Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Few Brief Updates of Somewhat Lesser Import



1) A niece turned me on to Pinterest and now I can't stop.  I pin photos of clothes I probably can no longer afford or fit into, crafts I don't have time to make and houses I'll never own--but as God as my witness--I'm finally cooking for my family again. Hello, Four Ingredient Parmesan Chicken! How sad is it that you rescued my Saturday night? Made possibly even sadder because I'm admitting that--until recently--I was allowing our youngest to rely heavily on frozen burritos for the bulk of his minimum daily requirement of vitamins and iron. Next stop, Lasagna Soup.

2) These days yoga is the only thing that prevents me from having a raging case of biscuit arms.

3) Currently my husband and I are on the cusp of becoming empty nesters. With that poignant prospect comes the inevitable ruminations about inadvertent mistakes we may have made during the execution of our parenting duties. Too much discipline? Not enough? The mind reels and regret threatens to sit on my shoulder like a terrorist cell of incriminating memories.

But then? I go to work and take a gander at some of the stunning--and alarming-- examples of incompetent parenting whose back-assward sense of priority have contributed to the academic hardship cases I'm attempting to correct and I immediately feel better about our efforts. My mostly low-income school features more than a few parents who own iPads (Don't ask me how!) but won't/can't seem to buy their child school supplies or a winter coat and their kids are on free/reduced breakfast AND lunch at the parents' insistence. (See Free Coat Giveaway Day for an up-close look at the LINES of parents demanding jackets for their children. Meanwhile, they have Dish Network at home and seem surprised to learn that you--the teacher--do not.)

This year I had a father openly admit that his children did not brush their teeth because they didn't have he had never bought them toothbrushes. The tip offs for us were the orange teeth and breath that smelled like fully loaded diapers. The school wound up buying oral hygiene kids for all of this man's offspring. This father has an iPhone because I've seen it. It's interesting how people who claim to have empty pockets can find the money when the item they want gives them status, but the prospect of having children with "pirate teeth" is not something that needs attention. I have one new student who is failing every class and whose mother refused to respond to the first two of my three pleas for a conference and has only tentatively agreed to show up Monday "if nothing else comes up".  Seriously?

Pundits like to point to poverty as the main reason why so many children underperform and why their parents can't seem to help them, but I believe that this hasty assessment is a disservice to those who are really and truly destitute through no fault of their own. Not every poor person makes shitty decisions that offer them the "appearance" of having everything they want while their children suffer the consequences. It's all about priorities where the point of being responsible is to pursue the important and essential, rather than what is popular and where the ideal is based on doing as much as you can...on your own.

My own mother's parents were uneducated and poor, but their home was spotless and my mother and her siblings were provided for and encouraged to exceed their parents' own educational experiences, which they all did. My grandparents showed up at the school's Open House without having to be "bribed" with the prospect of a free pizza and a door prize. It's easy to hurl verbal darts like "white privilege", but one does not have to be white nor middle class to have common sense as well as an ingrained determination to "do it yourself" and to say otherwise is to be the worst kind of co-dependent. It's also more than a little racist.

It is at this point that I feel the Hubs and I should get some props for producing fairly normal kids who are polite and hard working, who love each other, brush their teeth and who can read silently without moving their lips. I also think my own kids should give me personal bonus points for never showing up to school wearing a tube top,  too-small sock monkey pajama pants (into the building) and chola eyebrows. It's sad because it's true.

4) I'm experimenting with drastically reducing my wine intake these days. Not because I'm worried about alcoholism (It's not THAT kind of a problem), but mainly because it only takes a couple of glasses for me to sport a face like the Crypt Keeper upon waking the next morning and then I begin retaining water like a pregnant seahorse. I'm going to start substituting with cough syrup (To break a habit...you must start a new one!) as soon as Robitussin comes in a Pinot Grigio flavor. I'll let you know when that happens.

5) Dear South Carolina: Newt Gingrich? Seriously? I'd like to punch your entire state right in the face. Newt is like Hugh Hefner's shorter/uglier/meaner brother. He's like a manatee in a blue suit, which is an unfortunate insult to manatees everywhere since their physiology requires that they remain portly. Every time I hear Newt speak I just think to myself: "Damn, human nature! You scary!" And now that your entire state thinks this nasty piece of work is the newest poster boy for Family Values,  I'm thinking the same thing about you too.  I hate election years.


8 comments:

  1. I'd like a nice sauvignon blanc for my ... no, I think I'll stick to sauvignon blanc!

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  2. I read a comment on someone elses blog that made me think. The commenter was someone who had suffered neglect/abuse/poverty or some combination thereof as a child growing up. He mentioned that not only did he arrive in adulthood with baggage and damage and no examples of what normal family life was like, but in addition to having to learn the basic social behaviors and interactions many of us take for granted, he also had to UNLEARN all the crap that had been pressed in his head by word and bad example over the years. I had never fully considered the aspect of "unlearning" deeply ingrained and subconscious thought patterns and ways of dealing with things. Hearing that simple truth from him (someone that I don't know online or IRL) really gave me insight into just how big a shitstorm a bad childhood is. Poverty is no small disadvantage, but the bigger disadvantage is parents who can't set an example or teach outright the way to function in the world.

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  3. So true, Veronica. Built into the training parlance administered to public school teachers is now the added responsibility for "teaching parents how to parent". It's ridiculous. To add insult to injury, my work day was 12 hours long on Friday. It wasn't the first and it won't be the last. The worst of it is that it prevents me from being a parent to my own kids and I resent it highly.

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  4. Sadly, often it can be said that the worst thing for a kid is his parents. And this goes for the privileged child as well, as is evidenced by the helicopter parents who continue to try to pave the way of their child well into college and even adulthood. My husband once had a mother call him to request a job interview for her son, who was almost thirty. The examples you share above are, as you can imagine, not new to me, having spent my entire 30-year career in an inner-city urban school. Recently, the school made the news again because a parent was threatened with arrest and escorted off school property. There to protest the bullying via FB of her son, she discovered he had just been suspended for fighting. She became profane and combative. In an on-camera interview at home later that day, the kid was asked if he was scared because of the FB postings. "Heck no, I ain't scared," he said with a sneer.

    O-kay.

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  5. If it wasn't for the fact that you taught high school and I'm currently in elementary, I'd say that last mom was a person we had in common. We got a new student right before Thanksgiving and on his third day he brought a cafeteria tray down on the head of one of our especially violent (bipolar) students in the ED unit. Both boys were suspended for fighting, but the mom of the boy who started it came in cursing the school and everybody in it. She's African American as is her child, but she called every teacher and adult leader in that school F*cking bitch, etc. She called all the other African American teachers by the "N" word..including one of our custodians who was simply holding the front door open for students. She called him "nothing more than a House N***er holding the door for some damn white people". Never mind that white kids constitute a microscopic portion of our school's population. She screamed and threatened our principal and since then tries to sneak into the building when she can, even though she's been banned. She enjoys writing vaguely threatening notes to the teachers, me included. We found out that she had been banned from their previous school...as well as the administration building. The legal team for our believes that she won't --ultimately--hurt us and refuses to allow us a restraining order. She has some lovely prison tats on her face. Wait...why am I a teacher? Someone remind me.

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  6. I guess everyone has regrets, but you've got three incredible kids, so no worrie there. Glad to see you online again!

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  7. Stacy come back!! Please. We miss reading you.

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Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.