Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Valedictorian

Before they could fully appreciate cousinship, the Editor moved away, and now Joy and Bubba and Stump only get to see each other twice a year. They totally enjoy their time together even though Joy is a girl and Bubba and Stump are boys. (Joy is very big about overlooking her guiding principle of life: “Girls are delicate, boys are wild’—but only for them.) Joy and Bubba are three years apart in age, but get along like equals. Both are freakishly smart as the first-born tends to be—at least in our family. The two of them together are truly a force to be reckoned with. It’s cute to watch—sometimes. Sometimes they are just aggravating.

Sometimes they get something in their minds and it takes an act of God to deter them. Like playing with the neighbor’s dog when the cousins are in town visiting for the summer. Both of them have their own ideas about how they should “exercise” the dog by making him chase a ball over and over and over and over again. When we explain that the dog is older and might not want that much exercise, the two of them start in, tag-team fashion, like future lawyers. Yikes! The negotiating is awesome, especially considering that it’s coming from two little pipsqueaks—unless you are on the losing end. And with the two of them uniting, anyone against them is on the losing end. Even if they concede and lose the battle, they still win the war, because before you even realize the negotiations are over, they have moved on to their next endeavor. Heaven help us all.

They also like to team up against Stump. It’s not very nice. They act like he’s too little to play with them—even though he’s almost a full year older than Joy. We’ve tried to explain to them that one of these days he’s going to be bigger than both of them put together and when that day comes, they will have some explaining to do. For now he takes it all in good naturedly, but some day it will be brawn versus brain. I think all the years of abuse will give brawn the advantage. When that day comes I’m going to be selling popcorn and front row seats, if anyone is interested. (I won’t be eating any of the popcorn due to my aversion, but selling it nevertheless.)

There are two little cousins that I have not included in this story—Samantha Jean Pocket, age 2 ½ and Marlo, age almost 18 months. They have not really tuned in to the whole cousin thing yet, I think they are too little, or perhaps they just don’t care. Each one is still intent on getting what she wants when she wants it and so they don’t particularly care if cousins are around. They don’t really care if aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cats, dogs, elephants, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, other children, librarians, store clerks, waitresses, flight attendants, astronauts, teachers, preachers, most times Daddies, or anyone else for that matter, is around, just as long as Mommy is there. No substitutions. So, yes, they are part of the Cousin Cartel, but they are not fully participating members—yet. We are bracing ourselves for that day!

Sometimes Bubba and Joy get a little bossy. By a little I mean astronomically. Each one thinks that they are the smartest and know the best/fastest/most efficient/most fun way to do whatever it is they are conspiring to do. Each one has their strengths—Bubba is very wise in the ways of robots, dinosaurs, lizards, and all things mechanical. Joy is the expert on vocabulary, princesses, Barbies, wolves, and has an imagination that can whip the pants off most. Both fall short in sharing certain toys, sharing Gigi, letting someone else take control of the situation, and in lowering their stubbornness level. I fear for their teachers over the years. And I am sure the Editor will agree, we are going to operate on the premise of “I promise not to believe half of what he/she says happens in class if you promise not to believe half of what he/she says happens at home.” I, for one, am going to try not to place too much emphasis on schooling by placing more emphasis on Joy’s education, which to me includes the stuff she needs to know to get through life and be a well-rounded, contributing member of society. And here’s why:

Growing up I was always in the shadow of the Editor. She’s only two years older than me, but she was 3 grades ahead because she started school at 4. I started school at 5 and turned 6 shortly thereafter. She was always the smart one. The Norwegian dubbed me “the blonde bomb”, I guess because I was spirited and had a short fuse. I liked school and I liked to do well in school—somehow I just felt like I never measured up to the Ed. I tried, yes I did, but there were always other fun things to do that seemed to derail my efforts. She was the Valedictorian of her class in high school—something to do with that 4.0 she maintained. (It was probably above a 4.0, but who cares? Not who cares as in I don’t care, but as in anything above 4.0 is all gravy.) With my AP classes I was at a 4.0, too, but it wasn’t a straight 4.0 because somewhere along the way I got a B and there were about 23 other students in my class who had higher GPAs. (I had 4.0 years of cheerleading—the ONLY one in my class--but colleges aren’t really interested in that sort of thing, now are they?) By the way, we did not go to the same high school. We also did not go to the same college. We went to rival colleges. People ask why all the time. I tell them that I learned from her mistake. Anyway…

She went off to college and a few years later I followed. And I am not sure, but somewhere along the way something went wrong, drastically wrong. I enrolled in all of my classes, attended them religiously—always took a full load. I didn’t even take time off to go to the Fair. (Ha! Ha!) For two years I was involved in a community service organization that required us to do a minimum amount of volunteer hours at the University and in the surrounding community. The second year I was the secretary of said organization and was responsible for keeping track of everyone’s hours. (Not an easy job for a group of over-achieving women.) I was also the school mascot for two years. One of those years was an overlap, but somehow I managed to hold it all together and do it. My last year of college there was some confusion and I found myself needing a roommate. The Ed was already out of college, but she said she would move in with me and so we found ourselves to be reunited as roommates once again.

So, the second quarter of my senior year, in the middle of midterms, the Ed was going out with some of her friends and wanted me to come along. I couldn’t because I was studying for a really hard test. We went around and around, the Ed trying to convince me to go, me trying to convince her that I couldn’t because I didn’t want to do poorly in the class. And that’s when it happened. The Ed said, “You need to have some fun and not study so hard all the time. Is that all you want to remember about college?” and I replied, “OH, SURE! That’s easy for you to say, Miss Valedictorian!” You see, I had erroneously believed, for my first 3 ½ years of college, that the Ed got perfect grades in college. She then pulled out some of her transcripts and showed me—not that they were all that bad (and in her defense, she had a really hard major) but they weren’t as perfect as I had thought all that time. We got a good laugh out of it. It relieved some of the pressure for that midterm the next morning AND it had motivated me all those quarters to get really good grades. (I didn’t end up going out with the Ed that night, but I think she had an entertaining story to tell. It probably started, “My sister is so dumb…”)

I really did enjoy college. I was really involved and I made a lot of great friends. One of my best friends to this day is my roommate from the dorms from my freshman year.

I guess if I had to do it all over again I would remember that letter grades don’t show up on your diploma and good grades don’t necessarily make a well-rounded person. Luckily I do get to kinda do it all over again, with my girls—and you can bet I will share this little bit of history with them.

In the meantime, I am just going to enjoy the plans and schemes that Bubba, Stump, Joy, Samantha Jean Pocket, and Marlo come up with when they get together twice a year. And I will thank my lucky stars that, due to the smartness of these children, that it IS only twice a year that we have to try to deal with their antics…but most of all I will be thankful that I am no longer trying to live up to the Editor’s academic prowess.

(Thanks, Ed—you could have told me about that a little sooner!)
Note from The Editor: I think I did tell you, you just had to see the transcripts for proof!

Posted by The Editor for Busy Body

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