Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hello Again


I am suffering from adult onset ADD. I can focus on nothing. I start six different projects and jump between them randomly, only to abandon them halfway through when something shiny catches my eye.

Something Shiny???? WHERE?

Or maybe it's just second trimester pregnancy.

I am developing a new sympathy for the bulk of my students. It's really hard to be pissy about late assignments, when last trimester's fairy tales have yet to be graded. I'm making up the current unit (The Outsiders) as I go along basically. I hate that. I'm trying to get organized, but I'm not having a whole heck of a lot of luck. I keep looking at the calendar, counting down days. Ironically, this seems to be the ONLY thing I can concentrate on. Go figure.

The same behavior is happening at home. My house is extremely messy. I'd love to blame this on Mr. Clairol and Drama Queen, but he has been at brakes and suspension school all week. (yes, such a thing exists. I was flabbergasted. Apparently there is a class for every part of every make and model of VW. huh. This of course leads to the question, why the heck do I drive a Chevy? but that's for another post.) Since I put DQ on a plane to see her father last Sunday, I have to face the truth. It's Missy Hoohaw. Sigh.

Oh well. I guess I'll get back to work.

To Anonymous,

I'm sorry that you have such negative feelings about your principal. It sounds like you're not real happy with your current situation. I wish I had some better advice, but I'l give it to your straight. Your accusations are vague. You need to substantiate them with hard proof. Like, actual quotes, witnessed by other, reliable students or better yet, a faculty member. Get your parents on board. Once you have actual incidents documented (and spell checked ), submit it to your superintendent.

This may or may not get results. The hard truth is, many students have complaints about teachers and administrators. A lot of times, those complaints never get addressed. That's sad, because I think if we listened to teenagers and tried to explain things to them, they might feel like they mattered more. And even if your complaints do get addressed, the answer may not be satisfactory. Welcome to growing up.

Good luck

Friday, February 10, 2006

This Thing Called Love

I'd like to think that by this time in my life, I know a thing or two about love. I've been in love a few times and been knocked on my keister by it more times than I readily admit. But for all my experience, somethings just take me by surprise.

Indulge me while I share some backstory. I married (too) young and was trapped for a few years in a miserable marriage. I almost threw a party when I discovered my husband had cheated on me and I finally had a bullet-proof excuse for ending it. Of course, I let myself be talked into reconciliation, because we had a child. Urgh. Eventually, that too failed and after the divorce was finalized, I thought "Been there, done that."

I spent several years as a single mother, dating casually, but never thinking of marriage. I liked being single and not accountable to anyone. I liked not having to compromise. As my daughter grew older, the stress of parenting eased somewhat and I had my family as a support network. I had no need of a husband. None.

And then I met my husband, who as I mentioned before, is a bottle blond and thus is christened Mr. Clairol.

He was tending bar at a mutual friends graduation party and I had an instant case of lust-itis. Not that he's an underwear model or anything. In fact, when I told my friend of my growing crush, she laughed and said, "No...seriously, who are you hot for?"

But I was hot for him. Being a fairly old-fashioned woman, a one-night stand or casual sex of any kind was out of the question. So I lusted in quiet and dated other men and thought about him. Every time our paths crossed, there was something.

Here's the kicker. He was oblivious. He knew I was alive, but that was about it. Until he bummed a ride home in my rickety old car. Did I mention he's a mechanic?

After that night, my friends and his engaged a three week campaign to encourage him to ask me out. Which he did, eventually. He was hours late to our first date, but something made me give him a second chance. I'm so glad I did. Three weeks after that date, he looked at me and said, "Just so you know, I'm off the market. I've found what I've been looking for." And oddly enough, I had found what I wasn't looking for.

And lust became love. I married him a few months after that and have never regretted a single moment of our life together. He made me believe in the whole schmoopy, meant to be, soul mate crap, which believe me, causes me some embarrasment. But when you meet a man who cheers when you pass gas, smiles at you across a room and tells you every day that you are beautiful, it puts you in a schmoopy mood.

Mr. Clairol, I love you. Thank you for our life together. I look forward to every second of it. (Except for the labor pains. Those, not so much. But I'll do it. For us.)

You may stop gagging now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In "Honor" of Mr. Rodriguez

I have finally become that teacher. You know, the one you shudder when you think back on. I've had a few in my day, like the afore mentioned Mr. Rodriguez, who had students he liked and students that he made wear a sign reading "Estudiante Estupido." His dislike was not incurred by lack of effort or linguistic ability. He was like an animal or a schoolyard bully. If he smelled weakness in you, he attacked. I should clarify. That's not the teacher I'm becoming.

Rather, like poor Mrs. Brookshire, I'm becoming disillusioned by the lack of effort students seem willing to make. I didn't like Mrs. B, because she was a bit rigid and had little tolerance for humor. She had a job to do and she was going to do it. I felt like she never took the time to know me and recognize what was special in me. Now that I'm in her shoes, I hate to admit it, but I'm finding sympathy for her.

I am fighting a battle against apathy and a false sense of entitlement. (Boy, that sounds so grandiose!)Apparently, these children have gotten the impression that school should be convenient to them and not entail anything challenging or unpleasant. Wow. If I had only known.

Today a student told my aide that he shouldn't have to take the writing assessment, because he wasn't here yesterday for the pre-writing activity. She sent him to me and the conversation went something like this.

Student: "I can't take this because I wasn't here yesterday for the planning lesson."

Me: "And you weren't here why?"

Student: " I didn't get out of bed."

Me: " Sounds like a personal problem to me. Here's the thing. When you miss school, you miss stuff. Sometimes it can be made up, other times it can't. It's not my job to get you dressed and to school. That's your job. If you can't do that, please don't expect me to compensate for that, because I won't. Sit down and start your writing assessment."

Student: " But..."

Me: "Sit down. Begin writing. Now."

Student: "I..."

Me: " Now. And I do mean now."

He looked ready to cry. I wasn't moved. I am fed up with this idea that school is tailored to their desires. If you can't get up in the morning, tough.

Then, to top it off, I passed out a vocabulary exercise and a young lady whimpered, "But I don't like these."

"Hmm, well I don't like whiny 7th graders, but I have to deal with them every day." I shot back.

Boy, I'm really moving toward that teacher of the year award, aren't I? Scarring, er, shaping young minds. I'm totally okay with the first exchange. He deserved a little reality check. Telling the student I was sick of whiny 7th graders? Out of line. A) It was rude. B) It was in front of the class, which is humiliating. I could rip out my tongue over that one. Yes, I'm tired and sick of the laziness. But these kids deserve the same respect I demand from them. Maybe this is my reality check. I don't want my name on some blog ten years from now as a teacher whom a child hated. Let me be like Ms. Niemeyer, who inspired me to try harder and work to my potential, instead of coasting. Let me be like Mrs. Boyette, who healed my third grade wounds with a dose of loving kindness. Let me be like Mrs. Brandt, who inspired me to try poetry and stretch my writing beyond where I was comfortable.

I guess I need a " 'tude check" as Drama Queen would say. Or some time off. Or to just have this baby and get rid of the crazy hormones. Whichever comes first.

And a few hours later, I've discovered a reason for student lack of effort. The same young woman who whined about the vocabulary exercise tells me in front of the whole science class that her mom doesn't get why I send these exercises home since they don't really help her and they're just pointless. Oye. I confess, I told the student that if her mom had questions about the work I send home, she should call me and I can show her research that supports word puzzles and exercises as beneficial for thought process and analytical skills. But perhaps she shouldn't give her daughter the message that school work is worthless and I don't know what I doing, since that undermines the student's respect for me.

Oh, yes I did.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Doctors and Nurses and Needles, Oh My!

So Tuesday was DOCTOR DAY in my houshold. I called in a sub and took both girls to the doctor for their checkups. I was feeling super smart and, yeah, a little smug about scheduling them back to back AND getting in a urine test for myself. Their appointments started at 9:30 and hey, how long could they take, right? Pee in a cup? Heck, I can do that blindfolded. (Yes, I tried. Don't ask.)

We're standing in line at Kaiser and Drama Queen is wrangling Missy Hoohaw over by the toys in the waiting area. The harried receptionist looks up and smiles and continues to frantically peck at her computer as the couple with the new baby grows increasingly impatient. 5 minutes roll by and there is now 7 people in line behind me. The receptionist has apologized 4 times for the delay and there are 3 men gathered around, trying to help her untangle the digital mess. 10 minutes and 3 more patients after that, they fix the problem and we get checked in, 10 minutes late for our appointment. Oh well.

We go in and DQ is handed a gown and asked to disrobe. She promply freaks at this request. "Uh-uh." she says flatly, handing the gown back to the nurse.
"Yes, dear." the nurse sets the gown on the bed and smiles at me.
I assure the nurse that I will get my oldest naked and gowned, but she's a little distracted by my toddler is throwing blocks across the room.
"Lively, isn't she?" she asks.
"Just wait until her vaccination." I deadpan.
The nurse doesn't laugh.

After talking DQ into undressing and helping her with the robe, I turn my attention to Missy, who is about to topple the trashcan. For the record, the smugness is gone. I get her coralled and playing nicely with blocks, while the doctor examines DQ and announces she needs 2 shots and oh yes, since she's started her cycle, a blood test. Oh the humanity. I ask the doctor if we can come back in few days for that particular party.

Missy's turn. As DQ dresses, the doctor watches Missy pick up the blocks and put them into the box. Every block put away is accompanied by enthusiastic clapping from Missy and I. The little darling put every block away. Then it was up on the table to disrobe and get poked at. The doctor wrestled with Missy and got her checked out, though she did lose her stethoscope twice to Missy's grabbing hands. Good times. Missy is in excellent health and very strong for her age. Very Strong.

So strong, in fact, she required me holding her upper body and arms, one nurse holding a leg and administering the injections (5 in all) and another nurse holding the second leg. It was fun. I don't think I've ever seen her quite that mad. Not scared, not hurting, but MAD. I might venture to say pissed off. Hey stick 5 needles in my leg and I might be a little upset too. She didn't cry until a bit after, she just screamed at the top of her lungs. Not as easy thing for a mother to endure.

Update: Daycare called today. Selby has been exposed to Hand Foot and Mouth disease and Roseola. hmmm.
I actually knew this a while ago, but today she needs to be picked up because she has a rash on her back and neck and has been miserable and sleepy all day. This ought to be good.

I'm not even going to get into the whole pee in a cup thing. Suffice it to say, I'm taking yet another round of antibiotics. I'm definitely counting some fingers and toes come July.