Teaching, Learning, Life

children, faith, growth, learning, love, motherhood, teaching, teenagers, truth

As the semester comes to a close and along with it, my first full school year back in the classroom; I’m still as excited to be doing this today as I was in September.

I’ve had bumps along the way, tears were shed, self-doubt crept in, mistakes were made (again and again), but the awesome questions that keep coming, the laughter at my corny jokes, and the smiling (and sometimes fearful) faces of those that sit before me thirsting for knowledge inspire me even on my darkest days.

My own children ask me, “Mom, why do you read so much?”

Answers:

1) I enjoy reading.

2) I enjoy learning.

3) I would be a charlatan if I stood up in front of my students every day and expected them to take risks and learn if I wasn’t willing to do the same.

Our library is being cleaned out for renovations and an entire set of history books were up for the taking. I now have 6 boxes of books in the back of the land yacht (Psst don’t tell Papasaurus yet!) and as I excitedly looked through the them, I let out a squeal of delight about books on obscure Civil War battles that made the librarian chuckle. He said, “You are proof that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I’m glad someone will put them to good use.”

Albert Eistein is credited with a quote, “Once we stop learning, we start dying.”

I have a long life ahead…

 

 

 

 

Bitc%es, $luts, False Accusations and Forgiveness…

children, disability, faith, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, humility, learning, lettinggo, love, momoffive, motherhood, teaching, truth

I think I’ve calmed myself down enough now so that I am not shooting boogers out of my nose with my sobs to try to write down how humiliated I felt tonight when an obviously overwrought, understaffed and poorly trained Stewart’s employee falsely accused me of not paying for my gas.

See, I had to stop for gas after staying very late after school tonight and before I had to go run around again with the typical night of sports mom practice pickup and drop offs.

Knowing the closest gas station to my job is the Sitterly Road location, I stopped at a pump, took of the gas cap off, put in my SEFCU card, the pump turned on, I selected Regular Unleaded and expected to put $20 in my tank and head home. Of course,  as my cold arthritic hands often do, I missed at $20, so I went to $20.05 and stopped.

Staring at the $0.99 coffee with any gas purchase sign on the gas pump in my hand, and with pangs of hunger racking my body (See I missed lunch today as it’s Regents Week starting tomorrow, and I was running to drop off stuff all through my office period!) I decided to go back into my truck,  get my purse and grab a quick cup of tea and those addicting chicken salad sandwiches on white bread. I left my truck near the pump as it wasn’t busy and walked into the store.

After filling my cup, I grabbed my sandwich, went to the register and took out my receipt after asking if I could get the tea for $0.99 if I didn’t pay cash for my gas. She said, “Did you put $20. on pump 8?” I said, “Yeah here’s my receipt,” to which she said,”It’s not clearing on the computer.” I said, “Well I showed you my receipt it’s OK right?” or something to that effect and she mumbled “Yeah,” so I walked out, holding the door for the woman who had been sparring with me for the creamer as per usual, I  used the last of the half and half and had to throw out the container closest to me.

I put my purse, tea and sandwich in my truck and was about ready to get in when the other employee came running out after me, yelling, ” I need to see the receipt. Your pump is showing you didn’t pay!” She was rude and accusatory and many people outside looked at me as if I was trying to steal gas! I was shocked and said.”Yeah here’s my receipt.” I then showed her my receipt and, never apologizing, she mumbled something about a lot of drive offs, and begrudgingly walked back into the store.

As I got into my truck, it really started to hit me. I was falsely accused! I could feel the anger bubbling up in me like the chili in the pot they were stirring inside the store when I went to the counter to buy my tea and sandwich.

I was feeling all kinds of things, mostly humiliation, embarrassment and anger. Someone at Stewart’s Corporate Offices needs to know about this!  What if I didn’t have my receipt? What would she have done, call the police?

I didn’t know her name, so I was going back into the store and getting it. I was going to show her that I don’t steal and I don’t lie and that she should apologize.

Well things went from bad to worse. I went back in to get her name because she made me feel humiliated and no one treats me like that. She still didn’t apologize and actually started yelling at me saying that she didn’t need to listen to me yelling at her.

All she had to do was apologize to me –  “I’m sorry,”  would have stopped it right there. Yeah I would have been mad but I would have been better, but  she just turned her back on me like I was nothing and walked away further humiliating me.

Then I was got mad. I said stuff like, you don’t treat me like that, who do you think you are, I’m a teacher at the school around the corner.! Why would I buy a sandwich and tea if was going to steal gas!

Then I heard “Why don’t you leave you slut!” It was a man’s voice. I couldn’t look up.

WHAAAAT?

Then I heard her call me a bitch. Then I called her a bitch. Not my proudest moment.

I couldn’t believe it! I’m a slut; a bitch? Just for wanting an apology? For asking the employee her name so I could follow up?

Furious, I stormed out. Tears erupted from my body. I called corporate and left a message for their customer service team. I was sobbing at this point.

Then I thought, “I want to speak to someone now.” I called the number back again, tears streaming down my face barely able to contain my sobs so much so that the woman I spoke kept saying try to calm down, try to take a deep breath.

I told her I had to drive home and that my phone was going to die and that I had to drive my son to practice.

When I got home I received a call from a store manager who immediately apologized. He asked me if I could tell him what happened. Crying, I retold the story. I could hear him gasp. He couldn’t say I’m sorry enough. For the first time an employee actually said something that I believed.

However, he was mistakenly called as it was not his store. He even went on to say that he would call the District Manager whose store it was and explain to him what happened so that I did not have to get myself upset. He apologized over and over again. He also said something about bringing it up at the Corporate Office customer service meeting tomorrow.

Soon after, I received a call from the District Manager and I was feeling my tears turn to anger again. Having to recall this a 4th time and hearing his disdain for my side of it and backing up his employee of 10 years, I was shocked. He said he would pull the tape. He said he had lots of drive offs. Not really what I wanted to hear, my phone died mid conversation and I sobbed all the way to my son’s practice and back.

When I returned home, I had received a call back, not from the District Manager, but from the first manager making sure that I had his phone number and if the district manager didn’t call me to feel free to call him.

After trying unsuccessfully to contact the District Manager again, I called the first manager and wanted to thank him for his call. I left him a message that I my phone had died when talking to the DM and that I  appreciated his compassion and follow through.

As hours have passed, I think of all my friends of color, my students, my friends. If I don’t follow through, these types of situations can continue to happen.

Stewart’s DEFINITELY needs to retrain their employees about accusing people falsely, how to process whether or not someone has potentially forgotten to pay and to just teach their employees HUMILITY!

Do I want her fired? No. Do I want an BIG LOUD apology from the highest levels? YES, YES I do!

I will be teaching my students about this. I will be reminding them to ALWAYS get a receipt, to get a name, to be sure before accusing someone. If they make a mistake, to be humble and apologize.

See this slut and bitch never forgets. but she will eventually forgive. Might as well make it a learning opportunity…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Catholic, faith, family, motherhood, teaching, teenagers, truth

As I sit here, in my warm home with snow gently falling outside, a eerie sense of calm surrounds me.

Yet, I have no tree, I am not even close to being done with my shopping and I have two more days of work this week.

Then a dear old warrior friend posted this: 18 Strings of Trouble – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and I hearken back to the days when I felt like my life was a war zone. Fear, uncertainty and pain, was all I knew.

Reminded of that yesterday with a student in crisis (The similarities to my own personal situation at that age were astounding!), I now realize why I have been placed where I am.

The beauty and wisdom of knowing and recognizing it brings me great comfort and joy.

So enjoy the snow, take you time, crank up the music and ENJOY. Take care of you!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

via Daily Prompt: Calm

In Sickness and In Health

children, disability, learning, love, motherhood, teaching, teenagers, truth

No, I’m not talking about my wedding vows, I am talking about writing and creating the perfect lessons for my substitute teacher to continue the learning process with my vast array of students when I am not there.

The health and well-being of my students is always on my mind. Why is X suspended again? Why is L not going to class on time this week after I finally talked with him and thought he was on track? Why is C such a wizard and what can I do to challenge him so he is not bored? Is M still worried about her grades so much she doesn’t sleep at night?

See I believe that teaching is my calling. I have told my students that I take the whole “In Loco Parentis” part seriously. I am their parents while they are in school, but I’m not really am I?

I can’t ground them for being a jerk and skipping class, buy them ice cream on a day they are sad or give them a hug when their spirits are weary can I?

I try when I am there to be a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for their concerns and a listening ear, even when they are screaming. I teach business, but in my job as CEO of my classes, I blur the lines between management and employees.

All I can do is make sure my substitute understands that they are MY kids and provide lessons to help to carry on my instruction.

In sickness and in health…

Trump the Triggers

disability, faith, family, growth, truth

After a few months off, I feel the need to address what people have been privately asking.

The shock and despair that some are feeling is because they ignored, mimicked, minimized and flat-out discounted the anger and frustration that a great deal of hardworking American people were feeling.

Here are some examples in my personal life:

  1. My new college graduate daughter that had, upon returning to campus in January (after working a full day and driving 4.5 hours) to deal with her “special snowflake” of a roommate who thought she could just remove a kitchen cabinet door from their shared college apartment (University property BTW) and then spend 45 minutes sobbing at the RA’s office when I told her to “Go and get the RA because I want it documented what happened here and that my daughter will not be paying ANY damage bill for your choices.” The Director of Housing was called and along with the RA returned because I had, “Made her frightened and triggered.” I said,
    “I don’t care.” My daughter then regaled them with tales of what her roommate had been doing to her (which was reported) and demanded an emergency meeting. I received a phone call as I was almost home from my daughter stating that the RA had placed Play Dough in front of them both to help them deal with their stress. My daughter, angered by the infantilization of a serious breach of university policy, opened the can, placed the Play Dough back in and stated,” That she didn’t want Play Dough, she wanted to know what disciplinary consequences the roommate (a 21-year-old woman BTW!) was going to face and that she wanted official documentation that none of her choices were going to charged to her as she was working to pay for college. You know, like what GROWN UPS have to do when faced with legal wrongdoing!
  2. My eldest son, having to deal with a roommate, that instead of paying the gas bill decided to take the money and fly off to Europe to see his girlfriend and travel. His parents tried to blame my son and the other roommate for not paying him because you know, their special snowflake would never lie. It took me threatening expulsion from the university and legal action before they paid the back charges. Meanwhile my son and the other roommate had to either shower at work or at a gym at school for 3 weeks until the utilities could be paid for and restored under my son’s name. The student NEVER apologized to my son and still doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
  3. My high school aged son was assaulted in school by a teammate, out of the blue and without provocation. He suffered a punishment of missing the game that they were waiting for the bus for when it happened. My husband and I had to take time to fight for our son (missing work) only to be told that the child, because he had a tough childhood and was emotionally traumatized,  using my son as his punching bag, was only getting suspended from school because removing from the team was too harsh of a penalty. Would that be what was done to my son if the roles were reversed? Who determines whose trauma is worse than another’s?
  4. My middle school aged daughter, falsely accused of using the N word by students who wanted to see, after the truth came out, if they could do a BLM type action.( (This was when Baltimore and Ferguson were burning and BLM protesters were looting and pillaging.)  She was surrounded in the hallway by two teachers and the accuser without any back up or representation from anyone for her and bullied into a false confession. A confession was overturned by the Principal after I had to intervene with the help of my friend, an African-American affirmative action professional, who, upon hearing me tell her the tale, Said ” Oh no! Not my baby girl! You don’t raise your children like that!”.

These are just four examples of my own personal experiences with the broken system of social justice that was thrust upon good, honest people over the past decade.

If you believe that I am deplorable, a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, or not tolerant in any way than obviously you don’t know me or my family at all and you should not be in our lives.

The divisions thrust upon us by the media dwelling on the negative do not exist for me and my friends of all colors, creeds (or lack thereof) or sexual preferences (or lack thereof).

To those who supported any of the non selected candidates for President, I am sorry you are hurting, but to disparage, deny or discredit my feelings are no better than what you have accused those who don’t think, believe or act like you to have been doing.

We all matter. We all have to work together.

Fighting won’t solve anything.

Trump the Triggers, roll up your sleeves and start working to be more united.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

 

Courage

Uncategorized

Writing has been so very difficult for me lately as I have been bombarded with emotions. My friend and political compatriot passed away 6 weeks ago. He was a role model to my son who helped him and his wife with yard chores. My son has been struggling with how to feel, what to do,  and just plain feeling sad at his passing. I hurt trying to be a wise mother – trying to tell him how to cope, when I cowardly can’t even beign to.

Yesterday, I happened to come across a FB message to him a few months before he passed. Always witty, even in the his darkest hours and while under extreme pain, Nathan exemplified courage

Now my friend from HS has lost her 25-year-old son to the same disease. Wanting nothing from us but prayers, she reached out  yesterday to wish my son a happy birthday on the same day she publicly said goodbye forever to her son. Sam demonstrates courage beyond my comprehension.

My eldest son’s friend from youth hockey days welcomed his first-born son the other day via video stream. He serves us all in the Middle East. He shows me a type of selfless courage to serve others and delaying his joy until he can come home to his young wife and son.

My heart is overwhelmed by the courage of these people. People that I have been blessed to have in my life to show me that nothing is beyond hope, beyond love, beyond friendship.

Courage is boundless.

We Want You

children, faith, growth, love, truth

So many feelings inside fighting to make their way out of me today. Fridays always seem to exhaust me. The kids got under my skin. I was tired. I was cranky. I was hot.

A friend and spokesperson for a charity that is local that directly helps veterans with any of their readjustment (any) needs (new suits for job interviews, paper products, food, H&B aids,shampoo, towels, sheets,  beds, etc.) put out a call for food.

FOOD!!!! The  Veterans Miracle Center had depleted their food stores (except for cereal and ketchup) as their needs were so overwhelming they exhausted their food supply 2 weeks early.

Our Veterans who proudly served our country’s needs, and selflessly giving of themselves need us. I felt the peering gaze and finger pointing at me…uncle-sam-we-want-youOK Uncle Sam, I’m going. Suddenly while shopping, I felt the feeling. The self-pity and tired feeling was wiped away and a joy of helping others flooded over me.

An awakening – all the negative, all the ugly, can be washed away with just a small token of giving to others – at least within YOUR sphere of influence.

Buy someone a cup of coffee, smile at someone you pass by every day and say hello, call a friend on the phone to catch up or better yet, go visit!

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (FDR)  We cannot let fear, sadness, and dread overwhelm us.

We are better than that. Heed Uncle Sam’s call.

 

“It” Teaches a Lesson

Uncategorized

I am hurting. I hurting in the place that I don’t ever like to talk about. I feel attacked in my soul.

The nonstop hate stream filling my FB feed, Twitter, TV, Radio, of death, mayhem, sorrow – every day it’s a death by a thousand cuts.

Then there was swim lessons. As a teacher and instructional designer, I always find myself looking at others to see how 1) They can improve their instruction or 2) more often, how I can improve mine.

As a wife, mother, daughter. friend and citizen – I teach and try to learn everywhere I go. I try to look at things though a lens of a learner.

Yesterday, I learned a lot. I learned about my child’s great capacity to love. He touched my soul and opened up a part that I had closed off due to pain, hurt and fear.

At the end of class (far too unstructured I had been saying to myself!) they play tag. My son is a strong swimmer in the class that I put him in and could easily have dominated the “tag” game. However, he did something far different. He watched for what I considered an unfathomably long time for a 9-year-old who we jokingly call “Squirrel” because of his lack of focus.

“Squirrel” decided to watch. He took a position near safety and was mostly in the water like a Navy Seal, popping his head up from time to time, observing the situation. What he didn’t know, was that  I was watching.

I was annoyed with him because he spent far too much time in class today being chatty with a younger boy instead of focusing on instruction.

But know he was watching the group. He was watching how the other kids were tagging and making a girl with special needs “It” and he was watching how they innocently kept swimming away just far enough as to not get caught.

Sensing her frustration or just getting frustrated himself by the unfairness of it all; I could not tell, but he sprung out of the water from his safety and saw where “It” was and made the game just competitive enough so she, after about 5 minutes was able to catch him.

Then he went for every the kid that made her “It”, drawing them further and further away from her, while allowing her to be part of the chase. He then proceeded to tag another child, get tagged “It” again and it repeated until the end of class.

He taught me that compassion and doing the right thing doesn’t have to be a big production, but a simple act of doing the right thing – even when no one is looking or even knows.

He also shamed me, for I was wondering why the instructor left so much unstructured time at the end of class.

But then I realzied – “It” was to teach ME!

 

 

 

I love sports. They were such an important part of my life from as long as I can remember, and I daresay, they still are.

Sportsmanship is Alive and Well

Upon reading this article, my heart just broke a little more; a feat I didn’t think was possible.

See, I was the first child of an athlete. My baby gift was a Johnny Unitas signed football. My treasured toy was my Dr. J. red, white and blue basketball. I really never played with dolls. I liked to play basketball. I loved to ride my bike for miles. I shot BB guns, ran the pastures around my house, and swam in the community pool.

I was a awkward, lanky, nerdy, exceedingly tall girl, that never quite fit in anywhere.  My home life with a constantly working father and a manically depressed and often abusive mother and disabled sister were not idyllic.

Sports and being a part of a team, were my escape. They were a place where I kind of fit due to my  height and genetic gifts for sport.

At 18 I blessed to Zing with my hubby, a former D1 baseball player and ice hockey lover, who grew up, a lot like me, just skating on the flats, hiking, camping and fishing, and playing in the sand lot.

We have been blessed with 5 incredibly wonderful children. We expected that sports would be a part of their lives. We allowed them to try all kind of things. Their sports glory or failures were not about us. It is about their development as a human. It was about being a part of something larger then themselves.

They mostly gravitated to their father’s sports of baseball/softball and ice hockey (although I have one volleyball player!) He and I have volunteered to help all children on the teams, no matter their ability. We love sports and obviously having kids (lots of them) in our lives. It seemed a natural progression to continue to be involved and share our love of sports with others through coaching, volunteering, driving kids to practices and games if necessary, just being present.

But something changed. Sports became big business. At young ages parents are sold a bill of goods that little Jonny or Mary, if they go to the right camps, play on the the best teams, buy the best equipment, they will have this magical, transformative experience. In what I have witnessed and experienced, the reality falls far short of the promises.

Gone are the days of multi-sport athletes. Children are being pushed to focus on one sport earlier and earlier. Countless studies have shown that it is bad for children, yet it persists.

Early Specialization: Nine Reasons Why It Is a Bad Idea

Why? It makes people money. It make parents feel good. It makes children feel good – for awhile.

What happens when winning becomes EVERYTHING? What happens when you no longer can win? What happen to you when you trounce an opponent so badly that you crush a person’s soul? Longitudinally – what, in being someone that participates in that trouncing, does it do to your soul?

Winning is fun. But should it be the focus of youth sport? Shouldn’t youth sport be geared to learning? Having fun? Becoming a better, healthier YOU?

Winning is fun, but sportsmanship is better. Let’s teach our children that shaking hands after a game is more important than the score. Let’s stop the madness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

baseball, Catholic, children, coaching, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, sportsmanship, truth

Simple Gifts

children, faith, family, love, momoffive, motherhood, truth

If you ever sang in a choir in NYS (and Western Massachusetts) you’ll immediately have the song in your head. Simple Gifts

Yesterday, my life was filled with many simple gifts.

One in particular touched my heart and those in my family.

My son’s shoes “disappeared” yesterday morning. A frantic search was undertaken. I, in desperation, reached out to a friend, with a call. “Is there any way he could have left them at your house?!” with a voice cracking from my tears of being overwhelmed.

My son had told me he had looked in my car, looked in his room, looked everywhere, but could not find them. “I’m so sorry Mommy for losing my sneakers.” tears starting to drip out. Hugging him then, I said, “It’s OK, now let’s try and find yours.”

So rooting though the garage and house, (Now  he is already late for school and had missed the bus!) I had found an old pair of his brother’s, not too badly worn, so that he could get to school, but then floodgates of his tears opened.

Complaints of taunting and bullying, frustration and tears. Lots of tears. Lots of tears.

Gone were the worries about the sneakers and onto what was really the problem, the problem that only the lost shoes could bring to light.

Meetings, solutions and more tears  the major issue solved by 10:30 am. Solutions, advocacy, his gaining a sense of empowerment.

Me, now exhausted and trying to save strength for a long trip later on to a wake out of town, I sat down to rest.

I thought and prayed, “Dear God,  it has to be simpler than this? Why can’t we just enjoy one another, love one another, be kind to one another? Why does everything have to be a fight? Why is having new shoes so important? What is so wrong with the worn ones?”

I wanted a more simplified life. I wanted less stress. Less yelling. Less craziness.

Later on, driving with my friend, Miss Daisy, to the wake out of town,  we laughed and laughed on our long car ride and then we passed an Amish horse and buggy filled with women! They looked at us and we looked at them. Miss Daisy said, “You know they’re not all that much different than us… but they are.”

Didn’t think much of it until I got home, weary after a 7 hour round trip.

A box, with a short note:

“There is a gift receipt in the box if you need a different size or want to switch to high tops. Thank you for being a great friend.”

A simple gift.

Oh yeah, before I left, I had found his sneakers in the back of my car.

Simple gifts