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My Life's Just Fine

It's been a long week, I put in my hardest
Gonna live my life, feels good to get it right


Mary J. Blige, "Just Fine"

This was the first week of a huge educational experiment. My (great)nephew came to stay with me during the week for the purpose of going to PS 7. Since he has a cousin and a family friend who also go there, I drove carpool.

And BMNB has been out of town, chowing down on Southern food in South Carolina, calling me with restaurant dispatches while he's ordering ("I'm at XYZ restaurant ordering seafood gumbo, and one of my colleagues is ordering shrimp and grits . . . ")

So, for two and a half days this week, I was the equivalent of a single mom.

I had absolutely no appreciation of how difficult that is. I am in awe and I bow down to your organizational skills and sheer will, single moms.

First, I realized that if I don't get up on time, nobody gets up on time, except maybe the dog, and that's because she's hungry.

Second, I learned that dinner delayed is pretty much dinner denied. A hungry child is irritable, unfocused, and just unable to function. Not unlike a hungry BMNB, but at least you can tell an adult to go fix his own damn dinner.

Third, I learned that I have to be at least as organized as the child I'm trying to organize. I have no excuse for being late for not being able to find something to wear when I've told him to lay out his clothes the night before. My nephew has an organizer for his homework. My Franklin Covey organizer is a shambles. Maybe I need to be going to PS 7.

Fourth, I learned that you can't give up or they'll give up. And you can't show doubt or they'll have doubt. It's like blood in the water to sharks -- they can smell defeat and doubt in an adult from miles out.

Fifth, I've learned that those last words you say to them when they leave your presence really, really matter. So choose well.

Sixth, I've learned that there's nothing more fun than bopping to Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine" while driving with a 'tween niece in the backseat, hearing her sing out loud, "So I like what I see when I'm looking at me when I'm walking past the mirror," hoping that this self-esteem anthem sticks with her in the years to come, and ignoring protests from my nephew that it's a "stupid chick song."

Or walking your dog with that same nephew and just listening to him talk about his hopes, joys and fears under a starlit sky.

Between cooking dinner, making lunches, checking homework, driving carpool, doing laundry, and coordinating with the village of family members who are all working together to make sure these kids take full advantage of this educational blessing . . .

Yep, "I wouldn't change my life, my life's just fine . . . . "

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