Our first meeting this morning began at 9am, so after rousing the kids at 7:30, we went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Lovely breakfast. They had everything from waffles and eggs to oatmeal and yogurt and fruit. On the not so lovely side, they also had a very large screen TV blasting CNN’s morning news, so as I sit down with my two slightly bleary-eyed kids, this is what I hear, “Murder in High Schools! Is this a growing trend among bullies?” Lots of overly concerned voices coming from the news anchor and her panel of ‘experts’, and then some wonderful photos of three victims of hate crimes perpetrated among teens. At least my kids were facing away from the screen, and I was trying to keep conversation going in an attempt to drown out the TV. But as Murphy’s Law would have it, in a pause while I stuffed some oatmeal in my mouth, the first story ended and the anchorwoman said, “Was the suicide of a promising young gay musician the result of harassment by his college roommate?” Any hopes I had that maybe Maya and Ben weren’t paying attention were dashed when Maya said, “Great. Just what I want to hear about when I’m eating breakfast.” And truly, do we need to broadcast these stories, complete with sobbing mothers and graphic photos, at 8 in the morning? (Or anytime, really). I read about this very story in the Times later in the day, quietly, presented with ‘just the facts’, and of course it’s tragic, but the way it’s shown on CNN is not news; it’s more like watching a bad horror movie whose only purpose is to make you scream in terror. And of course they always end it with something helpful like, “More later on this disturbing trend.” Or “More in a moment on how you can help your child avoid the same terrible fate.”
After that very inspiring start to our morning, we headed off to the first meeting, and the kids were golden. They sat quietly with their laptops and books for almost two hours. The Pop-A-Lock guys were amazed. Then we left the office, got back in our rental car, headed to Starbucks and got a phone call from our contact at the company saying they needed to change our afternoon schedule. And all hell broke loose. One of my dear children, who shall remain nameless, does not deal very well with last minute changes to her day. (In this, she is very like her father, who, also being present, did not entirely help the situation.) “What are we doing now?” “Wait, why can’t we just go to lunch like we planned?” “When are we coming back?” “Will we be able to go to the pool?” “What time is it?” “What time do we have to meet them now?” “What time is it?” “Will we have enough time to go swimming?” “What time is it again?”
Some very ‘un‘ unschool-like words left my mouth at that point, everyone rode back to the hotel in silence, and then I practically ordered them into the pool. Of course they played happily for an hour, and then were angels for the remainder of the afternoon, including 3 and a half hours in a conference room entertaining themselves while we met with various people in the Pop-A-Lock organization. Loving, wonderfully behaved children with short bouts of total meltdown (that last part being reserved exclusively for us) brought on at least in part by too much time spent sitting at a table having to be quiet. Hmmm, hours spent sitting at a table, not being allowed to shout or play. Tell me, what does that sound like?
Tomorrow we plan all play and no work. Then we fly back to New York. (Or as I like to call it, ‘civilization’).
But first, “Kaliste Saloom”
That’s a street name. I found out today I was mispronouncing it. I was saying “Calista Saloom”. Wrong. The locals say, “Kaleessaloom” as though it is all one word with a slightly drawn out ‘s’ in the middle.
I’ll probably have to say it once out loud in the car tomorrow as we drive out of town. Or maybe a few times. Or until I hear groans from the back seat. (hee, hee)