Let’s Be Honest

Let me be honest here. I’m stressed out. It’s the end of the school year with all sorts of functions for my boys and projects for my students. I’m trying to balance them all with the low energy of my depression.

As hectic as things will be next week, everything is falling into place almost perfectly for me to attend all the boys’ events. I was looking forward to an easy weekend without homework when I discovered that I have to reassign a project for my students since last weekend I learned I had a 80% plagiarizing rate. Are you kidding me?! It took me two days to calm down to talk to my students without screaming. They think they have seen me mad; they have not seen me mad.

As this is such a large fail rate, since this is the first time they had the opportunity to plagiarize in my class, I’ve decided for my sanity to assume they just didn’t know. So I have spent a few minutes showing them how to paraphrase, using some of the most popular sentences. They have until Friday to fix it and turn it. And if they would like to try their luck on if they can fool me and I catch them (and I will catch them), then they will be receiving an F.

So this weekend, the calm before the grading storm of final projects and essay has evaporated into a pile of grading. Thanks, kids.

My boys are excited. They’re looking forward to watching The Age of Ultron as I grade.

Soon, I hope to be on a more consistent blogging schedule and get around to reading blogs.

Nope, Never Ok, Not Ever.

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”

This year Nazis keep coming up, and it annoys the crap out of me.

Earlier in the fall in two separate class, on two separate days, two different boys gave the Nazi salute. It may help to tell you that I work in a high school that is over 90% Hispanic. And yes, both boys were Hispanic. But no matter the race, my reaction would have been the same.

You! Outside NOW!

Me: (in my mother voice) What did you do? Do you think that was respectful? Do you think that was appropriate? For my classroom? For public? Do you even know what that sign means?

Boy: (finally saying something instead of shaking his head, in a whisper voice looking at his feet) It’s just the Nazi salute Miss.

Me: (in my mother voice) “Just the Nazi salute?” Do you know what the Nazis stood for? The one pure race. Which they believed would be white. They believed all others inferior and preferred them dead. They would want you dead. And by doing that sign, you are saying you agree. With. Them.

Boy: (snaps up head to finally look me in the eye) But it was just an old German thing.

Me: No. They are Nazis still very much alive and active and everywhere. (At this point, the boy’s eyes go round.) And you are saying you’re a race traitor.

Boy: I’m… I’m sorry, Miss.

Me: And I (The Voice) Don’t ever want to see THAT sign in my class A. GAIN. (Normal teacher voice) Am I clear?

Boy: Yes, Miss. I’m sorry, Miss. I won’t do it again.

And after the second time, it hasn’t happened since.

While I hesitate to mention my work on my Mommy Blog, it brings me to what has been happening in Tornado E’s grade. With 6th graders. In a school across town with a 70% white majority. With a middle class background.

Tornado E has been coming home with some interesting stories.

Mama, the boys are talking about the Nazis. They think they’re cool. I don’t think they’re cool. I don’t like this, Mama.

So and so thinks Hitler was funny. I told him Hitler was evil, not funny. I don’t think he believed me.

Mama, so and so drew a swastika, and all the boys laughed. No, Mama, he erased it before the teacher saw.

Mama, so and so put a finger under his noise and said he was Hitler. The boys laughed. I keep telling them it’s not funny.

Mama, one of the boys said “Heil, Hitler” to one of the boys. No, Mama, the teacher didn’t hear. I don’t like this, Mama.

So the boys and I have had talks about race and privileged. We’ve talked about what to do when we are in a group of people who are saying bad things. We’ve talked about how to confront our friends.  And I decided this had to stop.

Only I dropped the ball, being a busy mom and teacher. Until I was at a 6th grade field trip, eating alone, recharging my batteries, sitting in a corner, watching the dynamics, listening.

Mumble, mumble, Nazi, mumble, weapons. Laughter. Mumble, Nazis, mumble, mumble. Laughter. Nazis, mumble, mumble. Mumble, mumble, Nazi weapons.

With the first Nazi that reached my ear, I locked on to the group of boys who were sitting far enough away from me that I couldn’t hear every word and further still from every adult, especially the teachers. So I watched them, listening. I watched them laugh and have a good time. The inflection was not what you want boys to be using when speaking of Nazis. I had enough.

So I went to the teachers and told them all about what I heard through the year so far and that Tornado E was being put into a rough spot, having to moniter his peers. I told them how I had handled it and learned that many of the kids had no idea how serious this conversation was and suggested that it be dealt as a class issue. The teachers agreed and thanked me.

Two weeks went by.

Mama, one of the boys dared another boy to do the Nazi salute. So he did. And then a bunch of them did it behind a teacher’s back.

Oh for Christ sake.

I immediately sat down and wrote the teacher about the incident.

I got a reply from the teacher a few hours later apologizing for not talking to the social studies teacher, promising it will be addressed with all the classes.

I haven’t heard of an incident since. But I swear if I do, I will march into that principal’s office first thing and demand that this nonsense end.

Man, I hate Nazis.

I’m Prepared

In college, I was walking to class when I noticed a friend on a bench, looking worriedly at the sandal in her hand, so I walked over to see what the problem was.

Me: What’s going on?

Friend: Hi, Fae. My sandal broke, and I can’t go back to the dorm until I have my next two classes. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Hey, you don’t happen to have a safety pin, do you?

Me: (Smile as I take off my backpack) I can do one better. How about a leather needle and some thread?

I took the needle out of the sewing kit.

Friend: You have a leather needle on you?

I handed her the needle and thread and shrugged.

Me: Always be prepared.

 

You should see my car. In the back, I have a tool kit which include two needle-nose pliers, two towels, two small blankets, a comforter, water, juice, two different kinds of granola bars, clothes (including underwear) for all the boys, emergency car kit, a couple of balls, a church bag (full of books, notebooks, and crayons), some hats, and a spare jacket. In the console, I keep two first aid kits, suckers, napkins, a pocket knife, a combination tool-thing, a notebook, pens, pencils, a brush, toothpicks, Q-tips, tampons, pads, tissues, trivia cards, hair ties, chapsticks, bobby pins, hand sanitizer, a book (for me in case of emergencies), glue, and tweezers. The last two are for removing cactus needles from small boys. There’s also various toys and books.

I’m always prepared.

 

You should see my purse. I have a notebook, a pencil bag (filled with pens, pencils, permanent markers, and highlighters), a flashlight, a compass, a pocket knife, a small tape measure, a cell phone charger, chopstick trainer, a hair tie, earrings, a tampon, a condom, a pad, bobby pins, safety pins, paper clips, two fruit leathers, hand sanitzer, chap stick, a tube of sunscreen, ipod, earbuds, a bunch of gift cards, my school keys, my regular keys, change (enough quarters for the boys to get a treat in a coin vending machine and enough pennies for plenty of wishes), my wallet, my sun glasses, and my cell phone.

I’m always prepared.

 

I bought the boys all small backpacks to wear while hiking and camping. Tornado A, being the youngest and not having as many hikes, got his last. Unlike his older brothers, he *loved* it. He packed his backpack up as soon as he had the opportunity.

While we were getting ready for the zoo, Tornado A was skipping around the house with his backpack on, rattling. The sound of many unnecessary toys. But, hey, can you guess that I was any different? Nope.

He skipped into the big family room and skipped back into the kitchen with his arms full of two juice boxes and a water bottle. He dropped them all on the breakfast bar.

Tornado A: Mommy! Can you please get me TWO granola bars? And TWO fruit leathers?

Me: (giving him a quizzical look) Ok, baby.

I retrieved the items from the shelves and put them by the water. Tornado A was trying to jam his juice boxes in with the toys.

Me: May I show you something?

Tornado A nodded. I unzipped a smaller pocket in the front of the backpack and put the juice boxes into the pocket. Tornado A put in the granola bars and fruit leathers. I zipped it up.

Me: Now watch.

I placed the water bottle in the side pocket and held out the backpack to Tornado A.

Me: Tada. Now let me help you in it.

I helped Tornado A in his backpack. He turned and grinned up at me.

Tornado A: I’m prepared! I have TWO snacks and TWO juice boxes! I have toys and water! I’m prepared for anything. I’m prepared.

He skipped out of the room, chanting “I’m prepared.”

Yup, that’s my kid. No doubt about it.

I Miss This

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how I don’t have a place to write about my kid stories and my mom stories. I’ve been thinking about how much I missed my blog friends. Then the other day I mentioned I once ran a mommy blog for years, and the person asked me about it. After I explained, she said wow, what an amazing experience. And it was.

So I’m going to start blogging again. I can’t promise I can do it regularly. I’m hoping to do write Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with a weekend post every now and then. You see, now I’m a full time teacher, and this is my first year teaching all Freshman under the new curriculum. Tuesday nights are karate nights… for the boys. Thursday is Cub Scout and Boy Scout nights …  for us all. But Monday is Nerd Night, and Friday is Art Night … both for me. Wednesday is Kung Fu night, but that’s only for Tornado A, and he’s done by 6:30.

This might not even work out, since I now call, email, and write my federal legislators every day. I’m looking forward to the day I can write to my state legislators. I’m working on my poetry, and I’m editing a manuscript. But who isn’t? I’m studying Spanish. Note to self, work on Spanish later. I’m also studying to take the history and government test in the summer because why wouldn’t I want to be qualified to teach more subjects? I don’t plan on giving up journaling again because that’s for me. Please, Lord, someone burn those when I die.

Beyond that, I’m raising three active, smart, funny boys, living with my parents, and fighting depression. Now you know why I keep a journal. Next stop, meditation. When I get the time.

Hopefully, I’ll see you soon.

Superstition

We stood waiting for the brides to return from their 2nd jaunt of picture taking.

Me: I remember when I was a flower girl, and I was so hungry waiting to get pictures done and over with. When I got married, I didn’t any one to suffer like that, so the ex and I met with the photographer two days before the wedding to take as many couple wedding pictures we could.

A bridesmaid: Really? You were ok with that?

Me: Sure. The ex was worried about seeing me in the wedding dress before the wedding, but I’m not superstitious. What’s the worst that could- damnit!

Vacation Recap

The weekend of the wedding began our fall break. I did a mini-vacation with the boys.

  1. Highways make the drive so much smaller. But you get to see interesting things.
  2. The Salton Sea is creepy, isolated, stinky, and creepy. I’ve got to do more research on it. Tornado E said it was something out of his nightmares.
  3. My body reminded me that I’m no longer 21 and can’t eat fast food several days in a row. Next time I’ll save more money for real restaurants.
  4. Tornado S left his toys, books, and DVD choices in Tucson. We discovered this 45 mins out of town. I decided to buy all the boys a toy and Tornado S a DVD at Walmart in California.
  5. It’s so awesome to see, hang out, and catch up with old friends. It was so sad not to have more time to hang out longer.
  6. Everyone reads every day. Those are the rules.
  7. Tornado A was thrilled to share a bed with me.
  8. I think I can do this single parent thing on vacation. I just need more money. Like a lot more. I’m not greedy, just really, really poor.
  9. When we got home, we still had several days together. So we did the zoo, worked on Cub Scout stuff, and worked on school work.
  10. Tornado S likes being dragged across the finish line of school work. He fails to realize how much he’s missing. Like movies and crafts. And ice cream.
  11. Tornado E built a fire and grilled hot dogs and bratwurst for dinner one night. For Cub Scouts. With Papi’s supervision.
  12. Tornado A has a new baby. A baby narwhale. Because it was the closet thing he could find to a unicorn at Walmart. It joins the baby unicorn, the tiny baby unicorn, the mountain lion cub, and the leopard cub. So cute.
  13. We have decided on Halloween costumes.
  14. I filled everyone’s tummy with fruits and vegetables to make up for the 5 days of fast food.
  15. After 9 days with the boys, it was hard to let their dad take them.

A Wedding

Two weekends ago, the boys and I were in the wedding of my very best friend. I’m happy for her. And thrilled for her. And I will destroy her wife if she hurts my friend.

A few things from that weekend.

  1. My boys were A-mazing. They helped when asked. They played and watched movies to stay away. They did great in the wedding.
  2. No bridesmaid loves her dress. No matter how hard the bride works at that end.
  3. Mine is not to question why. Mine is to do or die.
  4. Two brides. Two brides. Do you know what that means? Imagine a girl who has always wanted to be a bride and gets to plan her very own magical wedding. Now times it by two. I’ve never been so glad not to be a lesbian.
  5. I was never one of those girls who dreamed of a magical wedding day. I do not understand it. But I know I’m odd.
  6. Everyone’s emotions run high around weddings. Understand this. Forgive.
  7. Being in a wedding is a selfless act. Understand this. Forgive.
  8. You’re going to get hurt; you might as well see it coming. Understand this. Forgive.
  9. The kids I went to school with are really awesome.
  10. Being in a wedding party with other moms means that they get parenting and will help you out. Like cutting the nails of your screaming 8yr old, who has never been harmed in the pursuit of short nails.
  11. Brides, don’t micromanage; delegate. Be specific as you want, but delegate…. like almost everything.
  12. One of the maid of honors asked to help me with my hair. Holy crap! It was witchcraft!
  13. Is it a thing now that wedding photographers take 99% of pictures of the couple? I was asking for all sorts of pictures of other people with or without me at my wedding day. Of course, I’m odd.
  14. I had to get my shoes pre-approved. I should’ve demanded to pre-approve the bride’s shoes.
  15. I know it’s trendy. But the string of lights through the olive grove was magical. Having antique-looking furniture through the olive grove was magical. Goats? That’s just quirky.
  16. Having the kids plates be just kid-friendly food and brought out before dinner was a great idea. Also the kid goody boxes were an awesome idea.
  17. Tornado E hated his trendy hipster outfit but decided it was ok later on.
  18. Tornado S was meant to carry a cool sign that read, “Here Comes the Brides.” We forgot about it until two minutes before we walked. Damn. (Delegate.)
  19. Tornado A kept asking me to dance with him.
  20. I forgot to get a picture with my boys. Damnit.
  21. I wish my best friend and her wife the most happiest of years. I wish that they weather the storms and enjoy the smooth sailing that comes after the storms. I wish them love.