Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How's It Going?

I always said I'd know by Nov. if this job really is for me. It is almost Nov. We stand on a precipice. Our little school is about to get SLAMMED with new middle schoolers (I can't say exactly why...I can admit it is a group felony). We also picked up some high schoolers who were on the sauce at a school event. I've had to remove kiddos for disrespect, call parents, discuss all sorts of unpleasant topics. And. Drum Roll: It is still a ton of fun! I LOVE the people I work with. They are quirky, confident, and kind. I am currently making up roller derby nick names for us. (long story: one of the girls used to be rollerderby...we are actually making fun of her. she doesn't know it. i know i'm mean.)

Here are my names thus far. The first and last names are changed to help avoid detection.

Susan "I will put you on home bound" Wright.
Stanley "number crusher" orbitz.
Charles "schulz your mouth" schulz.

I haven't come up with my name yet.

The truth is, of course, that the people make the job. And, I really like them. Also, though, I really like the kiddos. They are extremely social inept, immature, and face hurdles (which they themselves placed) that I can't even imagine. It doesn't change the fact, though, that I love to teach them how to write well. I love to read Chaucer. I love to help them. So far, so good. I'll give a jobs report again in the Spring: that may be a different creature all together. ;)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Betting Against A Student

Because I work at the discipline campus, the students are transitory, meaning they are placed only for a short time. I thought this would be good, because if you have an annoying student, they go on their way at the end of their allotted time. Not so much. I actually have grown to really love my students. Of course, it is good that they return to their home campus. They have friends to see, plays to be in, sports to participate in, and in general, be a teenager again. We began a transition plan at the behest of our administration. Today, I got to be the first one to participate in the transition, to check on former student who exited this year.

NYwas a dream student. She was our only middle schooler, in the DAEP for losing it after she had been confronted about taking someone's things. While with us, I learned lots of things about her. She has huge struggles with her step mom. She is a nerd, and doesn't fit in at her uber-chic middle school. (Not really shocked about that. Her middle school is the wealthiest in the district, by far.) She read 16 books during her spare time while she was with us for four weeks. She loves to write. She went to a writing camp this summer. She is into drama. Okay, although she wasn't a mini-me, she and I share a lot of common interests.

So I go over to check on her, give her a quick hug, and I can tell she doesn't want to talk. She has a life that is calling. She's been in choir and drama, has made some friends, and doesn't need me anymore. Her grades are up, her attittude is up, she is sailing right along. On the way out, I tell the two counselors at her MS that I will be back, but not a lot. She doesn't seem like a risk to come back to our DAEP. That is when one of the counselors unloads. She starts looking around counselor 1s desk and office to see if NY has taken anything. She laughs in my face when I tell her that I don't think NY is a risk. Then she says, "We'll see if she comes back to you around April. Let's just wait and see how she is doing then." With a sarcastic snarl on her face.

I am wondering to myself if this highly educated woman has morphed into a middle schooler. I want to ask her if she has heard of Pygmalion, and self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to ask her if she really is implying that N will be back, in other words, if she is insisting N will fail. In true life-long educator form, I smile, bid the lady counselors goodbye, and tell them to have a nice day. Outside, I mutter "bitch," and I am so angry that someone would be so hateful to a 12 year old and get PAID to do it. I can't imagine disliking a student so much.

At my home campus, the one other teacher who wasn't new this year confirms "They don't like NY over there." I want to judge the counselor, to think she is a horrible person who should be fired, but there is a little voice inside of my head that urges me to imagine my words and how they are taken in social situations. Although I've tried to move beyond this, I am still haunted that so many campuses are guilty of betting against students. I will try not to do this, as this violates education ethics 101, and also, it violates the inner-law God has stamped upon my heard, that of free will. You see, the truth of the matter is this: Either NY will return to our DAEP for bad choices, or she will advance on without incident. The choice is hers. It has nothing to do with counselor number 1 nor myself. April, come quickly, so NY can prove everyone in her petty middle school wrong. I am betting on NY. It may be a long shot.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm The First!

If you want to know how my job is going, let me tell you what I got to do today. Just today, I tutored two students at the alternative school (students pick to go there) who are trying to graduate. I taught one of them Edward's "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God" and the other one Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." With the Chopin piece, we talked about how motherhood can sometimes feel constraining: she is the mom to a baby girl! Also, I was able to be the FIRST ONE to discuss a college education with one of my students! No one had mentioned secondary education to him before. I got to be the FIRST! This job is crazy, but I know God is working through me and in me while I am here! What a blessing to be the first!

Monday, August 09, 2010

My Last Day as a SAHM: Another Red Letter Day!

It is not surprising, I suppose, that I love the beach and the waves that crash into them. They always keep coming in a rhythm that I find so relaxing. I know I'm not alone in this. I find that this same rhythm is echoed in our human lives. 7 years ago this day, my belly was extra-large with Jack McCormack. I was heading back to work after a summer break to my job at as a high school English teacher at Lamar High School. I was nervous about Jack, but 100% positive that the daycare exactly one block away would be a great idea for him. I had NO plans to be a SAHM at all. I remember at the end of my first day as a 9 1/2 month pregnant teacher, I was sprawled out in a camp chair and my students were very afraid I might go into labor in front of them. (Probably the BEST lesson for abstinence or birth control they EVER got in high school.) And then, I met him. Of course, after hours of labor, worry, ect....but still. My very next memory is of holding a screaming, crying baby boy. And much pain. (they say you don't remember the pain...whatever, that's stupid, of course you do. it freaking sucks...)

Still in a lot of pain, riding in my car on a doughnut, I had to go up to the school because my substitute teacher couldn't figure out my lesson plans. When I showed them to the head of the English dept., she was shocked there was any question at all. I was EXTREMELY organized and ready for maternity leave. I was so angry at having to deal with work stuff...and that anger never subsided. I knew I had to quit to care for Jack. First I told Mike, then my parents, then my principal. And I was free.

Free to do what? I hadn't the foggiest idea! I put Jack in my bjorn, joined some museums and the zoo, met Cathie and Ava for lunch, baked Hamburger Helper and had left overs every other night because we were so poor. We took naps together, built blocks, watched baby einsteins, talked, read books, played and ultimately expanded our family with the wonderful and fabulous Molly McCormack. My sweet mini-me. We moved to Keller. Life got tougher. I had two children under 22 months apart. I became depressed. I got lost in the waves of laundry, cooking, and games. I clinged to my parents who visited once a week. I was pummeled by the monotony it takes to keep a household successfully running. And, I longed to go back to work. Caring for two small children is taxing, hard, boring, and WONDERFUL all at once. I made friends with other moms who helped me immensely. They talked to me, showed me how to handle the pressure with grace, and mostly shared themselves with me during a challenging time.
Being an at home mom feels like it is high tide ALL THE TIME. There are no breaks, no moments to catch your breath. You scarf down what's left over on tiny plates like a turkey vulture, gulp water in intervals like a camel, vacuum like a robot, and laugh hysterically like a hyenas at the predicaments you find yourself in.

I needed a lot of adult interaction, so I started back to school, got an MA, and worked part time to quell the desire to go back to work. Those moments where I got to think, write and interact with others were my life-line. But, it only satiated my appetite for full time employment for a bit.

Now my kiddos are 7 (this month) and 5. I have been hired to teach English at the DAEP school, or as Jack calls it "JUVIE". I work 5 minutes from home. Since I work in GCISD, I am mostly on Jack and Molly's schedule. I will work from 7 a.m. til 3 p.m. or so. I probably won't have any after school commitments except the kids. Molly is going to a preschool, and Jack is going to an after school program. But, I start back tomorrow. I am in shock. I prayed for this day. I longed for this day. I missed public school education. And now I am on the precipice of going back. It feels good. But, I feel a bit nostalgic, too.

I don't know how my year will go. I do know I am no where near the person I was 7 August's ago, swollen with a baby who would change my life for the better. God has richly blessed our family during this time. We have had very few catastrophes, no tragedies, and financially, we are much better off. We stand in awe of his provisions, and on the eve of such a great change, we pray for his guidance. What a wonderful, crazy ride this SAHM life has been.

I will miss lazy starts to the mornings (though they disappeared with Jack's start of K last year). I'll miss seeing Jack drag his backpack out of the school hall when his day is over, and seeing children rush up to him and bring him things he forgot. I will miss Molly's wild morning hair and snuggles with her puppy-like morning breath kisses. I will miss our MANY trips to the Fort Worth Science Museum and the Fort Worth Zoo. I will miss being with other SAHMs who are so kind! I will miss volunteering in Jack and Molly's classes. I will miss the quiet house at 7 a.m., before any one else is up (although this too has gone away with the onset of Jack's public schooling). I will miss walks to the park, picnics, and meeting Mike for lunch in the middle of the day.

I will not miss part time employment, being bored, hearing the TV on and feeling guilty, and all of the people who think since you are a SAHM you must have a ton of time to volunteer to help. I am excited for this new journey. I am so amazed at the waves of time, and how they have changed us, and yet, still, the same cyclical nature seems to be echoing in our lives. We had a simple life when only one of us worked, and now that has gone, but with another crash different blessings will wash up on our shore. Who knows what kind of similar situation I will find myself in during coming blasts of future waves. I am so thankful for the time I had with small children. It was costly, but it was worth it.

From Mike, to Matty

My dear Matty,
You brought so much joy and life to our house, I hope you find rest and peace now. I love the memories you left us; thank you for loving us even when we didn't deserve it. Love you girl. Miss you already.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Another Red Letter Day

This morning, we had to put our much loved Scottish Terrier, Matty, to sleep. The dr. diagnosed her with a form of heart failure. Thankfully, the kiddos were at my parents, so it was just Mike, me and Matty. We got to drive like in the old days on the way to the hospital. Matty rode in my lap with her head out of the window. I, of course, bawled my way through church so much while Mike assured me that I have never cried a "pretty" nose turns red, my eyes turn bright red, and snot poors! I am really going to miss her. My favorite thing about Matty was her spunk for life. She did EVERYTHING with a spark. The kids will be devasted, too. I made myself feel a bit better by purchasing a silver cross at church today that says "Every good gift comes from above." I believe this, and I know Matty came from heaven and returned to heaven today to play catch with Jesus, chase the many onery squirrels she killed while with us. RIP matty.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

California Dreamin' replete with tar balls compliments of BP!

We are heading up to Galveston Island this weekend. First, we will go to Houston, and then Saturday morning we will go to Stewart Beach, hopefully rent an umbrella and beach chairs, and let the kids into the nasty Galveston water. Why I am so excited to go play in that same ole' yucky water I've been playing in since I met Mike? There is something that is so peaceful about Galveston Island to me. I like the surf, the brown water, the laid back attitude of its inhabitants. I like the Taco Cabana that is two blocks from the beach. I like sandy ham sandwiches, salty Tom's potato chips, sea shells mixed with oil (they've been there as long as I can remember). I like the way the air smells, all fresh and new, like if you wade into the water and come out, it's the same feeling of starting over, of being reborn in a moment. I like that at the beach, you really don't worry about anything past sunscreen and keeping an eye on your kiddos. I like seeing the people pass by barefoot and in swimming attire, some of them dripping from a recent dip in the salty, foamy, jelly-fishy water. Don't read me wrong here: Galveston isn't the perfect beach for watching great looking bodies scoot by. It's all old people, grand kids, moms and dads. I'm not sure where the fabulous people are: they're never there when I am there. I like the way sand gets stuck inbetween your toes and never seems to fully come out, even days later. I like looking out into the abyss, and trying just for a moment to imagine a God whose word emerged on distant shores, far from Galveston, but still there, in me and right beyond where the sun sets into the ocean. He's there, I know.

The beach places within me such a knowing about how our world began. I like to muse that some agnostics think we came out of the salty water as four legged frogs. Our blood is like 97 percent similar to sea water. I think that in the moment of creation, God wanted to set a trail to him, so there are similiarities between us and the water, between whales, and dolphins and two legged humans.

Mostly, and shallowly, the beach offers a place to chill out, to do nothing but wriggle my sand inbetween my toes, search for shells with Molly, and watch Jack hurl his body into the tiny crashing waves. We will only be there Saturday. On Sunday, we are going to Memorial Church of Christ's VBS, and we'll do area attractions around H-town while Mike toils away at his job in Fort Worth. I know that toil is coming quickly for me, but for now, I plan to enjoy the weekend at my favorite beach.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Jack's First Horror Story

Is about starting 1st grade! It begins with the typed words "First Grade". Then, you open the book and a boy is yelling "AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!". The book continues on with phrases like "In First Grade you do literacy centers longer, you do more math, you get tickets easier, and you do study hall." The pictures on every page are of a boy yelling "AHHHHH!!!!". The last page is a stick figure with a sad face. Seriously...tooo cute!