Friday, March 30, 2012

Checked out


A Friend of mine has a daughter is getting married. She told me exasperated, "My daughter is driving me crazy... she keeps asking me for a check for this and a check for that….. I am about checked out!" Its nice to know there is no expiration date on kids being able to drive ya' crazy! :)

More than a Math lesson


I had a parent come in and talk to me the other day. I have known her for several years because 2 of her kids had speech and language issues and they were on my caseload over the course of several years. I ‘ve learned quite a bit about her through those years. I know that she barely made it through high school and her husband received a lot of special education support to get him through. She and her husband both work long hours. She cleans houses and he works nights at a gas station. The schedule works for them since they have a new baby at home and one of them can always be home for the kids.

At parent teacher conferences and IEP meetings I am always impressed that she listens intently to what I am saying, responds with good questions and asks what she can do to help at home. I can tell she does not really like to be at the IEP table hearing about what needs her children still have, but she is there. She does not have her kids ride the bus so she is often waiting in the front lobby for school to let out. She smiles at any children that pass by and says “Hi” to adults. Even on half days, she is never late.

So she comes into my office with her oldest daughter’s math sheet. The oldest does not go to our school anymore. She moved on to another elementary school and is now in third grade. She held out the paper to me and said she wondered if I could help her understand the math. She does not know that I am horrible at math. I completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees without taking a single math class….. one of the biggest selling points when I was selecting a career! She told me that she went to her daughter’s teacher and asked her to explain how to get the answers. The teacher said casually, “Oh don’t worry about it we’ll do it in class.”

Plenty of teachers have said that to me…. And I have simply sighed in relief! But this mom was very hurt. She told me she could not look the teacher in the eye any more and felt very uncomfortable around her. I asked her why and the mom said that the teacher treated her like she was too dumb to learn. Now I know that no teacher would ever imply that to a mom- but I am comfortable in schools. I am comfortable knowing that if I really cared about “Lattice math” or “Touchpoint subtraction” I could learn. This mom was not. I realized that every day this woman comes into the school to get her kids and every time she sits for a PAB meeting, conference or IEP she feels the way I would feel walking into a motorcycle-muscle bar or a convent where everyone took a vow of silence…. Very uncomfortable. Yet day after day she comes back for her kids.

I spent quite a while with her (I even tried to do the math) and when she left I think she felt a little better about talking to her daughter’s teacher again. It makes me realize that we have to be so careful with what we say because it is so easy to hurt others without meaning to, even the people we really like and admire. I am sure I have hurt people in my life that I never meant to hurt…. By saying things I did not even know caused pain. If you are in my life and I have said something to hurt you…. I am sorry. I hope that all the nice, non-hurtful things make up for the wrongful things…. and that I get opportunities to say lots more nice things to you. Maybe I should spend a little time in one of those silent monasteries learning to keep quiet. ☺

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grey haired lady


I was standing in the hall at school today when two little girls holding hands walked past me. I smiled as they past because I knew one of them from an observation I had done the day before. The little girl smiled and waved back. A few seconds later I heard the girl say to her friend, “See that grey haired lady back there? I know her.”

I looked around to see the grey haired lady…. No one else was there but me! ☹

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blessings

A friend recently complained that I had not been blogging in awhile. My first thought was that I did not like to blog when I didn’t feel like I had anything good to blog about. I wanted to say, “Well, things at work aren’t going well. We are getting hit with major cuts and everyone is grumpy there and no one ever feels appreciated. Administration seems like it is just wants to penalize and put down and then they tell us at meetings that we need to hold our head high and look good for the public eye.“ We are told we are not allowed to say anything negative… even on personal sites like Facebook or they can reprimand us, so I do not want to blog anything about what is happening there. I could talk about the bad news I got from my doctor…. Or the fact that my transmission went last week and my brakes are grinding on the truck I need to sell but don’t want to. I am in kind of a self-pity mood right now and just don’t think I should drag others down with me by blogging about it.

So, I thought about my feeling of having nothing to blog about. And pouted awhile. But then thought about what I should discuss....

Spring has come early. Everything is in bloom. All over the area trees are flowering and crocus and tulips are spraying color around grass that is already losing its dull brown color. It was above 80° today and there is a beautiful breeze. Pepper and I have been taking walks everyday. We spend at least 30 minutes wandering about and talking about everything and nothing. I look forward to the walk every day.

The kids are doing great. Dori did well her first semester of college and seems to be fitting right in with all the other students on campus. She visits and calls occasionally but when she is here she calls her dorm room “Home” and I think that is a good thing. KC is doing great in school and has a part in the school play. She has been exhausted these last weeks as rehearsal became more demanding but opening night she beamed and danced through the house because she was so happy. Macy is in love and it isn’t just with her car. She is doing well in school and seems to look forward to going every morning. She is in track and involved in lots of youth activities at church. Between those things and her after school job, she is a very busy girl. Pete is also doing track. He is suddenly almost as tall as I am and I have to fight to keep my arm down and not to touch the fuzz on his upper lip. His voice is changing and he looks at me sometimes and I can see clearly the fantastic man he is about to become. Dill is still swimming. His coach smiles when she sees him coming because he is doing so well. He takes it all in stride and still loves getting together at the park with his friends and annoying his brother.

There was a message on Facebook that my cousin posted that I thought really summed up my message here: “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people that are happy.” I am very thankful for the blessings in my life. The other stuff, the things that are stressful and frustrating and overwhelming still loom… but I am looking out the window and am happy knowing that I get to take another walk with my girl. ☺

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mom's Quarter


As a child one thing I looked forward to was when Mom had her card party over. There were 8-10 women in the card group and they met every other week at each other’s houses… so they were only at our house a couple times a year, but it was always an “Event” we looked forward to. First of all it meant good food. There were salads and desserts and all kinds of interesting things Mom would put out for her guests that we were allowed to “sample” after everyone else had eaten. These included junk food and pop… something we did not have a lot of normally. My favorite of my Mom’s friends was Joy because she loved M&M’s. Mom always got M&M’s for her and we were allowed to have some too. (Plus Joy would sneak us some when Mom wasn’t looking)

I think a lot of women at the time had groups. We lived in the kind of neighborhood where there were women who met for book clubs and for Tupperware parties and even a few investment clubs. Mom’s group played poker. There was betting and smoking and swearing and laughing well into the wee hours of the night. These women all went to high school together and were a very close-knit group. They did not let just anyone in. I think they were mostly cheerleaders and baton twirlers from Mom’s school (Class of ’61) but they were a rowdy bunch!

When my sisters and I were little, if we didn’t argue in the living room, Mom would forget that we were awake and we’d get to stay up well past bedtime. When we were older we got to waitress (it was a big deal at the time) and fetch food and drinks for the ladies and they’d “tip us” with coins. Then, finally, we KNEW we were mature when they would let us sit in for a hand while they made a phone call or ran to the bathroom. When we did go to bed it was very hard to sleep because of the talking and the laughing that continued well into the night. (I think these parties always ended by 1 AM or so….. but to a kid that is LATE!)

One of the rules they had was that everyone started out with the same amount of money. I think it was $20 or $25, but I don’t remember. When someone lost it all they got to play for free. They played a game called “High/Low” where there were two pots of money… one for the best hand and one for the worst. To say you were going for the best hand you had to have a quarter, so if you were broke, another player was always making sure you had at least one quarter. At the end of the night, everyone left with at least a quarter. No one ever lost everything.

Thirteen years ago last Sunday, Mom was the first of all the card group members to pass away. The whole group took it hard and every one of them showed up. They asked to be pallbearers and we said yes. (My uncles were not thrilled to have a bunch of women helping them with the casket… but I am pretty sure the card group felt the same way about them!) The other thing they asked was if they could put a quarter in Mom’s pocket. We said yes to that too. We knew she’d be waiting for her friends in Heaven and we wanted to make sure she’d be able to play. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stickers


In a public school we have to be very conscientious of parents belief systems and it can get challenging when the beliefs of different cultures impact what we are used to doing. For instance, there are several students that do not celebrate birthdays or holidays. My student teacher asked if she could give one of these students a shamrock sticker at the end of the session. (Stickers are a hot commodity in kindergarten and first grade)

I explained that she could give the child a shamrock sticker but not on St. Patrick’s Day. The parents had told me at a previous meeting that they saw every day as equal… so they did not want any more importance placed on any one day, but they did not have a problem with the individual items. (An example this parent gave was that they can have cake… just not as a celebration of their birthday) Pepper walked into the room as I was giving another example of what the parents had told me.

Me: “They said they always dress up in their nicest clothes because they never know when they will meet their maker.”

Pepper: “My maker can see me and can wait until I’m wearing something he thinks is nice before he decides to take me.” :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Whispers


My student teacher has been working with the kids on my caseload. They asked her why she was working with them and I was just watching. She explained to them that she is learning how to be a speech therapist and that I am her teacher, just like they all have teachers. They really like her so they want to make sure she does well and I give her good grades. One of the best examples of their concern was when the student teacher pointed to the word DOG and asked a group: “Can you tell me this word?” One of the student’s whispered, while glancing my way “Ya’know your supposed to know this stuff! “

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A’Waltzing


Pete did not sign up for his school play this year. He has in the past but this year he wanted to work behind the scenes with sound and light and set design. This went along very well until the director announced that she needed volunteers for the dance number in the beginning of the 2nd act. It would mean learning to waltz, dressing up very “royally” and holding hands with a girl. Pete isn’t a dancer, does not love dressing up in “Princely” clothes or putting on stage make-up but he said ok. There are some people in this world that just can’t help but be full of goodness. I think Pete is one of those people. He has a gentle spirit and a kind heart.

Last weekend was the play so he was up late every night and spent lots of time in “stress” mode- taking care of his back stage duties and remembering all those dance steps really wore him out. But Sunday morning, with a little frustration about how tired he felt (I don’t think the 13 year old is a saint!) he was up in time to acolyte at church for his little brother who was out of town. Following that service another acolyte asked Pete to help with the late service because they were one acolyte short…. He did that too. He really is that kind of person.

On Valentine’s Day when Pepper and I picked him up from play rehearsal, Pete handed us each a flower. He said they were selling them as fundraisers during lunch so he bought one for each of us. We told him how much we liked them and then I asked if anyone harassed him for buying TWO flowers (most 8th grade boys don’t have 2 Moms or 2 girlfriends). He said no, and besides- he had actually purchased 3. “Three?!!” Pepper and I said together, not realizing we had competition for his affection! “Who was the other one for? Do you have a girl friend we don’t know about?” (This has happened before!)

“No, nothing like that. There is a girl that eats lunch at my table. She has Down’s syndrome and just got her braces tightened. She was crying because her teeth hurt, so I gave her one too.”

Are we lucky or what? ☺