Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bleeding Heart

I read the above Tweet today and I liked it.  [Funny to say, "I got a Tweet."  We used to say, "Got a phone call or got an email or got a postcard or got a letter." Now I have 8th graders that own $300 phones but they don't know how to address an envelope. That isn't funny.]  My favorite coach has been known to say, after a loss that was the fault of his own team, "Well, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory." That always makes me laugh [mostly because I think he is so funny...I'm hopelessly in love with the man] but so many times that is true.  We lower our standards, our expectations, ourselves. [And yes, that "we" most definitely includes me.  You know me well enough to know that I am not throwing stones at anyone (because throwing rocks is just mean). 99% of the time, I am talking about my own faults, failures, and flops. Sometimes, even flip flops. Yes. I am random.]

If you know me, then hopefully you know that I love teaching.  I love the kids, I love my colleagues, and I love science [yes, I am a dork]. I will be honest, though, I am slightly more than frustrated with education these days.  [Getting on soapbox]:

1. I am up to my eyeballs [that is not a hyperbole...yeah, I can use big words correctly] with stuff to do that does NOT involve teaching.  Just let me teach.  Stop filling up every single work day with more to do.  Give me time to plan and collaborate with my colleagues. 

2. Don't tell say that you are "too busy" to help with something.  There are very few people [and I do mean very few] people that are any busier than me. [No, I am not looking for your kudos and praises...just being honest.]

3. Teach the value of education, to everyone. Education isn't just about the book smarts.  Education is finding something that you like and jumping in, feet first.  Yes, as teachers, we can bore you to tears [sometimes I want to cry too] and I promise, I am working so hard not to be "that" teacher.  There are endless possibilities for every single person to find their strengths but with those endless possibilites come obstacles, stumbling blocks, and yes, WORK.  I hate to go all cliche and "Little House on the Prairie" on you but when I was growing up, I valued a challenge at school.  I wanted to know the how and why.  Today it's just about giving the answers and moving on to the next assignment. There is not much desire to be challenged anymore - by children and adults. That makes being an educator doubly difficult.  It's like a wicked trick - Take this kid far beyond their potential but you'll have to do it without much effort on their part.  [Not to be overly cynical but, if the shoe fits...] By the way, we're going to penalize you when you don't jump through all of these hoops, [many of which you've never seen because they are still at the hoop factory being changed because we love kicking a dead horse], so make doubly sure you are waving that magic wand over every student. 
[Can you sense my frustration?]

4.  Too many cracks [yes, when you are teaching middle school that can be a problem but not the kind of cracks I was speaking about - more like metaphorical cracks] and we are losing students in them.  The "Just Enough to Get By" crack is popular [and I am not talking necessarily just about the students...if we teach like this then students pick up pretty easily] and wide open.  The "I Just Want to Know the Answer" chasm [yep, that is how it is spelled]. North Carolina's personal favorite, "You Need to Know this For the Test" blackhole. ["I just took a multiple choice test and used a bubble sheet at work today," said no one ever.] And one that I hear all the time, the "Do we Have to do This?" abyss. I could go on [my sarcasm knows no end] but I will spare you the details. It takes everyone involved in the lives of our children to keep them out of the cracks [and off the crack...and keep their cracks covered because "ain't nobody got time for that"].

5. Teach compassion. Please. My heart aches for people that are treated poorly.  Growing up is hard enough. Help when you see another in need.  What a blessing you gain from lending a hand.  Why wouldn't you want to blessed by God?  We live in such an incredibly selfish world and we are teaching our children to be selfish and self-centered.  [Look no further than Twitter my friends...]  I have been told I am a bleeding heart to which I answer, "Thank you." James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  We are commanded in scripture to take care of each other.  In Matthew 25: 31-40 we see that God is commanding us to step it up and help others, no matter their circumstances.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
We must teach our children to take care of each other.  That is imperative.

[I am now going to put the soapbox back.  I have said enough.]

It's no wonder my blood pressure is up. Frustrated. I am going to bed.

As always, no matter what happens, I know my God is in control.  He wants me to know that he loves me and He has me in His hands.  I just need to give it all to him and He will carry that burden for me.

Life is just good with God...always.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Older....Not Sure About Wiser

I am 40. Yes, I belong to the 40 and over club.  I just turned 40.  No matter how I state that fact it doesn't make me feel any younger or better about getting older. I suppose I should really get over it right? [Shut up. Who asked you anyway?] 

I realized just how old Cooper believes 40 is after this lovely conversation:
Coop: So and so [he named some random NBA player but I have no clue who it was] is still playing at his age?
Me: How old is he?
Coop: He's like 42!
Well dig that man a grave and shove his other foot in since he apparently already has one foot in as he lays on his deathbed of old age!  42 is old?  I suppose when you are 14 then the answer is a yes, 42 is old. [That does not mean I need to be reminded, constantly.]

Pinterest and Twitter and the news [media in general] is not doing me any favors either.  I should become a recluse.  Every time I look, there's a fabulous looking 50 year old woman, a stunning mother of 4 that runs marathons, or one of those stay at home mom types that does the spa and the Y while the little tykes go to mother's morning out.  I look and feel like an overweight, mother of 4, with dyed hair to cover the gray, who apparently raided her grandmother's closet and sense of fashion.  Are these people I see, who seem to have it all together with looks, fashion, and health real people, with real families, and real jobs and real responsibilities?  I get to school and by 8:05am [which is sometimes when I actually get to school] and I am looking like I've worked 24 hours already.  What is the secret because I am willing to knock off a bank to pay for it right about now. [Seriously.  That was not a joke.] 

I had big plans for myself at this point and looking like a tired old hag was not on that list. [You know that is funny so go ahead and laugh as you shake your head in agreement.] I had to see the doctor today about my shoulder.  It has been aching for months and months.  I wish I could say it was from all the weights I lifted or that spin class accident or too much swimming but I am sure diving for the Doritoes or too much lifting of the ice cream is probably more fitting for me.  I am hoping for something that is easy to fix and I can start sleeping at night without shooting pain in my shoulder and arm.  The verdict? Arthritis and bursitis.  I am sorry, but when you start getting diagnosed with ailments that end with -itis then you've hit old age.  When the remedy is a shot of cortisone then you've sealed the deal. And to top it all off [yes, there is more]  my blood pressure is up. [I will now be recieving my mail at the local retirement village and buying all of my polyester at the new Hamrick's in Gastonia.]

So there you have it folks.  You've waited almost a month for this sloppy pity party and self loathing.  It will all be OK [as soon as I hit the lottery to pay for that complete makeover I need or find that fountain of youth Captain Jack stumbled upon] and I am the only one that can change all of this for me [well, the health part but I will continue to be poor and poorly dressed ~ it's in the title: 2 teachers rasising 4 kids on a little money and a lot of faith ~ pay attention!].  On a serious note [who needs to be serious?], I do need to watch the blood pressure and get myself back in shape. [OK. I heard you.  No need to beat me over the head with it old.  I got it.  I will have to fight you myself.]  

One of my favorite songs, by Sick Puppies [maybe my choice of music is the root of my issues] is titled, "You're Going Down" and a line in it says, "Cause I was never the one going down, you're the one going down."  That's what I say to being 40 and feeling old - One of us is going down and it's NOT going to be me.  I will keep you posted.  [I know some of you are saying, "Liar. You've said this before." It's not nice to call people names.] I realized how easily this amazing life could all be taken away from me by not taking care of myself.  I have too many precious people in my life that need me. So, stay tuned. [A few words of encouragement wouldn't hurt my feelings either.] 

The Shorties are all doing very well :) Softball season is going well for my favorite coach and my sweet Molly.  We are already talking about college and have visited one [private colleges are way down the list after the financial meeting] with a few more visits in the next couple of weeks. Can it already be time to talk about college? Say it ain't so!  Word of advice for those of you with little ones - once you go to middle school life hits fast forward and it's hard to make it stop.  CHERISH EVERY MINUTE! Trust me on that one.

Cooper is finishing up his last quarter as a middle schooler.  Scary thought that he'll be driving by Christmas.  Yes. The boy is still a nut. He was mortified that I, as his mother, did not know there is apparently a rather distinct division between DC Comics superheroes and Marvel Comics superheroes.  [I guess I get my my cool mom of forever card revoked.] These two groups of superheroes do not fraternize.  There are no DC/Marvel sleepovers. They do not dine together.  [Are they real or did I miss something? Better question: Do I really care? No fits both of those questions.]  Cooper and I are decorating a table for the parade of tables fundraiser at our church with the theme of "Jesus is my Superhero." I don't profess to know much but I do know Batman, Robin, or the Green Lantern will not be in attendance.

Emma continues to be my sweet hip baby.  She has planned a summer trip to the Cabbage Patch Hospital in Georgia for us this summer.  I can hardly wait! She is beginning piano lessons tomorrow afternoon.  She is super excited.  She is going to be the artsy fartsy of the brood.  I will finally have someone that will enjoy show tunes and Broadway musicals. [I took Molly to see Wicked and she loved it.  However, she was a little caught off guard that they sang so much at the beginning.  Bless.  Love her but that is something that comes from her daddy.  I took him to see Rent.  One act in to it he leans over and says, "Are they going to sing the entire time 'cause I can't understand anything!" I am guessing the term "musical" is secretly kept from some folks.] Love that sweet baby girl.  I can hardly wait to hear her tickle the ivories with one of those big flowers in her hair!!

Then there is Gabe.  He continues to be the most stubborn, hard headed youngin' in the history of planet Earth.  Tonight he took his shoe off and placed it right where everyone puts their shoes - on the kitchen counter.  He couldn't understand why I would yell at him to move it off the counter.  He and Emma are in the fun run on Saturday.  He told me tonight that he better start training for that tomorrow. I could only laugh but loved his logic.  His teacher puts them on a Kindergarten list or a 1st grade list based on their behavior everyday - he waffles between the two list and he is fine knowing this information. "Ah,  well sometimes I feel like acting like I am ready for first grade and sometimes I don't feel like it." What can you say? 

I do have some prayer requests and I've made a spot for these requests in the pages section. Please join me in prayer for these people and situations. 

As always, even after turning 40, life as a Short is just awesome:)