Papa and Momma’s Story

Papa and Momma don’t dance

down the lane

They don’t skip to my lou

or any such thing

He has a limp from the war

says he fell out of bed with a whore,

But that ain’t the truth

Because truth ain’t pretty or nice

And Momma has been through too much

A husband who promised her the sun

moon and stars, but walked away

when chasing kids got too much

But Papa loves Momma

Since the day she pulled

a miracle out of her bag,

the red pepper flakes he forgot,

a tiny miracle that made

two broken families

full of kids looking for love

find their Momma and Papa

again.

And twenty years later,

Papa loves her more than beer

They don’t dance down the lane

But they are doing just fine.

Yet Another Manic Monday

Monday Morning comes every week. You would think that I would learn to prepare for it.

Nope, every week it sneaks up on me. Attacking me when I am just beginning to get things done or so I like to think. The truth is as hard as I work, I am afraid at times and like to pass it off as my own laziness. So I dilly and a dally on unimportant things or start projects that I can’t finish.

There is plenty of time to prepare for school on the weekends or in the hours after school.  Maybe not the killer lessons I always want to teach, but a lesson nonetheless.  I would still be working fifty or so hours a week and in theory wouldn’t be so stressed out all time time.

My own self-doubt cuts at me like a knife and I spend time dreaming of what if’s instead of what next.  I collect books and links to help work past these mental blocks and they sit unread and unused.  I fall into psychological traps which my ego tells me that I am too smart for and yet, I am there again and again.

I want to free myself from stuff and have managed only to collect more. It is hard to say good-bye to things when my depression and anxiety clings to them.  This past week during a lovely insomnia fit, I cleaned out two bins in my dinning room which have been sitting there for months since I first got a roommate.

Efforts to meditate have been met with heavy resistance.  The negative aspects of my personality want to live and they fight for it. Day by day, I work on creating a routine that is healthy and rejuvenating.  Some days like today.  I don’t have a plan or don’t stick with the plan.

The plan was get up at six and take Luke for a walk. Get ready for Wacky Tacky day and leave for work about seven just in case they needed help in the cafeteria. If not, go to my classroom and prepare for the coming day and week.  My walking buddy cancelled and I slept in. Luke was delighted that he didn’t have to get up, but not so happy when his morning walk was cut short. I arrived at work late and barely had time to get everything set up. Still I plotted a course in my head and got the students on track.

Everything was going well until third period. Then one of the girls upset with her feedback didn’t listen and in frustration I let the paper fly from my hand she became in-sensed, claiming I was aiming for her head despite the physical impossibility given that I was seated and she was standing, threatened to beat my ass.  I don’t believe that she really meant me harm, still her words could not be ignored and a report was written. She earned herself a four-day suspension.  At lunch another student locked herself in the bathroom and was screaming in English and Spanish at her boyfriend or at least that was the gist of the conversation I overheard.  The big problem was that she left her baby in the cafeteria unattended, a sweet toddler who had no idea what happened to her mother.  My lunch was spent listening to and attempting to get her out of the bathroom. She came out when the other party hung up and received her only special invitation for an exclusive vacation. Two days.

Frustration and fear leads us to act out. I tend to work myself over the coals daily for things that are truly out of my hands, spending so much time worrying that I don’t take care of things that are in my control and then when they veer wildly into chaos add them to the list of things to torture myself with, opting for a more internal approach that causes less outward drama.  Like my girls, I avoid criticism and try to do better with as little effort as possible. Then fed up with the negative cycle, I dive back into life and get things done at least for a little while. Sometimes to be honest, I bully myself into getting up and going to work or starting/finishing a project. Asking myself again and again why am I not doing what I should and want to be doing. This is the reason that I finally finished the grad school application and applied for five adjunct teaching positions over the weekend.

Still days like today exhaust and send me into spirals of self-reflection.  I vow to do better or at least attempt to do better the next day and work on a plan. A real one with contingencies and oh, yes, I promise to write those lesson plans.

My New Challenge

Thirty days without soda and so far I haven’t retreated to the comforts of carbonation.  I feel better and today, my jeans glided on instead of being pulled and tugged while I contort myself into them.  I have been trying to think of what to work on for my next thirty day challenge.

I want to bring something into my life.

Saturday, I said goodbye to my friend, Krista, along with about sixty other souls.  We cried and laughed remembering the woman who touched each of us.  She was one of my mentors when I began teaching and the first to really get to know me and like me. I inherited her classroom and my magnificent classroom library got its start with the books she left behind.

She was a unique soul whose passion for life was undeniable. She loved to sing and at one point worked as a magician’s assistant. She gave up the road to provide a more stable home for her daughter and became a passionate advocate for students who found their way into her classroom.  I missed her last outing because I was tired.  Mentally tired. Exhausted. It really hasn’t gotten any better.

Once a upon a time, I wasn’t like this. Well not so much, but I had a better grasp on things and was able to flow more easily with life.  I don’t believe that life’s ups and downs should be label drama. Things maybe dramatic from time to time that doesn’t mean that they need the label  of Drama with a capital d.  Drama is for the stage not to manufacture by human beings when they feel bored or don’t know how to act.

Working with teenagers, I see and hear a lot of Drama on a daily basis. My former roommate was also fond of it.  Instead of talking to me about getting some of her rent or deposit back she has been getting others to talk to and threaten me.  Drama.

Drama. Drama.

Saturday, I was reminded that I also believe in living my life differently that beat of my life isn’t to be found in reacting but in acting.  Krista took mediation classes with me.  She listen to me. Now is my turn to listen and return to the beat of my heart and the rhythm of my breath as I take my place on the meditation cushion again.

Everyday for the next day thirty, I will be taking time to meditate. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Cash Money

Cash Money, I gots it right now

Trust me, I gots it

Believe in me, though I ain’t be telling

no truth

the whole truth and nothing but

its the but that is the sticky part

The but that means the difference

between this nice n furnished place

and another month at hotel

reminding me of the mistakes

I done made

But I can’ts take the risk

that the truth would set me free

rent me this room

cause it is what sent me away

Arming Ms. Apple

Of all the things that could be done to education, the worst would be the arming of American school teachers.

Seriously, it would be disastrous…Countless teachers would quit or retire in order to avoid having to carry gun in a school or work around them.  Many more would never entered the profession.  Teachers are under-fire in this country both literally and figuratively. We are praised by individuals for our work and demonized by the media and politicians. At the same time, we have to worry about the safety of our students. Today at my school, I had to twice remind our technology coordinator not to prop open one of the outside doors. Even after recent events, he still did not understand the issue with his actions. He acted as if he would be a deterrent to someone coming into the school which is connected to a dorm for teenage mothers who have no place to go. My words were lost on him.  He laughed them away.

If we want the attacks on teacher and students to stop on both fronts then we have to fully fund education, cease to make unrealistic demands and allow teachers to be the leaders in education.  No,these steps won’t stop all school violence, but there is a better chance of school personnel being aware of potential issues when they aren’t worrying about the next round of testing or how they are going to pay for little Luke’s braces.  Teaching used to be a profession that helped lift families into the middle class. Now it is the profession that middle class families look down upon.

As a teacher, I love what I do, but I am exhausted by the ever increasing responsibility that is being placed before me and the growing pile of bills at home. I am an example of how teachers are underpaid, overwhelmed and burning out.  Most still don’t make it pass their first five years in the profession.

On top of being responsible for how our students perform on standardized tests when they enter classrooms years behind where they are “supposed” to be, most of us regularly take work home, spend money out of our own pockets for classroom supplies and are told that we must take more and more classes in order to be “highly qualified” without increases in our take home pay; people are suggesting that teachers be allowed or even required to carry firearms in the classroom.  Really? That would like arming members of the postal service in the 1980’s. The answer is not more guns or less guns. The answers to school/gun violence are deeper than the current media debate will allow.

Teachers want their schools to be safe, but adding another weight for us to bear will only cause more problems.   If our nation put their money where their mouth is and funded all of education’s needs, we would be able to combat the achievement gap as well violence.  How often when you are overworked are you able to see a problem clearly. Schools need so much, yet legislatures continue to cut funding while demanding that students show improvement regardless of the other factors affecting them.  It is really hard to concentrate in class when you have just becomes a mother or your father was sentenced to life.  Their reality is so far removed from that of their teachers that they might as well live in another galaxy. Yet, teachers don’t give up.

Beyond that I think about Ms. Apple down the hall with a gun and I am incredible afraid.  She is a sweet woman, but the pressures she is currently under are nearly breaking her. She lives for her puppy dog, church and helping others. A simple and blessed life.  Peace would not be served by putting a gun in her hand. She would be more likely to make a mistake and shoot herself or worse a student.

I am not anti-gun.  They have been a part of my entire life, but they have no part in my classroom life. Nor should they. Instead of telling teachers what to do, how about listening to us. Please.

Book Review: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

all-cats-have-asperger-syndromeBook: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

Author: Kathy Hoopmann

Available: Barnes & Noble, Amazon ($10.95 – $14.95)

Rarely do I venture into bookstore or any major retail store during the holidays unless it Target, but this year I went in search a present for a very special two month old girl.  Truthfully, I had spotted it weeks ago, but I wanted my Momma’s opinion on it.  We were attempting to make our way out of the store when we spot Kathy Hoopmann’s book, “All Cats have Asperger Syndrome”.  We both stopped in our tracks.Love

All Cats have Asperger Syndrome is a beautiful book that elegantly illustrates aspects of Asperger Syndrome that are often hard for adults to define. For families trying to explain what Asperger Syndrome is to others including their children while still working to understand it themselves this book is heaven sent.  Each page of the book has a brief insight into what an Aspie is experiencing and feeling.  It does not attempt to explain the causes or go into detail about the effects of the syndrome.

Sure, he may need a little help following fashionable trends, but don’t forget, everyone is different in his own way and there is a little bit of Asperger is us all.

This book to me is beauty in simplicity.

allcats1Australian born Hoopmann lives in Dubi with her family where she continues to write.  Learn more about this author on her website.