Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Battle Stories

Today was a good day in substitute land, bookended by weird, ironic idiocy. At the end of the day, there was a brawl between two boys, minutes after an anti-bullying presentation had finished (irony, much?). At the beginning of the day, there was this:

I was in Josie's 5th grade class today, which can be rough at times, but which I also really enjoy because I know most of the kids. Since they also know and like me, they generally behave pretty well. Sometimes they're a little sassy, but not in a mean or terribly disrespectful way, and I tolerate it to a point.

Tuesdays, though, are when the kids have Spanish. The woman who teaches it, Senora B, is a large, bug-eyed woman, about 50, who never smiles. She pushes a cart from classroom to classroom, in two different schools. The kids unanimously hate her. She's rude-bordering-on-hostile to them, chewing them out if they so much as hold a pencil while she's talking, expecting even the K children to be absolutely silent when she's there, and tries to take recess away from entire classes when more than one or two children, in her opinion, act up.

In the past, she's been witchy to me, demanding that I give her materials (she also does some intervention work in the mornings for children when she's not doing Spanish) when none have been left for me to give her to use, and basically insults the teachers who don't leave anything, even though I found out that what she does generally doesn't change, so there doesn't *need* to be anything left for her.

Today, she showed up in my classroom first thing. There were only about ten kids, because several of them had gone to enrichment (merit) math class, and others went to intervention (special assistance) math class. In my directions from the regular classroom teacher, it said very specifically that I was to help with behavior control in the classroom during the half-hour lesson as needed. I stayed in my seat, because things began just fine.

The students' assignment was to take a survey of whose birthday was in what month, so they all had to get up and ask each other when their birthdays were, and several came over to me to ask when mine was. I told them, of course, and laughed when they were shocked that it's on Halloween. Then, another boy was wandering around with juice in his hand from breakfast, and I told him to throw it out. Meanwhile, she began to scold one of the boys for talking.

That's right - the assignment was to talk to each other, and she scolded him for talking. He was probably talking about something other than birthdays, I suppose, but I had seen him doing his work a moment before, and he wasn't causing an undue disturbance. In fact, he was probably talking about my birthday, since he had just left me. She took his paper, tore it in half, and made him sit at the back table.

THEN, she came over to me, looked down her nose, and said, 'I know you think you're helping, but you're not. I'm in charge of this classroom now.'

I'm going to let that marinade in your thought bubbles.

OMG, people, I thought I was going to smack her. What a freakin bitch! Even worse, I was sitting down, so when she waddled over (I'm sorry, I'm not skinny either, but the woman walks like a duck) she was looking down like I was an errant child. I was SO MAD, I could barely think straight.

I knew what I WANTED to say. I *wanted* to tell her that I wasn't one of the children in her class that she could bully, and that I wasn't going to accept her talking to me that way, and furthermore, I wasn't going to allow her to speak to the children like that anymore, either. Oh, yeah. I wanted to say it SO BADLY!

Instead, I remembered that I was in a roomful of children, and that I am better than all of that. SO, I smiled at her, and told her that I had been specifically asked to help her with behavior control in the room, but that if she felt she didn't need it, then that was fine.

She waddled off, and I just looked at the boy stuck at the table next to me, and rolled my eyes at him. Yes, it was childish, but really, the woman is just way out of bounds, and I wanted him to know that he absolutely wasn't going to be punished. He was sitting there, looking miserable and furious, and that's a terrible way to start the day.

When the class time was over, she came back to the desk and put a post-it note down, telling me, 'this is for you', and off she went. It had two boys' names on it, along with instructions to keep them inside from recess for fifteen minutes each. Their recesses are only twenty minutes long, and I totally disagree with removing outdoor time, anyway, unless they've done something heinous. So, since I'm not 'helpful' in the classroom as far as she's concerned, I decided that I also wasn't adequate to help her punish them for these partially-imagined offenses. The note went unhelpfully into the trash, and the boys went outside.

I talked to the other 5th grade sub during lunch, and she said that Senora B treats her the exact same way, and did even when she was a student teacher for the entire last semester. I am focusing on the fact that she must truly be a miserable, joyless old woman. I can only imagine how unpleasant it is to wake up like that every morning, or to walk into the school knowing none of the kids like you even a little bit. I wouldn't be surprised if she's heard entire classrooms groan when they hear that it's Spanish day, since it's an open school and she's in the hallways frequently, and that has to hurt, deserved or not.

I think a big part of her problem is that she's so defensive about being perceived as a 'real teacher'; she must think that people see her as less-than because she doesn't have her own room. The sad thing is, she has a real opportunity to have a great, fun relationship with the kids - she only sees them once a week, and they play learning games every lesson - but she's so hard on them that no one wants to play them with her. She's like the playground bully who thinks she can force people to like her, and play by her rules, via brute strength. That's a sad way to spend every day, all year long.

There's really nothing I can do about her, or her treatment of anyone (including me). I'm not a full-time employee at the school, and I like working there; if I complain, it's more than likely they'll get rid of the substitute complainer rather than resolve any personnel issue. The best I can do is politely put her in her place, refuse to let her intimidate me, and damage-control with the kids after she leaves.

BUT, I did write on the teacher's lesson plan sheet, next to where she had said that I should help with Senora's crowd control, that I had been instructed very specifically that my assistance was not required. I know the teacher personally from church, and she will know what I meant. So there, Senora B-itchface.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two in One Day! and a Resolution

I finished two big things today!!!

First, I decided this morning that I was going to go ahead and finish my psych course. It's totally online, with no timeline, and all assignments posted, so we were free to do whatever we wanted with it. I had two "tests" left, and four discussion board postings. I think it took me all of two hours. The tests were just like the last ones, straight from the book, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE, multiple choice. The postings were just responses to questions she posed, two relating to taking an online personality quiz and discussing your results, and the others 'tell what you were most interested in and why'. I'll be honest - I didn't read any of the work other than during the exams, because I learned all of the concepts either during my soc major or from general knowledge. Now all I have left to think about is meteorology, which I actually have some catching up to do in, until I start killing myself in grad school in a couple of months.

The other thing that's done as of tonight is the TNT program at our church, where I was working with the teenagers!!!!!!! HOORAY!!!!!!! After last week's debacle, only two kids showed up; one and his friend were out for a birthday thing, another and his friend because he was going to his dad's house early, and the two high school girls didn't come because either they weren't allowed after what happened last week *or* they were too embarrassed. Either way, I had two middle school boys, and this week's topic was poverty, so NO SEX. FINALLY. And, you can bet your butt I'm going to be a lot more careful what I agree to do from now on!!!!! What a RELIEF!

ALSO, I've been working a lot lately (for some reason the phone system seems to like me again), and I have seen my teacher Friend several times. She finally told me that it wasn't me, that they were 'spreading the wealth' as far as subbing went, and I hadn't done anything wrong in the class. I think that was a polite way of saying that the girl who is doing it now is going to be continuing because she student-taught there and they want her to get the experience for her resume rather than someone who still has to go through school. What I take from this is that we are not as good friends as I had thought, but not Un-friends, either - which I am OK with. Whatever - as long as I can be certain that I'm doing my job well, that's all I really need to know. I felt a lot better after washing my hands of it the last time I wrote, anyway, so learning that it wasn't anything I did, for certain, was icing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kid Stories

Several shorts -

- Last week was both better and worse with my teenage TNT class. I only showed part of the video (the part WITHOUT any mention of dating or sex, thanks), and then we all went outside so they could run around and burn off energy with bubbles, chalk, and balls. It was going way better than previous weeks... until two of them collided, and one of the boys jammed four of his fingers, fell, and then had one of them stepped on my the girl who collided with him! Sigh. He's OK, but in a splint. Can't win for losin', people. EXCEPT, I do have hope for this coming week - which is also the LAST CLASS, thank GOD - because I already know that all of the middle schoolers except one aren't coming because of various birthdays and sports. It can only go uphill, seriously.

- Same middle school boy got into trouble at school about a month ago, and his parents were called. The guidance counselor told his mom that he was displaying 'classic bullying warning signs' - dumping his milk on another boy's lunch, rounding up support among other friends to harass the boy, etc. In his next breath, he explained that the reason her son was doing that was because the other boy, during an argument with her son, had said the following the week before:

'oh, yeah? Well, I'm gonna RAPE your [fifth grade] sister when I find her!'

HOLY SHIT, people. The boys are in seventh grade. They're both seeing the school guidance counselor, whatever help that will do. This is the school Josie, who is friends with the girl mentioned above, will go to next year. That boy will still be there. Nice. Can I wrap her in an Ugly Betty costume now, please?

- Patrick's teacher walked him over to the car today after school, and told me that she had been keeping him inside with her rather than letting him stand in the car line because she couldn't trust him not to continually stomp on other kids' feet. I told Patrick that I was disappointed and angry to hear that, and we drove off. I asked him to explain what had happened, and he told me that he had done it because his friend had asked him to, and they had been roughhousing, and his friend was laughing. I wasn't sure whether to believe this, so I asked if we should go back to to the school and straighten it out, and he said we should. Patrick was close to tears by the time we found his teacher in the library area. He explained again what had happened to us both, crying, and she told him in a very annoyed voice that he had been told to stop and had done it again, and just because someone told him to do it, would he rob a store if the boy told him to? and then - this is the kicker - SHE SMIRKED. She knew the whole time it was one boy, who was telling Patrick to do it, and they were playing - she didn't refute his story *at all*. I wanted to smack her. While I was glad he was telling the truth - and it would have been completely unlike him to purposefully hurt someone, anyway - I was totally pissed that she had made it sound like he was, when really it was just two kids horsing around. The other boy didn't get into trouble, either, just Patrick. I know he should listen the first time, and that he probably doesn't listen the first time at least once a day, but that doesn't make him any different from any of the other boys in the school. Not every teacher is going to like every kid, and it's hard to be fair all the time, but if the boy is having listening issues, don't make him sound like he's rampantly stomping on everyone's feet! This is the same one who was telling me that he had ADD or something a few months ago, and I'm starting to think that she really, really doesn't like him much. When we got home, I told him I wasn't going to punish him, (but that he should have listened), that I was glad he was telling the truth, and that his teacher was being a bitch had used poor storytelling skills.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

There Was An Old Lady Who... Walked My Dog

Tonight I was taking Delilah and Baci, 70 and 90lbs respectively, on a walk in the beautiful 70 degree air when I ran into an elderly lady, Mary, who lives down the street from me. Every day, she walks past our house, at a pretty good clip, with her husky at least once, and sometimes again with her neighbor's dog, and when we walk by her house she always comes over and makes a fuss over our two dogs.

Tonight, Mary was sitting on her front stoop when we walked by, and as usual she made a fuss over Dilly and Baci, but she was sad-seeming, and she said that she'd had her dog, Echo, put to sleep on Friday. The dog's arthritis had gotten too bad, and she had finally lost her eyesight. We talked for a bit, which is difficult because she's just deaf as a stone, and I think is missing most of her bottom teeth, so she's hard to understand, but what I got out of it was that she's, of course, very sad and lonely now, and that she was pretending to herself yesterday on her walk that Echo was walking really far in front of her.

I just felt so sorry for her, and was standing there wishing there was something I could do to make her feel better, when she perked up and said, 'hey! I know! How about I walk one of your dogs with you?!'

Uh.... well, I thought, that really wasn't what I had meant, but there it was, a chance to help her out, so... I said OK, and she jumped up, almost ran into her house to get her shoes, and we were off!

(Before you start to worry, let me reassure you that this woman is as fit as almost any of us, even though I'd put her at about 80. She stands straight and tall as I do, walks as fast as I do, and after seeing her with the other dogs in the neighborhood, I was fairly certain that she'd be OK with Dilly, especially with the pin collar on. I actually think she'd be OK with Baci, too, who is older and better trained, but I figured that if Dilly got away, she'd come right back rather than running off like Baci would probably do. )

We walked probably half a mile, with her stopping to talk to me every so often, because she can't make out what you're saying without looking at you. So, when she had something to say, she'd stop, grab my arm, and chatter on for awhile about half the time I wasn't sure what. She was happy, though, and spoiled Dilly ROTTEN, not making her heel, letting her sniff everything she wanted to, etc. When we got back to my house, she told me to look her up in the book and she'd walk with me again so she'd have something to do.

So, I apparently have made a new friend, or, more accurately, the DOGS have made a new friend. It wasn't what I had planned, but it's no trouble for me to swing by Mary's place once in awhile and get her until she gets another dog of her own. It's such a simple thing to do, especially since I'm walking anyway, and maybe it will make a big difference for her.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Is The Last I Will Say About It

Dear Friend (or not),

I was almost over the fact that you have somehow, some-reason, unfriended me for some mysterious reason. I had decided that your shunning of me was something I wasn't going to worry about. Then, yesterday, when I was in a second grade class for the morning, you walked through the back of the open classroom with your little K kids, who I adore and who still run over to hug me in the hallway and ask why they never see me anymore, on their way to lunch, and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw you smile at me. One of the other K teachers called over to me, 'I like your new shirt!' Just like that, I had hope: hope that maybe your home internet is down, hope that you haven't checked your email, hope that my hurt feelings were for nothing, hope that you just wanted to talk to me in person rather than respond via email. Despite my claims that I was OK with whatever had happened, my heart lifted a mile.

I came home, and, like a dorky puppy, forwarded my original email to your school address, with a small note a the top saying that I felt like a nerd, but that I wanted to be sure that you had received it, and that you weren't sitting over there being furiously silent with me for some reason. I sent it with a hope hiding under a quilt of my hurt feelings and rejected friendship in my heart.

I know you received it. Yet, you still choose not to respond, despite my repeated attempts to make right whatever you feel is wronged, in the face of my statement that you are, in fact, one of the people I chose to model my professional life by, and that your opinion is oh so important to me. It has been a whole day, which is too long in the realm of please-respond-I-care-about-you sadness to assume anything but the most hurtful option is true. You have written me off, completely and finally.

I don't know what I've done, but I can tell you what you've done.

You have crushed the confidence I felt in the classrooms of the school where you work. I no longer know who is trustworthy, or who may be saying what about me - what *you* may be saying about me - when I am there. For that matter, I don't know if someone has told you something untrue about me. You have made me question my judgement in choosing friends; obviously, I cannot tell the difference when someone is lying to me about being 'so happy that we've met', when someone truly values my opinion, and when they really just need me because they need someone to fill out their endless graduate school term paper questionnaires. You have made me feel stupid, and used, and a little unlikable. You were my model to emulate; what does it say when your model thinks that you're so expendable? What does is say that I have picked someone like you to emulate? Your silence has disrespected me to the bone.

When I pick friends, I am essentially picking family. I know you had a great life, family-wise, but I didn't, and ever since I can remember I have been cobbling together an extended family with whom I can laugh and share memories. It means something to me. I would do anything for the people I call friend, including answering all their questionnaires because they 'need help, asap'. I have never purposefully hurt anyone, and whenever I have had a misunderstanding, I have always tried my hardest to iron it out. From this, I have learned that I need to be more careful about who I trust, still, even though we are all supposed to be adults. I have learned that 'adult' isn't as adult as I had hoped it would be.

You have made me so, so sad, on so many levels. This probably won't be the last time I feel hurt over this, because I will see you every day at the school, either at pick-up or because I'm working there, but it *will* be the last time I allow myself to grieve over it. You are done occupying my mind, and your place in my heart will go to someone else.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Friends and Scams

In Scam Friend news:

I haven't heard back from that teacher-'friend'. I'm assuming this means that there's some kind of personal problem, since if it was something professionally she would probably have just made the suggestion to me the last time we saw each other. Ironically, I am less upset about it the longer she waits to respond. Pretty soon I'm not going to care at all. I do not have time to stress over people who obviously do not care for the feelings of others. The email I wrote asked very contritely if there was something I had done wrong, personally or professionally, and apologized for anything I might have done (even though I can't think of anything, I thought it better to be safe than sorry), so if she's not adult enough to at least respond, I guess it's not worth worrying over. Whatever. I'll be working at the school tomorrow in a first grade class again, so maybe I'll see her. In retrospect, maybe last year when she was sharing information with me that would help my case against Josie's teacher, I should have taken it as a lack of professionalism rather than an act of friendship.

In Friend, Scammed news:

My friend, C, who is awesome, had a terrible scare happen to her family last week. Her nephew lives in China with his Chinese-born wife, and was in the process of moving to Shanghai. On Monday, my friend's elderly mother got a call from her nephew saying that they were in Montreal on vacation, and had been kidnapped, and that she shouldn't call the police, but send $2k right away to some wire address or they were going to be killed. Of course, she was terrified, and withdrew the money the next day. When she went to Walmart to try and send it via Western Union, the customer service agent refused, saying that they weren't allowed to send large amounts of money anymore because there are so many scams going around. This made her even more terrified, because she then assumed that her nephew and his wife were going to be killed.

As it turned out, however, the woman at Walmart was right - it was a scam, but they didn't find out until Friday afternoon, five days after the initial threatening call. They did eventually call the police, and they were finally able to reach the nephew, which is how they found out for sure that everything was OK. The questions remain, though, how this person knew to call my friend's mom, knew she was his aunt, knew the nicknames he called her and her husband, knew that the guy was unreachable for a week, etc. Part of the reason it was so believable, aside from the fact that he's an American in China where who knows what can happen, was because they knew so much, and sounded (to an old lady) so much like him. Even though everyone is safe, they are obviously still very freaked out and scared, because this means that either it's someone that they know, who is an extremely sick individual, or it's someone who has been tapping in on their phone calls and learning all this stuff about them, and now probably can and has looked up all kinds of personal information on them. This has to be the worst scam I've ever personally heard of.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Did It!

I sang with the choir leader today!!! In front of the second service! At a microphone!

It was HARD! The first verse was miserable, because I couldn't find my part at all, which is weird, since I'm a soprano. So, I whispered to Toby to ask him to sing harmony rather than his part (tenor), since he had offered, and once he did that, we were off and rolling! It was fun! Scary, too, but fun! I found out after we were done that the music director had one of the dampers on the organ, which was why I couldn't hear my part - 'he had damped it out'! At least it wasn't me, that's all I can say, because I was feeling pretty stupid to be having such a hard time.

There weren't many people there, probably about 50 or so, because the weather here is miserable on top of the time change (although, really, if you go to second service, you have no excuse as far as time change - no matter how you slice it, 11am is pretty late in the morning, even if it's really only 10 according to your body). This actually made it harder, in a way, because when there are that few people, they don't want to sing out there in the pews because then their neighbors can hear them pretty clearly, and that makes them shy too, so they were mumbling at best.

I hadn't told Toby that I was going to come back upstairs (everyone goes downstairs after 1st service for yummy snacks and drinks, and then to a class if they want), so he was all surprised and excited. He and I had walked in the processional together at the beginning of first service, and after we had finished he had come over to me and said that he could hear me clearly, and that he thought I was really good and that we should find a use for me (I was so embarrassed that I could barely even open my eyes.), and that the offer would always be open for me to sing with him, but that he wasn't going to pester me about it after this morning. He hugged me when I got there, and then proceeded to tell the choir director that after today, next time I would stay for more than just one song, and after that it would be a whole service, and then we would start singing special duets together during services. GULP. I told them that I would be happy to just make it through this first time without throwing up.

After we finished, he whispered that I'd done fine, and I tiptoed down the back stairs (which are conveniently located in a little room behind the choir loft), and went back to my class, still shaking. I hope he was happy with it, and that I didn't let him down. I'm glad he was so excited to have me there, but I know part of why he's so happy is because his own children, grown men now, are disappointments to him (one just had his children taken away by social services because he drinks and then abuses them), and he's maybe looking for someone to fill a void. Also, I think he has a little 'old man' crush on me. So, his hopes and expectations may not have been realistic, since they were based on a lot more than just my voice, I think. That would be the worst, if I'd let him down, because like he said - theoretically, no matter how badly I did, I was still better than what most of the rest of the room could do, since none of them sing - it's him and the choir director whose opinions that really matter to me.

But, still, I did it!!!! and I'm really excited!!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Today I finally re-painted the dining room. It looks beautiful - we picked a color called Deep Poinsettia, and I love it! We had a pumpkin color up, and the more time passed, the more I HATED it. I'll put up photos tomorrow, after I get trim up (hopefully).

I had been debating for awhile what kind of paint to use. Usually, I just run into Lowes and grab a couple of gallons of their home brand. Over the years, we've used all sorts, though, from Home Depot's main brand to Ralph Lauren to Martha Stewart. I've always hated the smell, though, and how no matter how much I tried, the coverage was never very good, and it went on kind of unevenly because it didn't take to the rollers well.

I'd seen several ads recently for low-VOC paint, and have been wanting to try one, but the big box stores don't carry anything like that. This time, I went to the small Benjamin Moore store across town, and checked out their Natura brand. It has no VOCs, claimed no odor, and the clerk said that it went on like a dream, usually in one coat. It's water-based, and is supposed to be 100% scrubbable.

Sure. We've all heard that one before, right? One coat. I was so skeptical that the retailer gave me the paint, which is an eye-popping $60 a can, for the contractor price of $50 - that way, it was actually cheaper than the two gallons of store-brand paint I've had to buy in the past because of the poor coverage. He also told me that if I ended up needing more, to bring my receipt and he'd cut me an even bigger deal on another gallon.

It was true. All of it. I only needed one coat, and one gallon did my entire job - three walls below chair-rail height (about 3ft), and one full wall (with bay window) with plenty to spare. There was NO SMELL. I'm not kidding, there was NO hint that I was painting AT ALL; DH didn't even know I was doing it until he came into the room!!! It went on so smoothly and evenly I didn't even have to roller over areas more than once, and it seemed really smooth and almost creamy. It clung to my paintbrush and roller without dripping all over creation, which is usually a big problem, and didn't fling off when I rolled. It was dry in an hour, and is completely smooth - no roller-bumpies, and there were no bubbles at all, either, even though I had to re-stir it up myself because I'd let it sit for a week. It was pricey, but I will never use any other paint again. It's not like I paint every day, so the once in awhile that I need to do a room, I will definitely get this stuff every time from now on.

To finish my eco-friendliness, I used a recycled-paper paint tray, which worked really nicely and will degrade in 6 months, supposedly (regardless, it'll be faster than the plastic ones), and a recycled roller cover. Benjamin Moore also has a line of eco-friendly stain, but they're closed on Sundays, which is kind of counter-intuitive since most people want to do their painting on weekends, so I'll have to wait until Monday to check that out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Speaking Of...

how hard it is sometimes to be a substitute...

A couple of weeks ago, I was subbing for one of the special ed teachers, and I noticed that there was another woman in for the K teacher, Mrs. N, who was Patrick's teacher last year, and who I have consistently subbed for all year. I figured she was out sick and it was a coincidence, although I did notice that her sub was the girl who had been another K teachers' student teacher during the first half of the year.

Today I was called (by the system! finally!) to go in for a first grade teacher, and the same girl was in for Mrs. N again. I casually asked where Mrs. N, who I actually am on a first-name, facebook-friend, discussing more-personal-matters basis with, was, and the other sub girl said, 'oh, I'm not sure, but she's not sick, because I've known about today for a few weeks'.

So, the last time wasn't a coincidence. She has stopped calling me on purpose.

To be clear, this teacher is a good part of the reason that I decided to sign up to sub, and enroll in school. She wrote me a very nice letter of rec for my grad school portfolio. She said several times last year that she was so glad we'd met, and we would talk about all kinds of things during the kids' lunch breaks when I was there. She said that I was going to be a wonderful teacher. She helped me when Josie had that awful screaming woman as a teacher last year. She's the same woman who I've talked to and hoped for during her failed adoption attempts with the foster baby I've told you about. I've helped her with her grad papers by filling out several surveys, etc. We are by no means strangers.

She's never said one word to me about not being happy with my work, and the kids have always run over and hugged me when I've gone in. I feel so betrayed and sad. I think I come to think of people as friends too easily, and I believe people when they say things like how glad they are to have met me. I guess some people just say things in the moment that maybe they don't mean? If someone is your friend, they don't just basically fire you without a word. I saw those kids a lot, I really care for them, and I thought I was doing good work in there. This just calls my entire sense of judgement into question. Am I not as good as I thought I was, and had been led to believe? It hurt me so much to see someone else sitting in there where I have been all year. I felt so low and dispensable, and embarrassed, because the other K teachers all knew I had been working for Mrs. N, and now they know I'm not. It was humiliating today to find out in front of everyone that I've basically been replaced.

I wrote Mrs. N an email this afternoon, telling her I got my letter from grad school and thanking her for all her help. Then in a separate paragraph, I asked her if there was anything that I had done in her room that she felt was wrong, because I had noticed that there was another person working for her now, and that since I like her, and more importantly, respect her as a teacher, I would really appreciate the feedback because I want to be sure I learn everything I can in the next year, before I'm entirely on my own in a classroom. We'll see what she says. I'm not sure I'll believe her if she says there's no reason, since obviously there IS something going on, but I'm a little afraid of what she's going to say, too. If I *have* unknowingly done something that she thought wasn't great, I will probably feel even MORE humiliated and less wanting to show my face there again.

Either way, it's a shitty way to end a week, but at least when she writes back, I'll know, and I would rather know than sit with the theories in my head. My feelings are hurt already, so really I suppose it can't get any worse.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Official!

I got this in the mail yesterday afternoon:

I'm in!

To be honest, I had already thought that I had been accepted, based on other mailings I've gotten, but this one seems to be the most official, AND it confirms that I do, in fact, only need to complete what I'm currently taking at the community college in order to get full admission status.

There are still a few questions I have about the rest of the letter, though. First, they still have my requirements screwed up - math and writing are off the list, but they took off science, too! Only psych is listed now. ??? Obviously, I'm not dropping it, because meteorology's kind of cool and also because nothing would make them notice a problem faster than my thinking it no longer existed! The other thing is, I need to have the transcript to them by April 15? Um, the semester doesn't end until May 3. I won't have a final grade before then, I'm assuming, even if I forge ahead and finish everything up (which I can do, since it's so do-what-you-feel-as-long-as-you-finish). So, I'll have to email and ask wtf is up with that. Maybe they just want proof that I'm registered, since I remember them saying something about your being able to finish the requirements concurrently with the first semester of grad school, which would seem ridiculous since it's already a 12-credit load.

Still! It seems so REAL now!

The more time goes by, and the more classes I sub in, the more insanely jealous I am of people with their own classrooms. I've done two half-days this week in two different schools, and I just ache to actually have my own place. Subbing is rough. One school I went to is one that I don't enjoy going to, because everyone there is really, really unfriendly to subs; they actually called my house looking for me because it was 8:03 and I wasn't there (I was stuck in the car line out front), and THEN the classroom teacher commented 'oh, I was starting to think no one was coming' when I walked into the room a few minutes later after plowing through all the main office stuff you have to do. The school day doesn't start until 8:30! That's the same place I went to and everyone in the teacher's lounge just stared at me at lunch time at the beginning of the year and wouldn't talk to me. Total bitches. They treat you just like I remember being treated when I worked at Dairy Queen - like you're an idiot who can't be trusted to understand perameters of intelligent behavior and are completely unworthy of respect.

Next year at this time, I'll be putting together my portfolio and applying for actual jobs again, for the first time in ... I can't even remember how long. I don't count the interview I went on with school district, because they hire everyone who isn't a convicted felon. Even my last 'real' job at the defense contractor I didn't have to apply for, because I started there as a temp and just ended up staying for the next five years. That means it's been... since 1998. I can't wait to get started!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

End of Hibernation Creations

It was 60 degrees yesterday! There's still some patches of snow in the shadows, but mostly it's all melted.

You know what THAT means, especially those you you with dogs.

MUD. And lots of it.

For those of you who have been around for awhile, you remember that we had to have a portion of our yard, right near the back door, dug up last year because our main sewer line got backed up, and the pipe people originally thought it was out in the yard (it turned out to be just the pipe trap thing in the foundation), so they yanked out a shrub, tore up the grass, and dug all around. Needless to say, it never grew back, and it's been more and more muddy there ever since. No more, baby! I decided to take advantage of the pre-rainy season nice weather and fix it up with a little wall and some mulch:

Not bad, huh? It took about three and a half hours, plus the hour or so I spent on Saturday putting down the weed block fabric, three trips to Lowes for the blocks and 17 bags of mulch, and around $200. I hadn't been planning on doing it this weekend, but I was there cleaning the poop, which was finally all uncovered and was REALLY GROSS, and the whole time I could hear the dogs running through the mud, playing in the mud, digging in the mud, and I couldn't STAND it anymore! We're trapped at home, anyway, until DH is up to going out, so that was my project. I figure, now maybe Delilah will dig in the mulch, which I made about eight inches thick on purpose in the hopes that she'll get interested in that rather than the grass. Actually, I'm thinking of replacing the grass with pea gravel in their yard, which is separate from the one the kids play in, but that would be a HUGE project, so I'm going to spend this year really pampering the grass in their yard and see where it gets me. If it's still really sparse, maybe the year after when I'm (hopefully) working again and we have more money I can hire someone to do it for me.

When I've been inside, I've been fooling with my beads again, and came up with these:

(Actually, I made the green one a couple of weeks ago, but who's counting?)

I get a lot of compliments on the green one, which is a lot prettier in person because the beads have a more opaque look to them than you can really see in the photo. The pink one was the hardest necklace I've made yet because the large flowered silver rings don't have holes in them, so I had to figure out how to get them on so they would frame the pink and stay in place. I basically ended up making two necklaces and weaving them together, and I really like how it came out.

One final update on the guest-boy situation; I caught his mother in a lie. She knew he was sick, and THAT'S why she called last-minute, needing somewhere for him to stay. My friend, Kristi, was volunteering in his class that day because her twins are in there as well, and she said that he was so sick at school that, when his teacher told him he could sit in the beanbag chair for a minute, he fell asleep and stayed there. So, the whole thing about being afraid to lose him was a lie; she *couldn't * bring him to the wrestling match because he was sick, and I'm pretty sure she told him not to say that he didn't feel well, because when I asked him if he was coughing, he kind of freaked and said, 'I'm not sick!!!', when that wasn't what I had asked. We were able to bring him home before church rather than afterwards, but no one met him at the door. His mother had called and said that we could drop him off, that she was calling his father to make sure he was up, but I don't think he was - I'll bet he had unlocked the door and just gone back to bed. No one came to the car to say, 'hey, thanks for watching him on such short notice', or 'we'll send Patrick's clothes back to you' (he wore Pat's clothes all weekend because he had only brought underwear and one pair of pants in his grocery bag), or 'hey, son, glad you're home' - nothing. :(

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Send Tranquilizer Darts

This week was pretty rough.

By Monday night, my voice was gone, and I was well on my way to being sick with what our little houseguest had when he was here. Tuesday morning, DH had his third (and hopefully final) hernia surgery. He's doing really well, a lot better than he has after the two previous ones, and the last few days has even come to the dinner table and played Munchkin afterwards. Unfortunately, today he was feeling a little too good, and overdid it, so he's back in bed at the moment. Still, it's progress.

However, my voice came back on Thursday enough for me to teach class at the church. I, in a fit of 'I can do anything'-ness, agreed a couple of months ago to work with the youth group during what our church calls TNT - Thursday Nights Together, which is a program during Lent when dinner is provided by the church (and prepared by adult Sunday school classes), and then there are various things to do together afterwards. Kids go to their choir and then do activities, like this past week they made birdhouses, and adults pick a class to go to, as well, like this year some of the offerings are on personal finance, yoga, scrapbooking, etc. This is the first year that there's been something for the teenagers, and it centers around relationships and challenges- family, dating, struggles, etc.

I got the materials quite awhile ago, and read over them a little at the time, but really, I was busy, so I waited until the week before to really prepare, watching the dvd segments. There have been two classes now; the first was on 'home hurts' (abuse, neglect, parents with drug addictions, and one story from a girl who had been molested by her dad), and this past week was on sex and dating. I was a little nervous going into it, but the youth group is largely older teenagers, and I was OK with talking about those issues with them. I think I'm pretty good at that kind of thing.

Guess who has showed up?

Two high school girls, and six middle school boys, plus one other middle school girl this week.

You got it - I had to try to discuss SEX and DATING with middle school boys. Two of them in particular were DYING of embarrassment, and were acting up so badly out of their horror that I almost had to kill them send them out of the room, back to their parents. I mean, throwing themselves out of their chairs onto the floor, giggling uncontrollably, making inappropriate comments, etc. Maintaining any sort of control of the situation was almost more than I could handle. The older kids were annoyed with the younger ones, the younger ones were too immature to help themselves, and the one boy with Aspergers, who I think might actually be a freshman this year, was pretty bewildered about the whole thing.

The material was WAY over those boys' heads, and frankly wasn't something I would allow Josie to participate in next year. I hadn't realized that the younger kids would be there as well when I agreed to take on the class, because if I had I would have spoken up sooner about how inappropriate I feel the material and forum are for anyone not in high school. I think it's important for younger kids to talk about these things too, so they have some ideas of what's coming and how to deal with pushy or violent dating partners, problems at home, etc, but they're not at the same place high school kids are, and expecting them to react to the material in the same way that the high school kids do is unrealistic. The older kids, for their part, are stuck in the situation of talking about things that maybe they don't want to discuss in front of younger kids, and I'm in the position of having to share things about myself and my own experiences (in order to illustrate choices and create a bond with the kids) that I probably wouldn't share with kids that are so young otherwise. It is a pretty impossible situation.

DH said that I should ask the youth director to come into the room with me, but that felt like a cop out UNTIL I emailed her to explain what has been going on, and ask how she deals with keeping the whole group on track when she's with them, etc. She wrote back and said that she didn't know, that SHE'S NEVER BEEN ALONE WITH THEM HERSELF. She's always got a parent Sunday School teacher with her. Also, she wasn't planning on having mostly younger kids there when she picked the material, AND she didn't send home any info on what it is I'm talking about with them! SO, I'm talking about dating and sex with kids who are really too young, and whose parents have no idea about it. I am WAY uncomfortable with that. You'd better believe that if someone was talking about this stuff with Josie and I didn't know it beforehand, I'd be PISSED. She should have planned this a lot better than she did.

I don't know what's going to happen this week. I'm not quitting, because a) I don't walk away from a challenge - I was even competitive with myself about LABOR, and b) I don't want to give the kids the message that I don't like them, because I know that's exactly what they'll think. The older girls in particular seem to really like me, and I think that's really cool. Hell, it took me an extra twenty years, but finally, I'm popular with the high schoolers! And I'm not walking out on my popularity.