Friday, May 18, 2018

And another one.............

Yet another school shooting made headlines today with reports of 8-10 dead. We have become so numb as a nation, as a people, that we do absolutely nothing and just wait for the next tragedy to happen. It goes like this: 1. Thoughts and prayers, 2. No changes, 3. We sit and wait for the next child to be shot.

In the meantime, we hold drills and teach our kids what to do - as if anyone really knows what to do - because when it comes down to it, no one can be fully prepared. Who knows who will decide to bring a gun to school? Where will they enter the building? Where will YOU be when the shooting starts? You can prepare all day long but when it actually happens, you will be vulnerable. And you might be next.

As an educator, I'm familiar with drills - lock down, safe inside, active shooter. We have earthquake drills and fire drills. And preparation is a good thing. When my own children were at school during a scary earthquake, their preparation helped them be calm, exit the building in an orderly fashion, and assemble in an outside area to be accounted for. My 5-year-old even counted the students in her class and reported to her teacher that all were present before they exited. Preparation is wonderful for natural disasters. But a school shooting is not a natural disaster.

Last week I taught kindergarten. I was told there would be a lock down drill and the time it would take place. We were allowed to inform the students and encouraged to discuss actions we could take in the event a "bad person" got into our classroom. Of course, active 5- and 6-year-old imaginations ran wild and more than one child said they would "ninja kick" the bad guy, or perhaps hide in the ceiling tiles and drop down on the unsuspecting villain. I had to tell them that our "villain" was not like the ones on TV and that we would want to avoid being close enough to "ninja kick" anyone.

One boy observed that if we scattered about the room, each holding a wooden block, we could bombard the intruder from all sides and confuse him while others ran. Another child talked about how her mother taught her to be completely silent while hiding. Other children noted multiple exits in the room and wondered if they could throw a chair through the window to escape, if necessary.

As the time of the drill crept closer, I could sense the agitation. The students knew it would be shortly after recess so when they came in, hot and sweaty from running in the sunshine on a beautiful Northwest afternoon, one child turned off the lights and another ran to close the blinds. "Not yet!" I advised, "Remember we have to be doing our normal routine so we can practice getting into lock down mode quickly."

So, we sat at the carpet and began to read a story when the announcement came over the intercom. The students popped up with nervous energy but many caught themselves and forced their little feet to walk, not run, to hide in closets or the bathroom. Someone turned off the lights and the blinds were closed. The door was already locked. Children scattered and crammed their tiny bodies into coat closets while I ushered the majority to the bathroom where we could crouch behind a locked door.

In the pitch black, I could see no one and had no idea of knowing who exactly was in the room with me and who had tucked into the closets. My voice was a steady stream of the quietest "shhhh" I could manage for the children who just could not be silent, no matter how hard they tried (and they tried hard!) I could hear the closet doors popping open, soft whispers, the doors closing quietly. I heard a hand pull on the outside classroom door - hard. And we waited for what seemed like an eternity but was less than ten minutes.

When the all clear was sounded and we spilled out, blinking, into the bright light of the classroom (one of the closet dwellers had been quick to turn on the lights), we gathered at the rug again. We talked about what we did right (we stayed as quiet as possible) and what went wrong (we decided the closets were bad hiding places because if a door popped open and a bad guy was there, the kids could not escape). We again discussed our roles - run, hide, fight. There was some more ninja talk.

But mostly there was a knowledge and a preparedness that no child in kindergarten should have to be privy to. These kids live in a world where the unthinkable happens all the time. No longer is it something that happens to "someone else" or in "other places". Every day we have to consider that we might have an active shooter and know that it will be virtually impossible to save everyone (or anyone). And so we practice, and we hope that we never need to hide in the dark.

And then we read a cheerful story because 5- and 6-year-olds are incredibly resilient and have short attention spans but they are ready for anything. Even the unthinkable.

Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Monday-est Tuesday.........

Let me tell you a story. Yesterday, I had a "procedure" done on my foot. Ok, I had warts frozen off. Yes, I'd rather have pretty feet than have the pedicure ladies look at me sideways every time they use the cheese grater on my feet. I've tried to get rid of them for years - all the over the counter stuff, the duct tape, everything. Finally I'd had it and went to a podiatrist (who was really strange, by the way, but that's another post). He said he needed to freeze them each at least 40 sprays so it took a while. And he stressed several times how painful it would be and that there "is simply no pain-free way to get rid of warts." He also stated that some go away on their own but that "at your age" it was unlikely. At my age, indeed!

The procedure itself was relatively pain-free but a few hours later, it was obvious what he meant when he said (time and again) how painful it would be. I'm SO glad I didn't have any jobs scheduled this week beyond the one I did yesterday, because by this morning, I could not stand on my foot at all. I already had a haircut scheduled today with my curly-hair specialist so there was no way I was going to miss that. I hobbled on the side of my foot, took a shower, got ready, and limped downstairs to put the dog in the kennel.

And that's when it happened - my back went out! I guess walking on the side of my foot torqued my back in such a way that when I bent over to lock the kennel I felt the tell-tale searing pain of a back that was unhappy with my gait. Arrows of pain shot across my lower back and I assumed the ever-so-careful walk of a person afraid to incite pain by moving. Or breathing. I headed to the car with an ice pack for my back - I'm nothing if not a multi-tasker.

I left in plenty of time to grab a coffee on my way, but when I pulled away from the coffee stand with my iced mocha and muffin treat, I realized they gave me the wrong muffin! I actually stopped at another coffee stand on the way hoping to acquire my favorite muffin but they didn't have that flavor so I settled for a chocolate-chip muffin and headed to the freeway.

As I crested the overpass, I saw a huge backup on the freeway and my GPS changed to a bright red line for miles. Undaunted, I took an alternate route and arrived 10 minutes late. I missed the entrance to the parking garage and had to drive past the salon to turn around. Seeing a face in the window I gave a quick "Sorry I'm late, I'll be there in a sec" guilty wave, only to realized the face belonged to a mannequin. I waved to a doll head!

The parking garage was full so I had to park a distance away. I did my best quick hobble/limp/skip to get to the salon and began my litany of excuses (all legitimate!). My hairdresser did her magic with my hair and my curls were restored to their natural beauty (ha!).

All I wanted at this point was to be home where I could put my extremely sore foot up, and ice my back. But I had a wicked craving for Puffcorn. This is a junky food that comes in a bag for $2. It resembles Pirate's Booty but has the distinctive orange Cheeto dust on it. It has no nutritional value and it's delicious. My mom introduced this treat to me a few months ago when I visited her in Boise and now I've consumed at least two bags. It's not hard to eat an entire bag in one sitting, and that goes against everything I believe in eating reasonably. I'm not even a fan of anything "chip" like most of the time, but as with all my cravings, if I just let this one run it's course, soon I will tire of it and I won't care about it again. Years ago my sister introduced me to Little Debbie Nutty bars and it was hit and miss there for a bit but I kicked that addiction and I don't even think about them anymore.

Anyway. I really wanted a bag of Puffcorn so I stopped at the local Safeway. My daughter had procured a bag of this crack a few days before at a Safeway so I thought certainly they would have it. Against my better judgment, and my current level of pain, I hopped into Safeway and limped up and down the chip aisle no less than four times before accepting the fact that my beloved Puffcorn was not to be. Dejected, I left the store. To add insult to injury, there was something sticky on the shopping cart and it got all over my hands! I'm super glad I keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer in my car because I doused my hands when I got in the car. Gross.

I emailed my husband about my day so far, and he generously offered to stop at a different store on the way home, on his bike, to pick up my treat. Now, that is a selfless man. But I decided to text my daughter because I looked it up online and the internet said Puffcorn could be purchased at Target. Knowing she would pass a Target on the way home, I figured she could just stop in and pick some up for me. Along with Ben and Jerry's Coffee Toffee crunch ice cream because by now my craving was having a craving. You know how it happens.

Well. Not only did Target not have the Puffcorn but they didn't have the ice cream either. Let me stop here and say that I do not need either of these treats. In fact, my life would be so much better if I never consumed anything with carbs in it for the next 50 years. But I wanted to eat my feelings (as I do) and I couldn't find the Tylenol so I figured it might subdue the pain. Hey, it could have been crack or copious amounts of wine. We all have our drug.

When I got home, I packed some grapes and crackers for a snack and took them and a large glass of water upstairs to tuck into bed with an ice pack and watch Forensic Files. But I couldn't make the TV work. Stupid thing. I found four remotes and by trial and error I made a combination of two of them work and I finally got to watch some true crime before I fell blissfully asleep for two pain-free hours. But then I woke up. And I still wanted Puffcorn but my daughter arrived home with a consolation prize of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and I didn't even eat one because it's not what I wanted and I have some self-control. Sort of.

At any rate, I did not get my treats today. But Jeff did make me a cake. Before you get all sappy about what a great guy he is, let me tell you the back story. My eldest daughter made me a delicious cake on Mother's day (two days ago) using a few baking hacks I told her about. The cake turned out wonderful and I declared that NO ONE was to eat any more of it because the last two slices were for me, goddammit, because I'm the mom and it was for mother's day. And no one argued with me. But my husband, who has absolutely no control over his chocolate addiction, and who had already consumed a large piece of cake WITH ice cream earlier in the evening, felt he needed a nightcap and cut himself a slice of cake before bed. And in the morning, when he went downstairs, that last piece of cake called to him and he shoved it in his face while standing over the sink, without even thinking of me, or the fact that the last piece of ANYTHING sweet and good in this house is automatically mine and everyone knows it. So, when I packed my lunch the next day, all happy that I had cake to look forward to, you know, to break up the day with 20-some kindergartners, I was devastated to see the cake plate standing empty. You better believe I texted him in ALL CAPS and gave him the what-for about stealing MY cake.

So, he made a new cake out of pure guilt and it was delectable. Probably because it was a guilt cake, but still. My foot still feels like tiny knives are stabbing it when I put any pressure on it, and my back is still jacked-up. I know I need to rest and heal and that's about the hardest thing for me to do. I am not accustomed to lying still. I've had no less than five teachers text me today asking if I can work for them this week. I'm busy, dammit, and I need to be functional. But I'm forced to slow down and it's going to drive me nuts.

Also, I ordered six bags of Puffcorn from Walmart. They arrive Friday. Bless the internet.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

It's coming! That one day a year when mothers are revered, showered with gifts and flowers and perhaps treated to a special meal. Mother's day is a lovely sentiment but not nearly enough of a celebration of what will, far and away, be the hardest job you've ever had (and loved). Mothering is not for the weak and it doesn't end in 18 years. Mothering is a lifelong commitment, a job with duties you can not even imagine you will be strong enough to endure. But you will.

Parts of mothering will not be beautiful or sweet or conjure images of a Madonna and child, bathed in soft light, gazing at each other lovingly. No, parts of it will tear you in half and make you cry tears you didn't even know you had and make you question your worth and the very decision to bring a human into this world.

Parts of mothering will make you laugh with a joy you didn't know could happen, and you will marvel at the wonder of this creature you created - so smart, so beautiful, so perfect. HOW did you get so lucky? You really won the jackpot with this one. This one puts all other tiny humans to shame.

Parts of mothering will leave you exhausted with a tired so bone-deep you can't even imagine sleeping it off. How did you ever survive on so little sleep? How do you get things done? And why don't those little ones nap long enough? And then one day you will lay down to take a nap and wake, discombobulated, with a slight panic that you missed something or left someone unattended and you will realize that there are no small ones to care for anymore and you can nap whenever you damn well please.

Parts of mothering will leave you scratching your head in confusion about the decisions your young ones make, and why they don't just take your sage advice when you've lived a good amount of life, already, darn it, and you KNOW things. You will watch them make costly mistakes with love, life and finances and you will try hard not to say "I told you so" but you'll whisper it anyway, because you DID.

Parts of mothering will make you wish you never obtained a driver's license. Because you will drive and drive and drive and you will be so sick of driving. You will have rules about eating in the car and by the end of baseball season, your floorboards will be strewn with stale french fries and the empty carcasses of Gatorade bottles. You will stow extra makeup, wipes, snacks and blankets in the car such that by the end of your youngest child's last year in high school, your car will become a fully-stocked second home, complete with emergency kit, extra water, and enough reusable shopping bags to create a suitable outdoor tent, should the need arise.

Parts of mothering will make you wonder who you ever were before becoming a mom, and find yourself hesitating when asked about your hobbies, because you're not sure arranging a PTA luncheon or or spending hours on the phone booking orthodontist appointments count as "hobbies". You will sign up for a photography class but miss half of them because it's spring and that means there are dozens of "end of the year" activities, concerts, parties and events where kids receive cheap plastic trophies. And you will attend because you're the mom.

Parts of mothering will make you wish you'd gone to nursing school, or at least taken a decent psychology class, so you could tell the difference between "I don't feel good" and appendicitis. You'll err on the side of your preference to go to yoga and send the kid to school, only to have the nurse call you while you are in downward dog to say your child is running a fever. And you will skip savasana and rush to the school and feel like a shit mom because you thought he was standing in front of the stove again and faking a fever.

Parts of mothering, especially when you have more than one child, will have you forgetting that child at soccer camp, after-school activities, and possibly Target if they have the audacity to wander off when you are in the middle of checking things off a list in between a sibling's dentist appointment and the marimba concert at school that evening. You will receive a frantic text and you will text back "in the checkout line" when you are really at coffee with your friend and it's hour three. And the youth will survive.

Parts of mothering will have you reaching for a glass of wine once the baby has finally, blessedly, gone to sleep and you have exactly 14 minutes of "me time" before you fall asleep on the couch. And the next thing you know, the baby is awake and she's 23 and you're meeting her for happy hour and the two of you down two margaritas each and stumble off into the sunshine because she's a lightweight and you're a lightweight and when did that happen? But you will laugh and say "Are you drunk?" and you will have a designated driver because you're both responsible that way.

Parts of mothering will have you basking in pride at the way your kids have grown up and grown into their own authentic beings, despite and because of your parenting. They will have jobs and responsibilities and their own residence. And at first you'll wish you had grandkids because you just can't bear the fact that they aren't little anymore and you NEED to squeeze a squishy baby.  But then you will realize you really want grandkids because you can't bear not to see the world through a child's eyes and you yearn for that sense of wonder again. And perhaps it's because you never really grew up yourself, despite the fact that you bore and raised multiple humans to adulthood. Maybe you just want to color again and blow bubbles, and have a reason to sit in the fire engine at the summer festival. And that's ok.

Parts of mothering will define you and become you and you will realize that although you never asked for much of the strife and pain that goes along with the job, you also never expected rewards so deep and love so sincere.

Happy Mother's Day!