Category Archives: Manic Monday

Right

First week of co-teaching. I have to tell you that it feels… right.

I have been blessed with a co-teacher who has her class running like clockwork. These kids are astoundingly cooperative. Her teaching style reminds me of my mother’s–if any of you have seen my mother teach Sunday school, you know that is a good thing. In any case, we get along very well. I have never met someone and felt so immediately at ease. We work well together.

On day one, I observed and took notes. I was impressed with her classroom management, and yet after five periods of  watching the exact same thing, I found myself nodding off.

I think she noticed. On day two, she asked if I’d like to take over the second half hour of each class.

Today I taught the first half hour of each class, and she took the students to the library the second half hour. The day literally flew by, and I’m looking forward to Monday. It’s like my whole life has been brought into focus. My day before and after school runs like clockwork, too. It’s bizarre.

Have I ever had a job that felt this right?


On Arguing With Diety

5:00 am

Alarm does its thing

5:00:01

Me: Dear God, I know I already slept in an hour or two longer than I should have, and I know that I say this every morning, and I know your answer is always the same, but do I really have to get out of bed?

God: Rolls His omniscient eyes

Me: Technically I could sleep for another hour and  go to work in my pj’s. You know I could. You also know that I will be miserable and running behind for the rest of the entire day and I won’t get any exercise in and that I will probably want to shoot myself in some fatal place by the end of the day and that even though I also know this, you know that I probably will–just turn the thing off and reset it for six. You know I will. So help me out here.  Just this once, and I’ll never ask this question again.

My entire abdominal region: Sudden gut-wrenching, searing cramp.

Me: Okay! I’m up! I’m up!

Cramps: Gone.

I didn’t bother to argue about whether or not to get on the treadmill.

Yeesh.


Taking Hallmark Out of the Equation


Forecast

This week:

  • Two finals I feel woefully unprepared to write.
  • One presentation I haven’t even looked at the rubric for, let alone downloaded the actual assignment.
  • Teach son to drive so I don’t have to pay yet another $40 for the third attempt at Drive #1. Or the other five drives. (How do I know they aren’t failing him, just so I have to pay another $40, every time they test him? Hmmm? Bad, bad system.)
  • Clean out fallout zone in my laundry room/kids dressers. Again. I’m thinking two outfits/child. One to wear, one to wash. Burn the rest?
  • Etc.

Next week:

  • Major field research project due.
  • Definitely something else in… that other class which ends that week, and I haven’t done a single thing for. As in, not even cracked the syllabus enough to know what’s due. But definitely something, but most likely things.
  • Plant a garden so we don’t starve.
  • Etc.

Chances I will steal candy from somebody’s easter basket today in a desperate search for inspiration/reasons for procrastination even though I am absolutely not supposed to eat sugar or processed foods:

  • 100 percent.

Chances I will blog again before May 9th:

  • Somewhere around zero.

On Education

I’ve been doing classroom observations of different second grade classrooms during the ninety minute reading block, this past week–during naptime, on days where I have just a child or two at my place.

I have two words for you:

Mind.

Numbing.

Make that eight words:

Maaai. Nnn. D. Nnn. Ummmm. B. Eee. Ng.

I totally respect what these teachers are up against, and what they do, with so few resources, and I should clarify that some teachers were better than others, but really, folks.

There has to be a better way to teach our young people.

I, for one, would last about two days in some of those classrooms before I lost my mind. Not to mention my will to live.

And I could see it in the eyes of the students in those rooms, too. Just doing their time. Because what else can you do?

But seriously, what else can  we do? I am not asking a rhetorical question here.  I would love to hear your solutions…

Home school them? I bet more than half those kids don’t even have two parents in the home, let alone one who can stay home full time to teach them. Today, 39 out of 40 students I observed in the Othello district were first or second generation immigrants. Their parents and many of them don’t even speak English–let alone read and write it. We need public schools. I’m not arguing that.

But we need more effective public schools.

Far more effective. And how do you fight the status quo? How do you even formulate a new theory to improve a system men and women have been trying to improve for hundreds of years?


On Quiting My Job… and Other Things

Went to my son’s last soccer game of the season this weekend. For which I had to not only hand wash his uniform, but remove the water therefrom with my hair dryer. In addition to some help from the cranked up heat vents in the van, because it wasn’t quite dry before we had to leave.

And took child #2 out for his first hour and a half of driving.

I totally deserve mother of the year, just for that. (Do I really have to do this five more times? Forget about the cost of a college education, people: if you’re weighing the pros and cons of giving birth to actual people, you should consider that in a civilized country, you are going to have to teach them how to drive. Every one of them.)

In other, but possibly related news, I officially quit my second job about a week ago. I wrote my resignation out a week before that, and my cursor hovered over the send button a full ten minutes before I saved the email in draft mode. And then I agonized over it for another week. In the end, I sent it anyway.

And felt like a new person. Gleeful even. For about six hours. Because with the click of a button I had just erased something like twenty five deadlines and immeasurable headache. Not to mention a considerable amount of simmering fury.

And then serious ugh hit. Which surprised me; I didn’t realize how much I rely on super-pressure as motivation to get things done.

I got over it in a day or two.

I might have to cancel the phone, the internet, and the car insurance for the summer, but it feels right.

We could totally go au naturel. All eight of us. Sweat out a Moses Lake summer with nothing but paper fans to cool us, and eat oatmeal and wait… let me check… irregular peaches in heavy syrup bought in that really cheap case lot sale last fall.

Can you just see me herding my six children, five of them in their suits and ties, down Potato Hill Road every Sunday on the way to church? Come on…. it doesn’t get above 110 degrees here. Very often. And it would be so character building.

(Remember walking to church in Portland? It was fun… you’ll back me up on this, right?)

Kidding, my dear sweet children, if you are reading this. You know I wouldn’t make you do that. For very long. And besides, we have those Rice Chex and the green beans and there are those boxes of apples we could make into sauce, should they get very much mushier.

Why doesn’t my blog have a selection of emoticons to place here?

I was going to put a big yellow smiley face.

So very disappointed.

Now I need a frowny one…


My Own Personal Canyon

Eight years ago, Aron Ralston was hiking Blue John Canyon, when somehow a boulder became dislodged and trapped his right arm. After five days and the realization that he was going to die, he thought he saw a small boy running toward him, and that he caught the child up in his left arm. Feeling like this was a vision of his future son, he decided to live: He broke the bones in his arm, and then amputated it with a dull utility knife.

Uhg.

Heard a speaker relate this story this weekend. I’d heard the story before but never paid it a lot of attention–until Dallin H. Oaks paired it with this statement(or something like it, I’m going from my notes here): “If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense, they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from other priorities that prevent our progress”.

And it was like having a bucket of cold water thrown over me. What, exactly, are the priorities that are preventing my progress? What good (but maybe not essential) activities am I letting steal away the moments of my life?

There are things I think that I want to accomplish–things that nag at me constantly, but I feel I do not have time for just now: Writing that book, establishing a rock-solid family meal routine, etc.

But I allow other things to get in the way. (Sleep, usually. You know how it is: Next week, for sure, I’ll start.)

Do I really desire those things as much as Aron Ralston wanted to see his son? I tell myself that I do. But do I? Oaks said, “We should remember that those desires cannot be superficial, impulsive or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering, and permanent.”

Would I cut off my own arm? Or even just give up an hour of sleep every morning? What “limb” needs to go, and do I have the stomach for it?

It’s something to think about. ‘Cause a lot of days I feel like I’m stuck, all alone in a desert canyon, and that boulder and I both aren’t budging.

And darn it all, I’ve got places to be.


Divorcing A Toddler

Due to state budget cuts, and families moving or losing employment I have lost eight children from my childcare in the past six weeks or so.

It varies with the family, but in most cases I imagine this is what it would feel like to get a divorce. You untangle ownership of belongings: baby equipment, forgotten toys and books, blankets, leftover diapers, wipes, spare sets of clothing and stray socks.  Suddenly things that were routine cares are no longer any of your business. Some responsibilities you are glad to relinquish; others feel like they might leave a scar. And as you watch them go, and in the middle of the night in the weeks that follow, you ask yourself: Did I do enough? Was I kind enough? Did I really put my all into that relationship or could I have done better?

It happens every time and it always surprises me.

And then a one-gallon kid brings up two gallons of breakfast on my shoes and I don’t care who the spare set of clothing belongs to anymore. It’s all Clorox and balance books and don’t-lick-the-window-come-out-of-the-fridge-your-shirt’s-inside-out-sit-down-at-the-table again. Life has a way of moving on into the uncertain future and dragging you along with it whether you planned on attending or not.



Unbound

So.

About those fingers: No, I haven’t been flailing about mummified for three weeks. Although, that first day, had I stuck by my original intentions, I’d have rivaled King Tut by four pm.

At which time I decided that:

  1. Losing all the fingers on one hand was going far enough; point taken. And,
  2. I would need to give myself a clean slate every morning. Even God is that merciful.

So the next morning I rose, set out the box of band-aids… and thought to myself, “This could get really expensive. And time consuming.”

And then, “Unless…  I just knock it off.” I mean, really: how ridiculous is self-punishment?

And believe it or not, I was able to just. quit. Stop entertaining those thoughts. If you know me,  you’ll realize how miraculous that is; divine intervention is the only explanation.

Because I’ve tried to change this tendency in myself for close to thirty years without success. But for some reason, things clicked.

I find it much more efficient to not let things get to me. The two year old just redecorated twenty-four square feet of wall with one crayon while I made him a sandwhich?

Huh.

What are you going to do about it, really? (And what did you expect a two year old would do with a crayon, anyway?) My options were to stew about finding a brush, touch up paint, and a kid-free couple hours–not to mention putting down lunch prep to bind my own fingers which would make repainting even more difficult and time consuming–or: I could just hand him a coloring book, point out an alternate use for crayons, and continue with the pb&j assembly line.

So much easier.  And I don’t get a headache. And my hair is growing back.

No kidding. In the past three weeks or so my hair has stopped falling out in clumps, and I’ve got almost half an inch of new growth sprouting all over my head. I only noticed because the fringe along my hair line makes it look like maybe I cut really short bangs for some reason.

I don’t know if it’s this, or the result of other changes (in my diet, etc,) but I’m not complaining. I wasn’t looking forward to wig shopping.

The second day of the experiment, I probably deserved one good binding–when I found myself literally hyperventilating over the behavior of someone way beyond my influence.

But that was it.

It’s been eerie, how simple the choice has been, to just not go there.  Just don’t think it. Don’t do it. Don’t stew. Take a deep breath and believe that all things work together for your good. I have paid lip service to this in the past, but I also only took that deep breath after figuratively going blue in the face, first–because letting frustrations and worries go was a last resort for problems I proved irrefutably I was incapable of solving.

So my fingers have been as nimble as ever, albeit dedicated solely to academic rattling of the keyboard and not mental musings of this sort. This semester has been concussive, brutal in its demands and relentless. But it gets me out of bed in the morning, and that’s always a good thing. But I have been neglecting this and I have decided upon repentance–or an attempt thereat. Time will tell.


To Shrink, or Not to Shrink

It’s a question of ethics, really.

If you can’t blog about the things you want to blog about, under your real name, should you be blogging about them at all? And if we wouldn’t want anyone to know it was us thinking/saying those things what is it that makes us want to expose them?

It’s somewhat like the conversation I had with my sister-in-law the other day. I called her from the cereal aisle at Safeway: “Okay, I have to tell you this, and I shouldn’t, and I’m probably going to regret it, but I’m going to anyway, etc.”

And no, I wasn’t passing on gossip–unless you can gossip about yourself. It was my experience, my attitude, my actions (or lack thereof)  that I needed another perspective on. And with the exception of that one phone call–I can’t even begin to put them into words for anyone I know personally to pass judgement on.

The past week has been full of these things–for the first time in my life I understand why people visit a shrink–it isn’t because they want help. They just want a totally anonymous someone to listen, and maybe try to understand.

Wait a minute… Did I just admit that I need a shrink?