Friday, January 22, 2016

How?

One of our preschool students died this week.

She was in kindergarten now, but still, she was still one of our preschool students.

I wasn't her teacher but last year I subbed as an aide on Mondays in her class.    I spent a lot of time with her those days.   She liked to talk and tell stories and sit by the teacher and give hugs.    Exactly the things I like to be on the other end of.  

The funeral was today.  

That mother.   Oh my dear sweet Lord, that mother.  

I had a dream last Saturday that my Adam went on a camping trip and went canoeing, hit some wild water, fell out, hit his head and died.   I watched him die and then I was transported to a funeral home where someone was asking what I wanted to do about things like caskets and flowers.   In that dream, in my sleep, I felt like someone had reached in a ripped out my whole heart and, THANK YOU JESUS, I woke up in a cold sweat trying to catch my breath and crying.

I woke up.  

I woke up.  

But I felt it.   I know it wasn't real, but I felt it.   I hope to everything that is good and holy that I never ever feel it again.

That mother.   She will feel it forever and there is nothing I can do for her.   Nothing anyone can do for her to take that raw ache away.  

How do you go on after something like that?  

I hope I never have to figure that out.  







Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's been over TEN years since I started writing on this thing?

Gracious.

Teenagers and school and extra-curricular activities didn't even seem possible then.    How did this happen so fast?

I miss all my blogging friends, logging in every day to see what everyone was doing.    Watching their children grow.   I am glad to see most of them still on FB but it isn't quite the same.  I can't speak freely there as someone's sole job at our school is to monitor all of our social media.   I guess this counts as that, but I don't get much traffic anymore so I am doubting anyone there knows I am out here in the spider-web, dusty world that is my formerly beloved blog.

I say every year I am going to blog more but life gets in the way.   Up at 6, out the door by 7:30 (hopefully), five hours working non-stop, two more hours catching up on every other little thing before the children come home and the three hours of homework, making dinner, cleaning it all up and starting it all over again.   Whew.   I did not know how well I had it ten years ago.  

I love my job.   That has been established.   I have grown so much more frustrated with it lately.   Changes are coming there and I think I have decided not to follow them on their new journey.   It makes me very sad.   I have the opportunity to move up yet again with three of my students I have this year and had last year.    I want to do that.    Their parents want me to do that.   My boss wants me to do that.    That, though, will be five days a week due to the aforementioned changes.    I just do not think I can work five days a week and still have any amount of energy to give back to my own family.   Yeah, yeah, it's only half a day they say but if you've been a teacher, you know once you are there, you are pretty much there all day.   It would be the best job for me minus the pay and the time commitment.

Oh well.   I still have a couple months before I "decide".

Anyway,  since I can't complain on FB……

Am I being a huge southern prude by expecting a thank you note from my children's teachers for the Christmas gifts I purchased for them?

I buy fantastic gifts for my kid's teachers even the ones I do not really care for (stay tuned).    I have had to garage sale so many coffee mugs, coasters, and dried flower arrangements, not that I didn't enjoy them but, well, you can only have so many.  

*FYI……gift cards are good.*

So, I spent $30 on each of Adam's three teachers, Elizabeth's teacher, Elizabeth's French teacher, Elizabeth's art teacher, Adam's three band teachers, both kid's three gym teachers, and $10 Starbucks cards for each of the nurses.  Then there is Jacob…..$70 bucks for $10 gift cards for seven teachers.

I'll wait while you do the math.    *playing the Jeopardy theme*

$450

That is more than a month's pay for me.

I had a friend who makes custom jewelry do something suited to each person based on the likes sheet that was sent home to all of us at the beginning of the year (except for the gift card teachers)

Only Elizabeth's teacher sent me a thank you note.    Mailed it to me over break actually.   The nurses told me thank you, one of Adam's teachers stopped to say she thought her necklace was beautiful.   Jacob's Engineering teacher shot me an email full of gratitude as soon as he received it.  Elizabeth's art teacher had surgery during Christmas week so she gets a pass.  Crickets from the rest.    Every one of them has my email address.   They have each used it this year.  Shoot, each one of them sees at least one of my kids at least twice a week.

$450

I know I should give just to feel good about the giving and I did as I was buying them.   I hope they all enjoyed what I picked out for them but what happened to just being grateful?  

For the record, I hand wrote all 11 of the kids who gave me a gift a note last night while waiting in the cold car during football practice.    I just felt like it was the right thing to do.  

Man, it feels good to complain online again.   I should do this more often.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Will Teach for Food

Last night I drove my son and his girlfriend (sigh) to a trampoline place for a date (sigh).

His girlfriend is actually very delightful and talkative and maybe just a little bit like Jacob so I can totally see the connection there.    Did I hear her say she had ADHD?   Very interesting.   Anyway, not what I was going to write about.    Today.

So she asked me about my lanyard hanging on the rearview mirror (the working man's fuzzy dice) and I told her I was a teacher.   My son told her, well, she's kind of a teacher.   She doesn't work every day and she doesn't work in a "school".    If I didn't know any better I might think he was a little embarrassed about that.

Excuse me.

I am a TEACHER.

I spent five years plus two summers in undergraduate school (because that was the length of the education program factoring in observation and student teaching semesters) earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with emphasis in Early Childhood/Kindergarten.

I spent two years plus two summers in graduate school earning a Masters Degree in Special Education with emphasis in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders.

I was certified after taking two six hour exams in the states of West Virginia and Virginia to teach grades Pre-K-8 and Special Education K-12.

I became a TEACHER.

I taught a special ed self-contained class, a pull-out class, a collaborative class, third grade, sixth grade, Gifted 4th-6th grade, fourth grade, first grade, second grade, had some children, and have, for the past six years, taught preschool.

I officially work five hours a day, three days a week and earn $427 and some change every two weeks for that.  I bring home $207.07 from that amount.   That means I deposit $414.14 each month.   That is not a typo.   I pay more in taxes than I keep.   No.   We do not get a refund.   In fact, we pay at least $600 each year to the IRS.   At least.

I know you are thinking now that I must be an idiot.   I think this as well many, many days.

BUT.   BUT.

I LOVE my job.

After years of feeling like a sub-par mother and not quite fitting into the stay-at-home play date crowd, I  am finally back in my happy place.

I know Jesus wants me to be modest and say I just do my best, but while I will say that about my mothering and wifing, I am going to stand whole-hog and say I am A FANTASTIC teacher!    They make great teachers at WVU.   Just saying.   And at some point along that way for all those years I realized I was good at it and poured myself into it (helped I was single most of that time).   I have folded in my purse a note my first teaching year principal left for me that said, and I can quote because I look at it all the time, "When I watch you teach, I cannot believe it is your first year.   I would love for others to come see what you can do."   THAT.   Was my ever-changing moment.   I didn't just imagine I was good at it.   Someone else saw it too.    I have never, EVER wanted to do anything else (aside from the mothering but that's another story).

Anyway.

I am a TEACHER.

I do not work only my allotted fifteen hours and go home.   I spend at least an hour each Monday afternoon preparing for the three day week ahead.   I stay all day Thursday as we have a one hour staff meeting that is not part of our pay.   I spend the rest of that day breaking down my room and rolling it upstairs to storage as I do work in a church and the room has to be clean and looking like a church on Sunday.   Usually I spend most of Thursday evening at home finishing my lesson plans for the next week.   I do take all day Friday off but that's the day I catch up on all the things our household needs like cleaned and groceried.    I cannot imagine how I would get anything done with all the football and dates on the weekends without that Friday.   I am in awe of the real teachers who don't have that luxury.   I spend one week earning at least 24 hours of training time at a conference each summer.   This means I have to arrange for child care that I pay for but I do not get paid for this time.   I spend a week in meetings before school starts preparing for the year and another week preparing my classroom for the year.   I do not get paid for either of these with the exception of one staff meeting and a meet-the-teacher morning.

I love my students with the fire of a thousand suns.    It doesn't matter if they are now in the third grade, I will stop what I am doing and accept a hug and make a huge deal about their recent lost tooth or new shoes.   I want them to learn to the best of their ability while they are with me.   At three/four/five that may mean they only learn how to share and their colors.   Maybe they are reading small books when they leave me.   Whatever it is I have taught to their individual needs and by doing that my lesson plans are longer, more detailed, and take much more of my time to prepare, but why teach them all the same way if they don't all learn the same way?   I purchase so much out of my measly paycheck for them and I WANT to do that. because I love them and want them to succeed.   It's M week next week.   Mangoes were on sale.   They will like that.    Or maybe they won't.   At least they have that experience.   I took Elizabeth to Dollar Tree yesterday for ONE thing (One dollar) and left spending 23 dollars and some because I know one girl would love the Star Wars stickers and those square blocks will really help them get the one-to-one correspondence as we add and subtract, and the jumping frogs are fun and will work their fine motor skills.   I can't wait for them to find them on the table Tuesday morning.   When I did the math, I put a quarter of the paycheck I just received back into my classroom.

That fake classroom in the fake school.

I am a TEACHER.   I LOVE my job.

But.

I have a kid who will hopefully go to college soon.   And two more after him.     I can't keep paying the government so I can feel good about myself.

They offered me a part-time job at Gymboree once.   They know me there.   I love me some Gymboree.   One of my student's mom works there now.    She makes more money than I do.   She works less hours and doesn't do any of it at home.   (sigh).   My teenage neighbor makes more than me at the McDonalds down the street.

It's very sad when good teachers have to work somewhere else just to make the money they really deserve.

At this point, I will not be teaching next year.   I love it, but I feel like I am volunteering a lot of my time.   I want to make a difference in all of my student's lives, but at what cost?   At some point I need to think of our family and what I can do for them.    What if I put all of that energy into teaching my own child?   Maybe I will homeschool Elizabeth next year.   At least I would still be teaching.

I will miss it though.   That's the place I am validated.   I know I am good at that.

I am a TEACHER.    But I don't get paid enough to teach.   Just like so many others who are walking away from it as well.

And then we wonder why our schools are in such bad shape.










Monday, October 05, 2015

High School Happenings

So this happened.

I am still in some sort of fog where I don't really know what to think about this.  

On the one hand…..Good for him!

On the other……um, BABY.  

Nope.   Not a baby anymore.   He even has the underarm hair to prove it.   Which.   Gross.  

To be quite honest it has never crossed my mind that Jacob would get DATE, much less a girlfriend of six weeks.   I figured we'd head down this road in a few years when Adam was ready, but here we are. Smack dab in the middle of pubescent dating.  

I am just winging it ya'll.   Have no idea what the protocols are here.

There was no Homecoming Dance, which, why?   So they went to a movie for their Homecoming date.   We have never let the child go anywhere by himself and suddenly he's walking into a cinema hand in hand with someone else who is not either of us.  Very strange.  They took pictures in the photo booth and in one they were kissing.   I did vomit just a little in my mouth.   REALLY not ready for this.  

The good news is this, this GIRL, this relationship, this, this, whatever it is, has motivated him somewhat.   Oh, he's still failing three classes and he still dabbles in daily curse words, but he bathes.   And brushes his teeth.   And sometimes he even changes his underwear.   All it really takes is a reminder that he can neither 1. drive nor 2. make money to make him self-calm.   Sometimes it actually works.   He WANTS to see this girl every weekend and he needs us to make that happen.   It's a powerful tool.  

He has not been miraculously cured.   He still has ADHD but now he doesn't fight us about his medications.    He even asked to take an extra so they wouldn't wear off on said date.  

We still have bad days but I can tell he is trying.   Sometimes.   Finally.  

I am not ready for this but I am ready for that.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Facebook

Last week my Facebook "friend" got stranded in an airport on a layover overnight on her way home from a short vacation.   She posted all night long about how miserable it was sleeping in chairs and eating airport food.

The next day she posted a tirade about how she could not believe that out of her 1,000+ friends only 37 posted any kind of encouragement to her and she would just have to tidy up her friend list.

Then, of course, hundreds of people were virtually patting her on the back and, oh, the ((((((hugs)))))))!

Two days later we were no longer "friends".

Good riddance.

I felt badly for her.   Really.  I would be pretty upset if it were me, but after the fourteenth post, well, I get it.  It sucks.   It sucks being put out for a few hours, especially when you weren't expecting it.   Especially when you could have continued enjoying your lovely vacation had you known.  Sucks.

You know what really sucks?

Fourteen years of discomfort.

Fourteen years of other's judgement.

Fourteen years of staring eyes, whispering lips,  eavesdropping ears.

Fourteen years of screaming, crying, griping, complaining, fighting, arguing.

Sucks.

You won't see me posting my woes on Facebook.   I don't need any ((((((hugs)))))))).   I have blocked a few fabulous mothers who have actually stated as much.   I have even blocked happy families because I just couldn't stand looking at them anymore.

Jealous much?   Yeah.  probably.

What am I supposed to post?

"My son is making progress in his psychiatric facility!"

"My son actually turned in some school work today!  Yeah!"

"It's been twenty minutes and no one's cried yet!

"The police were here!  What fun for everyone!"

"We are such great parents!   Everyone is getting along.   Of course, our oldest hasn't been here for four weeks."

June was lovely.    We went to the beach, hunkered down during a "tropical storm", played some games,  saw a movie, ate donuts, and swam a lot.

Jacob wasn't here.

He came back yesterday.

July will be hell.

He hasn't been home a full 24 hours and he's broken his retainers in half (those are the third set, there will be no more, not a good choice putting braces on him.    Waste.  Of.   Money.)

He's hidden the remote and the television is stuck on an inappropriate channel.

He's pissed on the floor, stopped up the sink with toilet paper, and ripped up some of the little kid's art projects.

He has continued to call his dad at work to tell him how unfair I am so guess who is now pissed AT ME.  (Looking forward to the evening fight, he just stands there grinning as it goes on)

Today I have a headache, I have vomited, I did not sleep last night, and my husband and are at each other's throats.

None of that happened earlier in June.

Let me post on Facebook how beautiful our life is.

Go ahead Facebook "friend" delete me for not using my free time to point out how truly awful you have it.    I hope you have a fabulous day spending hours at the gym and eating all those meals such a good cook like you can make.   Enjoy your glass of wine while watching a wonderful movie tonight with your super-duper hubby like you do ever other day of your life.   So sorry you were inconvenienced for a few hours.    So sorry I could't find it in me to care.






Monday, April 13, 2015

Hard

So Jacob is home.  

Has been for a while.  

It started out okay.  

But here we are.   Back to the same.

Same shit.  Different Day.   Story of our life.

It's hard.

I am so thankful that my children are healthy.   They have never seen the inside of a hospital other than their own births and that week my mom had the heart attack (which, gratefully, they don't seem to remember and Elizabeth was protected by the womb there).   They are so very rarely ill that we didn't realize they'd moved the pediatrician office until we needed a well-check for Boy Scout trip.  They aren't rocket scientist smart but have no learning disabilities that hinder their education.  

For those things, we are blessed.


We look like a normal family.    

We look all happy and shit.    Who knew?

Who knew we'd have to call the police to find our child?  Who knew our child would shout nasty swear words at the neighbors waiting at the bus stop with their good children?  Who knew our child would tell his Sunday School teacher to "go to hell"?   Who knew our child would kick me square in the chest and tell me he hoped I'd die quickly and horribly and he would one day do it?

Yeah…..certainly wasn't what I was expecting.


Then.

If I thought it was hard having a baby scream bloody murder 15 hours a day, well, I was sorely mistaken.

I'd love to get that back.    I feel badly bitching about it now.   Why couldn't I see how easy I had it then?

It's hard when people look at you with contempt because they think your rude, ugly child is all your doing.   It's even harder when people look at you with pity because your child is wandering aimlessly, unmedicated, talking to himself, and acting like a three year old.  A fourteen year old three year old.   A fourteen year old three year old who cusses, masturbates, and attempts to hurt you.

It's hard.

Something bad is wrong with my kid.   He's getting worse.   Exponentially worse.    His body is aging but his brain is still emotionally and socially in preschool.  

I don't even know what to do anymore.

My husband and parents won't even entertain the idea of taking him to that behavioral hospital.    He'll grow out of it, they say.   If you'd just let him be, they say.   You're too hard on him, they say.    Just don't bother him, they say.    He's emotional, they say.   Don't stir the pot, they say.   He wouldn't walk down the street giving you the finger if you hadn't set him off, they say.  

Maybe I should get some help.   Learn how to deal with him.

Silly me.   I thought I'd done that when I got that degree in BEHAVIOR DISORDERS.   But, what do I know?

Maybe I could deal with him better if I weren't the only one really dealing with him, but I digress.

I wake up every morning and think maybe this is the day it changes.   Maybe this is the day he starts to get better.   Maybe this is the day he starts to care, want to be something,  want to do something, want to be a happy part of our family.   It never happens.   After all this time, you'd think I'd get that.   Fourteen years thinking this is the day, this is the day, this is the day.  

Not today.

It's hard.








Monday, April 06, 2015

Pet Peeve

I am a "member" of a local pet page.   People post lost and found dogs and the area shelters will be linked so you can feel absolutely horrible that you aren't jumping right up to rescue that dog or cat who has only a FEW.  DAYS.  LEFT.  I have no idea why I joined it (someone sent an invite) or why I keep it up there, but it's there.  

All day long pictures of pitiful animals scroll through my feed.   The majority are from random people in our community who just don't want their pets any longer.  

I don't get this.  

Case in point:    Lady buys full blooded large dog four months ago and now feels she is "too busy" to give him the attention he needs.   Can someone give him a good home?   She is only charging a "rehoming fee" of $75.   If someone doesn't come for him in two days he is going to the shelter so please someone take this sweet baby.

Number 2:    Lady just LOVES her nine year old cat, I mean, after all, he made the trip from Wisconsin to Texas with her and was such good company when she knew no one in town BUT lady had a baby and just CANNOT care for the cat and the baby too!    That's hard work!   She LOVES her so much, but if someone doesn't take her by the end of the week she'll be going to the shelter.

Number 3:   Lady has a yellow lab (it wasn't a lab but if she says so) and she just does not have the time to walk him as often as he'd like and he's just too big for her apartment.   She would love for someone to pay the $100 rehoming fee to take him to a place with some land so he could roam.   Please click her page and message her if interested.    When you click her page you see all the pictures of her with her brand spanking new great dane and in one pic you see the yellow "lab" outside the glass door looking sadly in.

And this just happened in one hour.  

What the hell?

I get "rehoming" if your dog is aggressive to you or your children.   I get it if you didn't realize you had allergies and can't co-exist.   That is misery.   But this kind of crap makes me mad.   I had three children and didn't have the time I once had for my pets.   They didn't really seem to mind hanging by my feet and accepting the petties when I had the time.    Ezra ate my favorite shoes,  a doll my dead grandmother made for me, and smeared cat poop all over my clean laundry.    BUT, we made the commitment to give that dog a home and that's what we did.   We found acceptable distractions to keep him away from the shoes.   I put my valuables away.   I never leave my clean laundry on the floor anymore.  

We had that dog almost fifteen years.   He's been dead two and a half.   I miss him every day.  

Sometimes people confuse me.  


I miss my babies.   

People who don't appreciate theirs make me mad.