We teachers are in the fight of our lives here in my little town. We are fighting for a tax increase in order to make sure that we can keep our class sizes down and get the supplies we need in our classrooms. One cannot argue that we are lacking in this town, but the expectations are high.
I live in the same town I teach in. Therefore, I'm not just fighting for my students, I'm fighting for the educational opportunities for my own children. As I read teachers defending their jobs and defending the work they do each day, I began to think about the teachers that affected my children's paths.
The oldest child had a freshman biology teacher that gave him his first real challenge and encouraged him in such a way that he rose to the challenge rather than letting it defeat him. I'm not sure how she did it, but she did it so beautifully that he didn't even realize that she developed in him a growth mindset that would change his high school course. She created a love of science and encouraged him to take an environmental science class. That class, that coach and teacher, created his desire for his potential college major and has helped him to hone into a university. Mostly because that first teacher took three minutes to speak to an eighth grader to explain why he needed to take Pre-AP Biology and not on level biology.
The oldest child also tried out for drum major his sophomore year and didn't get it. He decided to take that defeat and do something else with his time that he couldn't have done if he were drum major. He began to run cross country for his school. Not the fastest runner, but his coaches still coach him and encourage him and teach him to be better every day. The coaches that aren't just coaching a student in the sport, but coaching them in life and on how to be a better adult.
The middle child fell apart one day early in sixth grade. She was unorganized and frustrated. She left her class to go get something out of her locker, but instead sat at her locker in an empty hallway and cried tears of frustration. A teacher stopped and helped my tearful child organize her locker and her binder and reassured her. This teacher was either on her lunch or had her planning period, but stopped and took the time to help a student that wasn't one of hers. I don't think I ever knew that teacher's name that changed the course of my daughter's middle school career.
During eighth grade, the middle child was struggling with anxiety. She often wasn't able to stay in class and would escape in an attempt to manage her anxiety. She found herself sitting in the Assistant Principal's Secretary's office. This was in no way her job, but she knew she could comfort my daughter and she knew she was almost always there to be a safe haven until the anxiety subsided.
These are just the examples that I know about. These are just the examples from the last four years, from two of my children. These are educators who didn't just do what was in their contract, they did what was in their heart. This is not something that I can repay to these men and women. These are teachers who truly care about their students and will do what it takes to educate them. There are not enough tax dollars in the world to express the impact that just one person can have on children.
I can only repay them by paying it forward to other students and parents. You never know when you will be an inspiration to a student.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
We were on our last night of vacation, and I was going to take pictures of my children being silly in the ocean as the sun was setting. But then I stopped.
I stopped looking through the screen of my phone and I just watched. I listened. Because in that moment, I knew I was watching something that would never be the same again. This was likely our last family vacation with all of us living under one roof. This was the beginning of the end of my nuclear family as it exists. I wanted to soak it in through a lens that was more powerful than my camera.
I watched my children play together and laugh like I've watched them for the last seventeen years. But this time was different. And tears streamed down my face.
"Are you okay, Mama?"
No, no, I'm not okay. But at the same time, everything is perfect. This will be the year of tears that are both happy and sad tears all at the same time.
When Sarge and I first married, it was part of the negotiations that I would never live in a house with wheels and that he wouldn't tolerate a cat as a pet. One of us has gone back on our word.
Just before Christmas, we got the teenage girl a kitten of her own. Well, it was supposed to be hers. After the bad dog finally realized that the cat wasn't a snack and had sharp claws that he wasn't afraid to use, the cat was allowed to roam freely about the house.
Quickly, I discovered that Sarge loved that cat. If he was missing for any period of time, wewould find him in Olivia's room playing with that stupid cat. He takes the cat out with him to get the newspaper. He tolerates the sharp claws and loves it when the cat purrs.
I used to joke that he would leave me if I ever came home with a cat. Now I think he would take the cat with him if he ever left me. You know, to go live in that house on wheels.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
I remember when my children were younger and I would tell myself to let them talk, even though I wanted to claw my eyes out because I simply didn't care about every make and model of every car made, thankyouverymuch.
I'm reaping the rewards for keeping my eyes and pretending to listen now. Except now I have to pretend in a different way. I have to pretend not to be horrified by what their classmates are doing when they show me the tweets. I have to pretend that the Vine they show me isn't awful to me. I have to pretend that it doesn't panic me when they go off with their friends driving. I have to pretend that the stories they tell me don't make me want to die inside and instead just respond, "what do you think of that?" I have to pretend, again, or they will stop sharing. And now the stakes are higher if they don't share.
Share with me when you are struggling in a relationship. Share with me when you are insecure and are trying to work your way through it. Share with me when you're thinking of doing something and you're seeking advice. Share when you have a question about something embarrassing. I will listen. I will let you come to the answer you need, not give the answers I think you need. I will not judge. I might want to die inside, but the silence would kill me faster.
The conversation went like this.
"Do girls ever send you nudes?"
Boy: "Ew, mom, no."
Girl: "Mom, that's not the way that works. Boys ask for them, then girls send them."
"OH MY GOSH, YOU'D BETTER NOT ASK FOR ANY, I'LL KILL YOU."
"OH MY GOSH, AND HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS?"
Just wondering how to casually bring up pornography in a conversation with a teenager without condemning or condoning. I mean, you want to find out their thoughts and depth of knowledge while at the same time not screaming, "DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP THAT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO REAL LIFE"
I mean, keeping it casual.