The Yellow Post It

Okay so I think I’ve started a thing in my classroom. Each month my district has a Social Emotional Learning Challenge calendar. For every school day of the month, there is a different activity that we are to complete in order to win. This month I have paid special attention to it and decided to give it a try. Well Day 1 was to have your student write out a goal for themselves and to check to see how they’ve done by the middle of the month. So, I had my students type up their goal and we put them all on our back bulletin board along with some beautifully decorated shamrocks. Well of course, me being the consummate teacher I am,  decided I should make a goal (and shamrock)as well. My goal it to write up a positive note on a post it for each student in my class and stick it  to their assignment notebook at the end of the day. With there being only 16 school days in the month of March, I had to double up and do 2 notes per day to be sure that I get everyone before we leave for spring break on 3/23. I never realized how powerful this note writing would be for my students. Now I’m noticing at the end of the day, little eyes are perking up to see who gets the yellow post it at the end of the day. Actually, it’s not so much of who is getting the post it, I think they’re just anxiously anticipating their time to get a yellow post-it. End of day arrives, students fill in their daily assignments, I sign off on their notebooks, and pass of the post its to the two lucky students. The post it recipients, go off on their way, special note in hand, take a pause and read their positive letter. I watch them read, I watch their faces light up, and I know in that moment I’ve sincerely made them feel special, noticed, and seen. For me it feels like that Christmas or birthday when you know you’ve given the perfect present.

The funny thing is, as much as they are looking to me for approval and assurance, I’m looking at them for the same. I make the letters as personalized as I can, being sure to touch on a special attribute or a special connection that is uniquely between that individual student and myself. So I’m looking at their responses as a form of approval for what I’m writing, looking for a sign of “did I get that right”? Funny how it never dawned on me that I would need validation from them as much as they need it from me. Oh the things you learn as a teacher!

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Not sure how one celebrates it. I saw mention of it on the news this morning but didn’t even think of sharing that piece of information with my class. However, by the end of the day, a few students mentioned that it was “Lady’s Day”. Some kids would ask, “well what about men’s day?”others said, “hey, I thought you get a whole month”. Then I thought, dang it, I missed a moment to glean special treatment and courtesies from my students today.

I must say, my students have found ways to honor me in the last week or so. One student, bought me a bag of chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii. The first time he got them for me was a souvenir from their family trip to Hawaii a couple months ago. He must’ve told his mom how much I liked the chocolates, because this dear sweet child came in on Tuesday with a new bag of those same delectable goodies. Beyond declaring him the #1 student in all of 5th grade, I think I will sponsor him to receive an honorary degree from Harvard University (so dramatic).

Another student of mine has taken on the role of my own personal teacher advocate. I have a few overzealous students who may get a bit out of hand with their “overzealosity” at times. It takes a toll on my more focused students who get annoyed at the behavior. Well in those moments where my few friends are off their rockers, this student will stand up and give, walk over to them, and give them a piece of his mind. The cool thing about this is that he’s not one of the “cool kids” necessarily, but when he speaks up like this, the whole class (minus my two yahoos) stands behind him. This quiet, sensitive, book wormy kid is this teachers hero/advocate. So for this young darling…I will follow him to high school and college and tell all the hot chicks who will probably ignore him that he’s the biggest jerk in town. That oughtta get him lots of attention from the ladies! You all know we don’t start appreciating the good guys until way past college.

Then I have students who can’t wait to share little anecdotes from their day or joke around with me in their own way. Other students may laugh with me as I attempt a a snazzy dance move or sing the lyrics to a song they think I wouldn’t know. Now this is not just from the last week, but the general vibe of our classroom.

So I guess I don’t need a special tribute on International Women’s Day to feel honored. It is truly an honor to work with some truly special, quirky, energetic, generous, caring, fun loving children. I really do mean this…it’s not just the wine talking…two glassess!

Good night fellow slicers!

Hump Day!!!!

Hey Fellow Slicers! Yes, it is hump day or rather the end of a hump day. Nothing too eventful. I made it to work on time with my grown woman teacher shoes (not weekend uggz). Morgan’s eye is still swollen, but apparently she will not be going blind any time soon. My work day was relatively uneventful, everyone played nice (well nice for 5th graders). I only had to use my big teacher voice maybe twice. All in all today was a good day. I even made a real life dinner, pork tenderloin cooked in the crockpot with cream of mushroom soup, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

 

Yep…today was a good day.

These Boots Are Made for Walking

Teenagers! Ugh! In every mother’s life you come to a time where you and your daughter are wearing the same sizes. This can actually be kinda cool or quite tragic. It could either mean that you have the figure of a teenager or on the tragic side it could mean that your daughter has the body of a middle aged mom. Ha! Neither is the case here. I do not have the body of a slim trim teeny bopper and she does not have the voluptuous figure of a middle aged mom. However, there is one place where our sizes are synced up…our feet! One other area where my child can infringe on my right to have something and just snatch it away. You know like everything else these little crumb snatchers take over. They take our food, our space, our t.v. time. She even has the nerve to want space in the garage for her little car. Seriously…is nothing sacred? Is nothing mine? All you mothers out there know the answer to this question…nope!

Well this morning was no different! This crazy child and her traumatic eye injury almost messed up my entire day. Almost ruined my life! Ok well the traumatic eye injury is more like dramatic eye situation. She has a sty in her eye that is causing her soooo much pain, and, of course, she’s practically blind from it. Also, she didn’t almost ruin my life or day, just caused a goofy 5 minute delay in my leaving the house for work. If you think I have a flair for the dramatic, you should see the little lady at work. Anyways, she just happens to wear both pairs of my cute, black, work boots to school today. Yep, if you’re reading this carefully you should be wondering, “how did she wear both pairs of boots to school”? Well, I will tell you. As she was getting dressed, using her one good eye, she puts on one from each pair of boots. So I guess she did not technically wear both pairs, more like 1/2 of both pairs. Anyways her little faux pas left me with limited options of presentable/comfortable footwear to wear to work. My options included, sexy black boot 2 inch heel, sexy black boot 3 inch heel, semi sexy mom black boot 1.5 inch heel, black uggz. Well being that I am over the age of 20 (just a smidge) and I’m the overseer of a class of 21 crazy kids (15 of them are boys), you tell me which option I chose.

Moral of the story: In spite of all the silly, dramatic, annoying, crumb snatching, boot stealing, space infringing things my child does, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I think about Morgan’s friend who no longer has a mom to borrow boots from or eat her last piece of cake, or climb in her bed at night and hog all the covers from. She no longer has a mom.

Better Day

Hello Blog World! I’m feeling more like my “normal” self. You see the quotes around normal and know what that means. So I mentioned a churning feeling in my stomach yesterday. Thought it was just me being so in tune with what’s going on around me that it was causing me to have an unstable stomach. But, what I didn’t tell you my friends is that I was making regular trips to my kitchen counter where the brownies I made for baby girl the other night, were located. Yeah so needless to say, today I pay for my transgressions from yesterday. LOL. But that’s okay. Outside of a little bubble in my belly (amongst other issues I will spare you the details), I’m good.

I know I complained about blogging yesterday, but I’m actually enjoying it. It truly is cathartic to just get all your emotions out through writing, for me anyway. I kinda feel like Carrie Bradshaw from my most favorite show in the history of the world Sex and the City. Only without the million dollar shoe collection, and the millionaire boyfriend, turned fiancee, turned husband. Plus she’s white and lives in New York City with no children and I’m black and live in the suburbs of Chicago and am a single mother. Yep, but I’m just like Carrie Bradshaw. I connected to the artsy fartsy writer in her. I’m so not artistic in that creative, let’s make this neat and pretty, cut, copy, glue, sew, draw, color kinda way. But I love words. I love poetry. I love languages. J’aime les langues. I bet Carrie Bradshaw was an English Lit Major.

Sometimes I forget what it is that I really enjoy doing. Adulting and working has a way of shifting you away from the things that bring you joy or even peace. If we get too far from those things, we get bogged down with the worries of the world and forget how to balance ourselves out. I am so grateful for this platform. I forgot what writing does for me, and how it helped me get through some painfully tough times in my adolescence. After I wrote my blog last night, I actually didn’t need to go out. I stayed at home and enjoyed a peaceful evening by myself, with myself and my thoughts. My frantic swerving thoughts, full of emotions, sadness, and grief, they were no longer stuck in my head, haunting me. I had released those thoughts onto my blog. After I wrote, I was left with a calm quiet, an exhale.

Now if I can only figure out how to make my site all nice and pretty like everyone else’s. No worries, I’ll be recruiting some of my co worker/fellow bloggers for a tutorial.

Day 3

So it’s day 3. I’m already over blogging. It’s Saturday, my daughter is at her dad’s house, I don’t want to do anything. Just want to chill, like deep comatose chill. Ugh…why did I agree to this.?

I’m home alone, went out earlier today to get my hair done. Came back home to do…well…nothing. That’s my deep dark secret, I’m laaaaazzzzyyyyyy. My past time consists of binge watching television shows on On Demand or Netflix and obsessing over Facebook.

Today is different though. I’m a bit restless and probably won’t stay in the house tonight. Need to get out and get some air. Put some space between myself and yesterday. You know when “it” hits you, he doesn’t quite leave you. “It” feels like that churning in your stomach that won’t settle down, or that lump in your throat you can’t swallow away.

Swerve. Tag. Let’s switch it up a bit. This morning I went outside to bring my garbage can into the garage. The sun felt about right. Felt like a March sunshine. You know, the type of sunlight that gives you a touch of heat with a slight nibble of coldness (not to be confused with the bite you get in February). There was joy and hope in that sunshine. An anticipation of springtime, newness, warm season holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th). I know I’m stretching it with Easter, but you know sometimes it’s warm on Easter Sunday.

Not a good swerve. I don’t want to be the Debby Downer of this blogging challenge but my writing is my voice and my voice is my heart and it’s hurt. I went outside this morning and truly felt joy in feeling the spring sun on my neck. I truly got excited for all the fun that spring will bring, followed by more fun times in the summer. Then I felt guilty. There’s a young lady just down the street whose world is turned upside down. Who cares about the stupid March sun.

Swerve. Yep, getting out of this house tonight. My daughter, Morgan, is okay by the way. She’s enjoying a little space and distance from this situation.

Tomorrow will be a new day. I will take in the sunshine and warmth with the nibble of cold. I will enjoy, appreciate, relish, celebrate, and envelope the blessings of this joyous new season. I wasn’t ready today, I will be ready tomorrow. “It” will not continue to pull me down.

 

 

Playing Tag

I started out today observing, soaking in my day. Gathering information in order to put it together later and blog about it. I have to tell you that from the time I woke up this morning, to the time I went to work, to the time I left my after work outing to go home, I never anticipated, I never expected to be tagged!

We’re all involved in this game of tag. You know, allowing yourself to be touched by or effected by “it”. “It” can be anything and many things. I got tagged today by “it”.

If I dig way back into my memories, I can almost pinpoint where this particular game of tag started. Way back in the 1980’s, a lady named Laurie Dan shot up an elementary school, people were hurt, people were killed…children were killed, at a grade school. I was maybe 10 at that time, so I wasn’t even aware of this peculiar game of tag. Too young to know that “it” was even a thing. I do remember “it”, I was a little scared, at that point I was just picking up on the vibes and nervous energy of the adults around me. They knew about “it”, they were involved in their own personal game of tag.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. Columbine. Still playing tag, nope not “it”. I watched the news. Felt bad for the victims, prayed for them. Still not “it”.

The older I get, it’s getting more and more difficult to not get tagged in this vicious game. I must tell you, Sandy Hook, my goodness, that one almost got me. I was at work when I found out. It was the end of the day when the school social worker told me what happened. I wanted to throw up. It took every bit of teacher super power in me not to break down in front of my class. Luckily it was close to the end of the day so I was able to make it through the day tear free (my workday anyway). I kept thinking of how earlier that day, the kindergarten teachers in my school were preparing for the gingerbread day. The kids would travel around the building looking for gingerbread men who were hidden throughout the building. They also got to make gingerbread houses. It was a special magical day for kindergarten. I felt it too. I couldn’t help but wonder if those kids at Sandy Hook Elementary were looking forward to a special day at school. Yeah, Sandy Hook, still hurts my heart today. I guess that’s the reason why I upped my tag game. Oooooh yeah…the queen of the swerve.

Parkland. I. Can. Not. I watched the news, got the facts. Okay, I can. News conference with parents of victims, I can not. News coverage of classmates, I can not. News coverage of teachers and students coming back to school this week. I. Can. Not. You see, this is how you get good at the game. Stay on the outskirts, don’t let “it” touch you. Learn the players, but don’t get involved. Don’t entertain the notion of crying with these students, teachers, and parents. Don’t you dare learn about the victims, you may get tagged, “it” may catch up to you and grab you an shake the living mess out of you. Make you have to see…see that “it” is our reality.

This morning I went in to work (day of meetings). My colleague mentions a shooting at Central Michigan University. Easy game of tag, all the way in Michigan. Pssshhht. Only 2 people, domestic incident. I won’t even. This one goes into automated tag not much effort to avoid this one. Nameless, faceless victims of violence. Better keep it that way. Don’t want “it” to come knocking down my door. It may be on the news, maybe not. Won’t dig into that story too much. I’m still hiding from Parkland. Wait…Is this hide and go seek or tag I’m playing?

Can I tell you IT CAME FOR ME TODAY!!!!!! Nameless, faceless victims become two parents whose daughter is close friends with your daughter. They become parents who you’ve indirectly coordinated outings between your teenage daughters with. They become a frantic text from your daughter begging you to come home early because her friends parents were killed by her brother. They become a plea from your child to come home because she’s afraid. They become you going into mommy mode not just for your child, but for this now orphaned teenage girl. I’ve been tagged! Now that “it” has caught up with me, what do I do? I’ve been avoiding “it” for so long because I don’t know what to do with “it”. This problem, this huge problem of gun violence. This problem of poor mental health, of drugs, of broken families, of hurt people/children, of broken systems, of broken hearts, of broken spirits, of hopelessness. This is “it” and I don’t know what to do!