Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Drowning My Sorrows in Fresh Maple Syrup

Cartwrights Maple Tree Inn is an institution around here. For miles and miles. It is only open for a brief two months, give or take, at the end of winter, beginning of spring. When the nights are still cold, but the days warm up, the sap starts running and that means it's pancake time. The MTI is famous for its thin, buckwheat all you can eat pancakes and its fantastic maple syrup. When I heard they opened on the 11th of this month, I've been waiting for one of these nights to run up there for dinner. It's about 16 miles away, 20 if you don't go back roads. I always take the back roads. It's my way through life. But that's another story. Tonight was the perfect night to eat there: 

As an update to my saga of losing my cool and my better judgement a couple of weeks ago when I let fly the F bomb at a couple of students after school after yet another bullying incident  (see earlier post regarding not swearing at your students!!!)  - I received an official "Letter of Admonition" in my permanent file. If I were going to go to another school to apply for a new job, this would probably be a bad thing. But since I only have 9 years left until retirement, and intend to spend them at the school I'm currently at, and have been at for the past ten years, it really didn't end up being a particularly big deal. I was glad that that was the end of it, if for no other reason than to just simply put it behind me. It's not like me, and I am not proud of it, and I just want to forget that it happened (though my student's life seems to be a little quieter lately - not sure if there is a connection? Whatever.) Today it appears that it is NOT done. The mom called the School Superintendent again today. The State Police told her that it was not a criminal matter, that the school was investigating it, and would let her know when it was resolved. When she called today, the Superintendent told her it had been taken care of, but she could not say how or what was done to me, as it was a personnel matter. She was not happy about that. She wanted to come to the Board meeting tonight, and was denied because the agenda was already set, but was told that she was welcome to make an appointment to come in and discuss what she wants from the Board, get on the agenda, and come to the next meeting. So the Superintendent decided that she needed to inform the Board about the situation tonight so that they were not blindsided by this woman in a week or two. So I wrote a brief explanation of the situation to attach to my letter of admonition, not to excuse what I did, but simply so the Board was aware that there WAS a situation to which I was responding, however poorly I may have chosen to respond. Apparently there is another issue - the Superintendent "fears" that she may be required to file something with the State Education Department, according to Section 83 of the NYS Education Law, which deals with the Moral Character of a teacher. Good GRIEF.
     Seriously,. I'm not worried. I think this mother has nothing better to do than this. She doesn't have a job. Her son was kicked out of the previous school district, in which they still live, due to behavior issues there, so that's a big red flag to me. I hope it is to the Board as well. AND, the mom is lying now, also. Today she declared that this took place while her son was on the steps of the school. Totally untrue, and there is tape from the outside camera to prove this untrue - and the Superintendent KNOWS it to be untrue. I would absolutely not have lied about that, and there is taped evidence to PROVE I am not lying. In addition, the mom continues to call this an "assault."  It could, I suppose, perhaps be a verbal assault? More in line with harrassment, I suppose, though I wasn't even harassing them. I simply yelled at them, and drove on. And criminally, this is neither assault NOR harassment. 
     I find it funny that there were TWO students involved, and I have not heard ONE WORD from the other parents. Not one. AND I have their other son in my reading class, daily. THEY were the ones I was afraid I would hear from. And actually, I ams somewhat afraid of them, so...I guess it could be worse, huh?
     All I know at this point is, I am SICK to death of this situation, and sick of it dragging me down every time it pops up again. SO, what better night to go to the Maple Tree Inn and drown my sorrows in sticky, sweet, gooey, fresh tapped and boiled maple syrup and buckwheat pancakes? Tonight was the PERFECT night for it. It was yummy, and good and I was glad I went. And I came home about the time the Board meeting was ending, so...
     Who knows. Tomorrow's another day. That is about the only thing I'm sure of, at the moment! That, and I LOOOOOOVE pancakes at the Maple Tree Inn!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A "GIRLYMAN "Fan Letter

Dear Ty, Doris and Nate,

I know you have lots of fans and I’m sure you get lots of fan letters. Much as I like writing, I’m not a fan letter writer myself. I’m not really sure why. Maybe because it reminds me too much of being like 8? And I’m nearly reaching that scary half-century mark in another couple years, so teen-age girl fan letters are not my style these days? But rarely has anyone’s music really, REALLY soaked into my soul the way yours has. In fact, in all honesty, the only other time in my life when I was in love with music this same way was my love affair with John Denver’s music as I was growing up. In fact, I quite possibly MIGHT have written him a fan letter when I WAS 8.

I “discovered” Girlyman a few years ago. My brother gave me a handful of copied cds that some girl had given him, and he passed on to me those he thought I would like. There were two in there, Little Star and Remember Who I am. Of all the cd’s he gave me, yours is the only one that “took,” and it took in a big way. I have listened until I have had to buy new cd’s, because I wore mine out. I literally listen to nothing else. I was finally able to attend a concert this past year, five hours away was the closest I could find at the time, and was pretty excited by that. I listen at home, I listen at work when I have a free period, I listen in the car. I sing along when no one else is listening to me. I wake up with GM songs spinning through my head every morning. I go to sleep with your music. I get up to let the dogs out at 2 am and “everything’s easy” or “Viola” or “Montpelier is eight miles away” words play in my head while I wait by the door in the cold for them to come back in from the back yard. Your music is the soundtrack by which I live my life. Not a big deal, particularly, I guess. I’m sure there are others who could say the same. But the past three weeks, your music, and the constancy of it, and the words and images to some of your music, have really felt like a life-line thrown my way. While I don’t want to be overly dramatic, I can’t tell you how many times I have thought: “I don’t know what I would have done without Girlyman and their music right now.” I really don’t.

My dad, who is 89, and who has lived alone since my mom died of Alzheimers five years ago, just had a heart attack three weeks ago. The hospitalization actually revealed far more than heart trouble; we were not aware of the extent to which dementia has overtaken him, particularly after dark. Sundowning, they call it.Because I live in a very rural area, his hospitalization for surgery, and now his subsequent cardiac rehab put him nearly two hours away from me. So, I spent a week driving back and forth, and now, while we await a determination about where he will live after rehab is finished, I am trying to go up twice a week, at least. So, given the amount of time I have been spending in the car lately, you can imagine the amount of playing time you guys are getting! Because I am traveling back and forth alone, and because I have a really awesome stereo system in my Jeep and because this situation has been pretty stressful for me, I have been putting on either my New Hope Winery concert double cd, or the Everything’s Easy cd and just cranking them until the music just fills the car, and fills me, and it also blocks everything else out.

The heart attack was mild. The surgery was not a particularly big deal. But this is my DAD. My mom is gone, and I am the youngest child in a family with siblings that are not all particularly close, and suddenly, I am face to face with my dad’s mortality and the limited time he has left to be my dad. And with the dementia, and the new, changed living arrangements, have come his nightly phone calls to me, demanding that I come get him, telling me he HAS to go home tomorrow, that he can’t stay there another day, that if I don’t come get him, he will hitchhike home, saying I’m being mean to him, that I don’t love him, that I have just stuck him there, yelling at me, swearing at me, even. Now, this is man who was the son of a very straight-laced, strict, preacher, and has not been a man to drink, smoke, dance, play cards, or heaven forbid, use “bad language” (I remember the first time I ever said “shit” in my life – I was in 7th grade, and went to the basement to say it, over and over, just to see what it felt like! I wasn’t even allowed to say “fart” or “turd” back then. Oh, for those days. I guess the only good thing about it is, now when I drop an F bomb, it really MEANS something to me! J ) Now he is swearing at me, telling me “GodDAMNit, I AM going home.” Wow. A little tough.

I joke, but the phone calls have been devastating. Knowing that my dad is not going to be able to go home to the house he has lived in for nearly 70 years, and feeling like that is somehow my fault, knowing that he sometimes feels like I have abandoned him, that he thinks I don’t love him – I KNOW that is the dementia talking, not really my dad, but, well, this is hard. Very hard. And it isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. It’s only going to get worse. And so, as I did with my mother when she started developing alzheimers years before she died, I realize that I have started saying good-bye to my dad. I am grieving the loss of the man who raised me and took care of me and loved me unconditionally for so many years. And, while I didn’t mean to go on and on, what I just want to say, my whole reason for writing, is just to let you know that Girlyman is making this sucky time in my life a little better, a little more bearable. It’s been a lousy time, but I’m “not quite lost, not quite found, just somewhere different now…I’m not burned out, not used up, just somewhere different now.” Also, the time alone in the car has given me a LOT of time to reflect on old relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and even the best of them. Thinking back on some of them has also, thanks to you, provided a lot of smiles in my travels. Like I said, you’ve simply become the soundtrack for my life- past, present and, god willing, my future as well. I have not had music get inside me, inside my head, inside my mind, inside my heart, like you guys have done, since I was a kid. It means SO much to me. I feel like words are just so inadequate from me to describe what your music, your lives, mean to me.

Thank you for using the talent God gave all three of you to make the most beautiful music on earth. Each of you has a unique voice, a unique sound, on your own, and to me, the most amazing sound of all when combined. I love how some songs feature Ty, some Doris, and some Nate. I love all THREE of your voices, individually. I love the lyrics, the thoughts behind them, the catchiness to some, and the meanings and seriousness of others. You guys are just super talented at writing lyrics, as well as music, and it all equals a sound that is unmatched, in my world. Thank god for Girlyman. At the best of times, you are just perfection to listen to. At the worst of times, your music has been the lifeline thrown, just in time, to help me rescue myself!

See you in Syracuse in March. Only two weeks - can’t wait. I only have to drive 3 hours for that one. :)

Check out http://www.girlyman.com/, and click on the "have a listen" to hear some of their music.  I'm betting you won't regret it. I really can't imagine ANYONE not liking the sound.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Material Girl

So, I've been lusting after a pair of these boots for months, after seeing a tiny pair on the rack outside my classroom door. I thought they were adorable, but I wondered why some little girl was wearing RAIN BOOTS in the winter. Weren't her feet cold? Poor thing. (And she's an absolutely adorable little blondie with pig tails - she's as cute as her boots!) I picked them up, checked them over, then looked them up on line. And I discovered that while they LOOK like rain boots, they are actually rated to be comfy and warm to -40 degrees. While I'm sure they probably don't keep your toes TOASTY at -40, it rarely (EVER? Dont think so) gets that cold here. But I am sick and tired of my feet being wet and cold after hooking the dogs out every morning, and stomping down the snow in the chicken coop when I feed them and collect eggs every morning. And I have barn boots, but they ARE just rain boots. And, they're hard to get on and off. THESE boots have HANDLES. AND, they're f*a*s*h*i*o*n*a*b*l*e! I have pictured myself, every place I've gone for the past month, wearing these boots, and feeling very cool. Very dry, very warm, and really, really cool. Dorky, I know. But cool-dorky. I love that. (I also saw a tshirt at Tractor Supply I have to get to wear with them. It says "Peace, Love, and Tractors." I know, I know, I don't HAVE a tractor. But i want one. That counts, right? AND it matched the boots!)
Anyways, tonight? My husband handed me his credit card and LET ME ORDER THE BOOTS! I know there are a million reasons not to have - I really do. But, I'm also really, really excited. I can't WAIT to get these boots. I can't wait to feed my chickens, and hook out my dogs, and go to school in my really, really cool boots. And my feet will be dry. I'm SO excited.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


TODAY, I will not complain about the huge vet bill I am sick to my stomach over, for two cats, in two days. I will not worry that it was most of a paycheck. I will, instead, be happy that the cat who was the worst off is SOOOO grateful to be home, and out of pain again, and the most loving cat we have ever had. And the other cat is a really nice guy, too, and so I owe it to them to take care of them, even if I feel like I can't really afford to. I can, in the long run, and I know that loving animals to a(n expensive) fault, makes up a large part of who I am, and I like that part of me.

TODAY, I will not fuss about the fact that I have made dinner two nights in a row (a feat for me - I despise cooking meals. I love baking but hate cooking. It's so...functional, practical, mundane) and no one has eaten it. I will, instead, commend myself, pat myself on the back for having made the effort, and for having food to provide my family with, if they were home, or chose to eat it or weren't off doing other unplanned but necessary things at dinner time. I will also take comfort in the realization that I have meat in the freezer - good, rich, fat-free venison with which I can make many good meals for my family.

TODAY I will not stress over my father's decline in health, but will rejoice in the fact that I have not had any angry, completely irrational phone calls from him this week when my sister has been out of town leaving only me to "handle" things. And I will rejoice in the fact that he has lived for 89 years as of tomorrow, and that for most of those years, he has been very healthy and independent.

TODAY I will not worry about how much I have not gotten done with this week off. I will not worry that my bedroom rivals something found on HOARDERS, and how not getting it under control THIS WEEK is going to totally FREAK ME OUT until my next break in late APRIL. No I won't. I will NOT worry about it. Instead, I will be thankful for the down time I've had to get the kitchen cleaned, thoroughly cleaned, including keeping up with the dishes daily, and washing the floor, and the dog mats, etc. And how much time I've had to just relax with my crocheting, as I love to do, and how fun it has been to watch the Westminster Dog Show not on purpose, but just because I was being lazy and it was on, and the dogs were GORGEOUS. Well, some were actually very ugly - like walking, floating mops. And those huge pompous poodles? Oh my gosh - ridiculous. But, the working dogs, the hounds, the herding dogs - well, it was fun to be home, to be lazy and just sit and crochet while skimming and find that on, and enjoy it.

TODAY I will not be grumpy about the fact that I have to drive an hour to see my dad again tomorrow, but will, instead, be grateful that I have had two glorious days in a row at home. I have only had to leave the house to pick up the cat from the vet yesterday, go to the grocery store once, and go out for my morning coffee twice. I am also grateful that I have, since Monday, come to realize that it is NOT the visiting my dad, nor having to drive an hour to do so, that REALLY make me grumpy. It is simply having to leave my house. I tend to be a bit of an agoraphobic. I'm not AFRAID to leave my house - I just don't LIKE to. I'm like that at work too. Once I'm there for the day, I HATE to leave to go to the post office, pick up lunch, or anything. I will do anything to avoid having to leave. I even paid my daughter once to go to the Post Office for me so that I didn't have to leave home! Yes, I AM aware of how weird I am, thanks for noticing. Really, I do know, but I'm ok with it.
I also, as at odds with this part of my personality as it is going to sound, LOVE to travel, and especially love to travel on my own to new and exciting places. So, it is just the mundane sort of errands I do not like to leave my house for, I guess!!!

TODAY I have been at peace. TOMORROW, I wil try to also be at peace. And I will try to make the world a better place for someone.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Airborne Toxic Event - really???

So Savannah (age 14 1/2 going on really adult and mature sometimes, and almost always sweet - unusual for a teen, and I DO appreciate how lucky I am there!) and I are on our way to visit my dad today, an hour away. I didn't want to go. I spent almost two hundred bucks at the vet on Friday, and then had to take another cat there this morning. I don't LIKE spending money at the Vet on cats. I like my cats, but I didn't ask to have all of them. We have too many. And though I LIKE them, I"m not in love with the cats the way I am my dogs. I don't begrudge spending money at the Vets on my dogs when I have to. But this cat who went today is my second son's favorite, and he was very worried about her, and so now, she, too, is going to cost me a small fortune. Infected and abcessed teeth that need to be surgically removed tomorrow. And T'S mom has been hospitalized all weekend - apparently a small stroke, and some instant major dementia issues. Very worrisome, exhaustively worrisome, on top of my dad. So, my dad. Yeah, my brother was supposed to visit yesterday, and I was going to go tomorrow. He didn't go, so I felt sad for my dad, and obligated to go see him today. And I didn't want to. I just am feeling GRUMPY. This is MY vacation, and it isn't a vacation. I am feeling very overwhelmed with lots of little stuff that I really have no right to be overwhelmed with, but I am letting it get to me. Last week was far worse, and I'm not even at work this week. But regardless, I've been very grumpy all day. And on the way there, we're listening to this weird Sirius radio station that Savannah likes, and I can tolerate, usually. It's stuff I usually can just tune out, though sometimes I even like a song or two. Today, this one came on, and although the GROUP name certainly did not catch my attention (Airborne Toxic Event - come ON, where do they GET these names???)
some of the words just JUMPED out at me:

Standing on a bus stop
Feeling your head pop

Out in the night
On the kind of night
Where you want to be out
On the street, on the street
Crawling up the walls
Like a cat in heat"

And the air is thin
And it blows through your skin
And you feel like something
Is about to begin
But you don't know what
And you don't know when
So you tear at your hair
And you scratch at your skin

You wanna run away, run away
Just get on the f'ing train and leave today
And it doesn't matter where you spend the night
You just might end up somewhere in a fight, in a fight
Or caught in your room on a concrete shelf
Fighting all alone, with yourself, with yourself
And you just wanna feel like a coin that's been tossed
In a wishing well, a wishing well
A wishing well, a wishing well
Well, you're tossed in the air
And you fell and you fell
Through the dark blue waters
Where you cast your spell
Like you were just a wish that could turn out well

So you stand on the corner
Where the angels sit
And you think to yourself,
"This is it, this is it,
This is all that I have
All I can stand
Is this air in my lungs
And this coin in my hand
That you tossed in the air
And I fell, and I fell
All the way to the bottom
Of the well, of the well
Like those soft little secrets
That you tell, that you tell
To yourself, when you think
No one's listening to, well"

And I thought: YES! Someone else gets it. Someone GETS that FEELING, those FEELINGS, of just feeling like you are crawling the wall (...not REALLY like a cat in heat, though, that's uh, just WEIRD) - that feeling I have ALL THE TIME when the pressure's on - that I've just had ENOUGH, and that all I want is to run away. I don't care where I go. I don't care whether it is 10 miles away, or 1000. I just want AWAY. I don't want to BE HERE. I don't want to DEAL. I just want out from under these responsibilities. I want away. Flight or fight? I ALWAYS choose flight. "Run away, run away, run away" runs through my brain A LOT. And not in that silly Monty Python voice either. In a pretty serious "I have GOT to get AWAY from here" tone of voice which, if it had any money behind it not left at the vet's office, might actually TAKE me someplace far away.
Too bad it is some random weird group with a bad name who "gets it," but for two or three minutes, I identified, and I felt totally vindicated.

Then, we came home, and Miss Savannah made dinner. THE WHOLE DINNER. All by herself. It was DELICIOUS. Stuffed shells with pesto cheese sauce. Garlic bread. Salad. And she set the table for T and I, with a red tablecloth, a rose, and she and her brother ate in the den so that her dad and I could eat a nice, quiet dinner alone. She "researched" wine to find out what went with our meal, though I did turn it down in favor of just water tonight. Sweet, nonetheless. And she made us Baked Apples with Spiced Rum caramel sauce for desert. And then bounced off to a basketball game at school. And just like that, I feel better.
I bought myself a book today that I really, really, really wanted to read. More on that in another post. It went with the movie I saw last night. And I bought myself some bath salts. And now, I'm going to scrub the tub out, then fill it, and take myself AWAY for awhile. I don't even have to go ten miles. Just upstairs.

A Tale of Two Students... and some cat poop to round out the week

Friday was the last day of school for the week, and FOR a week. We, thankfully, have mid-winter break this week. Honestly, it's never come at a more appreciated time. No snow day last week as I had wished for, so other than last Tuesday off to move my dad from the Rehab center to his new "home," the Assisted Living place, I just slogged through the week with my head down and my mouth shut. I was "tested" on several occasions, but was able to bite my tongue. I WILL learn self-discipline if it KILLS me. And I fear it might.
The middle school kids (grades 5-8) had an activity day field trip Friday - Glow Bowling. Much anticipated by most of them, and only a few kids chose to stay home and not participate. Unfortunately, two who were not able to go bowling, and who did NOT stay at home were stuck at school all day. One of them, Z, has had a tough year. I don't know why. His parents don't know why. He has an appointment with a child psychologist in March, but in the meantime, he does no work, is frequently absent, is failing everything, and is a constant disruption in class. It's a good thing I feel concerned about him, because he is, in general, just a royal pain to deal with. I am constantly on eggshells waiting for the next explosion, hoping to get through my 40 minute class with him every day without having an ugly confrontation. He had to stay behind because of the amount of school work he owes. Apparently he came to school, thinking he was going bowling, because when he found out he wasn't, at first he cried. A lot. And when that didn't work, he pulled out the rage. He punched lockers, kicked things, ran down the hall screaming, threw huge, non-stop tantrums. Oh, did I mention that the two who did not go were supposed to stay with me for several periods that day? Yeah, I watched this unfold and thought, "Oh dear God, please, NO!" Well, his behavior landed him in the principal's office, thankfully, so he was NOT mine to babysit for the day.
The other student, N, was not able to go because his parents did not send in a permission slip for him. Not because they didn't want him to go, I'm sure, but simply because they NEVER return anything the kids need signed. Again, it is good that I can be sympathetic, because they are two people who are about the most ill-equipped to be parents that I have run across. They have three kids, and all three suffer learning and emotional disabilities. The kids, N particularly, are not especially likeable kids, but you simply cannot help knowing that much of it is not their fault. So, it really did break my heart that we were not able to contact ANYONE in the family by phone that day to get permission for N to go bowling. But, I also don't blame the school for not wanting to take the legal risk of allowing him to go without permission. So, at the last minute, he was not allowed to go either. Unlike Z, N just cried. It was SO sad. And to top it off, it was his birthday, and he, rather pathetically, with nose running and dripping and tears plopping off the end of his chin, kept telling me that he "wasn't having a very good birthday today." Come on parents. Step up. Be parents if you have given birth. Pay attention. Sign your kids darn field trip forms. It was his birthday, and you couldn't even give him bowling with his class? So, I did keep N in my room all day. I shared my valentines hearts with chocolate in them that two other students had given me, and fed him suckers from my jar, and let him play computer games all day, and let him eat lunch in our room instead of in the cafeteria by himself, and talked to him, and tried, in general, to make it not such a crappy day for him. I don't think we particularly succeeded in being as good as bowling, but all three of the adults in my room tried. Hard.
And then, after school, I had to take one of my cats, Dagda (the mighty hunter kitty boy) to the Vet for a big gaping wound on his neck I discovered two nights ago. Cat bite? Dog bite? Unable to find my cat carrier, I carried him in my arms, and he rode on my lap the 15 miles to the vet. He was calm, purring even, doing well.Halfway there, I started noticing a rather unpleasant smell. It was REALLY repulsive. Gagging me, actually. I wondered if it was the infection in his neck I was smelling. Until he stood up. As he moved to the passenger seat to lay down, I noticed that there was a rather large pile of cat poo now on my pant leg. Nice, Dag. Thanks SO much. So I did what anyone else would do in that situation. I opened the window, and flung the poo out. Then I found a small bottle of mouthwash in the console of my car, and poured some on a napkin to scrub the cat poop out of my pants. When I got the the Vet's and opened the door, I realised there was more on the floor between my seat and the door. I knocked that out, too. And went in. And came out, 20 minutes later, forgetting about the poop on the ground next to my car. And...of course, stepped directly in it. $182.00 was not punishment enough? I had to smell cat poop all the way home.
My week sucked, thank you. How was yours???

Monday, February 8, 2010


It seems that I have forgotten, lately, that despite life's setbacks, I still have much to be grateful for.

The earlier daylight, and the corresponding FEEL the the mornings - just a tiny bit more like spring than winter - and the color of the morning skies have made a positive impact on me when I hook the dogs out to their runs in the mornings. I was grateful that I noticed this morning, and grateful for the way it felt and looked.

Friends who helped me celebrate my birthday at school on Friday, and made it a great day for me with an awesome cake, and some really nice, CHICKENY, gifts. I love how my friends all pay such close attention to my deepest loves, and humor me - a set of beautiful silver measuring spoons with chickens and sunflowers on them, a chicken coffee mug, and my favorite: a shirt that says "Have you hugged your chickens today?" which is really funny, given that I daily DO pick up and hug my chickens!

4 perfect eggs in the coop this afternoon from my 4 perfect chickens. First time since the Aracauna stopped laying in the fall that I've gotten one from her, and first time since last fall that I've gotten one from EACH of them the same day!

That today was a NOTHING day - no early morning sad/angry phonecalls from my dad (though my sister got it at 5:23 am this morning. Thankfully, she forbid my dad from calling me, also, bless her) and no waves made at school today. Today I am thanking GOD for a NOTHING day!

The SLIGHT possibility of a snowstorm coming on Wednesday. Winter storm warnings are posted for tomorrow at 7pm until Wednesday at 7pm. With that comes the hope, hope, hope of a snow day on Wednesday. We have not had one yet this year, and since it is one of the little perks of teaching that I totally look forward to, and love, I'm hopeful that this one might be the one! If we get one, I'm going to sew all day.

The warmth and peace of my house tonight. Husband is out of town at a meeting, two kids off at college, son down in the garage working on cars, as usual, and youngest at a friend's house eating potato soup for dinner. That means I get to eat my favorite dinner without guilt: cereal and toast. I am surrounded by my four furry best friends - three dozing, one chomping on a bone. Couple of cats perched on the back of the couch, and one next to me. I've spent a lot of time putting new books in my queue of my book rental site (www.booksfree.com) from my "wish list" on Amazon, and deciding which ones I want to read next. I love books so much. I am back up to almost a hundred books on my list of "want to reads." I am SO grateful I love books and reading the way I do. Life feels peaceful right now.

PS - Tomorrow we move dad from the Nursing Home Rehab center to his new, and probably permanent "home," an Assisted Living place more central to all 4 of us kids. It does not appear that it will go well, but for now, I'm remaining positive and hopeful! Good thing I posted now - by tomorrow, it might be harder to be as grateful for things, or to remember that there ARE things I should be grateful for! :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

You Can Yell at Your Neighbors, But Don't Swear at Students

I am not really sure if I should blame it on the impulsiveness which goes with my lifelong ADD. Or can I blame it on the horrid perimenopausal rollercoaster of mood swings which seem to be affecting me with alternating bouts of anger and tears, every third or fourth month? Not even just anger, but rage, over injustices which seems SO critical that I deal with right then? Rage that leaves me just shaking because I am SO full of anger I don't know what to do with it? And then, after a day or two, it is just gone, like it never was. Or is there no defense to be made for myself? I am thinking, now, that there isn't. I am thinking, now, that I really just made a mistake, a bad one, and there is nothing that should be blamed but just very poor judgment on my part.
Tuesday afternoon, after school, I drove home from school down a street that is one street over from my normal route, on my way to the post office, before home. I was aware that there were kids on the sidewalk, and that there was a car in front of me. I was particularly aware of WHO the students were, because one of the boys is student I have worked with for five years, with whom I am very close and treat like one of my own. He is also a frequent target for bullies, particularly a group of 6 boys, and I always try to look out for him, stick up for him, listen, care - things that my school does not really seem to do well for him. He was one of the ones on the sidewalk, but I didn't see that any of the other kids were the troublesome ones, so I went on by. Then, the van in front of me pulled over, and my daughter said, "Oh oh, I bet M threw a snowball and hit Ms. M's van..." I decided that I didn't need to be involved in that, so I went on. But at the corner, I had a bad feeling, and turned around, went back, just to check to make SURE everything was ok. I'm glad I went back. Turns out, M, who ALSO has pretty severe, untreated ADHD, was walking backwards across the street toward his house, talking to the kids on the sidewalk,
when he actually ran into Ms. M's van. When I got back there, she was out of the van, sobbing and shaking, and M was fine, but pretty shaken up. Had he walked in front of her, instead of INTO the side of her van, it could have been a completely different story. Thank GOD it was the way it was. So I walked M across the street to his house to make sure one of his parents was there to check him over, walked the teacher over with him and supported her a bit - they were both fine, but VERY shaken. Then, I left.
When I got back to my car, my daughter and her friend were outraged that while I was in the house, two of "those boys," those bullies, had come running down the street and stood outside M's house, pointing, laughing and saying things like, "Ha, it couldn't have happened to a better person! I'm GLAD he got hit. Yeah, too bad he didn't actually get hit by the front of the car, or run over. Yeah, would be cool if she had killed him..." etc, etc. That menopausal rage that had been simmering most of the day over an unrelated issue at school suddenly went into overdrive. I drove up the street and around the corner, and when I pulled up along side the two idiots, I let loose. REALLY let loose. I'll be honest - I dropped the F bomb three times. I believe I called them F'g A'holes, told them to get a F'g life that did NOT involve bullying M, and told them they were just F'g stupid idiots for having nothing better to do than to constantly pick on someone else. I was SOOOOOOOO mad. Even more so because my school does not seem to do much to put an end to this, and one of these two kids is actually new at our school this year, kicked out of his other school for behavior that was apparently unacceptable there. I then drove home, still so enraged I managed to fold about ten baskets of laundry in record time.
It came back to bite me the next day. The mother of the new kid came to school angered by my actions, and wanting the school to take action against me. So, the school is. I met with the principal, who happens to be the one and only administrator I have a total inability to get along with in my nearly 25 years of teaching, and she was "shocked" by my behavior. Initially my response was that I did not know why the SCHOOL was pursuing this, as my actions took place OFF school property and AFTER school time. What I have come to find out, according to NYS Education law, is that because I am a teacher, I am held to a higher standard of behavior which does not take into account the time and place. It is for all time in all places. While I am not, in any way, shape or form, saying that I condone my own behavior - it was childish, impulsive and totally inappropriate - I also am not terribly pleased to know that I am going to be held liable at my job for this. Ultimately, what I THINK will happen, is a "letter of admonition" in my file, which, in the long run, really won't mean anything, but just the way she said "I WILL be pursuing legal action against you" when she met with me over this issue, really kind of bothered me. OK, you don't deal with the bullying, but when I do, albeit in the wrong way, I get punished and you threaten to start a 30-20A on me, which would be, here, the process of firing a tenured teacher. It WON"T happen. She doesn't have a prayer of that. I am an exemplary teacher, with NOTHING in my file for 23 years. My file is clean. I have never even had a less than stellar observation. NOTHING.
What's worse is that when she told me the mom wanted to talk to me, I volunteered my cell phone number, and waited for the mom to call. I figured she would yell, rant, rave, maybe even swear at me, and I figured I would just listen, and let her yell, since if someone had done that to my kid, I guess I would have been upset too (though if I found out it was because my kid was being a bully and making someone else's daily life hell, I probably would have THANKED her for yelling at him. But then, I personally subscribe to the "it takes a village to raise a kid" philosophy, and have always been grateful when people have cared enough to let me know if my kid was doing something he or she should not have been...) Anyway, she didn't call. So I find out yesterday that no, she DIDN"T want my phone number, and no, she didn't even want ME to call HER. She "dealt with it a different way - i.e. she called the State Police on me. Sigh. Now, again, I know nothing will come from that, because, in all honesty, while what I did was undoubtedly using bad judgement, it isn't criminal. I, thankfully, did not threaten them, just unleash my anger on them. And my foul language. But, at least in this state, that's not a criminal act. But, because I am a teacher, I can, apparently, be held to a higher standard than if Joe Schmo had done the same thing, so now my job is in jeopardy, or at least, is just going to be relatively miserable for awhile, until this dies down. I feel like a pariah, like people don't want to look at me, or get too close to me, as if my stupidity might be contagious. I'm probably making that up, and probably people AREN"T avoiding me. It's probably just my guilty conscience speaking up. At any rate, lesson learned this week. It's actually been kind of a wake up call for MANY of us, who had no idea that things we did in our off hours could actually affect our job (I did ask why the teacher who got so intoxicated she was thrown out of our local drinking establishment on several occasions was not being held to this standard, or why the teacher who drops the F bomb in CLASS was not also being punished ,,, but my intent is NOT to blow other people in for things they do to make myself feel better, so I am NOT giving them names - just pointing out the inequity of how this is being applied...)
It's been quite a week. And if I take into account all that has been going on with my dad since his heart attack, and dementia onset, it's been quite a month. I have one more week of school and then a week off. I think I need it.