A Difference of a Year

Last year was one of the worst birthdays I ever had. It cracked the top three. It was the second day on the job, and my room was far, so very far, from being ready, especially as I had freshman orientation the next day. My new key from the district didn’t work, but someone saw my distress and let me into my room to put my stuff in. So I was nearly late for the group picture. After pictures, I ran around the campus trying to find someone to help me with the key. Oh, I can’t help; go ask Mr. So-and-so. Oh, I can’t help, go ask So-and-So. Finally I got a sub key to get in my room to grab my stuff for my meeting. Which I was now late too. They were talking about teen depression and suicide. And I got triggered. Tears streamed down my face as I stood in the back until I finally had to ran as professionally as I could to the hall before collapsing in sobs. What the hell? After that meeting ended, I was able to compose myself for the next meeting, which ran long. Then I had to run to the district office to get a new key and race back to my school and my unfinished room. I nearly started crying again at all the work still left to do as my room had been completely thrashed by summer school and was a left over room from someone who had retired. Why clean up if no one is ever going to see you again? I worked as long as I could but was not nearly done. I got home just before we had to race to dinner and then to karate and then I had to drop my boys off at their dad’s. Yeah, last year really did suck.

But this year. My room was pretty much intact, and my parents and the boys came in with me on Saturday to help me. I was done with everything I could do yesterday at 1:30 but stayed until 2:30 because I had a meeting at that time. (That’s when I learned I’ll have 38 students in one period. Holy cow! I don’t even have enough desks!) Today I still had issues like no speakers, no remotes, no AC, and a leaky room. But the AC was fixed, and the remotes were found.

So imagine my delight when my phone rang during my planning time during freshman orientation. It was my mom, and I had to answer it just in case one of the boys was hurt.

Me: Hello?

Tornado A: Happy birthday to you! You live in a zoo! You look like a monkey! And you smell like one too! Happy birthday, Mama!

Me: Thanks, Baby.

Not What I Had in Mind

(Can you believe I was sick again?! {I left out all the cuss words} I have never been this sick in a year as I have in the last month. My god. I’m ready to scream. Luckily lots and lots of sleep and gargling with salt water fixed me up in 48 hours. But are you kidding me?! I’m wasting precious summer time! I had huge {HUGE} plans this summer too. Work on the blog. Read blogs. Work on the novel. Loose a few pounds {Ok, more than a few pounds; I have high hopes}. Go on adventures with the boys. Swim every day. School prep. Cub Scout prep. But I keep getting sick every other week! Gods above, I will hurt someone over this. {Probably me, trying to do more than I should.} As you can imagine, I feel very much behind and cheated. I need to rail against something. *Shakes fist angrily at a cloud*)

I also interrupt my scheduled vacation posts for today’s weird adventure.

As the Tucson heat builds and builds with our monsoons not in sight, it’s still over 100 at 6:30pm. Horrible, I know. Fahrenheit for my none American readers. Honestly, it’s a small price to pay not to shovel snow, but usually we have thunderstorms coming through by now.

But back to the blog…. As it is still pretty hot, I’ve been allowing the boys to jump in the pool before bedtime in hopes that they’ll be cooled off and ready for slumber sooner than later. I know, high hopes. Usually they’re still in their swim trunks from the afternoon swim.

Today I fell into a book and didn’t usher them into the pool. My brother, The Friendly Giant, came over and played video games with the boys instead. We went out to celebrate Tornado E’s birthday.

Around 7 pm, Tornado A asked to go swimming. I agreed.  He stripped to shorts and underwear and jumped into the pool. Huh. You know, your swim trunks are right over here?

Ten minutes later I called the other boys outside away from the tempting TV. Tornado E stripped to his underwear. Then he refused to get in because Tornado A was splashing him.

Tornado S had stripped nude. As I walked the backyard to gather steps, he walked next to me telling me about Legos and games and such. Finally I stopped walking.

Me: Tornado S, get something on and get in the pool.

He went over to the patio and put on goggles. Then he ran through the yard and jumped into the pool.

Not what I had in mind.

Wonder Woman: A Review and a Typical Mom-Blog Post

Last Wednesday, I finally took the boys to see Wonder Woman.

We had the usual misadventures. Kids not wanting to go. Kids not able to find their shoes. Red lights and crappy drivers. And oh-my-god, who decides what they want to watch at the register?!?! Are you kidding me?!

And we get there, and I sit the boys before I get the all important popcorn. Yes, I did spring for the souvenir cup because it’s WONDER WOMAN.

I was a little excited.

More so since I had just finished reading the graphic novel DC Universe Rebirth Wonder Woman Volume 2: Year One. I wasn’t a big fan of Wonder Woman growing up. I felt she was forced on me because I was a girl. My heroes were She-Ra, Red Sonja, Princess Leia, and later on, Jean Grey. But after reading vol 2 (before vol 1 because I love origin stories), I really enjoyed Wonder Woman. She was the best part of Batman v Superman. I got the animation movie a couple of weeks ago and watched it with the boys to prepare them for Wonder Woman.

Just as the DC intro started, I whispered a prayer. “Please don’t suck.”

And it was amazing! The fight scenes were amazing. Wonder Woman was amazing. She was innocent and tough, hopeful and passionate, warrior and princess. And the boys loved it.

Tornado E kept talking to Tornado S, discussing scenes and plot points. And what the hell, boys? Tornado S is my movie talker. That’s why I buy popcorn. Have some popcorn. Stop talking!

I think Tornado A, at 7 years old, was a little too young to see the movie, but I’m glad he went. This movie is so important for little girls. Representation matters. But my boys deserve female superheroes to look up to. Hell, they deserve female heroes to look up to.

Growing up with boys, loving superheros and Star Wars, growing up in the 80s, I was keenly aware of how little female representation there was. I loved Indiana Jones. I wanted to be him. I loved Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I wanted to be like them. I watched the boys have all the fun, adventuring, fighting, saving the day. I wanted it too. While Red Sonja loomed in my childhood, seeing Tank Girl was amazing. A girl, who was weird and different and drove a tank. Wow. And the little girl of me would have loved the Wonder Woman. A princess with a sword and shield. Wow.

So my review, amazing. But I love comic book movies. I adore them. But this was a well-made movie, go see it.

As for the boys. They really enjoyed it. It was a tad too long for them, but they were interested. Tornado E prefers the comic book introduction. Tornado S and Tornado A prefer the animated movie. They have the same reason. It’s about Steve Trevor, the character they really identified with. Also I think Tornado E really wanted to see more of the Amazons learning about Steve and his world before sending Diana out.

So everyone loved it. I will totally see the movie again in theaters. Now the anticipation for the next Star Wars movie begins….

I’m dying, Egypt, dying.

It’s like my favorite line from “Antony and Cleopatra” by William Shakespeare. I don’t know why. Probably because it’s so damn melodramatic. Christ, Antony, die with some dignity, man.

As for me, Friday I had to get a tooth pulled. Kids, this what you get for not going to dentist in years.  How many? That’s between my priest and me. But almost all of those years, I didn’t have dental insurance. Actually everyone was quite surprised how well my teeth held up, but because I didn’t have dental insurance, I was near-obsessive with my teeth cleaning. I got the tooth pulled none-too-soon as it turned out an abscess was forming at the root. No, I didn’t take a picture or bring it home because I would like my kids to get into hard sciences and they’re a little squeamish.

Saturday Tornado E had a swim check for Boy Scouts and a pool party. At the Scout Master’s insistence, I had a burger before rushing Tornado E to his party. Once I dropped him off, I met my family for lunch before rushing to make it to the bank before close. And then I felt a little sick. So I took a nap and woke to feeling more sick and running off to get Tornado E.

By dinner, I was sick. Was it the abscess draining into my stomach? Was it food poisoning? (I’ve had food poisoning a lot; each time makes you more susceptible to it, making me a target long before the rest of the folks.) Was it a bug? (Like my mom argues; why are we having this argument?) It doesn’t matter. The details aren’t pretty. But basically I couldn’t eat anything for well over 36 hours, and I slept nearly all day Sunday. When I wasn’t asleep, I was in a headache haze because now I was in the middle of caffeine withdrawals. Bastards.

The worst part was this was my weekend with my kids!

Oh, I understand the little envy of you parents with full custody or still happily married parents, but when you are forced to be without your kids for any amount of time on a regular basis, well, I want to spend the time I do have them with them. And seeing that during the school year I’m the hard-ass, forcing them to do everything at my house where they will get the help and push they need, I really, really love the summers where I can be the fun parent.

Don’t worry about the kids. They had a great day. They watched a Back to the Future marathon. My mom fried them homemade doughnuts for breakfast. My dad brought them home a pizza. My parents took them swimming. My dad grilled steak. My mom made funnel cakes. (Please keep in mind that I couldn’t eat any of this and my parents were aware of this fact. I am torn how to feel about this.)

Then last night Tornado E started vomiting. While I’m naturally not a very good night parent, after 13 hours of sleep (according to the FitBit), I was able to be up and helpful without any annoyance in my voice. So today Tornado E clung to his existence, not nearly as desperately as I had the day before. In fact, he was able to do his worksheets and antagonize his brothers; while, somewhere in the middle of the day, I shuddered in my caffeine withdrawals as I nursed my bland foods and clear liquids diet.

I miss my caffeine. Look how long of a post I can make over complaining about being sick.

I’m going to go nurse my headache and pray for mercy. Hopefully tomorrow I can happily resume my addiction without praying to the porcielain god. With any luck, I can get my boys back so I can take them to Wonder Woman. (Yeah, we haven’t even been able to go to the movies because this vicious micro-plague.)

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.