I am a
One of the first skills we learn from our parents is how to lie.
It’s a necessary survival skill and the first lie we usually master is the lie of “omission”. Of course you can’t tell Aunt Ruth she looks fat in that dress! And you can’t tell her we hate the way she cooks chicken. And no, of course we won’t tell her that her house is a mess compared to ours and her children behave horribly and the chaos makes us crazy! “If you can’t say something nice…”
The next lie we learn is the lie of “silence and avoidance” which is really just a variation on the previous lie. The difference is that rather than omit little thoughts that are rambling around in your head, you avoid whole topics…minefields of possible problems. Dinner conversation, especially at your grandparent’s, aunt’s, pastor’s, neighbor’s, classmate’s home, does not include religion, politics, sports, or family secrets (like Uncle Fred is in jail, or cousin Edna is living with her sister’s ex-husband, or your dad cheats on his taxes). There are some subjects you don’t discuss away from home or without your parent’s explicit permission. So you learn to be silent.
And of course the best lie to perfect is the lie of politeness. Politicians, preachers, and psychologists refer to this as putting a “positive spin” on a negative situation. My mother always referred to it as “finding the good in anyone, even a sinner”. I was never quite sure who she meant since we were taught in SS that we were ALL sinners, but I wasn’t about to argue semantics with her. There are dozens of websites that will coach you on the details of doing this in your writing, public speaking, or “self-speak”- your inner thoughts. My son likes to remind me that in the South you can spot this lie by listening carefully for certain terms: “Yes, she’s in jail again, but bless her heart, she can’t help it with that family of hers.” This is the lie of explanations and excuses. It’s the lie of sunshine and magic and fairy tales.
Next is the “band-aid lie”, better known as the apology. This is the one that’s needed after you’ve told more truth than you planned to or you’ve actually hurt someone. It doesn’t matter if you intended to or not. I’m sure you remember saying “I’m sorry” every time your parents requested it…even though you wanted to punch that little kid again because he stole your doll, called you a bad name, or said your dad was stupid. “I’m sorry” is sometimes even used to cover up your true feelings from the outset, as in, “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you move your car so I can get into my driveway?” You know you aren’t one bit sorry the fool doesn’t know how to park his car!
Most of us like to think of ourselves as truthful, but the real truth is that we avoid the truth whenever possible. The truth often hurts those we love, gets us into trouble, and can even make us a social outcast. So we filter our thoughts and words and actions every moment of the day. If we’ve been taught well by our parents we may not even be aware that we’re doing it.
The more I learn…the more I realize how little I know. So it should not come as a surprise that I often debate with myself and others about how much we should try to teach our kindergarten students. There are basic facts and problem-solving skills that every child should have. Most states have decided on a core list of goals and expectations. However, in the end it all comes down to one thing- the ability to read. I don’t include “and write” anymore. We all realize the computer, phone, “device” is replacing that need. And I seldom mention math. I know the “math people” are going to write my name down on a list somewhere, but let’s face it, most of the population can get by with the most basic counting skills and a calculator. Beyond that…people learn the math they need to know.
So…as we begin our second report card period our goal in kindergarten remains the same: figure out how 26 letters form the foundation for anything and everything we want to do for the rest of our lives.
One of the sad things I observed during the school carnival Friday night was how many of our children are obese. I thought at first that I was just imaging that about half the children I saw were overweight. Then I really started to pay attention to the students who had been in my class within the past five years. Unfortunately many of them look like they have been fed a steady diet of junk food and soda.
I wasn’t a fat child. I really didn’t start to put on weight until after I had children. I could only recall two classmates who were heavy, so I went back and checked every class photo I could find. Sure enough, most of my classes averaged one heavy child per year. Then I looked at the class photos for each year that I’ve taught since 1999. There were only one or two overweight children in each kindergarten class.
So what happens between first grade and fifth? Less activity? More junk food? More video games and television? I don’t know the answers. I only know that I read today that there is an alarming increase in the number of children who get Type 2 diabetes. You can read more at this site: Diabetes
I was complaining to a friend last week because there haven’t been many butterflies at the house this fall. Well, today there were dozens! I suppose butterflies have their own agendas, just like other creatures. So now it must be time to stop at the Maurer house. There were several Monarchs, Gulf Fritillaries, Painted Ladies, Sulphurs, and Swallowtails today. At one point I counted eight butterflies on the zinnias next to the birdbath.
The birds were also more active and I’ve spotted a couple that I can’t yet identify. The cardinals and the mocking birds were busy taking turns at the birdbath and drying on the fence. The woodpecker traveled up and down one of the fence posts several times and even explored the empty blue bird house.
Sometimes it’s the little things that are comforting…like a cup of coffee and my view from here.
My mind is racing this morning with too many thoughts and not enough time. I’m preoccupied with some problems, but at the same time I’m thinking of creative things I want to do and changes I want to make in my life. It’s like the mid-life crisis of 40 all over again. LOL
I know that my current mindset has been prompted by my decision to retire from teaching. I should make it clear that I have no desire to stop working, nor will my finances allow me to do that. So I’ll be applying for SS, but also looking for a part-time job. That causes my mind to wonder, “What kind of job?” The possibilities are constantly running a dialogue in the recesses of my mind.
School is still a challenge this year and I’m not one to just “coast through” even my last year. So I’m frequently mulling over ways to do things better and to make this last year successful.
There are some community activities going on that I like to be part of and I have some ideas for improving.
My mind comes up with a new writing project almost daily! I’m currently working on a children’s book, an article about teaching, and a genealogy project.
We have some family situations that need attention and prayer, so part of my mind is there.
I’m trying to decide what to do about a new camera.
Thinking, thinking, thinking….
The result of my mid-life crisis at 40 was a new career. I went back to college and became a teacher! Wonder what I’ll do this time?
Since our “big camera” broke last week I’ve had to re-think my financial and personal priorities a bit and I’ve given some serious thought to how photography fits into my long-range plans. My husband is amused because he originally bought the camera and I said it was “too complicated for me to use”. He likes to tell people that once I figured out the basics of it he couldn’t get me to give it back to him. But the truth is that my interest in photography just happened to grow as his own was waning. He’s always been more interested in being knowledgeable about the lens than being behind it. So things worked out well for both of us.
Over the past few years people have often commented that I must “have a good camera” because my photos are so good. I appreciate the oddly phrased compliment because I do understand the role that equipment plays in photography. However, the assumption that photography is mostly about the camera is false. And I think my new dependence on a very basic camera proves that. I can still take some enjoyable photos because I have vision, patience, and opportunity. And I took a few photos in 1990 that are still worth viewing, even though they were taken with a camera that is now considered obsolete.
Gary and I were talking last night about the demise of big photography studios now that so many people have part-time photography businesses at home. Wedding photography has probably suffered the most because of the great quality of photos taken by amateurs. Senior portraits, engagement photos, and baby pictures can now be taken by someone you know instead of someone you find in the phone book. Some of that shift in the industry IS because of the availability of quality cameras at affordable prices. And digital makes photography easier in many ways. However…
Thanks to FB I have the opportunity to enjoy photos taken by a variety of amateur and professional photographers. Each has a different vision and it’s quite obvious that some are far superior to others. And yes, I can also tell, sometimes, that a person has a big fancy camera or a professional lens or whatever. But does that really matter? Not to me. I’m too busy looking at the image to care much about how it was produced. It’s still the vision of the photographer that interests me.
Yes, there will be a better camera in my future. But I’m not anxious to make a purchase tomorrow. I’m not unhappy because of my current limitations. I’m still eager to go outside and see what opportunities are there for me. I still trust that my personal vision will shine through any lens.
Yesterday was a great day, but also a bit sad. I love Heritage Day, especially the parade. I love the way people get together to do all the “behind the scenes” work that is required for the event. I love seeing people gather to support their town and visit with each other. I love seeing folks who have been gone for a while and returned to be with their families. I love meeting new people! I had the opportunity to meet some “email friends” in person. And I just love the excitement of the day. Heritage Day has been celebrated for thirty years. Before that there was the Corn Carnival and the Township Fair. Caddo has always known how to have a good time!
And I had a good time. However, I felt a little like an outsider because of my lack of involvement in the event. In the past I’ve served in a variety of positions with CCA. I’ve worked on the preparation for HD and worked all day at the event. Yesterday I barely managed to stay until noon and take pictures of the parade. I had great difficulty walking the last block to my truck. I was in pain much of the afternoon and had trouble sleeping. I’ve reached the point where I need to seriously rethink my physical abilities and start modifying what I attempt to do. I think next year I may leave the photos to someone else and I’ll volunteer in the museum or at the information booth.
Now before you think this is a pity party let me assure you that God gave me a clear understanding yesterday of how blessed I am. I had a couple of conversations with people who have far more serious physical problems. I noted the absence of some friends who can no longer attend because of age and/or health. And of course I was quite aware that my father wasn’t going to saunter down the street and tease me about my obsession with photography. I am still at the stage where I can recover from a difficult day by resting and taking medications. I feel much better today and I doubt that I will have any trouble completing my usual tasks throughout the next week. It’s only the “unusual” tasks that challenge my abilities, and those are the ones I need to re-examine.
I told someone earlier this week that our mental health seriously affects our physical health. Yesterday was just a reminder that I have to keep taking my own advice! Perspective and attitude…
I was thinking as I drove home from the Social Security office this morning that although my official work history is recorded by them in years and dollars, my own memory of my working career is somewhat more emotional and visual. I remember and associate people and places and random details of my experiences with them rather than what I earned. In fact, were it not for the records of the SS, I would be hard-pressed to tell you my salary for most of my employment years. I only recall that it was usually not enough!
Like most women I earned my first “real money” from baby-sitting. Although I worked in the fields for many years, we seldom got more than a little spending money from it. Farm work was done for the benefit of the whole family. So it wasn’t until I was about ten and we lived next door to a woman with an infant that I earned my own money that I could spend any way I chose to. Ironic that I remember nothing about the baby, or my experience keeping him. But I do remember the woman showing me how to make strudel.
I can’t remember doing much other than baby-sitting through high school. I attended my first years of college and planned at that time to teach high school English. However, I had also gotten married and later divorced so I took a job as a waitress somewhere in Durant. Don’t remember anything except late hours and the owner’s dog eating a hamburger in the kitchen. LOL I think I actually got fired from that job. Next job was waiting tables at the old bowling alley that has now become the visual arts building for the university. Lots of highway patrolmen and young reserves came there in the afternoon for sodas and I very often mixed up their orders. I don’t think I was suited to serving food!
Next I moved to California and lived with my grandmother. I went to work as an EKG technician in a large teaching hospital. They provided training and I think I was pretty good at the job. I wasn’t bothered by rotating shifts or working in all areas of the hospital including geriatrics or the psyche ward or ER. I was a little nervous in the TB ward and sometimes I prayed as I worked on a criminal from the local jail. What finally bothered me most was just being present for so many deaths. I was a little young for that much serious reality, but I did meet this interesting guy at a hospital party and we’ve shared our life ever since.
My memory and language skills helped me get my next job…as a proofreader for a small advertising and printing agency. The firm printed grocery inserts and a variety of ads for local newspapers. I had to spot spelling and price errors and remember which brand of condiment was “catsup” and which was “ketchup”! I was quickly promoted to paste-up artist and did that for a couple of years. Unfortunately the owner had big spending habits and his airplane, Cadillac, summer home and other amenities caused him to go bankrupt. I spent two years wandering from print shop to print shop. One other owner also went bankrupt and the sheriff actually closed us down. I thought I was cursed!
Then I worked at my dream job for a couple of years. I was the production manager/editor for a small publishing house that produced history books and police/sheriff department yearbooks. It was the ads sold for the yearbooks that mostly kept the place afloat. The production and sale of history books was more or less a “break even” business. But I got to meet authors, both famous and unknown, and I worked with one of the best women I’ve ever met. We became life-long friends.
A couple of moves and life changes caused me to stay home and be a full-time mom for a while. I did some volunteer work and a few odd jobs. I did a lot of writing and managed to make some money now and then. Another move brought us to Caddo where I worked in the daycare at the Baptist Church. I remember some sweet kids and playing with a Rubik’s cube during nap time.
Back to CA where I worked for a team cleaning service for a short while before deciding that I could make more money on my own. Cleaned houses and then worked as a nanny for a few years. Worked for some wonderful people and still keep in touch with some of them.
A part-time Christmas job at Macys’ became a five year career. I worked on the sales floor covering lunches, breaks, employee shortages, absences, and vacations. Also worked in gift wrap, customer service, and the loading dock. Operated the 10-line switchboard. Began working in the personnel office in 1988. At the time I left I was the only employee in the history of the store to work in every single department. I was even the store secretary for three months!
My boss at Macy’s became the human resources manager for a local hospital and hired several of us away from the store. I was a receptionist for her office for a year before we returned to Caddo one more time.
I worked for a daycare center in Durant and then as a teacher’s aide for one of the elementary schools. Great memories and super friends made during those years! Went back to college and got my bachelor’s degree in education and my Master’s degree in administration. Taught in Quinlan, Texas. I actually drove from Quinlan to Durant and back each Wednesday evening in order to finish my degree! I drove home to Caddo each Friday night and back to Quinlan each Sunday night. Crazy times!!! I subbed in Durant the next year and then got a job teaching four year olds in Kingston. Then I taught kindergarten for a few years in Hugo, and now here I am in Calera, preparing for the end of my teaching career…but who knows what I’ll do next! Do you want fries with that?
Tonight I will have the privilege of talking with the parents of my students. We’ll discuss academic progress, performance, and expectations. We’ll compare notes on classroom vs. home behaviors and develop some “team strategies” for getting these boys and girls to reach our goal of sending them on to first grade.
It’s a process that I find fascinating.
I’ve had years and years of practice in education. I’ve met hundreds of students and encountered far more variety in abilities and personalities than parents will ever have the opportunity to experience. But parents have spent five or six years with their child and are certainly the experts on that student’s knowledge, skills, needs and personality. They can offer me insight into specific reactions, patterns of behavior, motivation, interests, and fears. Putting our information together is essential to the success of the child.
I know some parents feel that they have little to contribute to their child’s education and leave everything to the teacher. Others feel that the teacher is “totally wrong” and develop an adversarial approach to everything. But the majority of parents are somewhere in the middle and are doing the best they can to work together with anyone and everyone who is involved in their child’s life. They are supportive and encouraging and motivated to help their child succeed. We’re both on the same team and tonight we’ll put together our game plan!