Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Today is also my sister's birthday. She is twenty-six today. It seems really strange that she is closer to thirty than twenty. But she is closer to twenty-five than thirty, and twenty-five isn't that old. Neither is thirty, honestly. It just seems old for my sister.

The kids were really excited about Halloween today. At the end of the day the teacher asked them what they were going to be. Some of the more original answers included a banana, a pirate karate maid, and a deadbeat cowboy. No trick-or-treaters come to our house. It is sad. I miss them every year since we moved here.

I have to start keeping a journal for Alex at school. It's going to go something like this: "This morning Alex did not ask for any help. This afternoon Alex did not ask for any help. I helped him write some because I have to." So, not exactly like that, but there really is not much to write. It's sad because there are other kids who could really benefit from a para, and Alex is learning dependence when he could be independent.

My parents have been gone during the evenings this week for a conference at their church called Rekindle the Flame. I've really been enjoying the solitude. I cook for myself, use the kitchen/bathroom/TV whenever I want, and imagine that I have my own house. Kind of pathetic, I know.

I just had a conversation with my parents about being closer to thirty than twenty. Please note that I am not. I am twenty-four. I said that by the time I'm closer to thirty, I want to have my own place. My mom said, "Well, you better start praying." I protested, "I've got some time," and she said, "Well, these things take time." I pointed out that I said I wanted to have my own place, not my own child. Actually, I want my own place far before then, but that is just the time I definitely, absolutely do not want to be living at home. Remember those plans for your life they used to make you write in high school? I always said I wanted to be married out of college and be done having kids by thirty. Clearly, this is not my life. Why do they make you make those stupid plans anyway? So you can look back and see how far your expectations have fallen since high school? No one really has realistic expectations in high school. I think one reason it's been hard for me to find a "career job" is that all I've ever really wanted to do is be a wife and mother full-time. That was always my high school plan. That doesn't seem very *ambitious* to some people, but that's really all I want. I love it when I get to spend time with babies and little people, but part of me aches because they're not mine. I know there are other single women out there who are my age, but all my friends left Lafayette when they graduated, and all the people I meet now are moms. They talk about their kids, babysit each other's kids, share baby clothes and baby stories, etc. It's challenging to relate to sometimes, and other times it's hard not be jealous of where they are in life. I do believe that my desires to be a wife and mother are God-given and don't dishonor Him, but it can be hard waiting around.

So, this post was...different. I'm not one who usually likes to post about deep stuff, if you call that deep. That just shows you what a conversation with my mom can do. I suppose that's one benefit of not being a one is exasperated by me the way that I am sometimes exasperated by my mom.

Psalm 84:11 - "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withold from those whose walk is blameless."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Full Day

Today was the day before fall break--yay! It was also the day of fall parties at Klondike. The kids got their faces painted, made bats out of black socks with paper wings, and ate A TON of sugar. It is really smart of teachers to have these parties the last hour of the day before break, because achieving calmness afterwards is impossible. I think they will be buzzing for days to come.

Jesse, one of the little boys in Alex's class (and a real character), turned me into a vampire. He approached me with his sock bat, Brutus, and said, "Want to be vampire? It doesn't hurt and it doesn't even cost anything!" And then he made Brutus bite me. So if you see me after dark, look out.

Today was also the day of Alex's mom's parent-teacher conference. Apparently, his parents are concerned because all of his schoolwork is done in his own handwriting. Why is this concerning, you ask? Shouldn't it be good news that their child is able to do his own work? According to his mom, "Writing is hard for him and he shouldn't do so much of it." I tried to tell her that he never asks me for help, and that I watch him and he doesn't seem to be struggling, and if either of those happened, I would help him. Her answer: "Yes, well, he needs to learn he can't do as much as he thinks he can. He tries to do too much and wears himself out." Then she smiled really sweetly and said she would "let" me use my "best discretion" on how often to help him. I was told by the teacher that I need to start writing for him more because they're "doing a lot to please Mom right now" and I just need to go with it.

I feel like this is utterly beyond ridiculous. It's counter-educational. I work with Alex on a daily basis, and he is fully capable of writing his own work. Entirely and completely. Motor skills are harder for him, and he does write slower than average for his age, but not to a point where he's not completing tests on time or lagging really far in his daily work. Not even lagging at all. He's almost never the first one done, but he's not the last one, either. I know this is something he's had to work up to, also. To take that away from him, to discourage him in his acheivement and tell him he's slower and dumber than he truly is, is the opposite of teaching. It's degrading and demeaning and just plain stupid. What does she expect him to be as a man if he grows up thinking that everything is going to be handed to him because he's "special" and "some things are hard" and he's going to "wear himself out" if he tries? Paras are the lowest rung on the ladder, so there is not really much I can do about it, but it rankles.

Last night we had our first tiny group. It was good. I think it will be even better when we have smaller sections to cover and we can go more in depth. It was strange, though, because I felt like I talked too much, which happens to me....never.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Ohio to visit Abby! I am excited to see her and hear how her ministry is going. My mom is worried because I'm driving through the country by myself. You know, that dangerous, desolate Indiana-Ohio countryside, full of bandits and miscreants and ne'er-do-wells. My mom is extremely safety-conscious for her children. I really want to be a laid-back mom.

Well...that's all, folks!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm going to echo Kim in the blogging arena tonight and say that I love our life group. I love the dynamics, I love how the different personalities balance each other, and I love the support and love that people have for each other when we pray over each other. I never understood prayer like that until I came into this group. And it's pretty cool. :) We don't just send some requests up to God and say, "Maybe You'll answer this, maybe You won't; we'll leave it up to You and wait and see." People in lifegroup pray actively, and interactively, and expect God to show up and work NOW. And actually believe that He will. And He actually does! Strange that it should seem so strange, since God promises this about Himself in His Word. But it's been more wonderful than I can say, and I am so glad to be part of a group that actively lives this out.

I am pumped for what my mom and I affectionately call "tiny group" tomorrow night!

Monday, October 22, 2007

A child's words

Sometimes my job is so frustrating. Not the kids--I expect kids to be frustrating at times, and those moments are just part of the package. It's the adults that really get me. No one communicates with each other, and the administration is less than administratively gifted. Everyone assumes that I know the ropes, I understand everything about the way the school runs, and I'm just a small cog that will slip quietly into their well-oiled machine. Not so. I'm more like the monkey wrench that got thrown in the works. I've been learning things by trial and error, mostly error, so often, the machine comes to a grinding halt until I can figure out which wheels to grease to get it running again (this has turned into quite the extended metaphor, huh?). Just little things, like where they keep the time cards, what to do if your student is absent, how much different teachers want you to participate with or hang back from the students. Today was especially frustrating because Alex, my kid, was absent, so I subbed for one of the other paras. She has a crazy schedule where she's not with just one student but runs all over the school, doing different things at different places at different times. And she has two lunch duties, which is insane. One of the secretaries told me this lady is kind of crazy, but if she has two lunch duties every day, I don't wonder.

So my morning entailed running around like a chicken with its head cut off--a confused, clueless chicken who kept doing things wrong. It brought up all the issues I've been struggling with lately of feeling "not good enough" and useless and worthless. I went into one of the afternoon classes wanting to cry. But there was no time to cry--the teacher gave me a stack of mini blackboards, a bucket of chalk, and four students ("They're kind of crazy," she warned me) and told me to take them into the hall and practice rounding. So I would write a number on my chalkboard and tell them which place value to round it to. And for some reason, the kids loved it. They threw themselves into it and did a great job. One of the girls, Deanna, had a lot of fun making artistic numbers with swirls and shading with her chalk. Then she said to her friend, "This is fun! She's fun!" Then to me, "Can we do this instead of recess?"

Right there my day turned around. I don't know why a compliment from a child means so much; maybe because they're so completely honest and unjaded. But the fact that I had succeeded in making learning fun for these four struggling kids was a sweet assurance. I still hate feeling like the monkey wrench, but it was a good feeling to know that I could pull the monkey wrench out of the kids' system and get that working smoothly, at least this time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My first blog

Hey, so I have decided to start a blog! Mostly so I can comment on other people's, but last time I did this it turned into an obsession, so we'll see where it goes. I figure I can always post funny stories about the kids at school.