7/29/14

Boys will be "Boy Writers"


boywritersI am in and out of reading Boy Writers:  Reclaiming their Voices, this rainy summer morning.  The kids' sounds and voices are streaming into my ears from the living room, drawing my attention from the book occasionally.  The book is an easy read for this mom of two boys.  I get it.  This morning I read two chapters back to back, the first about the issue of violence in boys writing and the second about humor.  Somewhere in there the two overlapped and I thought, "I love this book!", then my oldest interrupted, "Do you have a washer?"  I ask, "Why?" as I get up and take down a junk box to rummage through to no avail.  "I am making something."  I look at the created 'something' in his hand, and think, is that a slingshot?  "You aren't going to shoot the washer are you?"  "No.  It's just a  noisemaker." big grin.

My son continues his search, a sign of task persistence in it's most authentic form, and I return to my book. "Take your boys humor seriously.  Look for the intelligence behind the apparent silliness."  It is so true we can easily mistake silliness for stupidity, they are not one in the same. Excited kid noises drift up from the basement when a washer is apparently found.  I think about the previous page where a teacher describes her problem of "not sharing their (boys) sense of humor" and another who acknowleges, "I don't get it." and I know it is true.  Sometimes as a parent I have moments where I don't allow myself to "get it", but when I sink down into the muck of it, feel it through their laughter, it is a great place to be sharing in their inventive, silly, clever (but admittedly not always intelligent--insert smirk here) humor.

As I draw down out of my own thoughts and again into the book in front of me, a sudden larger than life and louder than humanly possible ripping, flatulent sound accompanied by uproarious laughter fill my home while my boys thunder upstairs, whooping in boyish hilarity, into the room with me. . .'Did you hear that??!!"  I smile, even laugh, and think to myself, "How could I not?" while I absorb the proud smiles of boys in the midst of creating their own fun and . . . materials for writing.  I may have to share this book with their teachers this fall.


7/22/14

I Woke and the Clock said 2:00 AM. . .again

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"By the pricking of my 
thumbs,
Something wicked this 
way comes."  ----Shakespear (Macbeth)

As I sit down to write this morning, I am not sure I am far enough from the awefulness of the story to put it down in words, but the telling of it might be a help to me or someone.  Just a few nights ago I lay my head to sleep and woke a few hours later to a nightmare that would last for days, at least, and may continue who knows how long. . .

My husband uncharacteristically threw up the sash to bring in the dry cool air that swept in earlier that evening, and unbeknown to him, something else crept in as I slept and he tossed.  I wonder what would have happened, or not, if that night had been like many other?  What if my husband had come in and shut the windows tight, would events have unfolded as they did?  But "what if's" are seldom useful and that is the case here and now.

"How can you sleep?" my husband grumbled in a strained voice.  "There is something in here, I thought I was crazy, but there is something. . .can you see it?"  

I think I must have groaned trying to drag my conciousness out of slumber and blinking my eyes clear till I could see.  He was prone and propped on his elbows staring down. . .at his pillow.   "Can you see them?" he strained again.  I stared down too, and I did see, or did I?  They were tiny like flecks of pepper, but they were moving, quickly.  "Fleas?!!  Where did we get fleas?!!  We don't even have pets??"  Then, I began to feel them as well as see them or was it my imagination?  The sensation of something creeping on my skin was too much, we both jumped out of bed and began ripping off the sheets.  I ran them straight to the laundry and put what didn't fit in a large plastic bag, tied it off, and then showered.

My night eyes hurt trying to focus on the screen of my phone as I googled how to get rid of fleas, while waiting for my turn in the shower.  I got a few ideas for home remedies, applied them and showered myself.  We remade the bed and settled in once again, but not for long.  Our visitors, whoever they were, were not to be expelled so easily.  When I glanced at the clock it said in red, 2:00 AM.  

The next day I continued the laundering of sheets, bedding, pillows, clothing, little did I know the washing machine would be running for the next 36 hours non stop.  I texted my husband, "This is bad.  The clothesline is loaded with fleas.  I haven't been using it, but went to hand an item that wasn't drying well.  All the lines. WTF"  His response.  "IDK.  Maybe they're not fleas?"  then, "No time.  Google little bugs that look like fleas."  

At times like this, it becomes very apparent that Google wears the faces of both friend and foe, knowledge is the best and worst thing when facing the unknown.  It quickly became apparent that we were not dealing with fleas, fleas are actually a bit bigger, not so difficult to see.  I kept reading, and a gnawing idea was forming from the cloud in my head as I scratched a bite under my arm, on my neck. . ."Something wicked this way comes.", the telemarketer, the door to door salesman- they still do that?, bad signs.  The window was uncharacteristicaly wide open in our room.  Bird nest up in the eve.  Bird who lived there was acting strangely just the day before, chirping at me frantically when I went out that end of the house.  I thought perhaps her chicks had fledged, and she was worried I would step on one, but I didn't see a thing on the ground.  Now I wondered. . .

My suspicions were confirmed when I began to read about how bird mites will migrate when their host bird leaves the nest.  Identification is key here, and getting rid of the source, ie. the nest, is key. . .  Good information!  Then the nightmare stories (whatever you do, Don't go to birdmites.org!!!), they feed on any blood source, they can take days to exterminate.  Another page, "they can live up to nine months without a bird host"  The nightmare, I could see was far from over.  Armed with an arsenal of borax, tea tree oil, epsom salt, and insecticide we continued our battle against the creepy crawlies in the night.  Tired, but wary, we fell into bed, hopeful for peace.  

I startled awake, 2:00 in red numbers, and the thought, "They aren't gone."  My husband snored on, apparently he did not taste so sweet.  I showered, scrubbed with epsom salt and tea tree oil dressed in clean garments, after bagging and running more laundry, load number 15? 16?  I can no longer keep track.  I rolled out my yoga mat and slept fitfully, till morning, then began again, strip bedding, wash. . .everything, dry, fold, vacuume, sprinkle borax, add para mothballs (not old fashioned).  I am thankful that the problem(s) were isolated to just our room inside, no sitings elsewhere in the house, but the decks are off limits till further spraying and the clothesline will be burned and replaces as well.

My husband, armed in long clothing and bathed in OFF! with deet, continued the battle outdoors. He removed every nest and burned them, the one above our window was indeed The source.  Four dead baby birds and millions of bird mites, I thought of the mother bird yesterday.  One spray just slowed them down, another seemed to do the trick.  Peace of mind begins to set in, but this is just one battle, the war is not yet won.  That night we slept, bathed in bug repellant with an undertone of Tea Tree oil.  I don't know if it was the OFF, the removal of the source, the general sense that we were getting ahead of the problem, the toxins or just plain exhaustion, but I slept hard and didn't wake till morning.

We are not finished.  The washer and dryer are still running.  Our pillows remain in mothball filled bags, maybe I will just burn those too.  I am afraid to open them.  We change our sheets daily, and I still scrub with Tea Tree Oil and salt.  I haven't seen a mite in days, but last night I woke to see the red numbers 2:00 AM and wondered when the nightmare will really be over.





   

7/14/14

Letting Go- Farewell


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This quote turned up on a friend's FB page as I scrolled through my news feed and I thought it was just perfect, perfect message and perfectly timed. . . for me anyway. It made me smile, and it helped me to realize, I have come a long way from three years ago. I began writing this morning, but it was getting a bit long.  I was beginning to get bogged down in an old familiar suffering, then I just set it aside, and got on with my day.  So now I sit again, to try and convey a feeling from this morning that started me writing after a two week break.  Hopefully, with this quote to remind me, I can let go a bit more.

Our local bi-monthly publication is only about 24 pages and is filled with the usual "local news", happenings at the library, and local churches, mixed with occasional school or historical stories as well as fire and police updates.  My husband mentioned it had arrived as well as who was front page news, but we were away for a while and have had a busy start to summer, and I didn't really think I wanted to read it.  This morning is snagged my eye, but I didn't feel the usual shortness of breath, and steam puffing out my ears from my rage at the mere mention of the name, I just feel the echo of  a sad, sick feeling in my stomach and heart.  So I read about a local second grade teacher retiring this year.  She is a beloved teacher as can be discerned by the opening line,
"If you were lucky enough to have had a child in one of MJ's classes, then you will understand my disappointment when I discovered that my second child would not get a chance to have her as a teacher this coming fall."    
She's just not beloved by me, particularly, though she held some teacher qualities that I can admire in retrospect, particularly her passion for science and hands on experiential learning (kids never get enough of that) I don't think I will ever quite grasp the 'love thy enemy' philosophy.  I am truly sad to say that I could even think of another teacher as an enemy to begin with, but that is the crux of it. It was the impetus for my beginning this blog four years ago, to sort through my strong feelings over my son's nightmarish school experiences and the fact that I am also a teacher in my heart and soul.  So I suppose my very positive thinking friends would advise me to notice that a very bad experience with this teacher led to something good, great, wonderful, in the birth of my writing self . .and of course they would be right :)

When I mention that I found the note of her love for teaching social justice ironic, I will do so not out of mean spirit, because my son suffered by her "fair is equal" mentality.  It no longer makes me angry to think of that, just sad that an opportunity to teach the children a more compassionate meaning for fairness was lost. MJ once told me that the children would not think it fair if she did something/anything different for my son than she does for the other children, and that the children were very concerned with fairness at this age.  Rather than let them rule with their idea of fairness, wouldn't it have been lovely if she pointed out to the students. . .  If everyone in the class gets new winter boots to go with their coats, that may seem fair at first glance, yes? However, if one or two kids already have new winter boots, but have no winter coat, that fairness is clearly lost.  I have learned from my son's experiences that fair is not about everyone getting the same thing, it is about making sure each child has what they need.  And a classroom is not a place to let stagnant ideas rest, it is a place to stretch ideas, to grow them and teach.

Of course, noone is perfect, including myself.  We are all different, with different stories that make up the fabric of our lives.  I can wonder now, if it were another year, when her mother wasn't dying, her husband wasn't diagnosed with cancer, and all disjointedness of a schoolyear that goes along with all that,  would our story; mine, hers, my son's, have been a different one.  But frankly, that was only a flicker of a thought and I let it go along with the fiery anger and angst that filled me back then and I am moving further forward into the unknown with love in my heart for the lessons learned during that time.

**This is where I came from 3-4 years ago if you are a curious reader:  http://parentingandpedagogy.blogspot.com/2012/03/parenting-stress-mourning-dream.html