken and biscuit from lunch. Like his Mom he's an emotional eater. I tell him point blank to put it down and that he doesn't get to pig out because he's pissed with me. He chooses to ignore me and attempts to brush past me still snacking so I slap it out of his hand. It felt pretty juvenile, and it was a direct response to how disrespected I felt and how furious I was (I even made him pick it up :( ).

That is the kind of stuff that I want to stop doing, and I know if I keep acknowledging the behavior and trying to make changes those changes will assuredly come.

Keep dancing, singing, swimming, praying, and waving your magic sticks for me.


The Zion Chronicles: The Good The Bad and The Ugly Betty Dude


I'm still standing. It's better some days than others. This past Friday it got pretty damn intense. See whenever Zion is away from home for a little more than 24 hours he some how forgets the rules and regulations of the house. He was gone for 48 hours over the holiday with my brother so I had my work cut out for me. He came in wanting to not do anything but laze around and allowed to do so until late afternoon. Then it was time to get to work.

Let me back track a little. I'd visited his school Tuesday (after some erroneous ass story about his Spanish teacher not allowing him to take an exam for Science...wah?). I was irate and ready to climb the walls. It's been really difficult to strike a balance between worrying the hell out of his teachers giving and them enough space to do their job. It get's even hairier when certain teachers won't contact you when it is clear your child is failing their class (D or less in my home, I don't know about these shady ass CMS standards). I even had a teacher claim she was about to go to administration on my son because of his excessive talking in her class. Really?! So we don't even pass go? Don't even collect $200? We definitely don't talk to the child's parent. We just go to administration. Nice. Did I mention said teacher responded to me via email with this sentence of sorts:

"Good afternoon Mrs. Rose, Zion grades are poorly because he didn't bring his homework and he didn't finish his classwork, he talk to much in class, he needs to use his time correctly in order to finish his work, already I need to move him to another desk."

...and she's teaching my child. *sigh*.

Well back to our story. By all accounts he needs to make some real changes in classroom behavior and organization. Things I already knew, but how do I make it happen?! I can barely get him to do homework (which apparently he's only pretending to do.) It's on him right? That's what I'm supposed to be doing. How do I decide where I should intervene though. When do certain things become a parent's duty? I have taken everything from him that bleeps or zings and he now has to "pay" to get them back and for basic things (i.e. watching television) with time spent working (school work, house work, etc.) Is this enough? Is it too much. *Sigh* Appointments with the educational team are made. I sigh. I cry. I dig in. Which brings us back to Friday.

My mom gave him the option of going with her to the store to pick up some energy and get him out of the post Turkey day slump, which I totally get, but he refuses to go. I'm laying down for work while all of this is going on so I arise from my mild coma. Then the stand off begins: (cue the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

Me: Zion, you need to go ahead with your Grandmother.

Zion: I don't wanna go!

Me: You're going. You're not gonna lay around in here all day.

Zion: I'm tired! I've been gone for two days...

Me: What?! You act like you've been to war or some shit! If you don't get your shit on and get outta here...! (yes I cussed, I'm working on it. Call DSS if you need to.)

Zion grumbles into his room, puts on anything literally and slams himself next to his Grandmother and begins to mumble. This begins to irritate her and she reascends her original invitation. She doesn't want him along aggravating the hell out of her, and I truly don't blame her!

Me: Okay Zion, then you can go ahead and get your homework started.

Zion: I'm going with Gram!

Me: Oh no you're not!

Zion: Yes, I am! I don't wanna stay here!

Me: It's fine, you'll just do do your homework when you get back. Either way. You're doing your homework.
My mother once again denies his company. He shoves himself against her and begins a round of hostile mumbling. I have exceeded the boiling point. I box his ears like he's Oliver twist (again call DSS if you need to.) Stunned by the turn of events Zion goes into his Sophia routine: (cue the theme for The Color Purple.)
It took all this just to get him to get to his homework and stay focused. I don't like having to be this parent. I don't like that looking at him after all this his face read an intense hatred of me. I found myself growing this tiny fear in the pit of my stomach while getting ready for work. I'd been following the story of Michael Brea (the dude who sliced his mom to bits because she was full of demons). Mind you I don't think Zion will rule me demonized and slice my head off in the next week or so (I've hidden all of our samurai swords just in case though), I just think that hostility toward parents now-a-days has manifested itself in slayings or other family tragedies. Maybe it's an unfounded concern, but boy did he look consumed with the fires of hatred when I told him he needed to read two chapters instead of one due to the lag time over the holiday.

Where is the line between normal tween/teen aged moodiness, and "Is this lil negro plottin' my murder?" *SIGH* I dunno. What I can do is try to control my anger a little more, and it has gotten lots better and pick my battles. I try not to be a complete tyrant, which is why I allowed him to leave the house for a few days. He needed it. I needed it. It's Saturday. We're back to the grid iron in a little over 24 hours.


The Zion Chronicles: Throw everything at the wall...something will stick.


Today finds me in a very reasonable non-desperate place in my parenting situation. I'm truly grateful for this. What we've been up to? Well, much of the same. Threatening. Screaming. Yelling. Punishing. Sighing. Crying. Sadness. I got profoundly sad, then depressed over my son and his inability to "get" it. I spent about a week or two in bed feeling sorry for myself and my ineffective parenting skills. I wallowed. Oh how I wallowed. I found no point in going on. I felt worthless. I wanted to die (no bullshitting). I. I...was the most self centered muphucka on the planet for two weeks. The bottom line is, they aren't my grades. I don't have to suffer any of the consequences of them. My job as a parent is to guide and to be there when needed. Both of which I always do, even at my most paranoid and overbearing.

We stayed in the fight. Even when we hated each other, because honestly looking back over the last few weeks; I'm not sure if I wouldn't have run away or gone emo if I had me for a mom. In the midst of our everyday grind something came to me. We hadn't played, genuinely played, for a very long while. Maybe because somewhere inside me I felt that I wasn't doing my job if I allowed him to goof off. What I didn't think about is that I was doing him and our relationship a severe disservice. Play is JUST as important as work. When I took an honest look at my child's life I saw that it was mainly work with scattered instances of play that I would stifle as quickly as they arose.  What an f'n Scrooge I'd become!

So, I as an experiment (we'll see how this works folks) to play a game with him for 15 minutes for every homework assignment he completes.  This accomplishes  few things:  First, It allows him  a break. Second, it allows me to play with him and give him the time with me that he clearly wants (as can be seen by his eagerness to complete assignments per they're requirement so we can play) and I get time with him, which I want :).  It's been pretty cool so far too!

We've been playing Table Topics (which I didn't initially think he'd like, but it was what was here). If you're not familiar with Table Topics it's a game that's basically a stack of questions that the players go around asking each other. Some are about life experience, others about thoughts on topics, dreams, aspirations. It turns out Zion loves this game.  He digs finding out things about me and telling me things about him (he actually confessed stealing  a power ranger action figure when he was younger!)

Sidebar: I am having him tested for a learning disability. He resents me a little for it, no matter how much I explain it doesn't make him stupid, but he's a kid. I get how he feels. No one wants to be different.  As a parent though, I MUST be sure all my bases are covered to ensure he's getting everything he needs from his educators (and hell yes you have to jump in with both feet when you're dealing with CMS!)

I can't say what any of this done for his grades yet (with an overall more healthy emotional well being I'm sure they will at least stabilize, I pray!) I'm seriously trying to let that go for now, but it's worked wonders for our relationship in just a short period.  I'm also doing a lot of work on me. So I don't take his comments, rants, and attitudes personally. So I don't feel like I have to fight every battle tooth and nail.  So I don't feel like I have to physically assert my dominance when he's just doing the things kids do.  I won't be disrespected for sure. However I don't have to disrespect him to gain that respect. Pretty good feeling.

Yes, I'm still here. Still in it, but now working with my son, instead of against him. It's working. For now.


The Zion Chronicles: ...and we're back.


When I was a kid this time of year always seemed like a new beginning to me. I returned to school, with a fresh mind, a willing heart, and a glimmer in my eye. Often my hopes were dashed by 3rd period, but this did not keep the post holiday after glow from returning each year. I have since transposed this yearly hope shot to my son and my outlook on his education. Each year he's been in school this time of year has often spelled a new beginning. This year, with things being the way they are, I'm not so sure.

This is the first year that he had work to complete and turn in over the holiday. A science project specifically. A science project that he left all instructions for in parts unknown. This slip in consciousness had me emailing, texting, calling (technology I tell ya!), and hair pulling until we finally came up with a full set of instructions. A tedious 3 days later we look at a project that was complete, but definitely not what I would have him hand in. I decided to let it go because while it wasn't what I think he was capable of I watched him work. He was definitely putting forward his best effort.

He would stop to ask me to repeat instructions again. He'd work a little more, then stop again, and ask me what I thought...again. I began to realize that he was working to make me happy. To satisfy what I thought was right. When I took a look at the whole process it dawned on me he'd sought my advice down to the medium he chose to use to create the project. It made me incredibly sad to watch this kids scurry around trying to get it just right so I would approve. This was not the parent I wanted to be, but it was the parent I'd become. Somewhere along the line I'd stripped my child of the ability to stand confident in his own decisions.

That's the shit that sticks with a kid into adulthood. I know because I am/was one of those kids. At 34 I still feel more settled in decisions that I make that my mother agrees with than ones that I make that she doesn't. What's crazy is even when I am 100% correct in my decision I still doubt myself. Example, I refused to get Zion a PSP for Christmas because of his lack of effort in school. She disagreed. She felt that since she's never penalized us for Christmas that I shouldn't penalize him. I sat for about two weeks in a mud puddle of guilt and frustration, but I didn't buy the damn game! I also didn't provide him with a lavish Christmas because it wasn't warranted, and it would have reinforced some behaviors that for sure didn't need reinforcement.

Thank the powers that be for growth. To think, if I hadn't done some growing up and out of this codependent pattern behavior, I might not be writing right now. I might not have chosen theatre as a career option at 30. We are not our parents. Our children are not us. I want nothing but the best for Zion, but there is going to come a point (and I feel it's coming soon) that what he feels is best for him and what I feel is best for him is going to veer off in different directions. I have to accept it or the next few years are going to be hell on earth. Hence me letting his science project be exactly what he made it. His.

He went to turn the project in today. So many of the kids hadn't done it that she gave them until Friday to complete it. It figures. He brought it back home and resigned to start over. I gave him total autonomy, but advised that if his second draft failed to be completed the first one would have to do. Maybe I'm letting go too much. I'm not sure how involved I should be. This whole business is like stumbling around in the dark to find a light switch in an unfamiliar space. Hopefully I'll just stumble along and not bust my ass completely, and pray god, avoid causing any permanent damage to Zion's tender developing ego.

With a lingering hint of after glow, and hope that this week's testing turns up some answers to Zion's educational woes...


The Zion Chronicles: Eatin' Lightenin' Crappin' Thunda!

I remember my elementary school guidance counselor Ms. Kenney. She was a short black woman with a warm smile, a compassionate temperament, and a no shit taking attitude. I remember loving the way her office smelled. I also remember spending hours on end there in 6th grade. You see, 6th grade was a tough one for me. I was some how elected whipping girl for that year and as such was picked on ad nauseum.

During my time in the fetal position on Ms. Kenney's couch, eyes damn near swollen shut from crying, I would fix my cloudy gaze on this one "inspirational" poster on her wall. It was the cutest, puffiest, cuddliest kitten clawing for dear life to a rope with a knot on the end. It read: "When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Inspirational posters, I've found, are wasted on children. At the time, I had no idea what the poster meant. I didn't know that I was that damn kitten and that Ms. Kenney was trying her best to help me hang on.

It frightens me to think of what would happen if my story had been set now. With all the suicides among kids due to bullying, I'm sure I would have been another headline. It doesn't seem rational to the lucid adult mind why a child would want to kill themselves, but being THAT kid in the 6th grade I do. The pain! There was an incredible amount of pain and self hatred. It hung heavy over me like a dank cloud every morning I woke up. I'd wake up hating the fact that I did. I'd wake up wishing I were somewhere, somebody, or something else. Weekends were hallowed times where I could retreat into me, read, watch television and eat until I damn near popped. Monday's dropped me off at the gates of hell again. I cried every one. If I looked it up I probably had about 45 days out of school that year.

This past summer when I knew I was sending Zion off to the 6th grade all those old feelings came rushing back. "Would his 6th grade year be like mine?" "Maybe I shouldn't send him. " were thoughts that raced through my mind from July all the way through August and occasionally still do. Thankfully Zion's social adjustment has gone remarkably well. Maybe it's the school. Going to a school full of artsy fartsy mainly free thinking kids must be pretty cool...I guess. Maybe he's cooler than I was. :/ Anyway, Zion's major obstacles have come where I least expected them with academics, and in many ways his 6th grade year has been just as rough as mine was.

I'm happy to report that things have improved dramatically. It's taking a full on team effort with his teachers, his EC facilitator and myself, but I'm definitely seeing some turn around. What I'm most proud of is my improving patience which has resulted in our improving relationship. It took me accepting that my expectations of him were unrealistic. He is not the student I was. He does not like to read like I did. He is not me. To think I bosted how I was never going to be the parent that tried to relive their existence through there child, but there I was doing just that. I wanted his 6th grade year to be better than mine. I wanted to save him from what happened to me, to see him succeed and in his success he would some how redeem my 6th grade year. To my dismay, none of that shit was based in any sort of reality.

Fact is, the 6th grade/middle school is a huge transition for all children it can and often is awkward and painful. I have to hang in there with him and be the knot that he's hanging on to when he's at the end of his rope (and some time that knot is my mom. That's okay too). I strive to be attentive without smothering. I try to discipline without being a dictator. It's a tricky balance especially being a single parent, but we do just fine most days. When I read about kids who've killed themselves because of the sheer pressure of being a kid in this day and age, it scares the hell out of me. I ask Zion a million questions. He answers two. He seems okay. I try to have faith that he is.

I have visited his guidance counselor's office and didn't off hand notice any inspirational posters. She, while quite pleasant, lacks Ms. Kenney's certain I-don't-know-what. She's a new generation of guidance counselor. Maybe it's the sheer number of children and variety of issues she has to deal with on a daily basis. Her office is not the cozy nook that I remember Ms. Kenney's being. It was quite dark with a slit for a window and had cement walls. No leather settee like Ms. Kenney's. I have empathy for her plight though, and wish that I could pop in and hang just one inspirational poster on her wall. While I didn't really understand what it meant, it was comforting to see that little kitten when I went to her office. Say! I'd always been rather fond of Mick the trainer from Rocky. Maybe he oughta have done a series of posters. They would have looked something like this...

...I so would have gotten this one. Yep, me and Zi will just keep eatin' lightenin' and crappin' thunda until we get through it. Together.

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