Please Just Don't Pee on my Pants

The trials, tribulations and successes of a teacher on her own journey towads independence.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day - thoughts

Memorial Day has always been a special holiday for me; perhaps because everyone in my family except me has served in the armed forces; perhaps because I'm close to families and see the sacrifices they make for our freedom when the "dad" has to go and the "mom" is left to raise the family on her own for years at a time... I appreciate my freedom and the sacrifices of all who have made it so that I can live in freedom.

My favorite memory of Memorial Day however was in Guam. My mom had discovered a "war dog cemetary"... where the dogs from the war had been burried, had tombstones, and a bronze dog statue. Being the animal lover that we both were we bought enough roses that day to put one on each of those dog's graves. I cried, of course, but I always cry... maybe we should have put milk bones down instead after all what the heck would a dog want with a rose? That was a special time for my mom and I. I remember that neither of us said a word the whole time we were there... we read about the dogs, cried... spent probably close to two hours there and never saw a single other person.

I agree human lives are most important, but those soldiers had dogs that did some of the grunt work before the humans went in and I feel it is important to remember them as well - they also lost their lives for our freedom. Soldiers also have families that make huge sacrifices for us every day as they deal with life without their partner and raise their children on their own so the other person can be off protecting what our country stands for.

If you see a soldier today - thank them for all they have given up for you.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Picking Your Mountains

As I have raised my children to this point in their life; I have learned which battles to fight, which ones are worth the know down drag out fight and which ones you just let go... and I did say let go... you let them have it their way because the relationship and understanding and respect is more important than what you may be fighting over. An example:

Yes, my kids, all three have cell phones. They have cell phones because the one time they went to Las Vegas with their dad they were 9 hours late coming home and there was no phone call... count them 9 hours. That was long enough to fly to Hawaii and be part way to the islands where they would disappear. So they have phones.

Are there phone guidelines - yes. The guidelines are simple 1) mom gets to read your texts anytime she asks - no arguing or phone goes away. 2) stop phone use at a reasonable hour - during school this means if you are cranky when you wake up in the morning - mom starts getting the phone at 8 pm until she feels you can manage a social life and getting up for school; also passing grades are required. That's it. The teenagers need their phones because it is how they socialize in current society. When I was a teenager I could care less about the phone; even now I could really care less except for safety matters and of course talking to Greg.

Now when it comes to laundry - that is a hill to have a small battle over. If the laundry isn't down here to be washed, I can't wash it. The consequence is that you don't come to me the night before you want to wear something and ask me to wash it; but you are free to wash it yourself if you can somewhere come up with a full load of laundry. Not worth dieing over, but worth setting limits over.

I actually can't think of a mountain worth dieing over - compromise for a win-win is always where I go first. What can I live with and what is reasonable... I'm a smart woman when I use my head.

So parents know that you will have battles - just pick the ones that are worth dieing over and if they aren't worth dieing over - let it go.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Graduation - moments

I know that graduation from high school is a time for celebration for the students, their families, and their teachers and friends; but for me this year it was particularly hard, being where I am...

There was Emily who wouldn't come to school each morning when she was in fourth grade because she was afraid to leave her mom and every morning we dealt with that and got her to school, even if she didn't say a word the whole day long. Last night though she spoke loud and clear in front of a stadium of people as the senior class president. I know I touched her life in some way, even if I don't know exactly how.

Then there were the three girls from fourth grade, Sammy and Chelsea which I always called by the other's name and Alicia. The three of them were inseperable and chatted and chatted and chatted none stop. Last night Chelsea achieved many awards and addressed the audience as Salutatorian of her class. She was poised and dignified; a perfect lady. There was Sammy who also addressed the audience as a class representative. Her words brought tears to my eyes even though I was so proud of her. And Alicia who is going to school to become a nutritionist - the one job I know for sure will suit her well and something that she loved even back in fourth grade. I know I touched the lives of these girls in some way, even if I don't know exactly how.

Then there is Christoper. Teachers flat out lie if they say they don't have a favorite student. They try not to but there are always certain students who pull on your heart strings a little more than others. I had Sammy Jo his sister in fourth grade. She had broken both of her legs and we dumped her out of her wheel chair going down the hill to the classroom. That was also the year her parents got divorced. Chris and Sammy Jo both had a hard time in middle school... gee wonder why, and then they came to me at Visions - they needed to get promoted even though they didn't have the grades. I knew they had the ability and knowledge and put them in their proper grade that year. I have never regretted that decision to help them graduate with their age appropriate peers. But Christoper has always been a favorite of mine, he new it and he played that card often. He could joke around more than other students and get away with it because of his unforgetable smile and his at the moment sincere apology. He worked hard in seventh and eighth grade and brough many, many happy moments to my life. Last night he walked across that stage and is going off to join the Boarder Control. They better take care of my Christopher; his mom may have given birth to him and raised him, but he stopped work at Wendy's to come sit in my lap and say hello just because it was important to him. Did I in some small way change the course of these kids lives? I know I did, but I don't know how.

Then there was Cody who I had in fourth grade - who literally is responsible for at least half the grey hair on my head. He wouldn't do a darn thing in school. He was smart and capable... it was just that no one was going to tell him what to do. I don't care if I had stood on the table and jumped up and down - nothing would have moved him. I have worried over Cody the last 8 years... but last night he walked across that stage. I don't know if anything I did helped that young man along his journey to independence but I sure hope it did.

Then there was Alix. I taught her for three years, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. She never did any but her absolute best. She graduated eighth grade as our Validictorian. I remember I gave her a dozen yellow roses because that is what my mom whould have done. She achieved high academic success in high school and will go on to college to be an Accountant. I know that I touched her in some way, even if I don't know how.

Then there is Michael. I had him in fourth grade and never heard another word about him. I remember when his younger brother died in a quad accident. I remember teaching the day of that funeral and knowing I needed to be somewhere else. He walked across that stage last night no longer to small boy I remember; but as a young man, tall and strong. I know I touched him in some way, I just don't know how.

Then there was Marcos. I waited three years to teach him. He was supposed to be in my class in fourth grade, but his parents moved him to Visions that year. I always teased him in sixth, seventh and eighth grade that I had to change my whole career path in order to move to that school and be his teacher. The thing is I would do it all over again. Marcos was always quiet and respectful; it was in his up bringing. But when he spoke you listened because what he said was always worth hearing. He walked across that stage last night and will attend of year of college before heading out on his mission. Did I touch his life - yes. Do I know how exactly - a teacher never does.

It was a shining moment for me though when both Christopher and Marcos had a bottle of sparkling cidar which they open and shook about... that is what we did when they left eighth grade and moved on to high school.

So although it was a celebration for their successes and futures. It hurt me deep down inside because at least for now there are children I don't get to work with, I don't get to teach. I miss that part of my life desperately and last night although they wre all happy I cried myself to sleep. Today, I cried and slept and cried and slept... not so much for them, but for what I no longer am.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

FAS - as it is often referred to is a debilitating brain disability caused by the consumption of alcohol by the mother while the child is in the womb. This is a disability that is totally avoidable if the mother has much of any information and prenatal care at all. Unfortunately children with this disability are still being born today and the school systems are poorly prepared to meet the needs of these unique individuals. I don't know anything about a ton of topics, but this is just one topic that I know quite a bit about; via research, teaching, and playing second mommy to an FAS child.

Children with FAS often have uncontrollable impulses that those who are care givers must understand the child or individual has no control over them - thus they are impulses. Even if the child can articulate that something is wrong and what the consequences may be - the child will follow the impulse rather than the logic we try so hard to instill in them. Spankings don't work with these children as most of them feel NO pain; an in NONE AT ALL. Lectures don't work because they know the right answers but can't control the impulse when it arises.

So one of the most effective ways to manage the impulses they exhibit is to remove the stimulus they have in the environment. For instance if you have a FAS kid who is very much draw to fire (as they all are) - you would remove any fire making materials from their environment. That would mean hiding or not having available any matches, lighters, gas stove etc... If you have a child with FAS who is very sexually inquisitive, which they are all, you would make sure that any computers at home have password protection and/or child filters on them - you wouldn't wake up surprised at what your 10 year old was looking at when it was 4 in the morning.

My point with this little piece of writing is that so much of what the child does is not his/her fault - it is brain disability... they need medication, constant care, understanding parents and teachers... and teachers who are willing to step out of the box - so to Jacob's teachers - I say quit being lazy, implement some or many of the suggestions I have made to you and I will guarantee you that you will see a huge change in his behavior for the positive. These kids are worth the extra effort and they matter too.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sorry Mama

This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it needs to be done in order to heal my wounds and move on. You know Mom I didn't understand so much about you until you passed away, and I'm even learning now 10 years later. I'm so sorry that I judged you for so many years and stayed away just because I didn't want to go on a beer run for you. I was afraid of being judged as I sat there and judged you. How ashamed I am for that behavior. I remember the week before you passed away I was in town at K-mart and I thought geee I should go see Mom, but then I didn't. I didn't because I told myself I was too busy, I didn't because I didn't want to see the beer cans, I didn't because I didn't want to go buy beer yet again... so many reasons why I didn't - but I should have.

All that time I was judging you for who you weren't while I should have been celebrating who you were. I understand that now. I also understand that the beer was a way to self medicate yourself when the doctors wouldn't help or didn't understand. I know you tricked a ton of doctors but I do wish that you hadn't done that because there was other ways to get help. I know you had Lupus and that is a horrible disease, but I also know that you were bi-polar. You never admited it, you never wanted help - but I understand. I understand why we moved, because you had to move on to somewhere else. Not because anything was wrong, you just had to move, see new things, feel new feelings. I understand your angry days when you just couldn't take our bullshit anymore. I understand why the coffee cup was thrown, I understand why plates were broken. I so wish I understood back then.

I was lucky also you know - you were at everyone of my sporting events, supporting me and shouting at the ref no matter what the sport. You always had meals cooked for us even when they had to be cooked in the bathroom because we were remodeling. You were always there for me when I needed a safe place to escape from my world to. You were there when we drove from WI to CA on our road trip; even though I was still angry. You were amazing and went white water rafting with me when we got to the Colorado River; just because we both needed a break and neither of us had ever done anything like that.

I was angry for years after you moved to Yap right after I graduated from high school because I felt abandoned (spell that word) when you left. I was angry when you left Guam before I could leave because I felt abandoned. I was angry when you decided to pass over because once again it was about me and how I felt. I never really stopped to think about you and how you felt. I saw you crawl down the hall in so much pain just to get to the couch... and I didn't understand.

How I wish I could take back all those judgements and ask for your forgiveness. Today I have to forgive myself and I can only hope that you would understand that it has taken me a real, real long time to grow up... but maybe, just maybe I'm a bit closer than I was 10 years ago.

I remember our last Fourth of July together and what fun that was. It has always been both of our favorite holiday. I remember not understanding when you couldn't make it to the bathroom just one more time... and me thinking - Gosh what a drunk... it was really never about the drinking - it was about you trying your hardest to control the pain, both physical and emotional - I get it now mama.

I love you can't even begin to express the feelings I have for you and what you have meant to me... and I wish you could see now how much you have molded me into the person I am. For that I say thank you...hopefully now with peace.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Terri is so Smart

I have always regarded my sister, Terri, as the most brilliant person on earth, besides me of course. She is a problem solver extroidanair and speaks her mind well and clearly... not rambly as I tend to get. It is like she has everything she needs to say all planned out in her head way before she needs to say it. There are times when she doesn't - when it comes to challenges that she faces in her own world, but when it comes to the challenges that I face she always seems to know the right thing to say... yesterday it was that I needed to forgive... I asked forgive who? myself? and she said that is exactly right. Sometimes we are most hard on ourselves and try to hold ourselves to a different standard than others. Sometimes, or so I'm learning, one has to take a deep breath and let things go and ask yourself to forgive all the mistakes you have made, be they real mistakes or perceived mistakes -forgive yourself today so the journey can continue tomorrow.