Saturday, December 7, 2019

Books Read and/or Reread for 2019

Total of those pictured: 86

Also, reread the following 11 books:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Long Day's Journey Into Night by Eugene O'Neill
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume

Still reading the following 2 books:
Circle by Madeline Miller
Six Years by Harlan Coben

Right now, my total that I've completely finished is 97, but by the end of the year, I should hit the 100 mark.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Seeking additional treatment for OCD

I have sometimes thought that G's OCD may require me to seek additional treatment for my own OCD.

I can feel my own internal anxious discomfort increasing when he does his compulsions.

After watching him straighten and fix something repeatedly, I have to fight the urge within myself to start fixing things in the same room (albeit things he wasn't fixing).

Partly, I stop myself from fixing the armchair covers when he fixes the couch cushions because of the mental picture of the two of us in my head. It just seems OCDing in circles around each other.

I also have to say to myself, "Fixing stuff is not going to restore order into your life or his. You just have to feel the discomfort and deal."

G has been on medication for his OCD since he was 6-years-old.
While his dose has increased over time a bit, I'm not 100 percent convinced that his dose shouldn't be increased even more, but his psychiatrist has seemed hesitant to up it.
I like his psychiatrist, but I got the feeling that since G's grades are ok, everything is ok.
As if grades are all that matters.
But G's issues have never affected school, really.
While this may not always be the case, G has always struggled more with functioning at home.

School provides more routine and structure than what life outside of school provides, which might be one reason why I always loved school.
The whole reason I wanted to be a teacher is that I liked the idea of organized chaos---there was a bit of unknown but there was a whole lot of the same old stuff happening.
I sometimes wonder if the same isn't true for G.

My feeling that we were missing something that we could be doing for G led me to discover that there is a clinic locally that deals with nothing but OCD.
I took G for a consultation after he asked again when he could see the psychiatrist because his symptoms (like rewriting his "rs" and "ns" on his schoolwork) were driving him crazy.

Today, he did the first part of the assessment to determine his OCD subtype, and he will soon begin exposure response prevention therapy.
It is hella expensive, but I'm hoping that seeking treatment at a place that does nothing but OCD will help him (and us) find more peace.

("The Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder," Owen Kelly.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Teachable moments all around

I try to remain calm in the face of teachable moments, which can be embarrassing as fuck.

A case in point:
The mother of M's friend texted me with screenshots showing M's messaging his friend (her son) on Google Classroom things like, "Suck suck suckety suck your ball."

My first instinct was to laugh because I'm childish.
My second instinct was to think, "Yep. That's a 10-year-old boy."
My third instinct was to think, "Dear god, I'm embarrassed."
My fourth instinct was to think, "This is a good teachable moment for M."

So I replied to the mom that I would talk to M, and that I suspect his middle school brother's influence was having an impact.
She was mostly concerned about it being on Google Classroom where it could pop up in front of teachers, which I didn't even think about.

When M came home, I asked him about it.
I told him he can't type stuff like that on Google Classroom because other people, like his friend's mom and possibly teachers, might see it.

I did not give him hell for typing, "Suck balls."

My hope is that in talking to him as I did, he will
1. listen and abide
2. know that he is human, makes mistakes, and can fix them.

Some of my students are struggling with plagiarism, and so I hope to take a similar tact.
Rather than lambasting them and making them feel ashamed, I'm hoping to talk about it and how it can be a very complex issue.

It occurred to me while I was thinking about plagiarism how often teachers, myself included, inadvertently plagiarize.
I don't know a single teacher who doesn't regularly go online to get lesson plan ideas, questions, activities, etc.
Teachers use these and unless the worksheets they use are copyrighted, there is little or no indication of where the lesson plan, activity, etc. came from.

I have asked teachers if I can have a copy of their worksheets, but I don't give them credit for it.
And the truth of the matter is that I don't know where they got it.
Did they create it or did they get it from the original person or did they get it from someone else who "borrowed/stole" it from the original person?
One worksheet I use on how to embed quotations didn't have any sources cited (a local high school teacher had used it with her students, and I liked it so borrowed, but I changed it up a bit.)
I ended up looking for it online, and the only one I found online said, "stolen liberally from a variety of sources."

This is one of those super gray-area issues that make me unable to give any student hell about what they are or are not doing.

My goal is to have a very open and honest conversation and guide them so that they can avoid making similar mistakes in future (when the consequences might be much harsher).

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The dress code as it nears possible change

Yesterday I attended the SBDM meeting about dress code.
This was not a "vote" but a first-read of the changes that parents and students would like to see made.
There will be a second read next month followed by a vote.

I have mixed feelings about the whole entire thing.

On the one hand, I'm glad that many of the dress code proposals are being discussed.
A discussion is needed.

One of the SBDM parents who has worked with other parents on developing the revised code was very clear about what the thinking was behind the changes and what concerns exist.
She was an effective advocate.
It helped that there were a handful of parents attending who could bear witness to the conversation and the discussion.
The news media was there, too, which doesn't hurt.

I watched a TedTalk today about how important it is to ask questions.

Last night's meeting was a good reminder of why it is critical to ask things like, "Why do we even have this rule? What were we thinking when we made it in the first place?"
Because sometimes the reasons why a rule was created no longer exist or they exist in a different way and because we haven't thought about why the rule was created, we don't revise it when we should.
We get stuck in a "that's the way we've always done it" routine.
I saw that in action at the meeting.

But I'd be lying if I said that, given everything I know, I don't feel that getting a new dress code is cause for celebration.
I will not feel a sense of victory when all this is said and done.

What I noticed with my own eyes and ears is that there is a palpable fear on the part of teachers (or at least those on SBDM) about what these dress codes will mean, and I'm not sure I understand it.

It is hard for me to empathize because dress codes are not a hill I choose to die on.
I didn't spend one second focused on what kids in my class were wearing when I was in the classroom full-time or when I'm in a classroom subbing.
My focus is 1. are they learning and 2. are they respectful in the ways that truly matter.

I nailed kids on lying to me and cheating on homework because that matters.
I nailed kids on not doing their work because they could do it, and I knew it, and that matters.
Whether they had rips in their jeans at the thigh matters not one iota.
I personally believe that some kids who know a teacher makes a stink about dress code will actively violate the dress code for the pleasure of seeing their teacher's head pop off.
(This sounds like something I might do, to be honest.)

I'm not saying their fear is unwarranted; I simply don't get it.

What I heard with my own ears is that some teachers look at this incident as "an unhappy parent complaining to the media" (which I think means me).
And I know that this same song was said to parents at the district's showcase of schools.
Things like, "Oh, the news reports are overstated. It was just one angry parent."

So in the same way that I don't "get" their concerns, they don't seem to "get" parents' concerns about girls being disproportionately impacted by dress code restrictions.

And what that says to me is that there is a culture issue, a climate issue that cannot be remedied by changing a dress code.
The dress code may be changed, but the mindset will not.
And so if this ends up being a "victory," it won't really feel like one.
While I think I knew this would be the case, it still feels a little disappointing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Year 22

Things I've learned in and/or realized after 22 years of marriage.

1. You do get to the point where you don't actually remember how many years you've been married. I think after 20, you lose count. Sorta like how you stop counting months at some point when the newness of your baby wears off.

2. My parents have been married for 48 years. Every year, they ask each other if they want to do another year. I think that is probably a really good way to look at it.

Because the idea of forever, especially when you're in a thick funk of "Why in God's name haven't I run away from this person and the children we created?" is just not appealing.

3. In the moments when I'm not trying to make my brain better and stronger, I read People magazine. I recently read about a long-term non-married couple that broke up (Andrew Cuomo and Sandra Lee). Their statement was: "Over the recent past, we have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship."

When I think about the couples I know who have been married 20+ years, they don't ooze romance; but they are deep friends.

It always makes me sad when couples split up, even though I know these breakups are truly for the best for these people as individuals (and for their families).

4. It is important to keep your expectations of marriage on the higher end of low.

I do not wear sexy underwear or dress like a French maid or say particularly nice things to my husband. I would not, under any circumstances, be defined as a fantastic wife. But my husband would not be defined as a fantastic husband.

I think people expect an awful lot out of marriage, which is fine as long as both people and the circumstances they are in make those expectations attainable.

What I am finding though, is that as children get older and you push toward age 50 and beyond it, you start to encounter all sorts of body and health and hormone-related issues that make life far, far more complicated than you ever dreamed possible. (Especially when you can still remember complaining about how hard it was to raise little kids. And it was hard except for that their toddler and young child problems were colors of sippy cups which were cheap and easy to solve.)

5. I have realized that

  • the grass isn't greener
  • the road not taken is littered with brambles
  • the glass slipper is uncomfortable as fuck.

After 22 years, I'm going to have moments where I love him and moments where I want to bash his head in with an iron skillet (why didn't I take one of Papaw's iron skillets after he died?)

He has these moments with me.

It doesn't matter who I was with. And there are some people I would want to bash their heads in after 22 minutes seconds.

We're compatible.
We make each other laugh.
Those things are pretty good, so why spend a lot of useless energy wondering about what might have happened if.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Am I the only person who sees the problem with this?

Prior to the first day of school, I checked the district's bus finder app to determine where my son would catch the bus on the first day (when I made him ride in both the morning and afternoon).
He stood at the stop, the bus came, and then the bus completely blew past him and went to the other side of the neighborhood.
It didn't slow down. It didn't stop. It didn't collect $200.

And my response to myself was, "What the fuck?"
Because the bus finder app shows the only stop for this bus and our address is the intersection closest to our house.

So I called the bus compound, and they radioed the driver who came back to pick up my son.
His response was, "I've been driving this bus for a long time, and I've never picked up here."
My response to him was, "Well, the bus finder app shows this as being the stop so I guess ya'll better figure out your stuff."

G has been dropped off at the correct intersection (per the bus finder app) ever since.
Until the other day, when he was dropped off in front of our house.
Which was weird.
And then today he was dropped off on the other side of the neighborhood (see first day of school story above).

So I checked the bus finder to see if it had changed, and it has not.
Same as before school began.
Same as on the first day of school.

I called the compound and was told by some lady who wasn't especially nice, "Your kid can walk. There's no permanent bus driver."
So I called the compound OVER that compound and said to the nicer lady who actually listened to what my issue was:
1. I know bus drivers have difficult jobs.
2. My son can walk; that is not the problem.
3. The problem is that whether the bus driver has driven a bus for 10 years or 10 minutes, shouldn't the bus driver, whether permanent or temporary, follow the map that PARENTS FOLLOW PER THE DISTRICT BUS FINDER APP?

Because my kid is old enough to walk a block or three home, but what if he was in first grade?
What if he was autistic or had some issue that made it difficult for him to deviate from a routine (and, honestly, OCD is kinda that way).
What if a grandparent was supposed to get him from the bus dropoff but the bus driver drops off on the other side, and the grandparent doesn't know about it.

I know, I know.
I'm too focused on this whole "consistency" thing.
I'm beginning to think that it is I who has the problem.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

If I develop a drinking problem, it's my middle child's fault

In my 15 years of mothering, I've gotten pretty good at feeling like I sorta know what I'm doing.
The kids have survived all these years, right?

But I have decided that getting my middle child through middle school is going to result in me developing a serious drinking problem.
I can't even begin to think what a nightmare getting through high school will be.
I think at some point, I will move into an apartment and leave my husband and G to their own devices, figuring out how to fix dinner together.
That's assuming the stress of raising this kid to near adulthood doesn't actually kill me.

I love my son, but he is an ass.
Some of his assness is because he is 12.
Some of his assness is because he has OCD/anxiety and takes his frustrations with these out on the people he knows will love him no matter what.
Some of his assness is simply his personality.
He is the trifecta of assness.

Tonight he did one question in an ELA packet.
One question took one hour, mostly because he was being an ass.

He wants to mansplain how to write open-response answers with text evidence like I have no freaking clue what I'm doing.
Like I haven't read and annotated this book--which I have.
Like I haven't taught this book to middle schoolers--which I have.

He asks for my help and then argues with me while I'm trying to help him.

It's like all the stuff I learned about parenting my daughter doesn't actually count because she and G could not be more different.
I didn't worry about her getting through middle school.
I didn't become one of "those moms" that get notifications from the grading portal all the time.
I didn't have to go to conferences on non-conference days to figure out why the actual heck my male child cannot seem to get his paper turned in when the kid doesn't even use his locker.

I am now all of those things, and I hate it.