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 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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


When you get called into the internet principal's office for expressing your views about your work and the principal turns out to be nothing more than a blogger with a wildly inflated sense of self-importance and a tiresome ax to grind, it's a little discombobulating when said individual employs a "scorched earth policy"method of retaliation.

 And that's how I spent my summer vacation. In self-imposed blogger "time out". 

 So while I was questioning my reasons for living--as I presumed this person thought I should be doing--  I mostly erased myself from the blogosphere, deleting some decent writing that I didn't have time to save properly. I did this before reminding myself that each of us--God bless us every one!-- has the right to express opinions or relay personal experiences  (popular or not)-- at the risk of sounding like a jagweed while doing so.  However, it took awhile before I came to that realization and as a result I've spent lo these many months reluctant to do more than tool around on Facebook. The possibility that I was fully recovered came to me the other day after a brief, but rejuvenating, foray into political discourse and I apologize to anyone out there who truly believes that Rick Santorum needs to be the next President of the United States. Naturally, you're incorrect on that count, but I regret using the term bunghole.

He's actually much worse than that.

That said, everyone, even the thought sheriffs out there, are under the same obligation to play nicely in the internet sandbox. I'll be doing my best to do that here, but I've been known to play rough in self defense when the situation calls for it.  It probably won't ever come to that, though. Probably.

It's good to be back.

The Blog That Wouldn't Die

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