Tuesday, March 6, 2018
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.
"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
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.
Friday, February 9, 2018
"Yes, I will open your ranch packet for you."
"Yes, you can go grab a snack."
"Yes, that pizza was made in a factory."
The kids are all contained. They are happy. They are fed and I get to say yes to almost everything. Sign. Me. Up.
The only hesitation that I have is that I don't look like the kids or their teachers in this area so instead of one class staring at me, the entire grade level - who all eat at the same time - are noticeably staring at me. I frequently get asked if I am a substitute for whomever their teacher is - even if they have seen them that day. This can be a little awkward for me but I sweep my long hair over my shoulder, bat my blue eyes at them and pass out napkins like the best of them.
I substituted for a music class this week too. This was fun because it was totally appropriate to bring my little bluetooth speaker and we played freeze dancing for the upper grades. The kindergarten class had a different plan on their agenda, however...
I know that "Annie" is a classic, but when was the last time that you watched it? Seriously. If you want to know why our generation is out of order, maybe we should look at the things we grew up with.
After a scene where Ms. Hannigan has yelled at the girls, I have some distraught children.
"Mrs. Miller, my mom says we don't say 'Shut Up!'"
Me: I cringe. "I know, buddy. That is not nice, is it?" Then I think, "I wonder how your mom feels about a woman who is visibly drunk with the alcohol bottle in her hand, immodestly dressed, and throwing herself at every man who comes to an orphanage? What are her feelings on that?"
This was an awkward situation as many kids were confused and upset. Freeze dancing, anyone?
I substituted at a school where my son had some friends from 2 years ago (the school split) and I ended up in class where there were kids who knew my son. One boy was so excited that I was teaching him because he loved my son. He asked if he could write my son a letter.
He handed it to me at the end of the day. "Can you please give this to [your son]?"
"Yes, I can. You know, here is our contact information if you want to call him. Where do you live, anyway? It should be close by."
He hesitates and then says, "I don't feel comfortable telling you that."
Me: "Okay, that is fine." And I am thinking that his hesitation came from the other kids who were standing around him. You know, the kids who ride the bus home with him and already know where he lives. After he walks away I realize that I should be grateful that he didn't report me or start yelling "Stranger Danger!" I guess my supermodel status only has effect in the lunch room.
A kid came up to me toward the end of the day and prophesied, "There won't be school tomorrow."
"Well, I don't know about that. It looks pretty fine out there right now."
"Nope. There won't be school." and he walked away.
Sure enough, there was a ton of snow that fell at 3AM the next morning and a snow day was declared.
I found it prophetic when I thought about this later...this kid's name was Mohammad. It still makes me chuckle. I wonder what else he knows.
I have also been grading college papers for my other job. They have to come up with a business idea and explain how they would go about starting it.
A potato bar where everything is made with potatoes. In all seriousness, I would totally eat there.
Or customized swimsuits...
Most were just copycatting many trendy businesses that already exist.
And my "favorite"...tell me your thoughts on this... a restaurant/bar that you bring your laundry to. There are many questions I have for this business idea but the first one that comes to mind...
Do I want my clothes to smell like a restaurant or my food to smell like a laundromat? And do I get to choose that?
This is what has been happening in the education world where I live. I am considering volunteering for a refugee center in my spare time. I wonder what stories await me there...
Monday, February 5, 2018
Sunday, January 28, 2018
I feel the need to elaborate on a few incidences from last weekend. This is a chronic struggle in our household. Maybe it is in yours too.
You see, about 18 years ago I, an extrovert, married an introvert. But he is not just introverted. He is also non-verbal (this is not an official diagnosis). I honestly think that he has a quota of how many words he should have to say each day. When we were first married, it was 20. 20 Words! 18 years later, I think it is maybe 50. This is not a lot to work with but I make do. As an extrovert and an over-communicator, myself, I make up for this by talking for both of us. Sometimes I do this in our 2-way communication conversations too. Yes, he appreciates this.
So last weekend, as I have previously blogged about, we experienced one of those couples communication issues. As I mentioned, I said some things that I was not proud of. Let me explain. We were traveling home from the hike that we had gone on. The GPS said that we would arrive at the church at 4pm, which is exactly when I needed to meet others there to set up. I had told my husband that we had to go right to the church and that he could not go home to "change his shoes" (which we both knew was a lie because you wouldn't go home and only change your shoes if you could get away with ditching your 15 pounds of extra snow clothes. I knew that this is what he would do and that we would be late opening up the church for the helpers.)
So on the way home, the GPS adjusts and we are going to get to the church at 3:55 and I realize that we are going a different way home then normal and that we might be able to swing by our house first.
Let me see if I can explain. We live between 2 freeway exits (but they are different freeways). We usually come home on the 70, which means we drive by the church first. This is why I said, "We have to go to the church first." But if you are coming in on the 270 then our house is on the way to the church and you might be able to swing home and, I don't know, change your shoes, and get to the church on time.
So as we are approaching our exit on the 270, I say, "Hey, this is Broad St, you are getting off, right?" He kind of ignores me.
I sit up more. "Why don't you get off here? Then we can run home first."
As we are passing the exit, he irritatedly says, "You said we have to go to the church first."
This is when I Lost. My. Mind.
"What in the...why wouldn't you get off there? We could have stopped at home first and you could have "changed your shoes"? We could have grabbed the decorations... we would have driven right by our house on the way to the church (my face is getting red, I feel this great amount of frustration rushing forth). It was the perfect compromise! WHY DIDN'T YOU GET OFF THERE?"
Again, he coolly says, "You said we had to go to the church first."
Me: What is the matter with you? I didn't know we were going to pass that exit first. We never come this way. (This part is at a very elevated volume, which isn't very normal for me, and my kids are cowering in the back as one of my eyeballs is about to bulge out of my head in frustration.) Why didn't you say, 'Hey, Christina, why don't we get off here and hit the house first?'
Him: I thought you knew where we were.
Me: Would it kill you to give me information that I might (or might not) have already known? (My emotions are elevating at a rapid pace...) YOU HAVE MADE ME INTO THIS EVIL DICTATOR! WE COULD HAVE COMPROMISED IF YOU HAD JUST TOLD ME...
Nothing. He he says nothing and I am contemplating banging my head against the dash.
We ended up dropping him off at the church to start setting up tables and I still had to run home to get the decorations...and his shoes. We needed a time-out anyway.
So then later that night, he slices his finger and we have to go to the ER. We don't live in a place where kids should be at the ER with you, especially at that time of night, but it is only a mile away and my neighbor was watching out for them. So while I was quickly getting ready to go to the ER, he had the kids get to bed.
At the ER I said, "The kids are good, right? They will call us if they need something, right?
Him: I had them go to bed.
The next morning, the kids say, "Where were you? We came downstairs and couldn't find you."
I turn to the husband and say, "Didn't you tell them that we were going to the ER?"
Him: I told them to go to bed.
I look at the ground contemplating a response here because I am in a better frame of mind than yesterday. I think, "Man, when my sister and I were little and my parents weren't home for a long time, we called the police." Yep, that is what we did. I still remember both looks (surprise and then "you girls are dead meat!" - those 2 looks) on my mom's face when she came home and Officer Bill was standing in our doorway taking notes on his notepad.
Thank goodness that our kids aren't as smart as my sister and me.
So I let this one go but I think the husband knew that I may have a point about communicating. (Not that he would tell me that, but I think I saw something flicker in his eyes.)
After 18 years, I have learned to live with this drought in communication and I have found clever ways to make him talk or to get the "full" story. We make it work and we love each other, although he might spend his nights plotting how to kill me. I can't be sure.
Maybe you have the same problem in your house?
Monday, January 22, 2018
It started Friday. I went in to substitute as a 3rd wheel teacher (the teacher who walks around and helps the real teachers). This is an easy job. Sometimes you get to pull kids into your little office and really teach them instead of babysitting the big group of 25 students. However, when I got to the school they explained that both real teachers must have decided to go clubbing because they needed a sub for both teachers on this team. One teacher had scheduled a sub but the sub called in sick. This should have been a red flag to me but I said, "Sure, I'll sub for the sub."
This was all fine until the afternoon when the kids had me figured out. I am a pretty relaxed sub. If you are at least doing your work (which mostly consisted of playing math games on their devices - yes, that was the actual assignment) then I am not going to hassle you... that is, until I start getting reports from other kids that you weren't doing what you were supposed to. Usually I will do something about it after 2 witnesses have come forward so by the time 4 kids came to tell me that a group of 5 kids weren't doing what they were supposed to, I was pretty sure it is time to intervene. I decided to reign it all in and have all the kids go back to their desks to continue playing math games but one kid is not having it. He starts arguing with me and spouting off his disdain because I am a terrible teacher...etc. I feel myself getting frustrated and I asked him if he would like to go talk to the principal about it. The kid agrees. I said, "Deal" and he left the class.
Now all the kids want to know what just went down because kids don't usually get sent to the principal anymore. My own child asked later, "why didn't you just give him a "step" (which is the normal punishment)? And I am still trying to figure out the answer to that.
It almost felt like in the heat of the moment when you tell your kid to go see their dad for a punishment. As a mother, and having no formal education as an educator, I feel really terrible about how this all played out. I am considering writing a note to the kid because I feel like I should have handled that better.
So I am still stewing over this as we run a bunch of errands after work and I am preparing for a ward (church) party that I am in charge of on the following night. It is getting later and we decide to take the kids home while we run to Walmart to pick up a treadmill that we had ordered.
Did you know that Walmart pick-up closes at 8pm? Well it does. Don't go there and try to finagle anything with the manager to pick up your order because he Does. Not. Care.
On our way home, my daughter calls to say that they let the neighbor in because she was locked out of her house. (My kids are dumb. No matter how many times we tell them not to even go near the door when we leave them for 30 minutes, one of them can't help but peek at the door and then fall over into the hallway so that the doorbell-ringer can see them.)
We are pulling in the driveway and see the locked-out neighbor's husband in shorts and flip flops on the sidewalk. We asked if he is locked out. He seems confused and we tell him to just come inside our house. (These neighbors are refugees so we assumed that the confusion was a translation issue.)
I walked inside our house to find our neighbor with red eyes huddled in our living room with her 2 year old son... and right behind me is her husband, whom she is not happy to see. We aren't sure what is going on but we tell him to sit down, and he casually does. We try to make small talk and end up having this awkward conversation where be basically confesses to having been drinking. He explained that things had gotten heated and his wife and son ran out and were trying to hide from him. They all stayed for an hour until another one of their family members came home so that they wouldn't be alone together.
Oh. Em. Gee. I don't even know what to say and I am not sure if I should approach her to see if she needs help. She lives with her husband's family while her family is stuck in her native country.
Saturday we went snow hiking. It was beautiful and just cool and we got to go with friends who we met when we lived in California. It was really awesome - except for the part where we had our kids with us, who just complained, said their boots didn't fit, their gloves were cold, they were hungry, when will this be over?... etc. Except for that part.
We got a late start and a later finish and so we were not going to have enough time to set up, decorate, and shower before this ward party that I was in charge of. I am not proud of this but there were words said on that car ride home that I am not proud of (mostly because he wanted to go home and change his clothes but the timing would not allow for that.)
Miraculously and with the help of a few people we had enough time to set up and run home to shower. Party went great. Someone told us that they would take care of the clean up and we were exhausted so we went home...but not before Jeremy says, "Can we please go get the treadmill?"
We are halfway there before my son looks out the window and exclaims in a near panic, "Where are we? We were just at the church! I thought we were going home!"
We are just taking the long way kiddo.
We get the treadmill home from a Walmart that you really should be packing in, if you know what I mean. We were taking our lives in our hands going there 2 nights in a row.
We get the thing upstairs. Jeremy starts unpacking it and I get in my P'J's. The next thing I know Jeremy is staring at me with a bloody finger saying, "Are you going to take me or am I going to have to drive there myself?"
And we spent the rest of the night together watching Talladega Nights in the emergency room waiting for them to stitch him up.
I hope that you and I can now sleep after all this, although I am still wondering if I should write that kid a note. Thoughts?
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Anyway, I got to sub at the Middle School nearby. I didn't realize this at first but when any student sees that there is a substitute, they immediately do something against the rules. If you are a friendly -looking substitute, then they won't make this rule breaking malicious. If you are not so friendly-looking then you will have to leave notes for the teacher like the one I read that stated, "I will never substitute for your class again. I am crying as I write this..."
So the first thing I was asked in this class was, "Are you going to leave after 10 minutes like the last sub?"
Me: Um, I wasn't planning on it.
I then knew that I needed to up my game.
It was in this middle school that I had a class of kids who were supposed to have a textbook open and be making some notes for a test. Easy assignment. I don't even care if they talk to their friends as they do this as long as they have the book out and are half-looking at it. However, I came across a group in the corner who was being a little rambunctious so I casually sauntered in their direction to see what was up. There was a kid who was obviously copying off another kid's paper.
Me: What are you doing?
Little liar: Oh, it's fine. My friend George* doesn't care.
Me: Hmmm...well I care. Why don't you get out a book and take your own notes?
Persistent Little liar: No really, it's fine. My friend doesn't mind.
Now up to this point I didn't want to have to do this but I was a little irritated that this kid wouldn't even try and that George didn't just take his paper back and keep working. So I had to pull out the big guns...
Me: Well, unfortunately, I know George's mom and I don't think she would like what is going on here.
The entire class stops to listen to this. Mouths drop and George turns bright red because up until this point neither one of us had acknowledged this fact. I felt that I needed to add a little more fire to the persistent little liar's flame so I lowered my voice so that only the corner group could hear and I said, "And I know where he lives. So why don't you give him that paper back and get out a book?"
George wanted to die. I am certain. I felt kind of bad for him. He took his paper back and pretended like this did not just happen.
The kids in the class didn't know whether to laugh at him or at me so after the shock wore off, they all went back to work. The persistent little liar never did end up taking his own notes but he didn't ask for anyone else's either.
And that is why I pray every morning before I go substitute (sometimes twice before Middle School or High School) because everyone needs a random ace in their pocket.