The Teacher just Stifled the Mother in Me

What do you mean people want to watch my classroom?

 

I work to create an atmosphere of safety in my class.  You may not understand it, but I need people to respect it.

 

Here is the reality that I live in:

 

You want me to take a child and convince that child that they should listen to me… care about what I have to say… and learn from me?  Then you have to give me the space to say those things.  I need to be able to talk to my students.  I need for them to be able to talk to me.  I need to be able to connect to them.  It is essential.

 

I tell them.. Unless you are going to hurt yourself or someone else, we are going to be ok. They know that I will let them know before I call home about concerns.  They know I will tell them before I go to guidance.  They know I will treat them like adults.  My students talk to me.

 

Because we talk, they learn.  They don’t shut down when the door closes.  Often we will be studying China’s one baby policy and switch to a conversation about Octomom and then the Duggars and then back to China’s population problems.  You know what happens on those days?  They remember…. Because they watch Octomom and the Duggars on TV and they have a way to connect this information.  This is good teaching, people.   I give my students the space to express their opinions on Octomom and the Duggars because they will remember our conversation.  And then they will remember that China has a growing population problem.  We may add in adoption stories to further enhance their connections. 

 

How can I have this safe space when people are watching?  What if it is a student’s parent? Or parent’s best friend?  How will I get the students to that level of trust where we can talk openly when they don’t know who is on the other side of the mirrored glass?

 

And …. that is the teacher who still lives inside of me talking.

 

Such a debate that rages in me.  Read my Mother’s point of view HERE

 

Truth? I still Love Teaching. **sigh** So, After reading both – hit me with it… what do you think?

The Mother kills the Teacher in Me

I have this fear.IMG_0341[1]

 

It is better when I talk about it.

 

You see… I am 2 halves of the same coin.  I am a teacher.  One of my 8 years teaching was actually in special education.

 

I am a mother.  One of my children has special needs and will be in a special education class for at least part of the day.

 

In this world of special needs I find myself compelled to offer advice on IEP questions when my newfound friends ask them.  I can’t stop myself.  I can feel their anxiety.  I understand their fears.  I relate to their worries.

 

From a teacher’s perspective, the things I want for my child are almost unreasonable.  Almost. 

 

If Alexander went to school right now, he would be non-verbal.  This is one of my biggest fears.  He will not be able to tell me about his day.  The twins, at age 3, with their muddled version of reality, can at least give me a inkling of their day.  They can tell me if they saw someone or what they had to eat.

 

Once… I worked in a home for adults with developmental disabilities. One man ate, but had no teeth (they used to pull them when you were institutionalized so you didn’t bite people) and he needed his food pureed.  I watched a grown woman put everything from dinner in one blender and puree it together into one disgusting blob.  Then she put it in front of him and told him to eat it.  She was his caregiver.  And – for the record – I did not report her.

 

Will Anyone Report This Woman If She Does This To My Son?

 

IMG_0718I believe in inclusion. In our house, Alexander is included in everything. He eats at the table with us.  He takes a bath with the twins. He folds his hands in prayer when we pray our bedtime prayers. He brushes his teeth when they brush their teeth.  Would it be easier to just leave him somewhere while we did our bedtime our routine?  YES.  But that is not fair, to the twins or Alexander.  Tonight, Alexander raised his hands up to hug his siblings.  He turns the pages on a book appropriately.  He holds a spoon.  He giggles when his siblings get into trouble.  He is motivated to do things with them. Because he is included.  It takes a lot of effort to make sure we adapt our day to include him in everyday activities.  It takes a lot of time to make sure he is able to do these things. As a parent, I know my child will best benefit from this follow through in school.  As a former teacher, I realize his teachers will probably hate me for expecting this.

 

Not only this, but Alexander will never be able to tell me if he sits in a classroom and stares at a wall everyday. (I’ve seen it happen.)  Alexander will never be able to tell me if his teacher’s nickname for him is “Special Ed” (the kid’s name was Ed.. and yes, I witnessed it.) Alexander will never be able to tell me if he was offered food orally before it was just “shoved in his tube.”  Because honestly? If you are in a rush… no one wants to spend 45 minutes trying to orally feed him and then another 45 feeding him through his tube.  **sigh**

 

I really want to put a video camera on him so I can see and hear what happens all day. That is how protective of him I am.

 

Because…   Who will Report People if they do something to my Son?

 

As a teacher, if a parent told me they were wiring a student to be in my classroom because they didn’t trust that I would do what was best for him or her I would feel betrayed.  I pledged my career to take care of students.  As a teacher, it was my mission.

 

IMG_0278[1]Today, there is no acceptable policy for me videotaping my son’s classroom all day.  If I were in an IEP meeting today, I would request inclusion for as much of the day as possible.  I would request it in writing.  Either hours or specific times.  I would request a written note for every time my child was excluded from an activity that he should have been included in.  (As much work as it might be to include Alexander, writing a note of explanation is more work.)  I would request a log of how much food was given orally. And how much was given through the tube.  I would want a private aid with Alexander at all times due to his seizure activity.  I would want as much PT, OT, DT, VT, ST, every stinking Therapy we could get. You know why? Because they work.  Today.. Alexander sat for 2 minutes unassisted during PT. Several times.

 

Teachers will hate me.  It would be better if I could have a video camera. Because I can’t trust that this won’t happen. 

 

I’m scared for my child who doesn’t speak for himself.

 

What would you do?  Do you trust your school?  What if your child couldn’t speak?  What would you want in an IEP?

 

** PS: I don’t want to put limitation on  Alexander.  God can do all things.  But, I am also a realist.  There are times when it is ok to embrace the life you might have.**

How to Raise a Child who is Not a Bigot

Step 1:  Get a friend who doesn’t look exactly like you.  If all your friends look exactly the same – and that is exactly like you … then you need to find a new social scene.  I’m serious.  If you want your children to understand the value of diversity – then be diverse.  You have to practice what you preach.  If you DON’T have a friend with a different skin tone or style of dress or attitude… then assess why that is.  Why is it that others have diverse friends and you don’t?  It really isn’t hard. People are people. You just need to talk to some new people.  I’m not saying make a “token” white/black/Asian/ etc. friend.  I’m saying – make some real friends. Start looking past the color of someone’s skin or the way they dress and find some new friends.

 

Step 2:  Find some things in your community – and take your children to do them.  Instead of signing your kids up YMCA sports, why don’t you take your kids to the local recreation center and sign up for some of the other team activities?  Many times you will find your horizons broadened by allowing yourself to enjoy some activities that are free or reduced cost.  Our family also went to an “Adult Day Care” today. We went with our church and sang Bible songs. The twins were in complete awe of the experience.  Yes, the selfish part of me wants them to be comfortable with an adult who has a body tic or possibly verbalizes without control.  But, I believe I would have taken them even if we didn’t have Alexander.  I used to work at this center and have fond memories of time spent with people who find joy in the smallest of things.

 

Step 3: Give Back.  Volunteer at a food bank or serve food at a shelter.  You don’t have to be wealthy to give time.  It is the best donation and it is free.  This year our family has applied to allow a child from an urban area to come stay with us and experience “country” life for a week.  Small things like fireworks, riding a bike, hiking the mountains, …. it costs us nothing. But we are so excited!!! We have an opportunity to give something to someone else. (ps. will not be blogging about that for obvious privacy reasons).  Can you find a program to GIVE to?

 

Step 4: The most important step – Accept your child for the person they become.  Encourage your child to grow into their “authentic self.”  They shouldn’t have to live life trying to meet someone else’s expectations.  Tell your child that you love them, no matter what.  There are words of affection that pass between the mouths of my children and myself almost hourly.  People actually say, “awww” when they hear Addison say things like, “I love you so much Mommy.” or “I love you all the time.”  Where do you think she learned those phrases?  I don’t love her only if she becomes a lawyer and lives the life I imagined for her.  I love her no matter what – all the time. Tell your children you do also.

 

Complete these 4 steps – and your child will learn that diversity isn’t a word people toss around to make themselves look good.  It is a lifestyle – that can become part of your routine when you put words into actions.

Now it is my turn… What would you add to the list?  To make it better?  And.. As always – Thanks Shell, for letting me share something from my heart.

Lesson 1: Domestic Violence

There have been times I’ve discussed teaching on the blog.  I’ve been deliberately vague – because I was still teaching. 

 

I talked about How I Told My Students about Alexander the first year back… And how I told them the Second Time.  I blogged about how My Students Saved Me from drowning in Special Needs, and I blogged my farewell Letters to my Students.  I even blogged my frustration for Students who Didn’t Graduate, but I have never posted a lesson on – line.  *Well.. I have some lessons on the internet – but not here *

 

And… some of them – I am really proud of.  Would you like to know what it is really like in my classroom?  How about I show you one of the most controversial lessons I’ve ever taught?  And, how it changed my life and the life of my kids.

 

It involves an Eminem Video, Domestic Violence, and a hard look at the relationships between people in those situations.

 

So … here goes. I taught Sociology.  It is the science of Societies.  But, I really taught it as “Sociological Lessons.”

 

** Preface:  I used to have students find a song on the radio that deals with something they learned in class.  Since there are a TON of songs that deal with problems or issues in society – this is a super easy assignment. **

For their song, they had to: Name the Song / Artist of the Song / What the song seemed like it was about at first glance / And then – What the song was Really About.

 

Example:  Fast Car by Tracy Chapman.  At first glance, it seems like a person wants a “fast car.”  When you listen closer, you realize the song is about escaping the circumstances of her life… especially poverty.

 

This lesson has been a fun one for my students – until the year “Love the Way you Lie” came out.  For those of you who don’t know – it was a duet by Eminem and Rihanna.  I had 5 girls pick it – it is about domestic violence.  image

 

Here was the problem… 4 of those 5 girls said:

 

It was really about how much those two people loved each other and they would rather die than be apart.

 

This. Is. Not. What. That. Song. Is. About.

 

You can watch the video below.  Warning: Grandma – there are a lot of cuss words in it.

 

 

Now I was faced with a dilemma… What was I going to do about this?  How would I handle the fact that these girls thought this song was about true love?  I felt (and still do) I had a moral responsibility to discuss this.

 

1.  I showed the video in class.  Complete with cuss words.  It was important.  **I offered to let students go to the library if they thought they were going to be offended.**

 

2.  I put the lyrics on the board.  You can view them below.

 

3.  We read it like poetry.  I actually read it aloud to them, with pauses and rephrasing – so the song came out like a conversation instead of hate words.

 

4.  Would you like to know what the song is really about? 

 

In the song, Rihanna says, “I love the way you lie.”  You never really understand that until the end, when Eminem says, “Even though I know its lies” – about his promise never to hurt her again.

 

Point?  Sometimes the sweetest words exchanged between 2 people happen after an argument.  When the heat has died down and the apologies happen.  In normal relationships – the heat is .. just – an argument.  But after, we say, “I love you.”  “I’m sorry.”  “I’ll never do that again.”  Rihanna knows those words are lies, but she also loves hearing the sweet things.  This is why many people stay in abusive relationships… they want to believe those sweet words.  They love those sweet words… even when they know they are lies.

 

I’m proud of this lesson.  Yes, cuss words were shown in a video.  But – people don’t really understand the dynamics of domestic violence.  Some statistics have the ratio of 1:3 women will be victims of violence… that number is too high.  If they recognize what is happening – maybe they won’t be a victim.

 

**One more thing… My students loved this lesson.  I’m not bragging.  Even a student that I know wants to be a minister when he grows up stayed for it.  We had a long conversation about how meaningful it was to understand domestic violence.  I’ve had conversation after conversation with students about this lesson… It did make a difference for them. **

 

And – that folks… was a day in my classroom.

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Love The Way You Lie Lyrics: Eminem ft Rihanna –

(The words Bolded in Parentheses are my thoughts.)

[Chorus - Rihanna]
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
that’s alright because I like the way it hurts
just gonna stand there and hear me cry
that’s alright because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

[Eminem - Verse 1]
I can’t tell you what it really is
I can only tell you what it feels like
and right now it’s a steel knife in my windpipe (Painful)
I can’t breathe but I still fight while I can fight
as long as the wrong feels right it’s like I’m in flight
high off of love drunk from my hate (He’s high..euphoria)
it’s like I’m huffin’ paint and I love it the more I suffer, I suffocate
and right before I’m about to drown, she resuscitates me, (She saves him)

she f*&*n’ hates me and I love it (He knows she hates him, but she loves him enough to save him)

(Conversation starts here: He says:)

“ wait, where you goin’?”

(She says)
”I’m leavin’ you,”

(He says)

“ no you ain’t come back”

we’re runnin’ right back, here we go again
its so insane, cause when it’s goin’ good its goin’ great
I’m superman with the wind in his back, she’s Lois Lane (Who is Superman? Who is his true love?)
but when its bad its awful, I feel so ashamed

I snap – “whose that dude?”

“ I don’t even know his name”

I laid hands on her
I never stoop so low again
I guess I don’t know my own strength (Here – he is promising to never hurt her again.)

[chorus]

[Eminem - Verse 2]
you ever love somebody so much you can barely breathe?
when your with em you meet and neither one of you even know what hit em
got that warm fuzzy feeling (He’s describing that first love feeling)
yeah them chills used to get em
now you’re getting f*&*n’ sick of lookin’ at em
you swore you’d never hit em, never do nothin’ to hurt em
now you’re in each other’s face spewin’ venom in your words when you spit em
you push pull each other’s hair
scratch, claw, hit em throw em down pin em
so lost in the moments when you’re in em
it’s the face that’s the culprit, controls you both
so they say it’s best to go your separate ways (In abusive relationships.. Friends will tell you that you should leave)
guess that they don’t know ya
cause today that was yesterday
yesterday is over, it’s a different day (He is offering a chance to start over)
sound like broken records playin’ over
but you promised her next time you’ll show restraint
you don’t get another chance (She is trying to leave here – )
life is no Nintendo game, but you lied again
now you get to watch her leave out the window
guess that’s why they call it window pane

[Chorus]

[Eminem - Verse 3]
(He is calm here… reasoning)

now I know we said things, did things, that we didn’t mean
and we fall back into the same patterns, same routine
(He tells her they are the same.. implying they belong together.)

but your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me

when it comes to love you’re just as blinded

(Pay Attention. This is the key. Here – he pleads with her. He says the sweetest words to her. Listen to the desperation in his voice. It almost sounds like love.)
baby please come back, it wasn’t you, baby it was me
maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems
maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano
all I know is I love you too much to walk away though
come inside, pick up the bags off the sidewalk
don’t you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk?

(Again… he seems sincere. He is begging… “Look me in the eyes.”)
Told you this is my fault, look me in the eyeball
next time I’m pissed I’ll lay my fist at the drywall
next time there won’t be no next time
I apologize even though I know its lies
I’m tired of the games I just want her back
I know I’m a liar if she ever tries to f*&*n’ leave again
I’m a tie her to the bed and set this house on fire

(He says: “I apologize – even though I know its lies.” … And she stays because – She loves the way he lies. Sometimes the sweetest words exchanged between people happen after an argument. She loves those words. She believes, even though she knows he is lying – because she loves those sweet words.)

[chorus]
[End]

Go Jump off a Cliff

We did. And I would like to tell you about it.

So just sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy the twists and turns – our life is changing. Big Time.

 

I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was about 2 or 3 years old.  I would play “school” with my doll babies.  I asked for red pens for Christmas.  I took home the extra copies of printouts in elementary school to “teach” my babies all summer long.  I love teaching.  Several times this summer I posted about our ongoing dilemma concerning teaching and our family.

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The truth is – I wanted to keep going.  When I shut my door, my room is a sanctuary.  My students give me passion.  The idea that I can have a hand in helping to open their eyes to the world; helping them to think for themselves; helping them to discover the person they were meant to be… Is my dream. Was my dream. Might still be my dream. (I’m not sure.) But I know this – It cannot be my reality right now.

 

Truth number 2.  Our lives were beginning to unravel.  We made promises we couldn’t keep. (unexpected illnesses, seizures, and doctor visits.)  I have not been able to be the 100% teacher I want to be.  My students still get about 90% – and I work pretty hard to make sure that 90% is really good.  But… the laundry isn’t done. The cleaning isn’t done. We have this “cloud” of stress – that floats over our heads.  We rush home from work and busily try to keep up with the demands of running our family.  There are jobs that never end.  Most people are not still mixing formula at 1 1/2 years of age.  Most people don’t need to run a tally on calories before bed to determine how much hydration/calories our son needs.  The time that we spend doing these chores is time we can’t spend with our kids.  I had to set priorities.DSC_0443

 

My family needs to be the priority in our life.  We need to come together.  We need to lift this cloud of stress.  Our biggest dilemmas were:  Could we afford it?  And… what would we do if we lost our Nurse?

 

The nurse, believe it or not – was a big stressor for us. With 3 year old twins, they are demanding in their own right.  I love every moment with them, but they need my attention.  I don’t often think of all of Alexander’s “needs,” but I did when we sat down to write letters to the insurance companies.  That list is so stinking long.  To feed Alexander – it can take an hour or two.  (The twins don’t sit quietly during this time.)  Alexander gets specific medicine at specific times.  If I am distracted, he could miss a dose – and have a seizure.  Which brings me to the safety of it all.  What if Alexander had a seizure?  What would I do about the twins?  We aren’t talking about 5 minute seizures…. we are talking about 5 hour seizures.  They need to be timed.  Medicine is administered.  Emergency Personnel is called.   I can’t be distracted by the twins screaming in the background.  And then there is the issue of the quality of our life.  Alexander gets 9 therapies a week.  If we were home without our Nurse, we would be trapped in the house.  There are so many reasons her place here is irreplaceable.DSC_0451

We should have known by January 1, 2012.  We had been putting things in place.  Trying to get everything aligned.  Readying for this “break.”  The problem was – by the first week of January, we still did not know if we would have our nurse or not.

 

I prayed.  That’s right. I prayed.  I prayed basically day and night.  For some sign…. What was I supposed to do?  And then it came to me… as clear as day.

 

“Jump off that cliff.  I will catch you.  I always have.

 

It is true.  God has always caught us.  We planned for one baby – due in May. We got 2 – born in October.  We did not plan to add Special Needs to our list of “things to do.”  But Alexander has been this amazing blessing.  God always catches us.

 

So I told Ray.  He was completely flabbergasted.  But it is hard to argue with, “God told me to.”  I called work.  I put in my notice.  With no word on our nursing situation.  With no promise we could make it. We jumped off the cliff of life and into God’s arms.  Completely blind.  With complete conviction that God would take care of us.

 

4 days later, received word that we were approved for our nursing hours.  We just refinanced our house and I believe we will make it.  And just 2 days ago we learned Alexander’s persistent ear infections are now a priority.  We are a “rush” job to get tubes and will have them placed in 10 days.  (FYI… as of this morning, we are on our 10th infection since September.)

 

Jump.  Jump.  Jump.  Right now – we are jumping for joy.  But, before you can jump for joy – pray – “What should I do?” And then listen.  Even if that means Jumping off a cliff.  God will catch you.

 

So… was there ever a time you “jumped” and God caught you? 

Randoms… Just an Update

For those of you who didn’t know – our whole family has been laced with sickness for the last week and a half.  We thought it started with Alexander, went to Addison, then to Andrew, and then back to Alexander.  The reason there were no pictures of Alexander last weekend at the twin’s birthday party was – he was feeling so poorly.

 

When it was all said and done, we ended up with 3 doctor visits in 8 days.    Each time we went to the doctor, they didn’t give us medicine because they said it was a virus.  SO…. we were hesitant to take Alexander out needlessly when they weren’t going to give us anything for it anyway.  We basically didn’t sleep all week because we were on fever spike / seizure watch.  Many times seizures are triggered by fever spikes.

 

Wednesday night, I posted THIS out of sheer exhaustion.  I could actually feel the cough in his chest.  I almost called the doctor several times over the night, but I knew they would have sent us to the ER… and if you aren’t sick when you go into the ER, you will be sick by the time you get out.  In the end, we decided to wait it out.

 

The next morning, I felt good about going to work.  Alexander’s fever seemed to break and I couldn’t “feel” it in his chest anymore.  I decided to call the doctor when they opened after I got to work to get some advice.

 

IMG_0298

Thank goodness we have a nurse.  When she took his vitals in the morning, she heard congestion in his lungs.  She called me immediately.  Did I mention she is amazing?  This set off a chain reaction of events:

* I call the doctor immediately

* They want us to come in immediately

* I have to leave work again ….

Turns out… we were about as close to pneumonia as you can come.   And we were very close to being sent to Hershey to make sure it was controlled.  sigh

 

I forgot to worry about pneumonia.  That is the truth…. I worry about seizures, I forgot about the other things that could come attack his little body.  We are in this weird place – the twins know and want to do things.  The winter can be a dangerous place for kids with WHS.  Now I remember – all the posts – from all of our new WHS friends – about how they hate winter.  Now I get it.

 

We were ultimately able to come home… with breathing treatments.  and Thank goodness we have a nurse who could show me how to use everything and monitor his vitals for the rest of the day.

 

As it turns out, Alexander turned a corner that evening and has been slowly traveling the road to recovery since.

 

This wasn’t even the story I really wanted to tell.  You see – Alexander’s illness is really only the prolog to this:

 

I feel a little overwhelmed at work.  I thought this year would be different… no more rushing out.  The doctor’s appointments are less and less frequent…  The only thing I really think I’m doing right at work is reaching the kids.  But then I think… isn’t that what its all about?

 

Here is the letter I wrote to my students on Thursday morning.  I left before we were able to talk about it. When I returned, they asked me why I had left so suddenly.  I told them Alexander was sick, but now is better.  They then wanted to discuss the letter in the back … that directly related to our topic of the day deviance.

IMG_0296

I told them the story about when we received 9 cases of Ellacare instead of 9 cans.  I asked them what they would’ve done.  We discussed all of the options.  They wanted to know what I did.

One girl who had me before said she, “knew.”

I asked her how she knew.

She said, “Because I know you.”

I asked her what I decided…

She said, “You gave it back. Because it was the right thing to do… I know that’s what you did.”

 

How cool is that?

 

That conversation led us to THIS ONE about a limited number of resources and the drain on our economy.  Specifically the drain by people who might not contribute.  The deep conversation of people who want to change the world, who love my son, who know my pride, and can now grasp the reality of what we must look like to people who don’t know us… a vacuum on the economy.

 

I need to do this.  I know that lives are being changed.  I know that those students left that class thinking about how to be a better person.  How to solve the world’s problems.  How to see life in shades of grey.

 

So …. my question is … again – How can I continue to make a difference like this and somehow get around all the bureaucratic things that make me feel overwhelmed?

If you are reading this and have a suggestion – I would love to hear it.

** And by bureaucratic – I mean no disrespect to my specific place of employment.  There is bureaucracy everywhere….. this is sort of a universal thing **

Friday’s Confession Booth: The final Chapter

Welcome to Friday’s Confession Booth. To participate – you write a “Confession Post.” It doesn’t have to be serious, and you can read more about them HERE. Make sure you Enter the link-up below.  Then grab the button and place it in your post to link back and share with everyone’s confessions.

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Today, I’m “confessing” for the last time.  I’m feeling more and more pressure to “confess” – and think I want to evolve it into something different.  I’ve actually been thinking about doing something with pictures and maybe on a different day… so we will see. 

Here is my confession.  I’ve cried 3 times this week.  Each time has involved students.

Earlier this week we did a “respect” building activity in some of my classes.  They had to write lists of qualities they liked about each other.  (I’m sure you’ve all heard about a version of this activity.) It is a great reminder to all about how amazing they are.  The lesson was amazing. Just awesome.  I loved every minute of seeing their faces as they read what their peers wrote about them.  Then came my last class.  They insisted I “do it too.”  So, to humor them, I made a card.  Which they all filled in turn with nice things about me.  A list… of nice things about me.  I’m not going to lie.  The minute that door shut at the end of the day, I sat down at my desk and cried.  Tears of appreciation.  I guess I needed that little card too. 

A few days ago a student drew me a picture.  She drew me with my kids and a dog.  I’m holding Alexander and the twins are sort of being drug along behind me.  And it is so sweet… So perfect.  It is like a cartoon snapshot of our house.  The fact that she took the time to draw it … for me?  The door shut and the tears came.  She gave up her time to make something special for me.

Finally… last night.  Parent’s night.  These simple words, “My kid loves your class.”  “Your class is my kid’s favorite subject.”  “My kid talks about your class all the time.”  … These words I needed to hear.  This is why I leave my kids and go to school everyday.  I cried on the way home.

People are so quick to point out all we are doing wrong.  Sometimes it is nice to hear what you are doing right.
 
Parents,
I get asked all the time what teachers want for “Christmas” ..etc.  You know what they really want?  A hand written card that says, “I really appreciate all you do for my kid.”  That’s it.  Not a candle. Or a potholder. Or a mug. (not to sound ungrateful….) but – just a simple statement of appreciation.

Thanks for confessing with me.  If you want to do it one more time – just grab the button and link up.

The 2 headed Monster

I’m not bi-polar or manic depressive… although sometimes I feel that way. 

Mothers – picture this.  You wake up.  Babies are sleeping, and you make yourself a nice big cup of coffee.   You sip it leisurely as you catch up on your blog reading list for the morning.  You smile and feel completely blessed as you hear a soft conversation come from the children’s’ bedroom.  You let them out and….
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Everyone starts screaming for something different for breakfast.  They speak to you like you are a maid, not a mother.  You are given demands as one pulls another’s hair.  They wonder over to your freshly folded laundry and rip the towels down off their pile.  They tell you they want to help.  They scream and wake your youngest baby up.  They throw food on the floor and your house is demolished in less than 5 minutes. 

Bye. Bye. Tranquil morning.  Hello nightmarish day.  Feel a little rollercoaster coming on?

That light switch is constantly being turned on and off in my world.

My friend came into my room today and saw this:
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She is also my friend on Facebook and knows that I spent almost this entire weekend force feeding a child that didn’t want to eat and couldn’t handle the volume of calories necessary for growth and nutrition.  In fact, last night we did something we’ve never done… we used the “pump” during the day.
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She looked at my letter to my students and said, “How did that work out for you?”  I said, “Great!”  …. silence … She said, “Really?”

She saw what many people don’t.  The public persona versus the private worrier.  The *switch* that can occur on a moment’s notice.  The 2 heads of special needs.  I switch between feeling blessed and feeling frustrated

This morning I felt frustrated. Hours of phone calls with no answers.  A disagreement between doctors and pharmacists and a distrust of things that are not shown/explained to me will do that.  I don’t blindly follow.  I want explanations.  There is a discrepancy between the medicine dosage the doctor prescribed and the dosage we’ve been getting.  It is somewhere between 7 times too much and 7 times too little.  And somewhere in the middle is what Alexander needs. (Frustrated)

During my planning period I walked down to see the twins as they finished Preschool.  *switch*  They were all smiles and giggles.  They reminded me of why I fight so hard for my children.  They made me laugh as they showed me their latest project. (Blessed)

Later this afternoon, I called home to check on Alexander’s day.  *switch*  He’s eaten absolutely nothing.  sighWhat happened to my little boy who ate pancakes?  Where are you? Slipping in and out of the land of “oral?” (Frustrated)

I take another phone call.   *switch*  Alexander’s been accepted into a “preschool” program.  It will be one morning a week and is integrated with kids with special needs and kids without.  I’m thrilled that he will get all that stimulation.  (Blessed)

On the way home… the feeling of exhaustion sets in. *switch*  The antihistamines make me tired and I’ve spent the day smiling.  I find myself reflective… not happy or frustrated.

I take a few minutes to re-charge at home and *switch* The blessings flow back into my heart.  My husband is healthy.  My children are all home.  Alexander is well cared for by his nurse.  The kids are wound up and running wild.  All is right with the world.  (Blessed)

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Are you getting the picture yet?  Sometimes it doesn’t happen as quickly… sometimes the *switch* happens from moment to moment.  I decided to lay it all out on the line because I believe I am not alone.  If you ever talk or read something written by someone impacted by special needs… look closely… find the *switch*
It might seem like they fluctuate.  I’m fairly good at hiding the frustrating moments, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them.  I just wanted to put a voice to all those who *switch* as life leads them… not the other way around.

Once again, I’m pouring my heart out with Shell :

Life Lessons… take 432

Those of you who know me in real life probably know that I’ve started to write “Letters to my Students.”  Most mornings I come in and write them a note on the board.  The students have really started to respond to them and it has been pretty cool watching them come in and look on the board right away.  Someday I will probably post my pictures of letters – but for now … there were 2 “Life Lessons” I talked to my students about.

Life Lesson 1 – You can see the glass 1/2 empty or 1/2 full.  Life is how you react to situations…. I choose 1/2 full.
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Life Lesson 2 – Education is the most important thing you can ever have.  Without being too specific, I explained to my students how the doctors and I disagreed on several areas of “treatment” for Alexander.  I told them proudly how I don’t allow ANY doctor to talk to me like I am uneducated.  Because I am educated.  And… I am extremely educated about my son.  I have learned the tricks that work for him.  My education, myIMG-20110915-00312 ability to think for myself – is what has given me the courage to stand up to doctors and get the best care for Alexander.  The next time they don’t feel like being in class… they should remember that they are learning to think for themselves as much as they are learning English or history.

We are home and doing well.  We love our neurologist.  I spoke to him today and he agrees with everything I said.  We will now get another EEG to see what these new shakes are.  We will get a letter in his file and to keep with him that says – “Give Phosphenatoine ASAP.”  Just as we wanted.  Because we are educated enough to persevere even when one doctor says it isn’t important or possible.

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Today… when I bought our “winning Powerball ticket” because I was feeling awesome – I also decided to share the love.

Oh! Don’t forget to link up tomorrow for Friday’s Confession Booth!

How I told my Students.. part 2

Last year, I went back to school.  I had to tell my students something about our life.  I wasn’t really sure what or how I was going share my life’s circumstances, but I did feel compelled to tell them.  I’ve never been an especially private person and usually like to face my demons head on.  You can read about how I told my students last year HERE.
This year I needed something new.  Not only do I like to mix up my lessons, but I also had some returning students.  I didn’t want to use the exact same way / message / delivery.  I have a lot of teacher friends living parallel lives – so here is how I told them.
We all made time lines.  On our lines, we put between 3 and 5 events that changed the course of our life.  Every student did this and I did it also.  Before we wrote our cards, I explained to them how one small thing in life could change the entire course of our lives and have far reaching ramifications.  Did you know that Hitler wanted to be an artist? Imagine if he had been accepted into art school? (he applied.)  Or – How about Henry VIII?  He wanted a son so badly he created an entire new religion to divorce his wife and marry Anne Boelyn. 

I started the sharing… with my parent’s divorce.  I moved, changed school districts, made new friends, and our family did not have a lot of money on one income.  We went around and shared (private… no spilling here) other things.  It was an amazing experience of sharing.  I’m so glad I shared the divorce – it was not too sad that no one could relate, but something that was serious enough that other students felAM9553B&W1t comfortable sharing real stories.

After everyone who wanted was done… I finished.  I shared how having children changed me – first the twins – and then Alexander.  I told them about Alexander’s syndrome… what it mean for us … and how it didn’t then I dropped the bombshell.

At some point in life – something unexpected will happen to each of us.  We can let it hold us down – or use it to build us up.  Very similar to the words spoken from my “New Normal” post. 

I’m going to be honest.  It could not have been more perfect.  We had such a meaningful conversation… about life, fears, goals, dreams, and overcoming obstacles.  How amazing would it be to inspire some students enough that they remember this conversation … when that unexpected thing happens … and they chose to overcome.

So that is how I told my students – 2011 style. Photobucket

Don’t forget to link up tomorrow with Friday’s Confession Booth!

So what do you think?  Which way to you like better?  Any suggestions for next year?