Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Friend Indeed

For many of you, you know Kindsay is online a lot...I don't need to be in touch with anyone because Kindsay does it for me.  She knows all my relatives, their kids, friends, co-workers, and their parents. When we had our family reunion I was so excited for everyone to actually meet Kindsay since they all knew her, and when the gathering came, she clammed up, acted uninterested, and everyone just faded away to their own groups.  Why?  Nervousness, shyness, anxiety, all of the above.  I tried to explain the best I could while she was sitting there that she wasn't actually being aloof, but was extremely nervous.  In any case, the fun was lost and they all moved on.
So Kindsay wants to know--why doesn't anyone like me?  Why doesn't anyone respond when I text them?  Why do I get unfriended or banned from Facebook?
Sadly, she really doesn't know.  She really doesn't "get it" that when she posts picture after picture of herself, she is setting herself up for ridicule and negativity.  She doesn't understand that adults, especially those of my parents' generation, don't want to chat with her all day.  She doesn't know why her peers from school, usually from the general population, don't text her back.
YES, I've explained myself blue.  Only for her to over-voice me with her overly sensitive reactions to people.
Well...sometimes tables turn, and it is Kindsay who is sought out by a friend.  One particular friend calls her maybe once a week.  She doesn't call often during the week, but when she does pick a day to call Kindsay, she will call non stop until she is given the time of day.  Even worse is that she is calling my phone.  Kindsay, amazing...never ceases to amaze me, tells me she can't talk to this girl because (her words) "I am busy.  I am on the computer, I am listening to music, I am watching my shows, I am shopping on the computer.  I do not have time for this!"  Her hands are on her hips and as she tells me and gets further down her list of what she has better to do, she is rising in excitement to the point of anger and frustration.
"Give her five to ten minutes of your time, that's all I ask," I tell her.  Lips pursed, head shaking back and forth, she tells me the girl is harassing her, she is going to call the cops, and when she moves out, she is not inviting this girl to live with her.  Five minutes...? really?
So I try psychology.
"Don't you feel bad when you try to talk to someone and they ignore you?"
I'm talking to a wall.
Kindsay fires back, "And do you know how that makes me feel?  Bad!"
Okay, I say, now you are doing it to this girl.  She just wants a friend the same way you do.
"I am getting tired of this!  I do not want her to move out with me in my own place.  I do not want her calling me.  You know what? I'm going to call her mother and tell on her!  Now, I need your computer!"
I shook my head...I'm not giving you anything until you give your friend five to ten minutes.  "Fine!" She by now is up for an Oscar.  "But you know what?  I'm going to tell her she needs to stop harassing me! I will talk to her when I want to talk, but not now--I'm busy!  And I'm sick of people ignoring me!  Now she is calling calling calling.  So you know what?  We're just going to have to see how it goes in the past!"
That is not a typo...she wants to see how things the past.  I didn't even approach that--by now just too tired.  My head feels like Exorcism trying to understand her logic.  Her reasoning is like a big ring of fire, going in a circle fueled by the heat coming off her head in her imagined fury at the gall someone has to seek her attention.  Soon she is in her room, furious at my nerve.  I can hear her talking to herself, going over and over how this is not okay.  She calls the poor girl and has ten minutes of laughter and fun.  hm.
Kindsay suddenly bursts into my room.  "OK you know what?  I told her she couldn't move out with me.  But then we started laughing and I liked talking to her so I told her sorry for what I said, I will think about letting her move out with me!"  She tells me this as-a-matter-of-fact, and what did I, her mother, know about anything...these are her revelations and none of my doing.  The time she took to tell me what she thinks, rattling off nonsense, she could've been on the computer having a go at contacting people who probably feel harassed by her.  And you know what?  You know how that makes her feel?  BAD!
Kindsay's reality?  There's only one side of the table--hers.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Opening Weekend! (whoops.)

If you didn't know this about me, I will tell you now--I love going to the movies.  I love shutting off my brain to the outside world and immerse myself into another place and time.  I'll even go alone--many times I have and will continue to--the anonymity of the darkened screening room, the maximum amount of snackage I can carry without the guilt from someone else's judgmentally widened eyes, the escape from the redundancy that is my life...ah, movie bliss.  I don't see everything, mind you! Movies that are rated R or higher will not play for me, and some PG-13 movies aren't going to be viewed in the theater by me either (only if cleaned up for television viewing, maybe.)  I also don't watch drippy tear-jerkers or sport-themed movies, unless they are raved over by the majority.  What gets me to the theater?  Action and/or historical movies will have me there on opening weekend (remember, also based on the rating and parental guides, although my parents will see just about anything.)  I love sitting in the front with the bar so I can lean back and put my feet up.  I get me a big popcorn with butter and a large diet soda (I know, I know...the one doesn't cancel out the other.)  I also go to a theater based on how they serve the popcorn.  One theater where I live will hand over the large popcorn and point me to the butter dispenser so the top five kernels get soaked while the remainder sit unscathed beneath.  The other theater, however, will fill the bag halfway, butter, then fill the rest, and butter again.  I'm so there.  They also serve Pepsi products, which also call my name.  Every now and then I'll get a bag of peanut M&Ms or Junior Mints to add the sweet with the salty and really spoil myself.  To keep my habit alive I will use my American Express rewards to buy discount tickets at Costco so I get an extra $25 for every $100 I buy.  Hey...I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't spend money on my cars (except for maintenance,) and I don't shop till I drop.  So there, I've justified the indulgence.
Now, as serious as I get about this, I have to make sure I get my seat.  In some ways I'm like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory when it comes to the movies.  He has to sit in a certain place, have a certain type of snack, and watch a certain type of movie.  Ditto~!  Anyway...
It's opening weekend for the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy.  What a beautiful combo of action, fantasy, and comedy!  I always try to arrive at the theater thirty minutes before start time so I get all my little duckies in a perfect little row.  On this occasion, I had to take my son to his friend's house, which meant leaving my husband at the theater to secure my spot while I ran to the friend's house, and then back.  Whew! Hey, so worth it.  My husband, well-trained I might add, knows where to go and what to do.  Since he doesn't want any snackage, I send him in first so I can get my goodies closer to start time.  (Don't you hate it when you're popcorn is over halfway gone and the movie trailers are barely over?)
I made great time, like you questioned that, and I went to screening room before the snack line so I could check in with my husband and set my purse down.  I walk in, the room is lowly lit, and I see him with his baseball hat on, head down, his leg is up on the bar (bam!) and he is playing on his phone.  There are a few patrons scattered around the theater, but we were still fifteen minutes from go time, and opening weekend will fill up. I spotted my husband and went up to the bar in front of him and playfully smacked the bill on his cap.  Instead of going up the stairs to the row and walking to my seat, I climbed in between the bars.  For some reason my husband always lets me squirm and awkwardly climb when I am trying to get to a seat, so this time I reached in front of me through the bars and grabbed onto his legs then arms, pulling myself up as I crawled through the narrow space.  I finally plopped down beside him and looked over at him.  Only, it wasn't him.
Just inches from my face is a stranger. His eyes are bugged out, his mouth is slightly open in dumbfoundedness (I just made that word up, but it works, right?), and he is perfectly still as though waiting for the next assault.
"You are not my husband," I say to him, but more to myself because at this point I'm having an out-of-body experience.  I realize too that I am the show, I am the pre-show entertainment for all those behind us trying not to slam their popcorn before the movie starts.  I look around with exasperation, wondering if I had gone to the right cinema, the right screen, the right planet?  I look to my right and there's my man, doo doo dee, not having looked up for a second to see my mishap, head is down with his ballcap, one foot up on the bar, and playing with his phone.  I alerted the poor doppelganger fool beside me, "Look!  See?  That's my can see he looks just like you with your head down!" Like he's feeling any better.  But to show him I'm not out of my mind I go the extra mile to convince him.  I turned back to him and apologized, but then thanked him for letting me grab onto him to pull me through the bars.  Of all the days I choose to be aggressive when I climb to my seat!  I jump up and quickly shuffle the five seats over to my husband who is still oblivious to me.  I plop down beside him, now with humiliation, not relief.  I tell him what I did and he calls me a liar.  I am not making this up!  He finds it amusing, more than amusing.  The even scarier thing for the poor man unawares was that he was alone, and even during the movie he was alone, which means he wasn't expecting anyone, so I probably really scared the holy rats out of him.  I decided that I had already made a fool of myself and I was just going to embrace the discomfort of my being in the theater.  I wasn't about to pass up my awesome seat to the awesome movie over my hasty idiocy.  I jumped up, WALKED to the end of the row (away from the husband look alike) and went to the snack bar to continue with what I started.  I actually considered buying the "wrong" guy a candy as a peace offering, or maybe it was a matter of guilt that I had shared a brief moment of my movie experience with him and he wasn't compensated for the wear and tear (I'm no ladybug on your finger when I pull myself through the bars, ahem.)  *thinking about this more deeply*~ But spending my movie money on him will eliminate a future snack item for me...nah.  Snapped out of it, over it already.  Hollywood--take me away!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Special in Special Olympics

You know you've become desensitized to something when it occurs and you stop blinking.  My extra special guy, I'll call Buddy (because that's actually what a lot of adults call him, even though it's not his real name,) continues to hit, grab, and chase staff and students.  What I don't think I mentioned is that when he realizes we aren't going to react to his shenanigans (yes, I said it) he will do something more drastic.  Like...dropping his pants and underpants.  I can count on both hands how many times he has stripped to nakedness on our campus during school hours when other students are out, especially during lunch.  It's like dinner and a show when Buddy is on one of his episodic rants to get out of being at school.  It got to the point where we put a belt on him and tighten it pretty snug so he can't pull his pants down.  He knows which buttons to push--and when, smart kid.
So I'm actually doing a little teaching last week when Buddy decided to get my attention--once again, away from the other students.  I'm at the white board helping a student write the date.  He keeps making his Ds look like Qs.  I figure I'd better do a dot-to-dot so he can trace on top of mine.  While I do that, Buddy darts up to the front of the room and starts slapping me open-handed on the back.  Smack! Smack!  I don't even look over my shoulder (is this what the district is hoping for?...that I learn to just live with this?)  Buddy's attempts to get me riled up go no where, so in front of the classroom, with three students at their seats and one at the board, Buddy pulls everything down.  The belt was on the second-to-last notch...see how we have to keep it tight?  He stands there with just a tee shirt on, still smacking me.  Smack!! Bam!! on my back, I'm still teaching the other student how to write the name of the day.  I turn to look at him and see that his pants are down, the bare moon risen, and I turn back to the board.  Funny thing is...the students didn't react either.  Snooze, yawn they say.  Is that all you got Buddy?  they think.  I pull the radio from my pant waist and call for the other teacher to come pull up his pants so I can continue teaching, which is a rare event these clogged days.  Smack!  All the while my back is on fire from being slapped.  But hey--the other student traced the D with much more accuracy this time.  Good job.
But we aren't here for Buddy today.  Kindsay has begun Special Olympic swim training.  She loves to swim. Physical activity is not on her top twenty of things she loves to do.  I don't even know that it's on the top thirty.  But when it comes to swimming, it jumps to the top ten.  She's been swimming since she was two.  I took her into my grandpa's pool and laid her on her tummy and off she went.  Little polly wog.  The only thing that kind of bites is that the swim training is being done across town...bleh...other than that, it's over two hours twice a week that she is swimming laps.  Take that Mac 'n Cheese microwave packs!  She will burn you off with a flip of her foot!  (she probably eats three of those a day.)  The problem we are having is that she isn't understanding the concept of competition.  "Mom...I want a gold medal, do I get a gold medal?  What do I have to do to get a gold medal."  Well, Kindsay, you have to win the race. You have to beat all the other kids in the race.  "If I can't get a gold medal, I don't want to do swimming.  What about 2nd or 3rd or something, am I going to get that?  oh...I don't want that, I want 1st."  Again, I say, you have to win the race, and that will require you to practice.
We are at the pool for the first practice.  There must be thirty athletes ranging in ages from fourteen to twenty-four.  They jump into the warm water with their goggles, swim caps, and uniform suits and wait for the coach's call.  Kindsay doesn't have goggles or a swim cap and her pink and black Speedo swimsuit was from Dick's Sporting Goods (Kindsay calls it the Inappropriate Sport Store.)  Nevertheless she jumps in.  Coaches line the lanes as they prepare to assist three lanes full of athletes at a time.  Their shouts of swim strokes "free stroke!" "butterfly!" "dolphin swim!" "back stroke!" fill the evening air.  Kindsay is hanging on the ropes going, "Eeeeeee, Eeeeeee, Eeeeee..."  If I can't find her among the athletes in the water I just have to follow the noise.  Finally I verbally nudge her, "Kindsay!  Start doing laps!"  Off she goes, doing a little free stroke, and then a dip, feet up, and on to doggy paddle or her sea bass swim wear she pops up and cruises on her stomach.  The other athletes are feverishly working to get to the end of the lane.  Kindsay pops up, "eeeeeeee, eeeeeeee" and continues on.  Midway through the lane she stops to hang on the rope.  "Kindsay!  Keep swimming!"  I call to her.  I'm trying to get her to take this seriously but she thinks its July at grandpa's pool.  Okay, I tell myself, she's out of shape and this is hard work, let her body adjust to the rigor.  "Eeeeeeee!"  I want to jump in the water and pull her tugboat style down the lane to finish.  The athletes then go to the edge of the pool to await more commands from coaches.  Kindsay cruises up, hangs on the rope watching the "hot" guys on the dive team next to them.  She then hangs on it to stare at the athletes next to her with their goggles and caps and stern swimming faces.  "Eeeeeeee..."  She's not mimicking a dolphin, though it does sound like Sea World.  She makes the noise because she just makes noises--it's what she does.  Coaches are asking if she's okay...what, have you never seen a special needs child?  like mine?  Just when I think she is getting the hang of the laps and lanes and spirit of the practice I look up to see her on her back, kicking her feet, hands floating beside her.  I think I saw her spout water from her mouth too.  Just la-dee-da'ing down the lane, running into athletes who see her coming because they have goggles while she heads straight for them on her back.  And then when she does her dip and cruise her four-foot long legs are bumbling around in people's faces while they are working on their gold-winning strokes.  I gave up trying to quasi-coach her from the bleachers.  I found it better to act like I'm there for someone else.  Go! kid in the scuba goggles....Go!..girl with the swim cap...uh, go! athletes that are swimming and not leisurely strolling down the watery lane.  I have to remind myself that these aren't regular Olympics, these are Special Olympics.  Everyone better get a medal, or I'm in big trouble.  Actually, none of us will ever hear the end of her torment, so we'll all be in trouble.  With that in mind, I might as well cheer her on.  Go!...girl with the best float form and dolphin imitation.  Go! Go! GO!...seriously, just go.  *sigh*

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Now What?

I've probably had the most trying year as a teacher.  It's been over eleven years since I began my teaching career, first with students with learning disabilities.  These are students who have normal intelligence, but are unable to learn like typical peers without support to tap into their learning styles.  Then, I made a leap to the moderate/severe spectrum, requiring me to get another credential, which in California meant another two plus years of schooling.  All in all, I spent thirteen years in college to become a teacher.  Odd as it sounds, right?  Shouldn't I be a doctor?  I could've spent less time and be earning significantly more money!  Hindsight...tsk tsk. 
But I can't complain. I've birthed four children and been able to see all their firsts and be with them until they went into school.  I had my first child and went to get an administrative assistant certificate...what a waste of time.  I flew through that eighteen month program without a blink of the eye.  What a bore.  Did I need that to be able to answer phones?  I was hired at a produce procurement company that brokered produce for companies nationwide and into Canada.  Three months I spent there answering phones.  I was moved up to assistant buyer and was eventually placed on the largest account.  I worked with some terrific people, and some not so terrific.  I remember one day looking at the gentlemen next to me.  They worked there many, many years, most of them without college educations, and there I sat among them, topping out at twenty-two.  What was I doing?  I didn't love the job, got paid very little, and had almost no respect being one of two women doing what I did.  It was time I did more.  With my oldest age four by then and my second child, Kindsay, just nine months old, I headed to college.  I gave birth to my first son between semesters, and then had my youngest three weeks into my credential program and returned after missing only two classes.  I barreled through, accomplishing my bachelor's, master's, and two credentials with two levels, and only two Bs the entire thirteen years without a drop of sweat from my head.  (I don't get on myself for the Bs.  One was in Calculus, and I took it at the same time I took pre-Calc, and the other was in an online pilot class for level two statistics.  It was a challenging class to do online.)  Hmph...whatever, right?  So I worked my tail off to get where I am.  Ahhh...finally--right where I want to be.  Teaching children with intellectual disabilities how to manage their lives, be independent, learn to navigate their ways into truly is rewarding when you see a child with Down syndrome accomplish a task that was foreign only months before.  I used to want to go into administration, but I've since learned that you can't be a mom first.  You have to give up many hours, uncompensated, to keep up appearances that all is well when in fact the school is a mess because higher ups lose touch with the work in the trenches.  Not only that, but the lawmakers make it more and more restrictive for school districts to do what is necessary to graduate students who are truly ready to tackle life in the way they are most suited for.  That is waaaay too frustrating for me to have to see up close.  As a teacher, I can see it from a distance, and it doesn't feel so ugly like I imagine it does from the front row. 
Snooze, bore...come on Yvette...blah blah blah, me me me.  No, I'm not great, I'm no hero, I'm not one of the noble ones (although if you haven't been in a classroom, particularly in the communities I serve, then you have absolutely no idea what awaits teachers every day unless you watch Dangerous Minds or something...there was no exaggeration in that movie whatsoever--except leave out the heart-warming ending.)  I'm not here to talk about my accomplishments--those are mediocre and done out of necessity.  What I do want to say is that I went through all that education, spent the money, time, energy to be where I wanted to be--and now I want out.
Typical job boredom?  No.  Ready for more challenging work?  No.  Feel like it isn't me?  No.  Tired of getting my butt kicked and life threatened every day?  Yes.
Here is the criminal part of teaching, especially in California, in the United States--teachers have no rights...only the students have rights, even their parents have more rights than the teachers.  What is considered appalling to many civilians is what I face daily.  I am slapped, spit on, hair-pulled, violated, and scratched just about daily, and there is nothing I can do about it.  There is a lot I've said already, so I won't go on any further at this point, but I will share with you in subsequent entries what I am dealing with this year, and probably from now on, so that you understand what the teaching trenches are burdened with.  All I ask of you, reader, is that you refrain from judging me or my fellow teachers, as we do the very best we can with what resources we have.  Unfortunately, there are no resources grand enough to subdue a student who wants to go home and will stop at nothing to make it happen, including taking me by the hair and yanking me to the ground.  I must offer this student a full day of education whether I want to or not. 
Thirteen years...thousands of get spit on?  Sounds crazy?!  That's just the tip of it.
scratches received by a student...just another day at the office
I will be writing more frequently on this--I'm a bit overwhelmed and frazzled these days, but venting through my blog releases enough to get me by.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Let's Sum Up 2013, Shall We?

It was a blur...that's all I have.  Probably the most difficult year as a teacher.  I am ready to do something else.  Teaching kids with special needs all day and then coming home to it has finally begun to deeply wear on me...meaning, I'm having to dye my hair more, exercise, and yet eat more junk food just to comfort myself.  If you think I'm joking--well, if you could ask anyone that has come into my classroom you will be told the same, "Whatever diet I was on went out the window by period 2."  Truth.
It's also been a nightmare with my youngest son.  He's in sixth grade and all the sudden failing all his subjects. How he went from honor roll to an SST (Student Study Team) is beyond my understanding.  On top of that, I had my mom watch him one day and she watched Insidious while he was there...the child hasn't left my side since October.  If he's not with me, he's carrying the poor dogs everywhere he goes.
It's also been a challenge with my oldest son becoming more like a teenager.  His love for me and need to snuggle with me has now become a secret since any touching by me in public is a NO-NO.  This day I have dreaded and never actually thought it would come because he is so affectionate with me.  He gives me a no signal with his hand, while with his eyes he is saying, "Later, Mom...not now!"  I wish I could shout to all his friends, "He still cuddles me all the time!!" but that would be for my own ego.
My oldest daughter has been my reprieve!  She's been doing so well, been happier and more eager to come home to visit...sigh.
Kindsay, well....she's Kindsay, isn't she?  Not much will change I'm afraid.  And yet, we have had a lot of fun with her lately.  We played Pictionary (Disney version) a few nights ago and she kicked all our butts.  I couldn't let her pick the picture for her to draw because we all guessed "princess"...of course that's what she'd pick, but when it was her turn to guess she was on fire!  We need those moments with her to realize she's got so much going on inside--it IS's getting out that is the real challenge.
Unfortunately, her doctor, as you've read, has wanted to "cure" her by cutting back all her meds.  Are we suffering yet?  Kinda...she's been very hyper.  She blurts oddities all day.  I'm called a "cuckoo head" about fifteen times a day, and she doesn't hold back on anyone else.  She also repeats the dogs' names all day..."Lily, Pee Wee, Lily, Pee Wee, Lily, Pee Wee..." ....once she did it for fifteen minutes straight.  The dogs at first thought they were getting something out of it.  Now their ears don't even perk up.  She better hope she never falls into a well.  Those dogs will NOT come running.
As far as her love life goes...she is "dating" a boy in her class.  She tells us, "E*** is dating me and another girl.  Yeah, he wants to date us both."  When she says 'date' she doesn't mean going out.  She doesn't go out, so how does that work when the only time the boy sees either girl is at school?  My son asks, "How does he date both of you at school?"  Kindsay said very seriously, "I have NO idea."  Love life: right where we want it.  It's weird to think that in ten months we'll be filing for conservator-ship for her so we'll have rights when she's an adult.  Sometimes I think it'll be hard to convince a judge, but then when I tried to tell her the truth about Santa, she fired up on me in his defense.  I'll tell the judge, "Ask about Santa."  If that doesn't work I'll have my family come vouch for me.  For Christmas Eve I gave each child a new set of jammies.  I bought her footie pajamas in leopard print with a cat face that sat on top of each foot.  She's 5'8" small duck, so this was a large jammie, (XL actually)...they opened them up at my mom's with all the family sitting around.  When she pulled it out she was so happy...anything that makes her feel like an infant is a great gift, so footie jammies nailed it.  I told her to go try them on and come show us.  Seconds later, and I mean seconds, she came out and stood before us.  Aaaaahhh, could be heard around the room, and then...wait...what?  My sister said, "Why does the neck part look like it's choking her?"  I looked down at her feet and the cat faces were on top like they should be.  and yet, the neck did look high.  "Turn around Kindsay."  Sure enough, there was the zipper up her back.  Kindsay, I say, how on earth did you get those on backwards?  I mean, that zipper went from her shin to neck.  She had twisted the feet around so the cats were on top, but the neck was high on her because it was supposed to be on the back.  OK all...I say...when I apply for conservator-ship, you come as my witnesses--she put her jammies on backwards.  We still have no idea how she zipped that mother up.
As far as my husband and I go...we survived another year.  I never wish the time to go by.  I never say, "I can't wait until they are grown!"  I know it will be here very soon...the Legos will be picked up and put away finally, the sound of boys wrestling and throwing couch pillows will be gone, the tees and jeans will no longer need daily washing...although I will still be hearing "Lily, Pee Wee, Lily, Pee Wee, Lily, Pee Wee....Mom--you're a cuckoo-head!"
Ah, that I am.