Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Teachers Aren't Mean

I'm going to share something that I hope doesn't get people upset.
I know, as a parent, we hear about "mean" teachers all the time.  You know those teachers that yell, a lot.  Those teachers that don't seem to let their kids wiggle an inch without being all over them.

I get it now.

I mean, I know there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes, there may be a person out there who really is mean.  It happens.  We all wish it didn't, but it does.  I'm not talking about those people who end up on the news, because they are generally bad people, I'm talking about your every man or woman teacher who seems just to be grumpy with the kids.

This year in my troop, I have about 32 girls.  I have parents in the room with the troop and I, but let's be honest, there are many days where I feel likes its me versus them.
It isn't that I think we have an adversarial relationship.  I love those girls.  Its that I feel like I'm fighting the ocean sometimes.  I have good control.  I can usually keep them quiet, but this year, it feels a little more overwhelming than it ever has before.
I have a few that I Think are trying to give me a coronary.  I isn't that they are bad, but that they can't be still.  I mean, we meet right after school.  Those kids are tired of still.  Unfortunately, our programming needs some still in it.  It also needs some quiet.  Let me tell you how well that works.
It doesn't.
I try to adapt, but I swear there is only so much i can do.
We use a call and response for me to snap them back to attention.  Its one of those things where I yell something, and they yell something back.  We have a million of them, but my favorite is:
me: "Hocus Pocus"
Them "Everybody Focus".
Its cute, right? 
Until the 15th time in a single hour. 
Then, I get that the magic in my hocus and my pocus is just gone.

At that point, and on days like today, where I have seriously told one child to leave the P.E. teacher's bones alone no less than 5 times, separated 3 groups of kids, and found myself with a buddy (aka you cant sit by anybody but me today) all within an hour and a half that I totally get the "mean" teachers.
They can't help it.  They aren't mean, they are tired. 
They aren't mean, but they are sure that if they give an inch, someone is going to take that inch and find a way to turn it into a mile of crazy. 
They are frustrated.

See, I'm in this position because we don't have enough volunteer parents.  Like I said, I have parents in the room, I am required to, but I'm talking about parents that want to get into the thick of things and really volunteer.  So, I take all comers, hold on for dear life, and hope for the best.  It isn't always what i would want, but at least they get something instead of nothing. 

Teachers are in this position because no one who decides how many kids in a class is appropriate has ever stood in front of 27 kids who just don't get what you are putting down and you are the one who has to figure out how to feed it into 27 different minds with different learning styles simultaneously, while dealing with those kids who have special needs, kids who have home life problems, kids who need to wiggle and jump, and so on, and so on. 
I would be mean, too.  Every day of my life. 
I remember when I was in elementary school, we had like 20 kids, at most, to a class, and there was a teacher's assistant.  Remember those wonderful ladies?  They did the prepwork,  helped out kids who needed it, and so on. 
No, forget the assistant, and in some schools parents aren't even allowed in any more. 

I think, if we want to find ourselves without mean teachers, we need to refocus and change our thinking.  It isn't a problem with the people we are hiring (exceptions noted), but with the conditions we put them in. 
I don't want to be a mean Scout leader, but I also don't want to have to yell "macaroni" (the correct response from my girls is "Cheese") 25 times in an hour to try to bring some semblance of peace back into a room.

We, as a society need to really take the time to tell our elected officials what we want in our schools, and even more importantly, we need to urge them to find ways to pay for it.  I know that is a whole other post, but I really think our kids and our teachers are worth it. 

Think about it.  If you could pay an extra $100 a year in a tax that went just for schools to be able to keep there from being "mean" teachers any more, wouldn't you?  I would.  No doubt.  If in that hundred you can also find me an assistant troop leader, that would be great.  My girls and I would all appreciate it, greatly. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Old Age is Hard on Scouts

     I am writing this blog as a plea to the general, cookie buying, public.  I know those cute little girls in the blue and brown Girl Scout uniforms are hard to resist when they ask you to buy cookies.  I know those big doe eyes on a 5 year old make it impossible to say no.  I know because I have one.  I'm glad their cuteness works and you stop to buy a box of cookies even if you don't want it.
     In our troop, we are thankful for every box sold.  I want to ask you, though, please, please, don't pass up the older girls.  Teenagers are hard.  I know, I have one of those, too.  As a troop leader, its even harder to keep the older girls engaged.  They have so much more to do between school work, many after school activities, and having a normal teenage social life.  So, to see them continue to invest in a program that is teaching them to be strong women who will change the world makes my heart soar.  The Biggest One is now a Cadette in Scouts.  She wears the tan uniform, usually with a cat ear headband, and she looks like she is 15, even though she isn't.  She is smart, funny, and driven.  She already has a plan for her life that I wish I had at her age.  This year, she is implementing that plan by going to a special camp where she will start as a councilor in training.  Her plan is, by the time she turns 16, be a junior camp counselor, and at 18, be a Girl Scout camp counselor all through college each summer for her summer job to help pay for books.
     The thing is, this camp is expensive.  Even more so than a normal scout camp.  In fact, most of her activities are more expensive as an older scout.  So each and every one of those boxes of cookies she sells are vitally important to her.  She needs to raise the money to be able to get to her camp, learn more about astronomy with trips to the closest observatory, as she is still trying to decide between astronomy and microbiology as degree and career path (she is leaning toward microbiology as she wants to be able to research lupis and find a cure or treatment that actually works).  Knowing that she needs to sell more, she works harder.  She works with every one of those little doe eyed girls and shows them how to sell cookies.  She teaches and trains them like a champ.  After all, she has been selling since she was a little doe eyed 5 year old.  She is willing to go house to house for hours.  She will work every single booth sale I allow her, in between play practice on weekends and all county band.  Even with all that hard work, she can't sell as many as the cute little girls do.  For some reason, it is easier to say no to the older girls. I guess you think they can take it. The last time she went door to door, she went to street after street, and only sold 5 boxes.  Hours of work for 5 boxes.  She was ready to go out for more, though.  She wants that sale.  Same thing happens at both sales.  I pair her with a little one as often as I can so that the sales are higher for her.  She knows it, too, but she doesn't let it stop her.  I respect that drive, and I wish every one out there would, too.
     So, the next time a girl in a tan uniform knocks on your door, please open it and consider buying a box.  If they are still selling by the time they look like they are about to drive, it means they are strong, dedicated girls who will be the next leaders and game changers of our world.  Consider that dedication, and buy a box, even though they don't have doe eyes, even though they may be as tall or taller than you, and even though they might wear cat ears when they ask.  I promise it means as much if not more than the box you buy from the cute little bitty ones.  Don't stop buying from the cute little ones, either.  I'm just saying, a scout is a scout, and consider your purchase equally.  After all, I have three girls, from the cute little doe eyed one in a blue uniform, to a middle aged (for scouts) girl in the Girl Scout green uniform, up to my oldest in the tan.  She is almost as tall as me, which is another of her life goals, but don't let that stop you.  Buy a box.  Please.  I promise she will say thank you.

If you want to buy any boxes from any of my girls, you can buy from the littlest one here.

You can buy from the middle one (she is pretty cute, too, though I didn't get to talk much about her in this blog) here.

And last, but not least at all, the biggest one here.

No matter who you buy from, what council, what age of girl, I appreciate each of you who buy cookies, and please, don't forget that if you can't eat them, you can treat them to members of the military by donating cookies.  (Cookie donations to the military are also tax deducible if your into that kind of thing!!)

Thanks again, and try the new S'mores cookie.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Day She Foiled a Trumpet Theft

     On school days, The Biggest One gets out about an hour before Middie does.  Her middle school is right in front of the elementary school.  So, each school day, The Biggest One walks over to the elementary school when she gets out, and I meet her there.  It makes pickup much easier and faster, and gives me an hour to work at school if I need to as part of my volunteer work.
     While we work, we always talk about her day.  Today, I didn't have to go in, and we just sat in the truck, waiting for Middie to get out of school, and chatted.  In the midst of all this, she starts to tell me a story.  One of her good friends is a boy we shall call Crush (because he has one on her).  Crush is a very nice kid.  We have had him over to the house to hang out.  He has asked her to a dance.  She isn't allowed to go on any dates yet, but they still hang.  There is a great back story, but suffice to say, he really seems to like her, and she thinks he is super sweet.  Totally appropriate for 12 year olds.  Anyway, they walk around together at school when they can.  Crush plays a trumpet in the band, just as The Biggest One does.  His trumpet was stolen at school.  His dad, also a very nice guy, had to come into school this week because of it.
     Its been a thing.
     Today, as they were leaving the school, Crush say to The Biggest One that he really wishes his trumpet hadn't been stolen.  As they walk, suddenly, The Biggest One sees an 8th grader carrying what she thinks is Crush's trumpet.  She tells him so.  Now, to give you a little more necessary background, Crush is on the short side.  He hasn't hit that growth spurt boys get sometime soon yet.  He is probably three or four inches shorter the The Biggest One, and she isn't that tall.  It only relevant for context, and you want that context.  The 8th grader is Crush's opposite. Big Kid.  Crush walks up to the kid, and calls him out for having the trumpet.  The kid starts yelling that no, no it wasn't Crush's.  The Biggest One, in all her hot headed glory, isn't having it.  She sees the escalation, and jumps in.  She goes over and starts to yell at the massive 8th grader.  Now, its a show down.  When the kid denies that the trumpet belongs to Crush, she immediately says "Then why is his name written all over it?"  She wasn't backing down, and believe me, she is fierce when she is protecting someone she cares about.  The kid knows the jig is up.  He drops the trumpet and runs.
    The Biggest One and Crush get the trumpet, and head off to the band room.
The story goes on.  Teachers and parents involved. Ultimately, though, she caught the thief, and protected her friend.  That is just who she is.  She knows no fear, which isn't always good, when it comes to jumping in for her friends.  I love who she is.  I'm proud of her today, and every day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The progressive Suckiness of A Mother’s Night:

1)One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.

2) One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.  They flood their bathroom.

3) One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.  They flood their bathroom and they don’t tell you until the bathroom is totally flooded.

4) One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.  They flood their bathroom and they don’t tell you until the bathroom is totally flooded.  You finally get the entire thing cleaned up, wash you hands, and go to dry them thinking you are done.

6) One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.  They flood their bathroom and they don’t tell you until the bathroom is totally flooded.  You finally get the entire thing cleaned up, wash you hands, and go to dry them thinking you are done.  As soon as you touch the hand towel, you feel that it is soaking wet and you instantly realize that the same amazing kid tried to clean it up themselves, which is why they didn’t tell you immediately, and then hung the hand towel back up on the bar. 

7)One of your amazing kids has a stomach virus with both ends going.  They flood their bathroom and they don’t tell you until the bathroom is totally flooded.  You finally get the entire thing cleaned up, wash you hands, and go to dry them thinking you are done.  As soon as you touch the hand towel, you feel that it is soaking wet and you instantly realize that the same amazing kid tried to clean it up themselves, which is why they didn’t tell you immediately, and then hung the hand towel back up on the bar.  You start cleaning again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Most Conflicted Loss

Today, my older sister passed away.

I'm not sure what to do with everything I feel.  So, I thought I would give it to you, the universe, etc, and hopefully let it go.

My older sister is really my older half-sister.  Sometimes that half matters, and sometimes it doesn't.

For us, that half meant she wasn't raised with us, and was raised by a mother who chose to lie about our father.  Her mother told her that our father was an alcoholic, and that was why she divorced him.  She said that he used to beat them.  She said they were poor, while we were raised with everything, because he didn't want to take care of her.

All of it was lies.  The truth is that they were divorced because she chose to cheat on him, and he caught her.  So, he filed for divorce.  The truth is that my dad was is a pretty rough guy, but he never was an alcoholic.  He didn't get drunk like that.  I'm not going to lie and say he was perfect, far from it, but I can tell you that what she said was far from the truth.  We weren't rich, either.  Her mom was just money hungry.  We grew up with very little by the time my dad paid child support for her, and took care of the three of us,and our mom.  We wore hand me downs.  My mom can make a meal out of nothing.  Seriously.  The woman has an unbelievable talent for being cheap.  Most of all, my Dad did want to take care of her.  he gave my sister the choice of living with us, but she wanted to stay with her mom.
That choice was poison.
She was raised to see bad things.  So, she saw them.  She let that affect her relationships with all of us for the rest of her life.  She was always distant.

In college, I tried.  I went to school close to the salon she owned.  It was very, very highly thought of.  All the drag queens in the area went to her to help them get started.  She was someone in that town.  I would go to her shop, where she also lived in the top floors of her building, after my classes, and i would spend time with her.  I wanted that big sister relationship that we never had.

It didn't work though.  Time goes on.
Eventually, I washed my hands of it.
I quit when she would tell me that she wanted to see my child, and then didn't show.  That was it.  You could break my heart, but you can't break hers.
She saw Middie only once, when she was very small, at my brother's wedding.
She never met The Littlest One.
We have lived in state for two years, and I haven't seen her since we came back.
These are the choices we make in life.
I realize that she was raised negatively, but eventually, we all become adults and have to make our own choices.
I chose to quit beating myself up over it.  I chose to finally move on.
Then, she died.
All those friends that she used to have, the ones she chose over us, weren't around.
In fact, no one was there.  My parents were on their way.  Her mom and other half sister, with whom she did have a relationship, weren't in the room.
She quit.
She had been battling problems for a while.
I think her demons were just stronger than her this time.  Sometimes, that is how it is.  Sometimes the demons are stronger than us and they win.

I had been checking in nearly constantly to see how she was doing, and then the phone rang.  My mom said she was gone.  Done.  Over.
I was really angry when mom called.
I am angry with my sister for giving up on us.  I'm hurt that she threw us away.  I'm livid with her mom for poisoning her for all those years, and robbing me of the big sister relationship I never got to have.
It hurts.  I'm sad.  I'm sad for my kids who will never know her laugh, or big blonde hair.  They won't get to have their hair done by her for their weddings.
I'm mourning.  In all honesty, though, its the relationship that was never there that I mourn the most.  I'm really heart broken over the fact that it will never be.
I'm sure I will go to her memorial service, because I want to be there with my dad.  I want to give him a kiss on the cheek, and tell him that I know the truth about who he is, and even though he isn't perfect, I would never throw him away.

So, I lost a sister today, and its complicated.  Please, don't offer to send something, or do something.  Please, don't try to pressure me to be more upset for you than I feel like I need to be in the moment, because I'm really not sure how to feel.  A simple,"That sucks" will be fine.  I'll appreciate it.  It does suck.
Also, I'm probably calling into work Friday (for my volunteer jobs).  So, if you could just excuse that with out any ado, that would be awesome.  I'll let you know if I need anything else.

I'm leaving you with a picture that I do love, from when I was little.  My sister and I, back when I used to think she was the coolest thing ever, and looked forward to every single time she came over like it was my birthday, even if she did accidentally pop my shoulders out of socket once.  Something I can now do all the time thanks to her.  This picture brings up the good memories, and this is what I'm choosing to keep.

You will be missed.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dear Cancer, F*** You. Sincerely, Me (And Everybody else)

I hate cancer.
No.  I F***ING HATE cancer.
Yeah.  That's much more like it.

Why all the ire?
Cancer sucks.  Great big donkey balls.
I have seen too many people I love, and just too many people in general have cancer.
I have an Aunt who just had a total double mastectomy.
My dad had skin cancer.
My grandfather did as well.
My great grandmother died of cancer at the age of 92.  It wasn't her age, but the cancer that finally did her in.
My mom's family is riddled with cancer.
My mom is a breast cancer survivor, as I have written about before.

I'm just hitting the tip of the iceberg, too, if I were to really delve into all the people I know that cancer has touched with its long, ugly, gnarly, blackened fingers.
Right now, I have a friend who is about to start chemotherapy for breast cancer.  She is a wonderful person.
She isn't post menopausal.  She isn't even in that age range.   Her body just decided to turn against her.
What are we, as women supposed to do?  I look in the mirror all the time, and note that my chances this becoming my future are very high.  Very.
There really aren't a lot of options if this is likely your future.  You can go the preventative route.
We have another good family friend who did just that.  Her mother, one of my own mother's very best friends in life, had breast cancer.  She passed away at a much younger age than she should have.  So, her daughter decided not to wait for this to be her future.  The Drs suggested a preventative double mastectomy, and she did it.  She wanted to be sure.  Its becoming common to take such steps, too.
I could do genetic testing, find out, and go from there, but the kind of cancer that runs in our family causes more than just breast cancer.  I couldn't lop enough organs off to stop everything that will try to kill me, if I am predisposed.
My friend who just started her fight has two beautiful boys who are close in age to The Big Girls, each one of hers being a year younger than mine.
Now, they have to watch mom go through cancer treatments.
No child should need to watch that.
Moreover, no child should have to go through cancer treatments themselves, but it happens all the time.
Yes, I am filled with anger and questions because of all this.  The big question, though, is what do we do from here? How do we stop this?  So much money is being thrown at a cure, but what about the cause?
Has it always been this bad and we didn't know it, or are we killing ourselves somehow now?
Something needs to be stopped.  Somewhere, we need to recognize what has changed to cause our bodies, our breasts that are meant to sustain life, in to weapons that will take it in an instant.

I'm not sure where the answer to all of this lies, but someone, somewhere, must.  We have to do something.  I love all of the beautiful survivors that I have in my life, but I don't want to add any more people to the list of those touched by cancer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

If You Have to Hide To Be Hatefull, Don't

I was saddened to learn today about the passing of Cassandra Lynn Hensley.  You might have seen it on TMZ, or somewhere else on the web.  She was a Playboy Playmate, a beautiful girl, and also an acquaintance.
We actually had a mutual very good friend, and it was through this friend that I met Cassandra.  All three of our families made a very memorable trip to Disneyland once.  Yeah.  I went to Disney with a Playmate.  Not, I'm sure, the first think most people think of.
That is reality, though.  She wasn't all done up in her makeup and such.  She was there with her daughter and we were celebrating a birthday.  Again, reality.  People who are in the public eye are still real people, with families, husband, children, etc.
Cassandra wasn't perfect, but back to the whole reality thing, no one is.
So, when I began to see articles about her online, I was shocked at the horrible things people were saying.  I do mean horrible.
This was a tragedy.  Regardless of how it happened, it was still a tragedy.
When Cory Monteith died, people wept.  They celebrated his life on television multiple times.
However, when a beautiful young woman died in a seemingly similar manor, the claws came out.
The anonymity the internet provides let people rip her to shreds, just because.  Probably because they are jealous of her beauty.  Probably because they made a lot of assumptions.  Probably most of all, though, because they feel the need to dig at other people to make themselves feel better inside.

These people didn't know Cassandra.  Admittedly, I didn't know her well, either, but to think of being so disrespectful to anyone who died like that just blew me away.

Those of you that wrote the nasty comments, so vile and full of vitriol, should look deep down inside yourself.  When you do, I hope those comments make you feel as ugly as you looked online.  You are shameful trolls.
The first one of you who is perfect, who hasn't ever made a mistake can be the first one to condemn her now.  Go ahead.  By all means.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I don't see any rocks flying.

Cassandra was a daughter, a wife, and a mother.  Many people loved her dearly, and those people are hurting.  I mourn for her loved ones.  I am saddened by the tragedy.  I pray that none of you find yourself in a bad situation, and pass.  Should you, I also pray that no one is so disrespectful to you in death that it would hurt your family as they try to move on.

Cassandra was a beautiful girl, inside and out.  I hope she has peace now, and I hope somehow her family and loved ones can find peace as well.