School has begun, with its requisite unloading of parental responsibilities, and driving time, and soul-crushing scheduling, and guilt, and guilt, and more guilt. It’s worse than a church-basement potluck for ex-Catholic-School-Girls. Or Catholic ex-School-Girls. Or whatever. The point is, that, despite my culture’s supposed market-cornering in the guilt department, no one does guilt like grade school teachers. No one.
So, I’m currently signed up for All The Things. Because I powerless against the insistence of shame.
And it’s funny, for all my whining about my limited work time during the summer, I did get a number of things done. I revised a novel, and have nearly finished another. (Assuming I do not erase it.) (This is a big assumption.) I also wrote two short stories – one of which I feel is pretty good. I’m withholding judgement on the other.
And now that the kids are gone for a good chunk of the day, I realize that all the craziness of a typical summer day, with its debris and discussion, its arguments and its awesomeness, is now concentrated in the two hours between getting the kids up and out the door, and the four hours between getting the kids home and homeworked and fed and exercised and read to and loved up and snuggled and put to bed. And of course, that’s not even counting the carpool. Carpooling is a nightmare, folks. An absolute nightmare. I love it, of course, and I desperately love the four extra kids who cram into the minivan with my kids once a day. But hoo boy. It’s a lot of boys in my car. And they are loud. And often stinky. And no amount of yoga can unhook the knots in my neck, because believe you me, I have tried.
In the meantime, I’ve discovered the secret of successful carpooling: Star Wars. Our ancient minivan has a rickety VHS player lodged between the driver’s and passenger seats, and a screen the size of a postage stamp. You’d think that – what with kids today being black-holes with legs in the technology department – that these children would be universally unimpressed with the grainy smudges pretending to be Star Wars, but you would be wrong. After gritting my teeth through a few days of screeching and horseplay and fart jokes and penis jokes and more fart jokes and then some yelling. And then actual farting. So, finally, I’d had it.
I never thought I’d be the mom who puts on a movie in the car. Especially if I’m just driving the twelve minutes between school and home. But oh! The children are silent. And oh! They are rapt! Now, granted, it means that I am forced to suffer through the uniformly wooden dialogue of Episode One and the Crime Against Humanity that is the insufferably Jar Jar Binks, but I do not care. I have told the children that they have to be silent for a full minute before I turn it on, and then they are silent the rest of the way. It’s like I have put them under some kind of Jedi-huju spell. I’m a Jedi-Mom. And it’s awesome.
So. The whole back-to-school transition has some getting used to. And soon I hope to make better use of my time at home. Because I have books to finish. And new books to write. And that’s kind of exciting.
Speaking of books, I have a new one coming out. Really soon! And I’m starting to panic. In the meantime, I organized a give-away on Goodreads a while back, and I get to announce the winners! Jillian Unger, from California and Jenna Pizzi from Massachusetts (is it just me, or does that State’s name always look like it’s spelled wrong). Weird state names aside, CONGRATULATIONS, LADIES! And I hope you enjoy the book. And, even more, I hope the kid you hand it off to when you’re done enjoys the book. No matter what your opinion, I really hope that you drop me a line on the contact button and tell me what you think. Hate it? Love it? Upsettingly ambivalent? Whatever.
And speaking of the new book, I will be reading both from THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK and IRON HEARTED VIOLET this coming Saturday in beautiful Red WIng, Minnesota. It’s called the Celebration of Minnesota’s Children’s Authors and Illustrators and it’s here at the Anderson Center. Isn’t it pretty?
Anyway, I’ll be there with all kinds of awesomy-awesome-types like Cathy Clark and Sheila O’Connor and William Alexander and Stephen Shaskan and a bunch of other amazing people. So you should come.
And lastly: PRINCESSES! I want you to watch this space, because over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking princesses in Barnhill-land. As many of you know, my new book, IRON HEARTED VIOLET features a rather unconventional princess. She’s plain, crafty, flawed, reckless and brave. One of the hardest things about finishing the arduous process of writing a book is that you have to give your characters up to the world. I miss Violet. I miss her desperately. So, in her absence in my life, I am going to dedicate some blog space to …… wait for it…………..
Butt-Kicking Princesses in History!
Tomorrow’s princess: The She-Wolf of France, the lovely Isabella. And she rules. So stay tuned.
So here’s my question for y’all: What’s new? What are your projects? And how are you surviving the Crazy ™ of Back To School Madness?