Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Uni-squirrel University

Violet’s been real sick the last few days – we didn’t get flu shots this year, and we’ve seemingly paid for it. It’s been a very flu-y season. With this bout, she falls asleep and wakes up in a nightmare again and again all night. She sometimes wakes up still in the dream, inconsolable, for several minutes. Something about a plane crash and her sister and we need to find the guard.
When I know hysterical crying could startle me awake at any second, I give up, throwing on Project Runway or Pawn Stars in the living room, Violet joining me after her next nightmare. By 4, I know we can probably sleep til 7, when it’s time for her older sister Daisy to get ready for school.

I’m sick too – not that it matters. When my children are in need, it’s like a reset button, wiping away the stupid stuff I was obsessing about yesterday. Selflessness soothes the soul.

But sleeplessness makes you really tired. After picking up Daisy yesterday, she told me she had joined a club – Uni-squirrel University of Santa Cruz (UUSC). She went on in some detail before I realized this was an unofficial club – founded by a fourth grade boy obsessed with a beast that many doubt even exists – the half unicorn, half squirrel.

My job involves planning activities for students – and I carry around a bit of guilt that I don’t have enough time to plan my own children’s activities to the extent that I would like. I know what we could be doing but I’m not sure how to make it work with a packed work schedule and a split custody arrangement.

Rest assured that someone at my kid’s school has taken things into his own capable, and perhaps crazy, hands. Daisy tells me the president of UUSC is passionate about the uni-squirrel cause and spends most of the meetings, which occur every day at lunch by a tree, lecturing the other kids about the history and behavior of uni-squirrels. Daisy says it’s actually more of a class than a club. There’s homework; UUSC members must learn three words in uni-squirrel language per day. Full membership in UUSC is earned by consistently doing the homework and granted in a ceremony where new members lay across the lawn, stomachs down, while the founder throws clumps of grass on their backs.

I have to say this Uni-squirrel University is well organized. And it also happens to be timely, as the uni-squirrels are expected to take over the world any day now.  Surely, those nonbelievers will regret not being able to communicate with our most important leaders after the uni-squirrel apocalypse.

I’m impressed by how imaginative kids seem to be today. In my elementary school days, extracurricular learning was something that might happen when you predicted the end of a compelling Fantasy Island episode or by pretending to be a banker by sitting in front of a chair, pushing Monopoly money through the slatted, wooden chairback.

As Daisy was sharing her newfound interest in uni-squirrels, Violet interrupted, “You should join the Chess Club. I joined it and it’s really fun. You go to the library at lunch and you can play chess or other board games with your friends . . .”

My fourth grader is learning a language known only to squirrel unicorns (or is it unicorn squirrels) and my first grader joined a chess club? Good thing I've been reminded that my most important role is being their mama, because I think they’re already smarter than me.

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