Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Darker Side of Teaching

This morning as I crossed the parking lot to enter my school, I heard a woman's voice scream, "Get the f* out of my car!"  I turned around in time to see a female student--an eighth grader--stumble out, as if pushed.  The driver took off.  I ran up to the girl and asked her if she was okay.  She was holding the side of her head and crying.  She said she was fine.  I asked her what had happened, and she said her mom had yanked her hair, screamed at her, and pushed her out of the car. 

In moments like this, it's hard to stay calm.  Being a mom, I understand how easy it is to feel angry at your child--especially when he or she reaches those hormonal teenage years.  No parent is perfect, and we have all said things and done things that we are ashamed of.  But even in my worst moments, I have never screamed at my child.  Never.  I can be pretty cold when I'm upset, but the way this mother screamed at her daughter, and the words that came out of her mouth--it's just...mind-blowing.  Not to mention the physical assault on her daughter.  My God.  I just don't get it.

At any rate, I introduced myself to the girl, and we talked.  I asked her if this type of behavior happens often.  She said yes.  I asked her if she had reported it to the counseling department, and she said that she had once before, but she didn't know if they believed her.  So of course I reported this incident to admin. and the counseling department.  Later I filled out a mandated-report for CPS.  Thankfully, about an hour after the incident, the school received a phone call from a parent who had also witnessed this same incident taking place.  I felt relieved that there was someone else out there who could corroborate what I had witnessed.  Despite everything, it's not my goal to get the girl removed from her home.  I just want this incident to be investigated; I want the mother to get the help she needs, and I want this student to be safe.  CPS can decide how to make these things happen.

This incident gnawed at me all morning.  I hate it that some kids are growing up in a household where they are never given a chance to experience the warmth of a loving family.  And I know similar things are happening to students in my own classroom, but unlike today's parking lot issue, such incidences are conveniently tucked away behind closed doors.  Year-after-year I get the painfully shy student, or the student starving for attention, or the emotionally disturbed many of these students are entering my classroom after enduring a morning of screaming--or worse?

On the other end of that, I feel so grateful that my own kids were born to ME.  I might not be Mom of the Year (wow is that an understatement), but my kids have zero doubt they are valued and loved. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

'Til Ink Do Us Part

Look at what Clint got tattooed on his arm today!  This is the underside of his forearm.  We thought the whole process was going to take about an hour, so Clint dropped off the kids and I at Starbucks, and then drove himself to the tattoo parlor.  He ended up being gone for two hours.  It was all good until Elijah's laptop ran out of juice, and he started to get hungry and bored.  So I walked the kids to a nearby Burger King, and then all was right with the world again.  When Clint finally joined us, I was dying to see his new tattoo.  I was absolutely shocked.  I think I might have hyperventilated a little. I knew he was going to get the image of the Menora, Star of David, and Ichthus on his forearm, tied together as one image, but I had NO idea he was going to have my name added.  We had jokingly talked about him getting a tattoo that included my name or initials a few years ago, but his overall response was a big fat hell no.  I have no idea what prompted him to do this.  Even now, it trips me out to see my name emblazened on his flesh--and not itty-bitty, either.  It takes up his whole wrist.

So it's official, if we end up not working out, he'll have to find himself another Jodi.  I started looking up other Jodis on facebook, and most of them are pretty cute, so he should be fine.

But seriously, it's hard to feel even remotely irritated with someone who has your name engraved on their arm. 

Oh, one more thing.  He said my name was the most painful part of the tattoo.  Is it wrong that I feel a tiny sense of pride over that?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas [Apocalypse] Wish List

Every year, both my family and Clint's family request that we write them Christmas lists.  Since there are ten people shopping from our lists, we always have to come up with a variety of stuff.  I sent mine out--along with the kids--last week.  Clint finally finished his last night. Okay, so check these out:

 Jodi's Christmas List 
  1. Soft cuddly throw blanket
  2. Hampton Tomachi Knife Set --multi-colored
  3. Long-sleeved night shirts
  4. Knitted poncho or knitted shawl
  5. Cute work clothes, size 5 or size small
  6. Stylish Boots, size 8, low heel, black or brown
  7. Cute dresses--size small
  8. Cameo necklaces (like the ones on my Pinterest)
  9. Custom-made quill pen (also on my Pinterest)
  10. Book Cover-Making program (do those exist?)
  11. Pretty or unique wine glasses
  12. Any home-decor from Kirklands
  13. Neverending Story Kindle cover 
Nice and normal, right?  Yeah, now onto Clint's.....
Clint's Christmas List
  1. Splatter targets
  2. Exploding target powder
  3. M48 Apocalypse Tactical Tomahawk
  4. Bullets:  .223 rounds
  5. Survival food
  6. Other survival supplies
  7. Parachord—550 rated
  8. Sawback machete
  9. Survival books
  10. Scope/scope mount for Mosin Nagant
  11. Range finder
  12. Black leathermen's newsboy hat
Do you notice any disparities between the two?  Like, I don't know, the fact that my husband is INSANE? 
Grannie B is gonna have a blast shopping for him this year. 
To his credit, he did at least ask for a hat. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween, etc.

I'm still alive; I'm just a terrible blog owner.  But if you consider my sis's shoddy additions lately, I should come out as a blogging goddess.

My laptop isn't letting me access my comment frame on this blog, which is really frustrating (sorry for you leaving you hanging on that last one, Kristyn--I'll figure it out soon). 

Halloween was wonderful!   Funny considering how much I despise that holiday.  Although let's face it, my dislike for Halloween has really lost steam these last few years.  This year stood out mainly because Clint allowed us to take the kids trick-or-treating for the first time ever.  We went with Becky, Shan, Jeremy, Jeremy's brother Josh, and Josh's fiance, Liz.  We had 14 kids between all of us.  But please note that I spawned only two of those 14.  In addition to the trick-or-treating, we also had our family theme night (the theme was "Greek" this year), and I ran the trick-or-treat booths during our school's haunted house.  I also carved pumpkins with my "angel" (the student I mentor), and the kids of course had their annual dojo party.  I remember saying this last year and I'll say it again: We sure are busy the week of October 31st for a family that doesn't care for Halloween.

Today Niecy, myself, and two other language arts teachers had to do a presentation in front of the staff.  I took the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe and rewrote it to make it connect with the focus of our presentation, which was how students benefit from PLC (you can look up PLC if you want something to lull you to sleep).  We decided to do a dramatic reading of the poem.  We set the mood by turning off all the lights in the library, playing spooky background music, and putting fake candles on the tables.  All of us wore black and shined flashlights on our faces as we read the poem.  I thought the whole presentation came out great, although the poem ended up being a little long...three pages to be exact (I don't know when to shut-up).  My principal loved it though and made me e-mail her a copy so she can forward it to someone in the district. 

This Saturday I'm taking 18 middle-schoolers and 11 high-schoolers to Six Flags for the Kiwanis Fall Rally.  Haven't lost a kid yet, but wish me luck just in case.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gumball Machine

When Elijah was a toddler, he used to walk up to every gumball machine we passed and spin the crank.  He would then proceed to lift the metal flap and peer anxiously inside of the opening, hoping to find a gumball.  I tried to explain to him that you had to put money into the machine to get a gumball; that no matter how many times he spun the crank, he would never get a freebie.  I don’t like to see my kids hope for something and get let down, so I needed him to know it didn’t work that way.  Life didn’t work that way. 

After about a year, I almost had him convinced.  Though he still checked the machines occasionally, he lost his fervor.  His search for a miracle gumball had become a half-hearted mission. 
Then one day, on our way out of the mall, he decided to try yet another one.  He spun the crank.  Almost instantly, I heard the soft sound of a small object clanking its way down the interior of the machine. 
He lifted the flap, and there it was.  A blue gumball. 
The look shining in his eyes suggested that every wonderful thing he had ever thought about the world had been confirmed. 

I felt a combination of joy--the little guy's efforts had finally paid off--and defeat.  I knew that this little blue gumball had created a monster. 
And I was right.  For the next five years, he would continue to turn the crank of every single gumball machine we passed with abounding  optimism.  This time, I knew there was no way I could talk him out of it.  Because even though disappointment stings, the tiniest fleck of hope goes a long way.

But hope is also a pain in my ass.   Sometimes I wish the little blue gumballs in my life would go away and quit teasing me with their empty little promises.   

Uh oh…somehow my warm and fuzzy little anecdote derailed toward the end.  Which is weird because I'm actually in a pretty good mood.  Oh well...I’ll try to post about Halloween in the next few days, and that one will be more upbeat.