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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Can’t go over it, can’t go under it–ya gotta go through the door

My toes haven’t been in the dirt lately, as I’ve taken to wearing shoes when I go out there, but I do still have slightly dirty fingernails. Happily, for I’ve been holed up with a cold and have had to portion out my energy for only important and physically undemanding tasks–drives and pickups, answering emails, simple household tasks, working on job leads, sewing. But yesterday in the late afternoon I got out to pick tomatoes and peppers, pull up some blighted plants, and thin the Swiss chard and blanch and freeze the extra. Only my husband and I will eat it unless I layer it into lasagne–I’ve come to like it so much that I steam down a huge hank while I fry my morning eggs, potatoes and sausage, add salt and vinegar, and eat like a filet mignon–it’s that tender and nutritious.

While I was squatting to weed around the spinach, a red-breasted nuthatch and a chickadee landed on a nearby spray of sunflower heads to dine, retreating periodically to the neighbors’ willow border to pipe merry (or warning) tunes. I’ve been missing my hummingbird encounters, though not regretting the decline in cabbage butterfly sightings. Ebbs and flows, and this is the season of the slugs, who rasp away at strawberries, lettuce, and of course their regular wild plant fare.

I rarely get sick, not yet being so immersed in the throng of public life that I’m unable to regularly wash off the germs that come with it. I may seem a careless housekeeper and not get every last smudge of dirt from my elbows every time, but I’m diligent about getting rid of invisible smears of germs that might make people sick. This time I got careless and shared the family toothpaste tube even though someone had the sniffles, so I caught the cold too. I guess after all this time I was due for the full version, with fatigue, runny nose, aching head, hacking, and hot flashes. Though the reason for the latter is debatable.

Like the approach of labor in pregnancy, impending illness stimulates me to be extra productive–I don’t want to slump on a couch full of unsorted laundry or feverishly stare at bunny-sized dust bunnies by the base boards, after all, so I like to try to clear as much away as I can, and make sure there are a few easy meals on hand for the family. I corralled my reading materials, some research I wanted to do, and had no commitments to attend events, so that was all good; I would only give myself a few days to get through the worst. I upped my Wellness Formula herbal tablets dosage and finished up what work I could. Reading and writing, working on my daughter’s long-awaited horse quilt, and listening along with my son’s Librivox recording of Robinhood stories kept my mind off of my ailment between naps. The child of mine who lately has had the most difficulty being cooperative and sympathetic was the most attentive of all, and enjoyed “doting on me,” bringing me ginger tea, saying yes to my requests and not asking for the usual nightly back rub.

This is my last day for home sick leave, then it’s time for me to pick up what substitute teaching jobs I can, and/or get busy on more substantial projects. Would have liked to help in high school ceramics class posted last week. There’s not much else available for me yet, as teachers have established preferred sub lists from last year and I’m not on those yet. I sent out some emails to generate interest and hope that will bear fruit this week. I’m limited to one district this year, since  the others have taken the flexibility out of their HR system by adopting an online application system, one of the requirements for which, recent observation-based references, I have not been able to meet. The district that took me back waived that, so that’s my “in,” unless I can arrange volunteer teaching sessions closer to home and get three different staff to observe and fill out the forms. In some ways I like going out of my own district, where I’d feel less free to write about my experiences. Maybe I’ll keep a separate, private blog for that purpose when the time comes. Or find a way to keep that blog so anonymous, so professional in tone and my stories so impossible to track down as to players and settings, that it will be acceptable for public consumption. In the name of positive dialogue, creative tension, accountability, and that all-important, much touted in eduspeak, critical thinking. Living by example for students to follow, right? Show them we love to read, show them we really use math, and show them that we think and communicate toward the improvement of a democratic society and better public institutions, right? Who could argue with that?

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Culture & Society, Education

 

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Here’s something to put in your school suggestion box

20140926-2951I’ve written before about how I feel my hands (and tongue) are tied as a parent when it comes to offering suggestions or constructive criticism to a school teacher or staff member. Because, of course I get my inside information from my children–it’s they who tell me when a teacher is insensitive to a student, when a kid is doing naughty things behind a teacher’s back, if someone is consistently a slacker in group work, or if a student genuinely needs extra support but hides this from the teacher. Any time I even hint that maybe I can take an issue up with a teacher or staff member, just to bring something to their attention so as to improve the classroom experience for students, my kids recoil in horror and threaten never to tell me anything again. For of course they don’t want anything to reflect poorly on them, or create any bad feeling between them and the teacher. Because, surprisingly, some teachers frown on students who are the offspring of people who want to have a say in what goes on at school, who challenge them–can you imagine? There’s the sense that someone has tattled on them, or maybe didn’t follow the protocol of going directly to the source. Kids feel that, and so they place that gag order on their parents. But really, what kid even up to high school is ready to show that kind of maturity, or shoulder the burden of being the critic, of rocking the boat, drawing attention to him or herself? A few, thank heaven–I rejoice when they turn up–they are ahead of their years, beyond the standard lessons we have taught them, expect a response better than what most of our kids have been led to expect.

But so that students’ valuable feedback might not be lost, I suggest we install a Suggestions Box in every school (or the electronic equivalent, but I’m skeptical about putting that kind of data out there to be hacked). For students, to be sure, but even for parents who feel they need to pass on their own or their students’ observations. Signing a name or tag, such as “Mom,” “Community Member,” “Seven parents of sixth graders” would be optional. Heck, you could put a whole anonymous petition in there if necessary, with code names. The rules (trust system) would be only that people try to be helpful. Or maybe a rubric could be created along the lines of, Is this comment true, kind, and necessary? Am I remaining anonymous only to protect others from negative repercussions? Here are some examples that have come into the range of my experience:

Dear teacher,

So-and-so is gaining a reputation among classmates for riding on the coattails of other group members during group project time.

Dear teacher,

My student has noticed that so-and-so is having trouble with reading at grade level, and is too embarrassed to get help.

Dear teacher,

I really, really need to be able to work independently more. I work better that way.

Dear principal,

I just wanted to let you know that both my graduated and presently attending child feel that Ms. So-and-so is the best teacher they ever had, because she treats students like intelligent beings and gives them autonomy when they can handle it, yet is good at a more “parental” approach with less mature students.

And now, what about the charge that people will abuse a suggestion box? Immature people who stuff obscenities and death threats in there, or colleagues who anonymously offer feedback they are too cowardly to say in person and too insensitive not to say at all? Administrators who intercept dirty classroom laundry, or deposit comments themselves? Or just the backfiring of good intentions, the potential for real hurt or creating an atmosphere of Big Brother is watching? All that’s a reason to keep things in the open, sure, but there area parallel set of problems with that (see above), so what is to be done? Do we just lend a sympathetic, lips-are-sealed ear to our kids’ tales, or if there’s a real problem, tell them to take it as it comes, suck it up, or handle it like so? “Yes, dear, maybe you should go to the teacher in confidence and…,” “Have you talked to that student and told her to speak more respectfully?” Or maybe the old-style, “Pinch him back–harder!” I haven’t had much success with that approach, though I still chalk it up to possible future utility in their lives. The discussions we have can lead to more understanding, more sensitivity, at least in the sense of my kids growing up to be aware of dynamics they can expect and how to anticipate or avoid them. Especially if any of them decide to be teachers.

And who gets to read what from the box? Does one address and seal notes, then someone distributes them? Is there a curator/screener?

Or, should the idea be piloted, perhaps permanently parked, within each classroom? Then things get to the right people, and everyone knows it. Issues that reach outside can go to the To Staff box.

Some folks are of the mind that no one should ever complain or say anything within a community that the recipient might find difficult to receive. Except we expect that from Other People in the Real World, for which we are preparing our children. Not that any of us wish to know these Other People in person or by name, except at a distance such as politicians critiquing one another. For us to actually participate in those Real World activities such as disagreeing, opposing, critiquing, or failing to support, is off the agenda. For example, a few times on our neighborhood website slightly critical or questioning comments have been posted. Invariably there is a backlash of outraged niceness from a certain neighbor and sometimes a string of others, who say things like, “I can’t BELIEVE ANYONE would complain/criticize/see things in such a light!!!!! (always lots of exclamation marks) SOME PEOPLE have no idea!!!!” Which of course has a chilling effect on further less than affirming comments, but does not prevent private agreement with the negative comments, which sometimes even have the desired corrective effect.

On the other hand, thank heaven for nice people. The genuine ones, I mean, who truly see the good and whose speech contains almost entirely affirming, encouraging, agreeable phrases. I know several of these people, and though sometimes I think that they have their head in the sand (can you tell I’m not one of them?), I know we need, need, need them to exist in every sector of our society. But I’m making a small, ineffectual plea for a medium by which people who see something that is not right can offer a corrective, take it or leave it.

I don’t know, maybe it would require a Training, or several. More teacher training, more student assemblies (Bully Proofing at the Suggestion Box?), maybe we could add testing too, and, well–anyone else have any better ideas?

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Walking through a forest of carrot trees, parenthetical to more college visit notes

Eldest son and I went over the mountains to Whitman College in Walla Walla the other day. Long drive through the Cascades to the rain shadow, rolling hills of wheat stubble, passing trucks carrying massive loads of baled hay. Wildflowers and gravelly rivers, irrigated pastures and vineyards, low profile towns with grain storage tanks rising up near the highway. Into the wine country, region of sweet onions and dry land farming. Away from the sea under sparsely clouded skies, wide skies.

We park on a side street, get first impressions as we head to the library for check in. Interesting range of emotions for me–this is an expensive private college, with beautiful grounds and facilities, what I can only assume are intelligent and gifted young people strolling around, and I’m feeling a little insecure, on behalf of my son or myself I don’t quite know. Then the embarrassment of finding out he forgot his sleeping gear for the overnight with a student host, my awkwardness at wanting to be involved without being overly involved, hear and see everything with him, ask great questions for his sake, maybe even clarify things he might not express as clearly as I would like. Sure it’s his experience, his time, his chance to learn whether this school would be a good fit and whether he should apply. But parents are mentors, as well as financial supporters, and college decisions have a family impact in more than one way. So I’m disappointed that in my parent packet is only general information about the college, a map and tips on accommodation, dining , and entertainment. I leave him to wait for his host, send off my best silent hopes that he’ll have a good time, learn lots of useful insights, get a sense of the nature of this place and its community in his conversations between now and the tour on the morrow. From the hotel I text him that I found a sleep sack in the car trunk and can borrow a pillow and towel from the aptly named Comfort Inn. He texts back, No worries, he’s worked it out with the host. So I settle in for some 3Rs–relaxation, reading, and writing. But my quiet hotel room doesn’t feel like a mini-vacation as I thought it would, just quiet and lonely, as I begin this process of releasing my firstborn and think about my other three coming to the same stage soon.

The next morning, on the advice of the desk staff, I drive over for a run around the reservoir. Sun is hanging large and red low in the east over low hills, the air is clear and cool. I find the driveway, a parking lot, lock the car and head up onto a sort of dike trail where I can get high enough to look around. The reservoir, the small lake on my left, surrounded by poplars and willows, summer dry but full of life–rustling in the bushes, soft flutterings, birdsong. At the highest point of the trail I’m facing a softly rounded hill, over the top of which rises the tips of small farm buildings, and the sound of a radio.

I run across the ridge, working out the stiffness in my hip, then follow another walker, man in his sixties or so in a brimmed hat, down into the path around the lake. So as not to be in continual pursuit, I speed up and he turns as I draw near. I apologize for following, explain that I don’t know the paths. He smiles and says, “You have a good attitude.” Was he alarmed? Does that instinctive fear of danger, as I had lying at the base of my uncertainty about this unknown trail in an unknown town, come into play for him when he hears quick steps behind? Even here? Once on the radio show about design solutions, the speaker described going places where, as a woman, she could experience risk, was full of solutions design. Choosing the route, the time, the safety techniques, speed, aura of strength and confidence to project when going out into the world. Whether to go alone, in a group, or with a dog. I am not naive (though I’ve been accused of such because of my actions at times), and being alone out here, my mind isn’t free of the thought of possible danger. This time I decide to lay them all aside and count on the positive odds today.

And so they come into play. I explore trails of sand and fine gravel, some of which end in fishing spots, some at benches, others in rabbit trails. Around several bends in the trail I spy single rabbit sentries. Each must have heard my approach, yet each lingers to catch a glimpse, get a better scent, interpret my movements, hear my soft greeting, then bounce off, white tail flashing. As I come up to one of the rabbit entrances, I see under the sparsely leafed trees a network of small paths, beaten by many feet and roofed by branches. It reminds me of a dry version of Yoda’s swamp. In a few months winter snow will define tunnels, archways and floors even more.

Along a path a few yards in from the lake stand smooth-limbed skeletons of a plant gone to seed–looks exactly like dill, except it is the color of ripe wheat. I remember carrot seed heads are the same, so this must be cow parsnip. A forest of it lines the path. Further along the dry gulch at the end of the reservoir, the trees thin and the path climbs the bank. The sand of the path here is imprinted with overlaid evidence of other travelers–human shoe soles, dog prints, small spayed hand-like paws, and the distinct long and short footfalls of rabbits.

On a parallel, unseen path above mine comes a whistler, singing a trilling, exuberant bird-like tune which is yet unmistakably human. My senses, both physical and cultural, tell me it is a man between the ages of  fifty and seventy years, intelligent, fit , cheerful, and from the area. Surprised by my confidence sight unseen, I consider what detail the birds can pick up about each other by ear.

On the way out the road to the car the quick movements of a quail, body gliding along above fast moving feet, head with black feather flag bobbing. It stops to hide behind a boulder at the edge of the road, and when I make the circuit, scurries into the shrubbery.

After breakfast, which, because I wasn’t watching the time,  I would have missed were it not for a kind attendant who found me some eggs and sausage after most had been put away, I head over to the campus for the tour. I’m too late, having misremembered the time and not having been given a schedule in my packet. Probably just as well–my son is being given a one-on-one tour. I wander around on my own through the academic buildings, the art gallery, across the grassy quad, to the student center, examine bulletin boards, gardens. Then back to admissions to see what I can learn. I ask the student at the desk about her story–a junior from a private school, the only one of her class that did not hire a private SAT tutor, believing that was not the point. She shares with me about internships and other opportunities, what she knows about student aid, a sense of the community at Whitman. Tells me the former head of admissions has gone to be a farmer.

In the info session with an admissions officer we hear about the values of Whitman–academic rigor, diversity of thought and experience, rich community, equipping students to make a contribution and move into a great career. Having chosen Pomona for reasons of accessibility and studied anthropology, the officer then came to work at Whitman because it had been his first choice college. Tells us about the first year Encounters class, in which students read a set list of books and are led in discussion and writing by professors from various disciplines, classes kept to about fifteen students each. Good information, with only a touch of gushing (the perfect balance of academics and community, “cross-fit for the mind”). The new assistant of admissions, a young black North Carolinian, observes the session, introduces himself to my son.

Then it’s time to go, long drive back over the mountains, but we decide to try our luck finding the swim and dive coach. She’s just getting out of a meeting and takes us to her office for a chat, invites in her interim assistant, a former student who recently won the national 100 butterfly title. He reminds me of my son–medium build, light hair, glasses, calm, intelligent demeanor. Coach Jennifer Blomme  asks my son about grades, previous training, best times, goals. She is a good listener,  and my son has a sense he’d enjoy training with her. She says he could come in at the level of a scoring member of the team, suggests he apply for early acceptance for the best shot, takes our contact info. Whitman is NCAA Division III, both men and women train together, and there is an off season, which my son thinks would be a good fit and allow him to pursue other interests–something that his previous club coach seemingly could not abide.

On the way home I hear, in precis form, about my son’s time with students and on the tour. He was able to attend an Encounters class, in which he was disappointed at how the professor handled another student’s observations on interpreting the book of Genesis. The student had observed that if one had the view that Genesis was not divinely inspired, one could posit that it was written by man to give man authority over the Earth. Instead of taking that lead to discuss cultural norms handed down by the priesthood, she said, “But that would be blasphemous, so we don’t take that view.” Which surprised me, as i have come to expect the opposite bias in post modern academia. We talked about how rich a discussion it could have been, how we would hope the professor went home and realized she had not handled that very well and come back next day to refresh the discussion. I suggested my son write about that interchange in his entrance essay, which he though was a good idea.

And so the visit was successful in that Whitman is on my son’s short list. However, it’s a hard sell unless they would provide a substantial aid package. Also it looks like my son will be a hard sell for such a college, grades at this point being good but not great, second SAT and first ACT still to be tackled. Still, there may be hope that, since the college asserts that their goal is to build a diverse student body that will excel at Whitman, maybe some of my son’s unique qualities and experiences will offset his less than stellar numbers and white maleness. It will be a reach. My son’s assignment, write notes on his visit and look up the application essay requirements, start making notes.

 

 
 

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First College Visit

Took a tour of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC with my son last week and we were pretty impressed. Lots of program options, three campuses within public transport distance, mountaintop location, renowned work coop program, encouragement to explore and cross disciplines. The only NCAA Division II college in Canada, with a swim team my son could make (according to current team records). And as a dual citizen there’s that only $5800.oo per year tuition price tag that seems to be a shockingly good bargain. But it’s a big school, and my instinct is that’s not a good thing for this particular young man. Undergrad classes of hundreds of students, impossibility of real connection with professors, just like I experienced in my undergrad years at Dalhousie U. The big campus favors the extrovert, the Type A, the confident, go-getting, early-blooming risk-taker, and of course we need those, and power to them for distinguishing themselves in this big world. But some people need a more nurturing environment, a community where you have a good chance of running into the same people now and then, becoming known, making connections in a natural way and in the course of special events for that purpose. Introverts have the right to have their needs met, too, to have help discovering their strengths and gaining new ones, to be mentored and encouraged. All those stresses of suddenly being away from family, friends, work colleagues, familiar places, plus new academic challenges and the leap into greater independence. Lots to digest, and you gotta have friends and wise people around to help, even to break in at times to the spiral of the introvert’s tendency to over think and turn inward further. Yeah, they’re deep, but they can sometimes get too far under.

So much good information available to inform oneself about U.S. universities–from lots of different angles–from stats to reviews to scores to alternative and unusual viewpoints. Not so much available on Canadian universities–at least I haven’t been able to track much down. Just MacLean’s Magazine rankings, and that system has its flaws. I’m looking at small colleges (there are some excellent big ones–U of Toronto, McGill, but see above). Two that come up often are Acadia U, where I did my teaching degree, and Mount Allison U.,  where two of my siblings studied. Pretty far away, but close to my parents and two siblings, which could be nice for all. It would be good to find out what those two and other similar small Canadian colleges are doing these days.

Meanwhile, we’ve also booked a tour at Whitman College in Walla Walla, the renowned private school that continually appears in our fantastic colleges books–Cool Colleges, Colleges That Change Lives, 140 Best Colleges, and lots more. But tuition is almost ten times that at SFU, and over seven times that of our local state university. The argument being that that’s what a really excellent education costs, and that a good liberal art education gives a person what they really need to think well, communicate well, have depth and breadth of understanding that equips them for whatever next steps they choose. And grad schools and the best HR folks know that and snap up those grads. Also, that if you’re the kind of student Whitman wants, they’ll pitch in big bucks in the way of scholarships and aid, so the average indebtedness might not be much over what a public college grad might incur. Anyway, it’s in our state, and should give us an idea of what these types of places are like. So we’re trying to be open minded.

One thing that struck me about our student tour guide was that she was very somber. Not just serious and grounded, which I appreciate when trying to gather accurate information, but almost sad. Not something about which I could ask, but I wondered if she was lonely at her big school.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Education, Places & Experiences

 

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Take a walk with me

Northwest Washington is known for its mild, wet weather, with rains that reliably fill up water tables, rivers, lakes and aquifers from fall through spring. But this time of year it is gloriously golden light. In the garden, the heat of August has ripened the tomatoes, sent all the lettuce to seed, and almost ripened the peppers, but September mornings and evenings are cool and sometimes misty. Cool enough for a run, into the rising sun, which flashes between trees and blinds you. You can see little, and so you listen. A flock of starlings gabble and chirp in multilinguistic eagerness, chickadees and towhees report their early morning whereabouts to one another, a crow sends warning about a roving cat. In the shelter of the trail you stop at the stream, lean over the rail of the little bridge, watch until two fish dart upstream.

Back in the garden a few slugs ooze into their secret crevices as the dew dries. Pumpkin and squash leaves along sprawling vines hold themselves aloft, drawing in the oblique light as their fruits swell a final few sizes beneath their concealing canopy. A certain slant of light lends a richness to everything orange and red, vividly contrasting with blues and greens, defining shadows. Dragonflies dive back and forth across the yard after prey, honey bees caress pollen and sip nectar out of the purple borage flowers, and orb weaving spiders, some of them almost an inch long in body, hang silently at the center of perfect webs. You draw near one to admire the patterned body, and she suddenly tenses her front legs.

With the deep rain of earlier in the week, the aroma of soil and fermenting plant trimmings has returned. You pull fireweed that has already gone to seed, hawkweed and plantain, ease webs of roving buttercup from their grip along the surfaces of the garden paths, toss all in a pile. The soil is brown and loose. The raspberry canes are tired, leaves browning, but each one has a succession of ripening berries to gather for the week’s daily breakfast granola. You gingerly tie the arched blackberry canes to their wires; a stray end rasps the skin of your ankle.

Shadows have already begun to overcome the yard, leaving a few hours for a walk and visit to the bookstore cafe. You tie a jacket around your hips as the skylight fades behind the cottonwoods and Douglass firs. The sun no longer warms your skin, but you make warmth walking, and downtown the sidewalks and buildings release their collected heat. Tiny strings of lights adorn shop windows; a man is holding a box of donuts and eating ice cream with his companions on the corner. You enter the bookshop and go upstairs, spotting the volume you want before you reach the top step. Staff Pick, and you have a birthday discount. The clerk has read the author, and voices her approval. Walking home as the full moon rises, you feel it through your backpack, reflecting heat.

As soon as you can you direct your steps away from the lighted streets, into the embrace of the dark. You walk through zones of scent–wild blackberries, gas barbecue, dog urine, fresh evergreen cuttings, cement wet from a sprinkler, the sea.

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Beautiful Earth, Places & Experiences

 

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Just another first day of school, and look at that beautiful rain!

I made my two youngest children…do you know, I hate labeling children by their school level? As in “middle schoolers”? As if that tells anything meaningful about them–I do it sometimes, but I’ve become sensitive to the practice…made them chicken sandwiches and pretzel packets for lunch and off they went, my daughter having agreed to include her brother in her walking group this time, until he could form his own. And I went off to help at the high school book room with the other volunteers. It was pretty quiet, only a few teachers being eager to get those texts into their students’ hands on the very first day, so the three of us chatted between times. I brought up the topic of self-censorship by textbook companies, just as something I’d recently read about that was interesting, then thought, I could do with some self-censorship of my own; we shared second had our children’s experiences in school, current activities and aspirations, our hopes. One woman had one child, the other (a friend from up the road and fellow swim team mom) two, and I, way over the average except in homeschool circles. We shared our disappointment that the math program was less than adequate at the school, that some English teachers didn’t teach writing or require much reading (three books a year in some cases) or stray from their personal favorite genres (dark, with lots of violence), and that there were such strict prohibitions against teacher choice, so what could we do? Then, we served a large lineup of bright-faced students that appeared at the counter, checking out three different texts. I went for more texts and tripped on a chair in the cramped space, bringing my forehead down on the top of a cart with a whack. A new volunteer was just arriving, and asked if I needed ice, and my co-volunteer (a nurse) insisted I sit down. It was embarrassing, and I kept thinking how non-risky a book room ought to be, and how could I have managed to have an accident. No fainting this time, though, and, since the cart had had a lot of give, being on wheels, with a bit of ice I was fine. Pretty much flustered the woman who brought the ice, though–along with the size of the group that were lined up, and one of the computers shutting down. I wanted to say something to soothe her nerves, but just thanked her for the ice and went on my way at the end of my shift.

Been thinking about my spouse, bone weary of traveling to the big city, staying there several nights, missing the family. I’m ttrying to be less reactive to his appeals to relieve him be going back to work. Which, I continually assure him, I am attempting to do. One can’t substitute teach at the very beginning of the year, after all, and there were orientations to attend and paperwork they had to receive still. Then I could make as much in a day as he could make in one hour. But of course, it would open up the field for further opportunities, and after twenty years I could probably get to one third his salary plus benefits. That’s how much folks are willing to pay for fast-fluxing, always changing, always at the competitive edge cell phone service (he works for one of the large providers) as compared to teachers for their community’s children. Ironic, no? If only they could make schooling more efficient and put all those kids on computers that could quickly train them to work at those cell phone companies, video game creation shops, app development firms, and the ones with a hankering for social service, cyber-intelligence and security. Then the teachers could go find careers in real estate or selling futons.

The other day I’d asked my spouse to remember  that I was committed to pitching in, I was not dragging my feet, finally felt I could balance it with family responsibilities (if he found local work), but that I needed to feel he was on my side, at my back, rooting for me, rather than a feeling of being pushed out into that mean ‘ole world and suck it up. His mom had cried at going back to work, and I did feel it would be a big adjustment for me to “go back,” but that I was going in with my eyes open and willingly. (I admit to you that this is a statement of faith, with a bit of “fake it ’till you make it” to it–resolve rather than conviction, you know.)

I picked up my two kids at the park on their way home between rain showers, the first in over a month, heard them debrief, caught tones of general contentment with their teachers and classmates in general, optimism about the year ahead, except my daughter felt that her L.A. teacher was not so good. My first thought was–no way; she has to have a good L.A. teacher, or she might lose her love for writing. And, maybe I should homeschool her just in that. As in, no choice about it, really. As the sky darkened, she lamented how much time of her day was now being used up, with so little left to make her own choices. A waste of time, she said, and I dutifully answered, It depends what you do with it. Just like time off, in that sense, or full time job. Also like prison time. Depends what you do with it.

Later I made a point of calling my husband, which I don’t do often enough, sharing the day, and he so appreciated it.

 

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Education, Places & Experiences

 

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