Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumbers breathe through their anus, just so you know. They are also quite disgusting looking, like gooey, hairy, spiky slugs, bigger and far less attractive than your run of the mill garden slug and yes, they are animals and not vegetables. Why some people eat them is well beyond me, no thank you, I'm skipping this butt breathing delicacy.

I learned this last night at the merciful conclusion of jonah’s two hour long plummet down the homework mine shaft of despair. His 5th grade class is studying the American Revolution, culminating tomorrow when they bus it up to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail and debate the Tea Tax at Meeting Hall, where Jonah, quite miscast, will be arguing on the side of the Loyalists.

The assignment was to design a quilt panel centered around a “symbol of independence”. The examples given in class were a peace sign and an eagle, and even I’m not sure how a peace sign is a symbol of independence. Jonah over thinks everything and yes, he gets this from his mother, but I’ve finally learned to let go. It wasn’t until I went back to college at 30 {yes, because I'm a slow learner}, while trying to decipher what exactly, precisely, an essay question was asking me, that I realized it really didn’t matter, it just plain didn't matter. The question was likely written by someone who only may or may not have been smarter than I, and they likely hadn't put nearly the thought into writing the question that I was putting into pondering it, and if I couldn’t understand the contradictory nuances, probably no one else even noticed them... so just let the goal be to stay somewhat on topic, and from there forward I became an A+ student, while exerting a fraction of the effort.

I am entirely inept at getting this across to Jonah who is constantly in a sobbing heap, wailing, I don’t understand, it doesn’t make sense, nothing makes sense. And then he gets really stubborn, just reveling in his misery while every suggestion I make inflames him and we spiral downhill together. It’s awful, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s way too common an occurrence, I am at a loss, truly. Often times, mere mention of the word “homework” sets this flaming ball of doom in motion.

As I left him sobbing in his room last night, I told him that this was a creative assignment, no right or wrong answers, a symbol is anything that we give meaning to, so he could pick anything.

Half an hour later, he bops downstairs, cheery as a mouse, singing a rhyming song he made up and asks “is a sea cucumber a symbol of independence?” Why yes, yes it is! “How?” he asks. So I google sea cucumber and learn that it breathes out of it’s asshole and I say, “well, because they ooze around to the beat of their own drummer... sea cucumbers do things in odd ways because that’s what works for them... they’re very independent. I am tired by now, I don’t know why the hell a Sea Cucumber is a symbol of independence, but then again, I don’t know about the peace sign either, so what do I know?

Sea Cucumber flag in hand, my boy went to bed happy, but by this morning was obsessing about whether he should have colored it in. I reassured him, color or no color it was his worthy interpretation of his quilt square and at least he wasn’t handing in a blank page -- good faith effort... and out the door, "have a good day".

I hope his teacher is having a sense of humor today.

As for me, my white cell count is borderline, so the cancer patrol is letting me get my tooth fixed within the next 24 hours only. I hope my dentist can figure out a clever patch because a root canal is out of the question... too many germs involved and before the dentist I’m going for acupuncture which I’m hoping will help settle things down. There’s a women's holistic health center at Woman & Infants Hospital across town that offers low cost acupuncture and massage which is what I think I could use right about now. I think I’m about to become a regular.

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