Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 998

February 29, 2016
Day 998

Busy morning…it’s going to be a busy week all around.

Ben had his tux fitting this morning, which was chaos.  There were about 30 boys and their dates trying to look at 2 books and decide on tuxes.  Then, they all had to stand in line to be fitted.  Ben’s date doesn’t actually have her dress yet – just an on-line photo of what she has ordered.  So, hopefully, the tealish-mint green tux and tie we went with will match!  The lady measured Ben and pronounced him having a 30” waist and I told her to measure again.  He does NOT have a 30” waist.  I always have my friend, Elizabeth, put in elastic to make his pants to a 28” circumference.  So she measured again and said, “oops – you’re right.”  I KNOW I’m right! I guess the tuxes do arrive several days before prom and if anything doesn’t fit right they will take them back and make corrections before the big night.  So, that’s good, I guess.

Then I went down to Walmart to work on making copies of photos for Ben’s senior scrapbook for his party in May.  I sat there for an hour doing this when suddenly the machine ate my work – all my scanned copies – gone.  Poof…I’m just going to scan them into my computer and order on-line, I guess.  Grrr…

And while I’m scanning photos I get a call from a stranger in Illinois who used to be a resident of Swan.  Apparently, she was awarded some property here in a divorce and was wanting my opinion on whether or not it was worth it to pursue legally.  How should I know?  I don’t even know how she got my number.   So I told her what I have observed about the property and then she starts telling me how when she lived her in ’05 her teenage son was killed in a car accident and how the depression from that has immobilized her for the past decade.  I told her I could understand better than she thought and she asked, “How have you survived?  Don’t you just want to die?”  And I wished in that moment that I am a better communicator in person and that I wasn’t sitting in the photo dept. at Walmart right then.  I did tell her if she comes back to Iowa to look at the property to come over by my house.  Maybe we can talk more then.

This is “crunch week” for school. I turned in my power point presentation on “Redeeming Love” last night.  Will helped me with that.  I still have to write my big paper (5-7 pages) that’s due Thursday.  I also turned in my paper last night on the Race, Historicism, and New Colonialism theory of literary analysis.

Last Thursday night we discussed the book we read, “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin.  I was very firm and vocal about how much I disliked this book.  This is a story written in 1899.  It was even banned for a time.  It details the life of a wealthy young Creole wife named Edna.  She has two young boys that she refuses to have much interaction with.  Instead, she focuses on how unhappy she is with her lot in life and falls in love with a man who is not her husband.  In the meantime, she refuses to do what her husband wants her to do and eventually moves out of the home, much to his dismay.  So, then the man she has fallen in love with runs away because he does have some moral standards and in response to this, Edna finds another man to have sex with (not her husband).  In the end, a strong swimmer, she walks into the ocean and drowns herself because the man she is in love with won’t marry her because she is already married to someone else.  Boo, hoo, hoo…what a whiner and a loser!  Do you know how many servants and lower class people would have given anything to be in Edna’s shoes? She had prior commitments, anyway.   I have no sympathy for this character and I let her have it in our discussion.

That was our last class discussion.  I’m going to miss this class.  I’ve learned a lot and I think it’s been a good confidence booster and re-introduction to college life. I’m hoping to have earned an “A” in that – so far, so good on that, but I don’t have all the work in yet, either.  Things could change on that end yet!  My next class that starts next week will be all on-line.  And then the two classes after that will both be Lit classes again.

Will told me last Friday he’s pretty sure Special Education is what he’s going to pursue. 


Ellie’s chart is still coming along, although last week was rougher and she didn’t earn stickers every day.  At one point I told her, “I’d sure hate to be in your shoes right about now.”  She looked at me witheringly and said, “Of course not – you can’t fit in my shoes!”

I received a survey from the kids’ school asking for my input on their new behavior system.  I didn’t know it was new since this is our first year.  Unfortunately for them, they asked for parental comments on them.  I had to attach a sheet.  Now, I understand there is a bit of a paradox or at least irony here because I just wrote about Ellie’s bribery chart.  I’m desperate with her!  So now I have to make sure nobody at school ever knows I resorted to bribing my own child to be good.

Because I wrote them a 7 paragraph note in which I asked, “Since when do we reward children for doing what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place?”  I explained that my own kids know understand that if they don’t obey, they will suffer the consequences of disobedience (well, except for Ellie, who couldn’t care less – I didn’t tell them that, though).  I also commented that I don’t recall, as a child,  ever having kids with repeated behavioral issues like I have observed in both my kids’ classrooms in my own – but then, I added, I grew up in an era where the teachers and principal had wooden paddles hanging behind their desks.  I said that I understand that school does differ from home and that times have changed.  However, I added in my  last paragraph, I feel we are doing children a grave disservice because someday when they are adults they may be shocked to discover that nobody is applauding them for exhibiting the characteristics of good citizenship.  My note probably made a quick trip to the recycling bin, I have a feeling…

This did spur further thought in my own mind, though, after I wrote and sent in the survey and note.  What IS the solution, other than revival in our society?  I hear the stories that Sam and Lizzie bring home about the trouble makers in their classes.  It sure sounds to me like a lot of the teacher’s time goes toward these kids – which means my own are being shortchanged in the process.  That day I was there to help with Lizzie’s class Valentine party the main classroom offender was in time-out and his teacher made a comment to me about something his “behavior plan” states.  You mean they have plans for behavior now, not just special education?  I mentioned that to Will and he said yeah, this was something that had been covered in one of his classes.  Apparently, they act very similar to IEPs and outline how the kid who can’t control himself will be handled.

I have a solution.  It’s not the final solution because that involves heart change and mending generations of broken families and children.  And it’s not something that could be taken care of at the school level, either.  It would have to be legislative in nature.  The key to fixing behavioral issues in  the classroom is to make the onus be on the parents.  I guarantee you that these two little boys my kids tell me about nearly every day are not facing any consequences at home when they act up in school.  But, if a system was in place that stated if your child won’t behave in the classroom, he will no longer be allowed to attend school – I guarantee you those kids would shape up in a hurry.  If those parents would suddenly be required to homeschool, enroll their child in an alternative school, or even just be required to attend school with their delinquent offspring there wouldn’t be any more problems.  But because it isn’t touching the parents, they don’t have any motivation to enact severe consequences of their own on their child.  From what I hear from most teachers, anyway, is that parents today get offended when told about their child’s misbehavior and immediately start making excuses or flat out telling the teacher, “You’re wrong.  My child would never do that.”

So anyway.  Our schools are a mess.  Our children are a mess.  Families are a mess.  All we can do is muddle along the best we can.

There is a family that has moved in down the street.  Four adults and 7 children in this 3 bedroom house (pretty sure that’s illegal with renting, but since nobody even knows for sure who the landlord actually is at the moment, that’s probably the least of concerns).  The kids are all siblings and range from 2 – 16.  They discovered my house last week when it warmed up.  David was outside shooting baskets and came in the house all flustered because “those teenage girls just keep staring at me and whispering!”  Saturday the grade schoolers were over in the afternoon, along with some other neighbor kids.  I had trouble with one kid who got into my garage and took out hedge trimmers and lied to me about it.  After explaining the danger of what he had done to him and getting him to admit to his crime (while insisting me look at me in the eyes – that was probably the hardest part.  He wanted to look at the floor and was literally trying to bury his face into his shirt collar) I told him that was his only warning.  If he ever lied to me again (or got in the garage – I need to keep that locked up when others are here) I’d never let him come over again.  Finally, his brother (who had ratted him out in the first place) looked at me and asked, “Are you a teacher or something?”  That made me smile.  I told him nope – just a mom to a lot of  kids…which means there isn’t too much I haven’t dealt with already.  So, hopefully, I put the fear of Mrs. Heywood into them and there won’t be any more problems.  But, I’m going to limit playtime, anyway.  I’m not going to be a babysitter for the entire neighborhood. Maybe if I’m mean enough they’ll stay away, anyway!
I had a strange, vivid dream one night last week.  It makes me wonder if it was prophetic.  Maybe it was the dessert I ate before turning out the lights.  I don’t know!

Anyway, I was returning from somewhere in time.  I came back and America had lost all its rights (apparently it was taking place after the elections of 2016!).  Our family was living in a dumpy apartment with another family.  Everyone’s food was provided by the government.  So, in my dream we were excited because somehow we’d stumbled across 2 lemons ( I don’t even like lemons) and we were going to have fresh fruit for supper!  And I was holding a package of deerburger in my hand, which must have been contraband because when we heard a sudden knock at the door, I threw it, along with the lemons in a nearby cupboard and made sure they were buried under some towels.

Later, I was outside and I realized that I was not seeing any mini-vans or SUVs on the road.  Everyone had a small, junky looking car.  I asked someone about that and they said, well, there were no more children, so larger vehicles were not needed.  I asked, “”What do you mean, no more children?”  Because I had seen children in my dream.  But this person pointed out to me that the only children were about 9 year or older.  Nobody else was allowed to have babies anymore.  And I realized that was right.  Which, on this side of the dream, makes me wonder how the government thought they were going to sustain themselves without future citizens.

And then I was back in the apartment.  Will was in there and he pointed to a bedroom door that was partially open.  He explained there was a man in there praying about stepping up and causing a revolution against the government but he needed to know for sure that this is what God wanted of him.  I peeked in but all I could see where bent knees, with his elbows on them and the tips of his shoes.

Anyway it was an interesting – and spooky and eerie dream.
Ellie to me just now as I am typing: “You don’t have to worry, Mom – I cleaned all the kool-aid up myself!”  I don’t want to know.  I don’t want to know…
Yesterday, I was getting dressed for church and as I eased myself into my spanx (compression undergarment) Lizzie asked me, “Isn’t wearing that like telling God you’re not happy with the body He gave you?”  I wish she was a little dumber sometimes.

I went scrapbooking Friday night and the next morning I saw that my white board in the kitchen was covered in Will’s handwriting.  He had laboriously written out the 10 Commandments, plus a couple other commandment-like instructions from Jesus.  The Littles told me how he sat down with them while I was gone and went through them with them and suggested that they start learning them.

I asked him about it later and he said that he had been listening to David Jeremiah on the radio sometime recently and he had made the comment that  Christians get very upset about the 10 Commandments being removed from courthouses and other public places, but yet, most Christians don’t even have them hung in their own homes.  Will said he got to thinking about that and realized that was true of us and decided to rectify that.  I had never thought about that.

It’s a good idea.  I remember a number of years ago our church did a video series that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort put out.  The point of the series was that the 10 commandments are an integral part of salvation.  Nobody can be saved until they understand that they are a sinner.  The purpose of the commandments is to point out the sins we commit.

I don’t think I want to keep the commandments on my white board forever so maybe I should find something decorative with the commandments on them to keep in the house.

Anyway, that Will…he’s going to be a good dad someday.

Today’s Facebook post:  This falls under the “ugh” and “So much for my Mother of the Year award” categories:

When you're in a hurry and you tell your 7 yr old to get in the van, we're going to be late… and a few minutes later you go outside and she's messing with the back of the dirty van instead of sitting nicely buckled in her seat like she was told-so you read her the riot act, telling her, "I said you better get in that van RIGHT NOW!" And then later, you happen to look in your rear view mirror and see etched in the grime of the back window the words,"I love my mom"... don't think I can feel much lower at the moment...

And then there’s Ben.  We were leaving this morning for his tux fitting and he looked inside his lunch bag to see what I had packed.  He took out his can of pop turned it over and announced that he couldn’t drink it because the expiration date was August of 2015.  I explained that the pop had not been opened and if he got another can it wouldn’t be cold like this one was.  And besides, pop is mostly chemicals anyway, so everything is preserved already.  He was having none of it and said, “I don’t care if I have warm pop.  I can’t drink anything expired!”  Give me a break…so we were later than I wanted to be all on account of expired pop.  I don’t know if this is just Ben or if it has to do with the autism.

Well, this is my last post, ever, for Mothering Men to Be and Misc…I’m not going to quit writing.  I need this outlet!  But I’ve started a new blog that’s titled a little more appropriately for my current life.  I’ll be putting up a link a couple of days to that.  So you’ll just need to bookmark the new site and then you can continue to follow the adventures of which my life seems to be made.  I guess with my circumstances and this many kids it couldn’t be anything but adventurous!  I like documenting this ride...

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