This week…First day of school! WHEEEE! (and the story of “rocket”)

by Janelle Hanchett


  1. The kids went back to school on August 8. Does anybody else find that odd? I distinctly recall going to school after Labor Day, every damn year.  Other weirdness: the single-spaced PAGE of crap we’re supposed to buy for our kid, but also, the classroom. Including hand sanitizer, which my family doesn’t even use. Petty much? Yes, yes I am.
  2. I also remember going to school with a backpack, a binder, some pencils and a lunch, in a brown paper sack. End of list.
  3. I’d say the whole thing went pretty well. I made them breakfast. Always a win. Also I don’t think I yelled. I mean shit, it was the first day of school, I couldn’t yell at them THAT DAY.
  4. Okay maybe I did once. But for sure only once.
  5. Rocket is in first grade. Ava is in fifth. Ava was most concerned about her teacher being able to “control the hoodlums” better than the last year’s teacher, so she can “actually learn something.” I have no idea where she gets that attitude. Rocket was most concerned about whether he should go by “Rocket” or “Charles,” since he’s in the first grade he was thinking it might be time for the more mature name. Though I was silently weeping and rolling in hysterics, begging him to keep his nickname, I kept that inside and muttered “Whichever you choose is fine, buddy” in my most supportive voice. He tried “Charles,” but soon realized he has no idea how to read or write Charles, so on the second day of school he announced he’s sticking with Rocket.
  6. Speaking of Rocket, have I ever told you how he got that nickname? I don’t think I have. I’ll do it now. When I was pregnant with him, Ava was about 3. She was a very precocious, verbal kid. Again, no idea. Anyhoo, we decided to take her to the ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. When the doctor announced “boy,” Ava got off her stool, walked up to the doctor, looked him straight in the eye and started yelling at him that it was NOT a boy it was a GIRL. She was pissed. Like really pissed. To change her mood, and get her excited about a little brother, we asked her if she’d help us name him (ROOKIE FUCKING PARENT MOVE) — immediately she responds, as if it was the only name in the world, “Rocketship. And his middle name can be ‘Rock On.'” Rocketship Rock On.
  7. And we told her it was a great name (if we were Frank Zappa) and of course she started telling everybody “I’m having a little brother and his name is Rocketship!” God help you if you called him something else. We thought it would fade after he was born. No way. Stronger than ever. After a few months, she let us shorten it to Rocket. And so it stands.
  8.  It was a little tough letting Rocketship Rock On go to that first day of school. I was remembering last year, when I was so excited about homeschooling, and I was remembering all those days together, and how little I appreciated them at the time and how I lost patience and sucked as a homeschool mom — and I felt that familiar anguish, just a few flashes, of wondering why I couldn’t be a little better, a little more patient, a little more present. I fucking hated homeschooling, and I sucked at it, but in hindsight it’s beautiful, you know?
  9. Like most things.
  10. In other news, Georgia never wears clothes. Or shoes. Or diapers. We have a potty in our living room for her. So that’s not trashy at all.
  11. And…check it out. I recently had an experience that sums up motherhood PERFECTLY: Try to get your two-year-old to pee in the toilet every day for two months. Cry when she finally does it because you realize she’s growing up.


How nutty is this motherhood thing?

Have a great week. If you’re in my area, try not to die from the heat.

all ready to go

22 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | August 12, 2012
  • Robbie

    Love love the story of how Rocket got his name. Curious if the teacher actually lets him go by that at school?

    • renegademama

      Yeah, the teachers have never had a problem with it. In fact, it suits him so well I think everybody just thinks it’s his name. 🙂

  • Bob

    My kids also asked their 3 year old what they thought her new brother’s name should be. She said, “Deer Meat – cause I love deer meat”

  • Kristi

    DEAD ON with the motherhood thing! I am currently writing this with one hand and holding an infant with the other. I know I will one day weep (soon) at the thought of not holding my tiny babe in my arms like this.
    Glad to hear Rocket is still Rocket!!

  • Shan

    Yeah, I totally welled up when Fynnie peed on the potty, too. I thought it signaled the beginning of the end of something, but she hates going without “my dipahhh!” and walks around holding her cheeks if I make her air out for a few minutes. In other words, much like with sleeping through the night before 16 months or nursing fewer than five times a day EVER (am I ranting?), she was just messing with me.

    I can’t believe Rocket is in first grade. Does it seem that Ava’s teacher is a qualified hoodlum wrangler? When do you go back to school? Why the hell am I asking all these questions? It’s not like stalling before going to bed is going to make my first day back at work tomorrow come any later. Ugh. *Ohm*

    • renegademama

      Shan I love you. They do mess with us. Why? Don’t they see we’re already unstable?

      And yes, the verdict is that this teacher is “more serious” about kids “not messing around.” Ava’s happy. I go back to school in two weeks. I’m teaching (well, more like leading a group tutorial) for students who aren’t quite ready for English 1A…(the standard writing class). So none of them want to be there. Should be fun.


  • Jo Eberhardt

    LOVE the story of how Rocket got his name!

  • Michael Ann

    Aug.8th??? Wow! Geez. No, I don’t recall school EVER starting that early. Does Dixon go semi year-round? We start Aug.22nd in Davis. But yea, used to be after Labor Day when I was growing up.

    I know a kid named Rocket and that’s his actual name. But your story is much more fun!

    • renegademama

      Well, they get out in May, and they have like 3 weeks in December (UNCOOL).

      I’ve heard of the kid in Davis named Rocket. SO RAD. They should meet. I’m sure they’d be friends.

  • Katie Vyktoriah

    When my brother Jacob was born, my parents brought him home to my older brother and sister. My sister was still less than a year old, but my brother was three, and he was NOT happy about having another screaming baby. So my parents told him he could help name him. Immediately my brother proclaimed that he should be called Orange. Mom and dad suggested that maybe that was a little bit strange, and he might not suit it too well. So Josh thought a moment and decided to call him Baffy.

    The name stuck.

    Sadly, Baffy died when he was only three months old, but his name lived on, and as we all grew up, we used him as a sort of password. We were always taught that if a stranger came to get us and said they were sent by our parents, we should ask the password, and if they didn’t know it, we were to RUN and find a policeman.

    We also used him as the most solemn oath we could. If we wanted to prove just how important something was or how desperate we were to be believed about something, our parents would make us “swear on Baffy.”

    Just realised this comment is probably a bit morbid, but I just really wanted to say that Rocket is a great name, this is a great story, and I’m all for kids nicknaming their siblings. 🙂

    • renegademama

      Baffy. I love that so much, and the way the little guy kind of lived on in the family, like the most sacred being there is (in word and in spirit). Baffy.

      I’ve got a couple tears in my eyes for some reason. The comment was morbid. It was lovely.


  • Suzanne

    Hello Janelle,

    I just “discovered” your wonderful blog through a Texas bloggers group (how weird is that?) and I think I have a girl crush. LOVE your humor and thoughtful prose. Just wondering…where are you located – not in a stalkerish, dangerous way – just in terms of vague geography? Northern CA? Someone mentioned Davis, and since I used to live in the SF Bay area, I just assumed that part of the world.

    Have a great week!

  • Marisa

    Love the Rocket story!

    We have a potty in the trunk of the car. We get that out anytime anywhere and let my daughter potty. We get some strange looks in parking lots, but hey, who cares! It’s a whole lot better than her peeing her pants.

    • renegademama

      That’s so awesome. But where do you dump the pee? I realize that may be a super stupid question.

      • Marisa

        We dump the pee on a bush or whatever. I am waiting for someone to say something, but no one has. I figure, dogs pee all the time on bushes, why not dump my sweetie’s pee on a bush. I keep wet wipes in the trunk, to wash out the rest of the pee, and of course, some toilet paper! Sometimes I am thankful I have the potty, some public restrooms are so nasty, I don’t want my little one touching anything in those sorts of places.

  • jackie

    My kid’s name is Charles. He goes by Charlie, Chuck, Chars, CMan. But he’s a year and a half. I wonder what he’ll choose for grade one. Good luck Rocket Man! If it makes you feel better about the lack of homeschool success, I bawled and bawled the last day of grade one because it was the greatest year of my entire life (till then) and I didn’t want to ever leave the comfort and serenity of grade one. Sorta like seeing said CMan at daycare, showing up like a whole new kiddo, happy, smiling, hugging, playing nicely, cleaning up….some kids just need other kids. (Grade two, however, was another story, shudder). 🙂

    • renegademama

      Charles is a great name. Strong, full of feeling. It is hard to watch them start to “brave” the world — so bittersweet. I love your son’s nicknames.

  • Claire

    Awesome – love your weekly updates – what a great idea! Dude – your school schedge is super different from ours – but it must have some purpose? Maybe peeps like to take long vacations in the winter?

    Totally relate to the homeschool thing – with my first I was ALL about homeschool – then I got involved in a Waldorf parent child and preschool class(slippery slope begins) Well – now we’re full on into public school for sixth grade and across the street religious school for the little ones.

    Homeschooling is a distant memory that sometimes drifts through my thoughts during those quiet moments of the children playing nicely and then quickly dissipates as things spiral into chaos and I have to check the calendar to see when the hell school starts up again so I can freaking finish a thought and possibly put some energy into my career (whatever the hell that is).

    Kids growing up – I cry when I think about how our youngest is going into kindergarten – its totally bittersweet. Were finally able to move fwd with our lives in a financial way, but the baby days are over 🙁 I need to really stay focused on reality so that we don’t have another one…

    Rocket is a fab name…

  • Mom of 5

    I love your blog. It makes me feel better. You say so many things I feel. It’s nice to know I am not alone in those feelings. My baby is starting kindergarten this year and ALL summer I keep saying I am going to home school because I can’t take the thought of having no more babies at home. Then reality hits and I’m like…yeah….I don’t even remember how to multiply by 6’s. I can barely help them with homework and I think I can teach them crap!!! ugh! Well, It’s a good thought I guess! Here’s to bawling my eyes out on the first day of school.

  • leslie

    Oh yes, the rookie parenting move. Did the same thing with my girl (and for the same reason 🙂 and her brother was called Godzilla the Wondercat. He’s twelve now and doesn’t really care for the nickname anymore. Go figure.

    Rocket, though, that’s awesome.

  • Siobhan

    I am more than a little bit in love with you. I think we should do sex and make babies. Oops, wait. We probably have enough of those between the two of us. Also, kind of a creepy thing to say in first comment ever- Hi, my name is Siobhan and I have some psychological problems. I should go to sleep, but I can’t stop reading your blog, and the story of how Rocket became Rocket has forced me to reveal myself:

    When I was the same age as Ava I was asked what I thought we should name the new baby. Obviously it would be a girl, and obviously her name should be Stephanie Rainbow Sparkly. My mom tactfully observed that my cousin was already named Stephanie and it would be too weird to name the baby that also. I was adamant. I’m sure she was relieved when the baby was born with a penis. She named him Tristan.

    Your blog is glorious. Thank you.