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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Nuances of moving

We have secured a place to live! I forgot to take a picture of it but it is a rental in the housing complex near the base. They are all cookie cutter houses but it came with a new free washer and dryer, which I happened to need, so we signed on the line and do not have to move into a POD. Just a Uhaul for a day.

Last week's problems:
I started my Wednesday of last week off by running after the garbage truck. 635am. No shoes. Basketball shorts and a T-shirt. (Thank goodness I don't sleep in anything attractive or flattering, although maybe that would have helped this one time?) I had scheduled him to come to pick up a mattress but because of the rain,  we didn't leave it out the night before.

I didn't catch him.

Now I have had an extra king sized mattress and box spring in my living room for another week on top of all the other stuff that we actually want to keep.

I also scheduled the mail forwarding to start on May 31, but they promptly began forwarding it anyway. After 3 days of no mail and one Amazon order that didn't arrive I started to clue in that we had a problem.

We had traveled down to get the keys for the new place and on the way back, this happened. We hit someone's muffler or something that they carelessly left for us in the road. Jeremy got the tire changed, and we headed to the tire place to get a new one where they said it is time to replace them all. 4 new tires, please. 

And Saturday some a guy hit my car just after the light had changed. I found this ironic because I called to change my address for my insurance and the lady told me, "Living in Dayton will save you $200 a year on insurance because it is a safer place to drive." You don't say.

This week's problems:
We have run out of milk, most food items, and plastic knives. Thankfully, I have 300 plastic forks that can pick up the slack for the lack of knives. You can even use the other end to pick up something that falls out of the banana and nutella sandwich. It's kind of like a spork concept. Maybe we don't need knives anymore anyway.

My family room looks like this. That is a 55" TV back there. You can't even tell.

The mattress is still here. It will have to sit outside tonight, though. We don't need a repeat of last week.

And I think I am losing my patience and mind. My daughter, who has no spatial awareness, walked in front of me and then flung her leg backward and kicked me in the shin. Of course I did what any rational parent would do. I swore at her and then shoved her just like a 2 year old would. Yes, I am very proud of how I handled that.

And my last thought for the day is that when we were trying to negotiate a closing date, we had asked our realtor if we could close on the 23rd of May (like they wanted) and then pay them to rent the house back for 2 weeks. He said that this was not a good idea... something about how mortgage lenders don't like to see it turned into a rental, etc. Instead he suggested that we close on the June 1st and then just live there (maintain occupancy) for another week. This is something that you do not have to pay rent for.

You know, I always thought that buying and selling houses was a capitalist venture. Apparently the welfare program has infiltrated this industry too. We will take option B, then. Can I get free cable since we are on the new owner's dime, then? No? Oh, okay.

I have to get back to packing now, guys. Tomorrow is the big day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Life update

When cleaning a house to try to sell it, am I the only one who feels like Maleficent at the top of the stairs? "I dare you to touch anything, kids." I say as I am holding Benadryl. "Don't make me give this to you and your friends."

I'm sure you are all wondering what kind of plans we are making when we sell our house in 2 hours. I know I am.

This has been and continues to be a complete walk of faith. We have been praying for a while that we would get a good offer on our house.  We and mostly Jeremy have worked so hard on this beast over the last 3 years. Check out the basement pictures.  That was 98% him.

So here is what happened and how prayers are answered. 

I felt like we needed to list it for sale the first week of May. We were told to plan on 45 days to closing plus whatever time it would take to get an offer. We are not the biggest house in our neighborhood but we priced it the highest. Since we had planned on showings that day, we went to Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Our first showing was at 4:30. At 6:20, our realtor called. I'm thinking,  "Oh great. The sump pump is broken and the basement is flooding." Or something equivalent.

He said that we won't believe it. It was an offer on the house that was more than full price, more than appraisal (if necessary), and they offered $1500 more than any other offer we might receive. They don't even want us to fix anything on the inspection (if anything comes back.) Their only request... "Get out"...in 20 days.
Where do people like that come from? And why do they want my house? :)

We sheepishly countered and asked if we could have until June since my kids are still in school. I doubt they would walk away with that kind of offer but holy moly. I think they like my house more than I do.

Anyway, our plans so far... a pod.

Yes, we have secured a pod to live in. We are looking for houses to buy, rent,  borrow... I don't even know. We will only be in Dayton for 18 months. We don't even have orders from the military (which are the magic papers that let you order a moving company on the military's dollar).

Insanely, I feel completely at peace right now. I have no specific plan, I'm not sure if we are going to pack and move ourselves, I'm not sure where we would move to anyway,  and I'm just sitting here substituting for a first grade class. (The kids are at art class. I'm not that bad of a teacher. ) I wonder if this is how people who are admitted to an asylum feel?  Maybe they feel this great too.

So that is where we are at currently. The Lord got us into this mess so I'm waiting to see what we need to do to clean it up. (We will be heading out to Idaho after we load that pod. I just don't know if we will have somewhere to come back to.)

Now for some other drama in our life... let me preface this by saying that what you are about to see might seem shocking but maybe some of you live with preteens, or mental health patients and are used to this kind of thing. This is funny to my family. 

Our daughter was specifically sent to our family because we could handle her and laugh her "craziness" off.

We keep finding all our technology devices in her room each morning even though they weren't there when we went to bed.  To counter this, we put passwords on all the devices without telling her. This is what we found:

In case you can't read this "poem," it says:
I Know Why You Don't TrusT ME.
It is Because you HATE ME so sence you HATE Me, 
You Never Loved me!!

The deductive reasoning on this message is Spot. On.
I need to teach her how to spell "since," though. I wasn't sure it would be appropriate to correct that on the board.

So that is our life for now. Here are some funny first grade comments from today:

They are supposed to be writing about whatever they want.
"Mrs. Miller, can you spell "went?"

I spell it for him.

"Mrs. Miller, you are supposed to use it in a sentence."

Me: Actually, I think that you are. Can you write the sentence you were thinking about?

Kid: "Can you just write all these words on a sticky note, then: "went down the slide?"

Meanwhile the entire first grade class is out of control and this kid wants me to write his paper for him.

Another kid is just drawing pictures. I say, "I need you to write a story for me, not just color a picture, silly."

Kid: "I don't know how to write so I get to just draw pictures."

Now, I am not sure if this is an excuse or a real issue but since he is only drawing pictures I am thinking that this is not an excuse. This is one of those things where it feels like you need to call for backup. "Clean up on aisle 4." This is more than I can tackle in an afternoon. Color on, my friend. Color on.

And another little girl keeps giving me hugs, goes to art, comes back, and tries to give me her mother's day picture she made. I would feel bad but I am pretty sure that my own daughter would give away something she made at school that was meant for me, so it's fair, right?

PS. This is how I feel about roller coasters: Constipated, apparently. You can see from this picture how we each handle roller coasters. I found myself on this dumb thing as I got stuck in the line after excitedly explaining to Jeremy about the offer on the house. These black ladies in line were like, "You can handle it, Boo. You got this." Yeah, I got this, alright.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Holy Ghost talk

I was asked to speak in church yesterday. After my talk, I have received many compliments, as people always do, but I was particularly honored when someone told me that this was equivalent to a conference talk. If you aren't religious then maybe you will enjoy the stories anyway.

The Holy Ghost

When was the last time the Holy Ghost helped you?
Was it today? Yesterday? Last week? Or maybe you don’t remember.

My talk has two purposes today. The first is to help you recognize the Holy Ghost in your own life and the second is to point out some ways that the Holy Ghost helps you.

Going back to what I first asked you – When was the last time the Holy Ghost helped you? – If you cannot answer that you receive promptings at least daily, I want to teach you how you can change that around. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Men ought (and I’m sure he meant women too) – above all things in this world – to seek for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing as important as having the companionship of the Holy Ghost…There is no price to high, no labor to onerous, no struggle too severe, no sacrifice too great, if out of it all we receive and enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost.” This is how important it is. Our prophets in our recent conferences are pleading with us to learn this.

How to Recognize the Holy Ghost
To start, we must have faith that He will speak to us. If you are lacking in this area, you must do those things that are required. Start by reading a verse out of the Book of Mormon and saying a prayer. Each day as you do this you will see a change in your life and Heavenly Father will recognize your efforts as you are seeking Him out.

Some may already be doing this, so the next step is that we must learn to listen with our hearts. President Boyd K. Packer has said that “The spirit is a still small voice – a voice that is felt rather than heard. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought put into your heart. We are also taught that this happens in quiet, peaceful settings.

If you are just starting out trying to learn how this works, you can practice by placing yourselves in a quiet place and just…thinking. I like to do this in the mornings. Well, what I like to do is lie in bed and think (for a long time). Because this is a quiet place and my thoughts are fresh, I am inviting the Holy Ghost to speak to me as I ponder how my day will go, or whatever other thoughts come to my mind. It is a quiet place for me and is the perfect setting for allowing the Holy Ghost to speak. You might consider trying this yourself. Pay attention to and/or write down any thoughts that come to your mind. All good thoughts are from our Heavenly Father and should be acted upon. Maybe lying in bed isn’t feasible for you. You can try other ways, like driving in the car without music or other distractions, going on a walk, or some other idea that you come up with. Place yourself in a setting that shows Heavenly Father you would like to learn how to listen to the Holy Ghost.

Many prophets, including President Monson tell us that learning how the Holy Ghost speaks to us is one of those things that starts small. Learn to listen - and then choose to act. You will not receive an overabundance of promptings right away. He said, “We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed.”

The Savior himself said, “He that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light , and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:24) “For unto him that recieveth, I will give more.” (2 Nephi 28:30) 

So basically, listening and acting in small ways leads to greater light. These are the three steps to start with when trying to learn to listen for promptings from the Holy Ghost. The first is: Have faith and show the Lord that you have faith by doing those things He has asked us to do. The second is: Place yourself in a quiet place so that you are in an environment to listen. The third is to Act on those promptings. Over time, when using this pattern, you will see that your ability to hear the Holy Ghost will improve dramatically and you will recognize that promptings occur more often than you think.

“How the Holy Ghost Helps You”

So now that we have talked about how to receive the Holy Ghost’s promptings, I want to share with you “How the Holy Ghost helps you” not only from a talk given by Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the twelve apostles but I would also like to add my own testimony of these things alongside Elder Stevenson’s.

Elder Stevenson was struck by the question “How does the Holy Ghost help you?” and he goes on to describe how the Holy Ghost warns, The Holy Ghost comforts, and the Holy Ghost testifies.
Before we get into that, we will take a moment to review what we know about the Holy Ghost. You might remember that Sister Nye (last week) and Sis. Lawrence (today) explained that the Holy Ghost is the 3rd member of the Godhead, He is a personage of Spirit, and he comes by the laying on of hands, which most of us have had the opportunity to receive when we were baptized.

So, if you have been baptized, you already have your “drivers license”, if you will, to be able to use Him and have him work in your life. But just like a driver’s license, it can be ineffective if you don’t know how to drive a car. If you don’t know how to recognize the Holy Ghost, then you won’t feel the promptings that He gives you.

I, personally, have come to conclude 2 things about the Holy Ghost’s promptings in my life. 1. If it is a thought to do something good and I don’t want to do it – it’s the Holy Ghost. And 2. If my thought is a good thought -  but illogical - then it is also the Holy Ghost. I will show you what I mean going forward.

He Warns

Elder Stevenson tells of a time when the Holy Ghost warns. He shares the story of President Reid Tateoka of the Japan Sendai mission. President Tateoka was planning on calling a normal meeting for missionary leaders in the southern part of Japan but he felt an impression (or a feeling in his heart) to invite all missionaries to the meeting. This was illogical and other leaders reminded the president of this. However, President Tateoka insisted that this is what needed to be done. While all the missionaries were gathered there in March of 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan and destroyed many areas including places where the missionaries would have been if he hadn’t called them all to this inland meeting. The Holy Ghost warns.

This is true for my family as well. We have lived in Ohio for 3 years. In that time my daughter has been invited to 1 birthday party. This may seem trivial to you, but it has bothered me as I have felt that getting invited to birthday parties is a very normal part of childhood. So, imagine my joy when last month she was invited to a birthday party from a friend at school. As the day approached my daughter told me that she felt like she shouldn’t go to it. I was disappointed and thought that maybe this was because she was nervous about going but as we approached the day of the party, she insisted that she felt like she shouldn’t go. I still bought the girl a present just in case “we” changed our mind but in the end,  she didn’t go. Sometimes we don’t know why we are prompted to do things… but this time we do. We were told later of some bad things that happened there. How grateful I was that the Holy Ghost warned an 11-year-old girl.

He Comforts

The Holy Ghost comforts. Elder Stevenson tells of a young man who moved from Los Angeles, California to a small town. Because of this move, he was able to socialize with many members of the church. This lead to his baptism. He later married his high school sweetheart but before having their first baby, his wife and unborn daughter were killed in a car accident. This was quite devastating to everyone but as deep as was his pain, “so too was the depth of contrasting peace and comfort that distilled upon them almost immediately.” The Holy Ghost comforts.

I have felt this as well. In 2009, my family received a phone call from a member of the coast guard saying that they were searching for a plane that my sister had been traveling on. They said it had disappeared. This was quite a shock to our family and we were on pins and needles throughout that day as we waited for any news. At this time, I felt an overwhelming amount of peace; So much so that I thought that they were all mistaken and that this was a big misunderstanding. I mean, wouldn’t I be able to feel it if there was something bad that had happened? However, it turned out that I was the one who was illogical because as the day went on it became more apparent that this was not the case. She had passed away the day before we even knew about it. Throughout this time, the Holy Ghost filled me with peace and comfort. This is something that the Holy Ghost does – he comforts for the big things and He comforts for the small, private things that no one else knows. The Holy Ghost comforts.

He Testifies

The last thing Elder Stevenson tells us that the Holy Ghost testifies. He tells more of the story about the young man who lost his wife and baby. He tells about how his parents, who weren’t members, could not be consoled and they “found no comfort or peace” and they couldn’t understand the peace that their son and his in-laws felt. This allowed this man to bear testimony to his family about the source of his peace. The Holy Ghost testified to his parents of the truthfulness of the Gospel and eventually his whole family was baptized. The Holy Ghost Testifies.

I have found that the Holy Ghost testifies to me as well, again, usually illogically. Just before moving to Ohio, we had one of my young women living with us. We had guardianship of her and were doing our best to raise a teenager who had been neglected. She was causing a lot of problems for us and we were trying to figure out what to do about many issues that we were dealing with. As the tension between my young woman and I heightened, I pleaded for help from Heavenly Father. It was just 2 days before we had to fly away from the island when I woke up and felt an answer to all my prayers. It was like the sun was shining again and my mind was clear. I knew what needed to be done and I felt so much peace. The answer for us was that we had to leave her there and that she couldn’t come with us. Despite this huge life-changing decision, I knew that this was what the Lord wanted. It was so clear in my mind and brought me so much peace. My heart ached for this concluding verdict, but I couldn’t deny that the Lord had testified this truth to my mind. The Holy Ghost testifies of many things great and small. He testifies of all the small and finer points that apply only to our lives. We will understand this as we practice listening and acting.

To summarize, I have told you of the ways you can start today to begin receiving revelation: Have faith, put yourself in quiet places, and then act. I have also given you a second witness to all that Elder Stevenson has told us. We have both told you of a time when we were able to see that the Holy Ghost Warns, Comforts, and Testifies. We know that the Holy Ghost can do many other things and I would encourage you to figure out how the Holy Ghost speaks to you.

This last conference was filled with Apostles and President Nelson pleading with us saints to listen to the Holy Ghost. You can always ask Heavenly Father to help you know when the Holy Ghost is speaking to you. This is so important for us in these last days.

Brothers and Sisters, I know the Holy Ghost is a real and accessible part of the Godhead for all who have been baptized and live righteously. He can warn, comfort, and testify in all aspects of your life as he has done in mine. I challenge you to pay attention and notice at least one time this week when you know the Holy Ghost has spoken to you. I know that he will.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Train - A Spring Break Story

Since we have moved to Ohio we have tried to take a cool spring break trip every year. The first year was to Nashville, TN and the second was to Washington D.C. In Nashville, you take a car everywhere - just like you do in every normal American city, but in D.C. you take...the train.

Last year we had gone to D.C. and stayed with some very good friends who helped us explore this great city even though their kids were not on spring break and it was kind of a pain for them. One of the days, my friend had taken us to the heart of the city and then had to go back to get her kids so I excitedly declared that we would take the train back to the stop near her house and we would be there around 5pm. I explained to her, and my children, that this would be so fun. "I love the train." I remember saying that. So what happened next was quite a treachery between me and said train. I had professed my love and the train did not reciprocate.

As our day was ending we headed to the station. We knew we would only ride it once so we loaded one train card with $20 so that we could all use it and get us back home - just like we did in the Japanese  train system. Guys, America is not like Japan.

Our first problem came when we tried to scan our one $20 train card, pass it back to the next person and... BUZZ - red light - Nope.

What in the... So we had to find a train assistant who sits in a booth and looks down on all American's who can't figure out how to use the card.

"Um, hello. We just put $20 on this card and it won't let us all use it."

"You each need a card."

"Oh, but I just put $20 on here and we are never going to use this again. Is there a way to pull it off?"

He looks at our pathetic selves and says, "Here, let me give you vouchers. This should get you to your stop."

I tried to explain that in Japan we only needed one card and could just use it until the money was gone but he just looked at us like we were fools. I guess we don't look Japanese.

So we get past the gatekeeper and go down the stairs to the train. Miraculously, the exact train we needed was just sitting there waiting for us. We didn't see it come in but there it was. We made our way down to the platform and my family members boarded the crowded train. I don't know how to describe what happened next because getting on and off of a train should be pretty seamless.

So I was following my son onto the train and the doors closed right in front of me. Like, I didn't even see it coming. My family is on the train and I am not. I panic and try to pry the doors open. My husband and the guy next to him also see the panic and try to pry the doors open from the inside. I am able to get my leg in the door because for a brief second the doors look like they will reopen. However, this is folly. The train is mocking me. It opened enough so that I could get my leg back out and then closed again. I have to accept my fate as I take a step back and realize that I am not going to be joining my family. My kids are screaming my name. Everyone on the train is looking at me. Everyone on the platform is whispering about me. I can see it in their faces and can feel the concern in this underground dungeon... and the train drives away.

I cannot even think of what to do. I am looking at the ceiling because I think that helps the tears not well up in my eyes. I don't even have the presence of mind to make a joke or yell "STELLA....." as the train drives away. I don't have the train card or the vouchers. I don't even know how to work the train system. The train has defeated me.

After a moment I could hear my ringtone.
Guys, cell phones even work in underground dungeons.
The voice of reason on the other end tells me to just get on the next train and to get off at the next station. Oh, right. Thank goodness I hadn't almost started crying or started to panic. That would have been silly, I thought, as I am wiping away a tear.

I arrive at the next station into the arms of my family - and especially my children, who have now been traumatized. All is well again. Or is it? Apparently, our troubles are not over. The train we need to take is not showing up. Train after train comes and the blue line is not coming. They make an announcement that the blue line is never going to come so "find a new way home", basically.
Train -2, Millers- 0.

Jeremy studies the routes and we get on the yellow line. When we arrive at the Reagan International airport, the train declares that this is the end of the line and we all need to get off.

Our friends don't live near the airport.
We are all getting tired of this game as the train's score is now 3-0.

We get off as it is starting to snow and the temperature is getting colder.  Miraculously, another train shows up and we get on it. It takes us somewhere far from where we should be and our friend comes to get us in New Mexico, essentially.

We are driven to our home away from home - in a car. I hope that the train knows that it was a car that saved the day.

So this year for spring break we talked about going to New York. Then we realized that New York might also have trains that chew us up and spit us out.

Did you guys know that Columbus, Ohio has a lot of great things to do on spring break?

I know that with Jeremy's career we may end up in Washington D.C. at some point. I accept this as a challenge from the public transportation system in D.C. When that time comes I will be ready; but until then, the train remains undefeated.

Monday, March 26, 2018


Earlier this year I experienced another birthday. I don't really care about the age going up but the day is just cursed. CURSED. If you want to hear my sad tale, you can private message me and I will share a pity party with you. Anyway, this year I received an 18" Christus. 

This thing is big. You can hold it like a porcelain baby. I don't really have a great place to put it and we move a lot, so this seemed silly to keep it.

So I decided to send it back. I admit that I feel bad for returning Jesus - not to be disrespectful here, but really, we could all use Him more in our lives. I just don't want Him falling over and injuring a child...even though He would have already suffered for that pain... it's just so complex. I was really torn about this... but I took it to the post office anyway.

Now here comes a math problem at you:
It cost $120. I had to pay $11 to return it.
When I got the refund it was for $70 and they said the rest was for shipping. 

(I admit that I was a little mad about this. We just wasted $61 on shipping and we could have just kept it.)

I thought it was over but then guess what's on my front porch today?

The flippin' box with a note that says it needs $40 in shipping!!!

So how much have I already paid in shipping? And if I return it, how much did it cost to own for 1 week?  I think it might just end up being my stolen Jesus.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The power of cookies

I have a story to share about my children. My friend had an incident last week with her child beating up a bully at school and his resulting suspension. She was devastated about this. I felt that I could relate and that maybe sharing my story might help others. At the time, this was pretty devastating for me and for my children but for today, I am going to present this to you in a slightly dramatic and humorous manner.

Let's start off with...my kids are lazy. They almost never leave home. They are just kind of like, "Well, I could go out and play...or I could stay on this couch."

So imagine my surprise when this went down:

I am walking my kids to the bus one morning and I notice a lady driving around. She is kind of going slow, and looking for something. She stops near me, rolls down her window and says, "Are those your kids?"

"These two? Yes."

"Okay, well I need to talk to you."

So I tell her to wait just a moment and we finish running to the bus, as usual. I come back to her and she says, "Your kids beat up my grandson yesterday."

"What? My kids?" Like, these lazy children who never leave home and don't even know how to make a fist? Not to mention, they are the scrawniest kids at the bus stop. What?

Now I am not a parent who is naïve to my children's shortcomings. I won't list their sins here, but just know that I know they are naughty... but beating up someone - that just feels like an unfounded accusation.

So she opens the car door to where her 3 grandchildren are sitting and they all confirm that this was true. She even explains that her husband saw this happen after school the day before.

Again, I have a personal policy that if there are 2 or more witnesses then there might be some truth behind this. All three kids are nodding at me. I asked for further clarification on exactly what happened, because I am still picturing my children...on the couch.

She explained that on the way home, her grandson fell and my kids started kicking him.

"Kicking him?"

"Yes, kicking him?"

"Like, with their feet?" I am seriously confused and obviously sounding like an idiot at this point.

She told me that she was on the way to the school to report my kids.

Cool. This is about to get real. Not only did my kids do something really bad, but the kid that they beat up is a different race, and currently there are a lot of social tensions right now to where I am very much concerned that I am going to be going to jail or that the news media is going to be at my door asking for a statement concerning the burning cross...

So I go home and wait for the police to call me, or the school...or the SWAT team.

When the school does call, I am informed that my children cannot be suspended because this happened after the bus had dropped them off, but that if they hear of anything else like this at school, they will be... sent to the guillotine... I mean suspended.

So I have to wait all day for them to come home because I was not aware of these activities before they left for school. I am not sure of what to do, either. I am more than devastated. Apparently my kids might be future killers wrapped in innocent looking bodies. I mean, they didn't even mention anything when they came home the day before. "How was your day, guys?"

"Good, mom." Which translates to, "Don't look in the trunk of the car, mom. We'll take care of that later."

So after they get home, we have "a conversation" where I cry from the other side of the prison glass and they tell me how sorry they are, essentially. We decide to write an apology letter to the victim and to take them all some cookies. You know, "I'm sorry I beat you up. Have a cookie!"

So we approach their door. We are all scared to death. The grandmother opens the door, and I immediately put out the plate of cookies because I feel like it is harder to justify punching someone who has a plate of cookies.

She actually invites us in and we apologize to the kiddo in person. The grandmother then pulls out a lot of Jehovah's Witness materials and explains to me that our family could really use the services that are offered at her church. They have classes for parents and for children. I graciously accept these pamphlets and purposely neglect to tell her what religion we are because, obviously, we don't practice it at my house.

We walked out the door and for the next 6 months I was still concerned that there would be some legal action filed against us because of this. Ironically, my son and the little boy whom he beat up are now really good friends. There is even a picture of them with their arms around each other in their elementary yearbook. So maybe the lesson here is, no matter how innocent your kids look, they are likely guilty, and cookies really do fix a lot of problems.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sub Karma

I have been hoping to have something to write about lately. Well today, I got it.

But let me start with Thursday. I substituted yesterday for a 2nd grade class at a nearby school. I walked in and the teacher said, "It's your lucky day. I have my student teacher here so your job is to make eyebrows at the naughty kids and let her take the lead."

Um...yes. Let me write your name down. I will be taking all your teaching absences from now on.
I had 2 "challenges" that day. The first was that the student teacher asked me to deal with the kid who just showed his butt to the class. Done. I like the tough ones and this kid just needed more supervision.

The second "challenge" was the realization that it is time to retire one of my old shirts. You see, at the end of the day, a girl said to me "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" And this is not denial...the shirt is the problem. It's not that I don't have some residual baby leftovers, but I am nowhere near the justification for being asked that question. I have decided that my cute, Old Navy, polka dotted shirt needs to find another to love. Goodbye old friend.

This second grade class was great. I had kids writing papers about me. One child handed me a picture they drew for me. The birds were singing and it was all rainbows and sunshine.

I was just made aware of Substitute Karma. It's a rule in the stars where "A substitute is not allowed to have an amazing day. If said substitute does have a well-behaved class then the following substituting experience has to be equally opposite of said 'amazing day'." This is an actual rule.

Today I branched out a little farther from home - straight to the inner city schools. Ironically, it was still 2nd grade. Because of my experience yesterday I let my guard down. I believed for a moment that all children are wonderful and that I get to be the loving mother to 25 amazing children for 3 hours. Here is what happened:

I arrived 10 minutes before lunch (I like to do half days and usually work in the afternoon). I get the run-down from the teacher, who says that it should be pretty easy for the rest of the day. I get to take them to lunch and be the lunch duty, read them a story, teach them math, have them quietly read and then send them home. These are all my favorite things. It was looking so good....

And then she left.

I lined the kids up for lunch and a girl, whom I will call Naughty, tells me that I need to pick 2 VIP's and she asks if she can be one.
Me, the unsuspecting victim, says "sure" and she runs to get 2 badges that I was not aware existed.

 At the same time there is another boy, whom I will call Anger Management (AM for short), asking if he can be the other VIP.

Now, the teacher had warned me about both of these children but she only said to "keep an eye on them and if AM causes you problems then call the office." I have had warnings about many kids before and I usually seek the trouble makers out and befriend them right at the beginning. So far, this method has prevented many problems...until today.

So when AM is asking me for the VIP, I can tell that something doesn't feel right. 

If I needed to know what would start an outright cry for an injustice, it was handing Naughty and AM the VIP pass. Twenty other children declare that there is no way that those two are VIP's.

Seeing as how I don't know what the qualifications are for what a VIP is, or even what any of these kids' names or regular behaviors are, I decide that for today there are no VIP's. 

EVERY KID HATED ME after that. Both AM and Naughty went to the corners of the room and cried, yelled, and AM started banging his head against the wall.

Luckily another administrator walked in and sat there with them while I took the rest of the class to lunch.

 When I got to the lunchroom (keep in mind, I have been at this school for 15 minutes) another teacher was dropping her class off and she said, "You are so and so's sub? I heard you don't have VIP's today." 
Oh, I see my reputation precedes me.

I've explained that I love lunch duty but today they stole that joy from me. First of all, I am the only "teacher" or even adult in the lunchroom and I don't know anything about the lunchroom standards at this school. I swear that every kid is sitting near someone who is insulting them. "Teacher, he just said that I am dumb." "Teacher, she... she just said that...um, that she doesn't want to sit by me." "Teacher, he just said that he hates my teacher." I admit that this one I was curious about. I asked the boy if he said that he hates the girl's teacher and he said, "Yeah, she is mean." I can't argue with that. Carry on.

Eventually, AM and Naughty made it to lunch. The biggest concern for my lunch duty was Naughty. I walked by her table and she flashes me a gang sign with her fingers and says, "You want this?" 
This is second grade, people.

After lunch it was just bad. B.A.D. The highlights consist of me telling AM "No" and he picked up a chair to throw it at someone. (He didn't end up doing it.)
Another kid, (I'll call him Rebel without a cause, but Rebel for short) NEVER. SAT. DOWN. EVER. Rebel and AM talked and sang and made noises through the one page that I actually got to read during story time. They did this on purpose because they didn't want to hear the book. Rebel kept threatening the other kids if they looked at him or tried to talk to him. He tried to act like he was a gangster. "You got somethin' to say to me?"

Other teachers came in and yelled at my kids to sit down and listen at least 7 times but it didn't help. I had so many kids ask if I was going to leave a good report or if they were being good. I always said, "What do you think?"

One kid, I'll call him Slugger, needed to go to the principal early on for misbehavior but I couldn't even deal with him because the other kids were so bad. I couldn't leave the class to take him. Finally after Slugger hit another girl, a teacher walked in and I was like, "You gotta take him with you."

There were so many needs to deal with. At one point, I was consoling one girl because the other girls told her she was a bully. I had kids who wanted to whisper things in my ear because they didn't want the other kids to hear. One kid even offered to go get his dad, who works at the school, to come and deal with Rebel. I had kids who wanted to tell me stories about their lives but if I stopped to listen to them then Rebel would be starting a fist fight in the back of the classroom. And one kid smelled like pee. It was unreal.  

Oddly enough, by the end of the day Naughty, AM, and Rebel were sent to apologize to me for their bad behavior. I may have even gotten a hug from Naughty. I'm sure the other teachers sent them in because they knew I was going to have permanent emotional trauma from this experience.

So I am now rethinking my "challenges" from the 2nd grade class from the day before. If there is a Sub Karma somewhere out there I wonder if I can negotiate a deal where I can have a great experience if I just let them ask if I'm pregnant. I think I can deal with the personal insult if I can just leave a school without worrying that a second grader is going to strip the tires off my car...or worse. And what's the harm in getting mooned?