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…

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

 

 

Rules Don’t Apply Equally

Catholic, children, coaching, faith, family, growth, hockey, hockeymom, lettinggo, love, momoffive, motherhood, skating, sports, teenagers, truth

Happy Easter Monday!

My middle child has had a tough year with sports and in life in general. He has found that friends from childhood left him for the shiny new penny in town, he was jumped by a school teammate and the punishment was not fair and even excused away due to the other’s “rough childhood experiences” and then with great anticipation and excitement, he joined a new organization and new “old” team only to find that tigers don’t change their stripes and rules don’t apply equally.

Funny how people love to sit in their sanctimonious glass houses preaching about gratitude and appropriate behaviors while condoning cheating and cross-rostering across organizations without prior permissions – violations that caused other players to be removed from a league – and when we were faced with an abusive coach, to sit idly by in apathetic acceptance, too afraid to say anything, but expecting me to defend my child (and yours by association) further putting my own children in jeopardy?

Having learned that there is no fairness at a young age, while heartbreaking to watch unfold, will allow him to be a stronger, more faithful and more grateful person. Teaching hockey to those less fortunate, will allow him to realize that playing sports is a privilege.

So very pleased that I was told by an old friend that he did such a wonderful job with one of his young charges, I watched him wearily, but with a joyful countenance, amble to the car.

Beaming, on the way home, he regaled me with how he taught a young child how to skate and leave the security of the sled behind.

He, with great hope, untarnished by the ugliness that the has experienced and smiling ear to ear, was so joy-filled to be able to be back on the ice helping those learn to love the abject perfection of a clean sheet of ice, the coldness of the air and the sweat of your brow after crossing over a few hundred times.

While the rules may not apply equally, the love of skating will never leave his soul.

Rules don’t apply to your feelings.

 

 

Our Cross to Bear

Catholic, children, faith, family, motherhood, truth

Good Friday – God Friday – sitting here contemplating Jesus making the choice not to fight to prove it should not be him crucified? How would I have reacted? Would I have allowed myself to be punished for the deeds of others so that someone else should live?

Thinking about what is right and just a great deal lately. Why does it seem so hard to be the one that stands up for what is right and just in today’s world? Being Godly – what does that even mean?

To me it is a simple choice to try and be the best I can be in God’s eyes. Firstly for my own salvation, secondly to be a wife that is a sacramental partner for my husband and thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly, for my children’s spiritual understanding and moral development. My trinity of truth, faith and love.

Truth – doing what is right and just  even though it is oftentimes painful.

Faith – knowing that if you are righteous and just it will be forgiven when you make a mistake. Believing that there is something bigger than just you and that God is forgiving and loving, but not always easy to follow.

Love – having love in your heart – even for those that do you (and your children and spouse) wrong. The hardest part of the puzzle to find love for your enemies.

Truth = God Faith = Holy Spirit Love = Jesus

As a mother, those that hurt my children are the hardest for  me to forgive. While I know that disappointment and pain make you stronger, it hurts a part of me so primal, so vulnerable, that it is almost unbearable.

My children show me that love and compassion are easy. They forget the stupid little wrongs and move on, running off to play with someone, who just minutes ago, pushed them down, said, “I’m sorry.” and was forgiven.

We need to be more like children. We need to put down our worries and sadness and anger, say I’m sorry (and mean it!) and run along and play.

Galatians 4:6-7 “Because you are children, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a child; and if a child, then an heir through God.”

The last words that Jesus cried out as his crucifixion were “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

These two passages are intertwined aren’t they?  Never realized it – God has given us a road map to see children are the light and the hope (Holy Spirit), he is the truth and Jesus is the faith.

The Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in our life, our death and our resurrection.

Our cross is how we travel the  journey of life in God’s example of truth.

Duct Tape is Silver No?

Catholic, children, family, hockeymom, marriage, momoffive, motherhood

Sitting here in my quiet house (Except for the obnoxious birds that are trying to nest in my bathroom fan duct!) I am taking pause to reflect on 25 years of marriage!

First of all I’m way too young to be married 25 years! (Which obviously makes me too old to have 5 children as well!)

Our life together has not been easy, but it sure has been fun!

Our crazy song filled minivan trips, camping, running around to our children’s sporting, music, school events – when we look back all those years ago and think , “Would we have EVER imagined our life as it is today back then?” The unequivocal answer is no – but boy oh boy am I glad it is!

What makes us closer over the past almost 31 years together, 25 of them in our sacramental marriage, is our ability to weather the storms together – to have an enduring love and faith that no matter how bad it seems, the thought of being without each other is exceedingly worse.

We have had financial and job loss, family tragedy, sick children, sick parents, sick us – but truly it is, “In sickness and in health, for better for worse.”

Sometimes silence is golden, but duct tape is silver and it fixes everything. One of our favorite shows to watch together when we first started this journey was McGuyver. Duct tape always seemed to fix everything that went wrong.

On our Silver Anniversary – I salute the marvel that is duct tape – the metaphor for everything in our marriage. Now I have to find a ladder, get rid of some birds and get the duct tape to repair the vent hose…

 

 

 

 

Is Sociopath the New Black?

Catholic, children, coaching, disabilty, hockeymom, lettinggo, momoffive, motherhood, sports

Been awhile and I’m struggling trying to come to grips with why…self doubt, anxiety, busyness, de-prioritization of my needs; I can go on and on…

What has come to a earth shattering head is my desire to remove sociopaths from my life and avoid them at all costs.

What is a sociopath you ask?  Instead of defining the negative, I am focusing on the positive or empath side (because frankly I look terrible in orange!) and engaging in putting a desire to associate only with positive people and empathetic people.

For those wanting a good read, I highly recommend the The Empathy Trap a book that absolutely enhanced my work to dismantle the negative, energy sucking and stressful people and events from my life and encourage the positive.

Another article grabbed my attention this morning was the F word ( No not one of the  swear words I enjoy using!)  – but Feminism – and after International Women’s Day yesterday, the countless same old same old Women’s Month events, political pulling of the woman cards, special places in hell for certain women, etc. I felt I should break my self-exile and speak. As a women, a wife, a sister, a mother, a friend; my roles consistently put me in a place where sociopaths are the new norm and unfortunately are perhaps the new black – a blackness of depravity of character so beyond my comprehension that I refuse to accept it as the new norm.

A very wise person told me once  “No one gives a shit whether you live or die.”

Wiser words have never been spoken! Why? Because it came with a caveat -a millisecond later – the ONLY one that should care about you is YOU!

Anger, stress, revenge, sarcasm – all can be used as motivators, but often times we don’t know how to take the negative in our lives and turn them into golden opportunities for learning and self reflection and most often these “motivators” are turned to life altering stressors that cause disease, violence and pain.

Recently a coach put his hands on my child in anger. My child responded with anger back. I resisted (albeit with extreme difficulty) to turn to my default of anger, revenge, and vendetta, and turned to prayer and self-refection to try to help my child (and myself and those around me) grow and learn. I turned to a trusted friend with strong faith to help me through one of the most difficult events I have faced as a mother.

My child is forever changed by how I approached this difficult situation. I believe he has learned a tremendous amount from it. My child’s ability to analyze and reflect and learn from this is so well above his/her chronological age and I am so very proud.

I am angry? Yes! Am I disappointed? No doubt – but my attempts to channel positivity from this and to take an educators perspective, “What can be learned and done differently when presented with a situation like this in the future?” will undoubtedly affect not only the child affected, but every child and person in whom comes in contact with my child.

I will not be wearing black – in my wardrobe nor my countenance, but most importantly not in my soul! Easter is upon us and Spring in the air and with it, the winds of change…