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Baseline
So, my husband, yesterday, gave me instructions on how to wash my hands. Or, rather, a household handwashing policy he was now implementing.

Handwashing.

(Admittedly, this is the same man who has given instructions on how to brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and defecate. H has taught me to look past the words to the heart, and I can recognize, "All right, he's not saying this to be bossy, he's saying this because he genuinely cares and wants me to be healthy/unhurt. I can appreciate that motivation." I am not yet to the point where my heart perceives these instructions as loving, but at least my head can.)

This came up because there is a particular handwashing procedure at one of the medical facilities he frequents. I was a bit grumpy about it because it is identical to the food-safety handwashing procedure at nearly any restaurant.

Everybody at some point works a minimum-wage food service job. Nobody's proud of it, but it's how we all started. This is how I thought of the world. It's silly to be telling me how to do something that was the first priority to teach everyone at the first job they ever had.
But wait - one of the hoops Rick is jumping through right now is partly because that WASN'T part of his experience. He didn't work fast food, because there were other considerations at that time. Maybe my experience is not everyone's.

So, what's the baseline I'm thinking of here?
When I started pursuing a nursing major, I had a very keen interest in being a Pediatrics nurse someday. I love kids. Later, I learned from other young nurses that, "everyone wants peds," so only the very best get it.

Well.

I don't really think I can be the very best.
And I also have a keen interest in NICU, which is a little unique. (Peds, you get to wear fun cartoon-character scrubs and play with your patients. NICU, your patients are very tiny, incredibly vulnerable, and you ache seeing them in whatever condition got them there.) So, I had my sights set on working as a nurse in Mayo Clinic's NICU. 

Two years later, I'm living in the Bighorns, going to school, working at a daycare. Loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. I distinctly remember one October afternoon running around with about twenty four-year-olds on a big grassy lawn, thinking, "Could Heaven BE any better than this??"

(Yes, of course it can. I've come to understand a bit more about God since that year.)

Still had this idea, though, that everyone wants to work with the little ones. Yes, we would all like to do that, but we can't all do that, now can we, so why don't you pick something a little less competitive? Same thing with doing music as a career. You can't do what you love if everyone wants to do it and you're not the very best. No one will want you. I believed it.

Today, I help with about a dozen two-year-olds one morning each week. Their moms get a chance to gather, meet with other adults, one of the grandmothers teaches from the Bible. We who love toddlers get toddler-time, moms get time with each other, toddlers get to see other kids and play with other toys, moms know their kids are right there in the same building so they can relax, it's great.

Toddlers are a hoot, I tell you. The things they say. The things they do. Their tiny-but-furious dramas. (I have one pair of sympathetic twins. Bold-twin will be totally nonchalant, even playful, about having her diaper changed, while Sensitive-twin is five feet away having a meltdown because somebody is doing something to Sister.) I just figured that, this is a middle-of-the-week thing. EVERYBODY would be doing this, except that they all have jobs and aren't available.

I usually share at least one entertaining moment from this with my sister. (Last time's was, when we are two, and our dear friend is one, we do not pick our dear friend up by the neck. Rules to live by.) My sister is a teacher of middle-schoolers, and after over a year of these, she asked me if I had any interest in ECE, because schools really needed ECE teachers.

What? This had not occurred to me. Here, I'd been thinking preschool teaching was what a lot of young women did when they wanted to work with kids until they could get married and have their own. I'm married, whoever heard of a married preschool teacher?

Later, same week, I was hanging out with my neighbor S. (I'd had a really bad night, and Rick had to work, so he arranged with S that we'd hang out and watch a movie, rather than letting me wallow in my hate-misery.) S is also a teacher of middle-schoolers, and I mentioned what Butterfly had said. And this woman that I usually kind of envy, because she is slim and blonde and gainfully employed and keeps to a regular workout schedule and has a big family in the area that she can connect with who will take care of her when she's sick and spend holidays together...clearly expressed that she had no interest whatsoever in little ones.

What?

No, seriously. She likes working with kids where you can have a rational conversation about their actions. 

I can see the sense of this. It's pretty tough to get the message across to one of the little runabouts, "No, he had the toy first. We don't take a toy someone else is playing with. Let's go find another toy." Five minutes later, same conversation. 

But Rick's encouragement, and Butterfly's encouragement, and S's encouragement all came together, and something clicked, "Wait, this is something I know I can do...that NOT everyone can do! There IS, actually, a need for this!"

Look, it's not that I think the things I can do are without value, anymore. It's just that the things I can do, and like to do, it seems like everyone would want to do them, so why would anyone hire ME to do them?

This is kind of eye-opening for me. I'm hopeful, and excited, and going to be chewing on this idea for a little while.
 
 
   
 

Remembrance: the Next Generation
If you've read here before, you know that I am notoriously sad and rememberful (go with it) on September 11th.  Growing up near the border of Queens, 25 miles from there (via road; I think it's way less if I could just do a straight trajectory) to the point we could see the smoke rising from the site... this is a day that hits me hard at random points of the year, but the days surrounding the tragedy especially.  I get sucked into 9/11 specials, memories resurface... you get the picture.

Today, as I was getting ready to leave the high school, I was coming around a corner, and nearly bumped into two juniors who were being...affectionate against the wall.  Immediately, the boy straightened up and said, "Hi, Miss E" and I greeted them both.  The girl, LM said, "I went off on P-H (the assistant principal) today".  I asked why, as this is not the WISEST decision (he's not an intimidating fellow, but he is kinda powerful, and either way, I don't encourage the kids to 'go off' on anyone, staff or student). And JD says, "Because we didn't have a moment of silence this morning.  That's just wrong, man".

I probably shouldn't be so touched by this feeling, but I got a little teary-eyed listening to them talk about it.  They were LESS THAN TWO YEARS OLD when the Twin Towers fell; they were born in 2000 or so (YIKES!), and were not even toddlers, had no awareness of this historic event unfolding in their lifetime, and yet, they were really upset that the school hadn't observed a moment of silence; and also that Mr. P-H had insisted that it HAD happened.   J said, "Well, we better do it at our (football) game tonight".  

I was really surprised at how strongly they both felt about this.  Especially since I worked in a history class last year that J was in, and he had NOTHING to contribute to our discussionS about September 11th when we got to that era of history.  I guess still waters really do run deep.
 
 
 

   
My Heart Hurts
One of my kiddos was absent yesterday.  We figured he was going to get his bottom braces put on, since he got the top ones on last week and the bottoms were supposed to go on at some point this week, so hey, why not yesterday?  Tuesdays are a great day to get braces.

We found out today that instead of getting braces, he, his dad, and younger sister moved to Tennessee instead.

That's the same.  Right?

I'm so glad the father finally found a job.  And it's near his birth mom (who may or may not be in some kind of prison situation).  But... damn.  All day long, I just kept feeling like I was being simultaneously punched in the gut and the chest.  He's such a great kid; nice to everyone, funny, pretty smart, (a little bit too lazy, but no one's perfect), friendly, sarcastic, a problem-solver, independent... all of us at one point were just dead silent, and didn't know how to bring up ANY topic to interrupt the silence.  I don't know if you know this, but eleven and twelve year olds in the spring of their sixth grade year are not known for their silence.  That's how much this impacted us.
Especially with our trip coming up in 2 weeks.  He was SO excited about it :0/.

And his step brother is still here (and step sister and step mom), and he's just kinda... I don't know.  I tried to check in with him at lunch AND recess, but couldn't get a good reading.  A little down from usual, but... next few days are going to be interesting.  Not really a good interesting.

We miss you, K.  It truly will not be the same without you.
What a crappy day to not have the counselor be available - can you imagine if the principal had gotten her way and done away with one of the days we HAD a counselor?  We're already not able to meet all of the emotional needs of children at three days a week - two and we might as well just get 'crisis services' on speed dial.
 
 
   
 

Plans
So, I didn't catch all the details because I walked in mid-conversation yesterday, but the gist of it is, J.Sw apparently struck his 1:1 assistant, SS yesterday.  He didn't hit him with his body; I guess he was on the couch and shoved a pillow very hard into SS' face/nose.  It was hard enough that after school (when I walked in on the convo,  a good 4 hours after the event), he was still upset by it, and still complaining that his nose hurt.

He was also pretty upset that it wasn't dealt with 'according to the plan'.  The plan says that if he calls for the office for an escort, our principal is to come down, and if she's not available, than our lead teacher or the nurse.  He was upset that the principal was busy, and the secretary didn't know the plan or said no one was available, so the school counselor was called in.  He thinks that she coddled him and didn't have the full picture, because then he was allowed to be in gym class the next period with what appeared to be no consequence, including issuing an actual apology to SS.

And I'm sure he's right, this could have been dealt with more efficiently, and that it is F R U S T R A T I N G as fuck (oo!) when a plan is created and then not followed.

But it started with him. He broke the plan before the boy even touched him.

I will start by saying I'm not on his official TEAM, so I don't know the nuts and the bolts.  But I do know him.  J.Sw is so emotionally fragile, he is constantly shutting down over what others would consider small upsets like a kid in his chair or the cafeteria switching the lunch for the day.  So, imagine how he's doing when his immature mother was sent to jail for a few nights in December right before Christmas for stealing 21 people's identities, and then them being evicted from their home in January, and his mom constantly threatening to break the ONE promise she made - that he could finish 6th grade here at our school and not move to a closer school.

Not well.  The answer is not well.  AND for the first time since he was in 3rd grade, we're actually expecting him to succeed academically..
There's a reason he's been 'terrible' lately; he's just trying to stay afloat.

The plan as I know it:  J.Sw shuts down/leaves an expected location, he is to be given a reminder of where he should be, or given a 2nd, un-preferred activity/location (I guess the issue yesterday was he decided to sit on the couch, and the couch wasn't his option).  He has up to a minute to make a choice.  If he refuses, he is told 'you're non-compliant, I am calling the office' (which gives him another chance to make a decision), and then the call is placed, and the staff involved are to disengage with him.  No talking, no looking (unless he like, starts hitting.  He can rip or kick or whatever it is at that point), NOTHING until the escort arrives.

So...why were you crouching next to an upset and unstable student who was being non-compliant, 'motivating' him to come back?  When he's non-compliant, it's because he's past his limit.  He can't function the expected way, so he does whatever he can to control the situation.  And I'm sorry it involved you getting hurt via pillow, but you were in the wrong.  I don't think it's right for him to be physically aggressive with no consequence, but you set yourself up for the injury by moving closer and engaging him when 'the plan' you were part of making dictates the opposite.  And as far as you not thinking it was fair that he then participated in P.E., the designed program says explicitly that every period is a fresh-start; so if he wasn't behaving in math, but pulled it together afterwards, he gets no carry-over/conversations about what happened earlier in the day.  Granted, the office/ counselor probably could have done more, but you can't be mad at the un-involved P.E. teacher for warmly welcoming him to her circle and then letting him have every opportunity his peers do for fun. 

--------------------------------------------------------
Dear Weather,
I finally got clearance to have FUN with my student on Friday after 2 months of missing EVERYTHING.  Could you please not be a jerk and snow so much we can't have school on Friday?  Not even a delay - rage all you want tomorrow (actually...don't), but...let Friday be clear?
Kthanks.
 
 
 

   
Let's Recap Today, Shall We?
Ah, the first day of the work week.  Here was mine:

Emily looks outside to see that of the predicted 7 inches of snow, we have gotten ...maybe a quarter inch.  So she showers, dresses, fixes hair, shovels, cleans off the car, eats breakfast, and prepares to go to work, about half an hour later than usual (but because she gets to work more than an hour early, losing half an hour is really tolerable).

Emily goes to get into car, learns that the car is frozen in locked position.

Emily fights with her father about how to remedy this situation as clock ticks on.  Emily has to eventually concede that father's plan, while still sounding asinine, works, and the car unlocks and she can climb in and drive the 1.8 miles to school safely.

About 1.5 miles into the trip, Emily learns that school is having a 2-hour delay.  Honestly, show up to school, and there are 3 other cars - the custodian who has to do things like clear walk ways, the woman who answers the phone every morning until the secretary comes in, and the woman who runs the before/after school program.  Jacqui shows up as I head in to say, 'you're here early' and I say, 'yeah; I apparently don't get the call about delays this year' and then she says, 'oh; well, Michael might still cancel school' and I almost vomit.

A power outage hit the school on Friday, and apparently that meant there was no trace of heat in the building the last 2 days.  But don't worry; the room I work in, aka the coldest room in the building on a good day, the radiator is completely broken due to a burned-up fan.  Emily (who wears jeans and sweatshirts through summer), leaves her heavy winter coat on through 1:30.

A poor, small raccoon has been sprayed in the face by a skunk, and blinded by this pungent juice, has taken solace in one of the back doorways, so THE ENTIRE FREAKING BUILDING SMELLS LIKE A SKUNK.  Honestly, I thought a skunk had come INTO the building.  We had to keep the classroom door shut most of the day because Trish's eyes were watering so badly.

Keddie was absent, no sub was gotten for her, and I was left to lead the group, while my kiddo was outta control AND there were no plans.  I was told we had subplans at 1:10 (the group ends at 1:15).

And...it's only Monday.  Somehow.
 
 
   
 

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