Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tears aren't going to cut it

I am an elementary school teacher. My official job is to educate children; my unofficial job is to give hugs when my students are down, to mediate squabbles, and to teach my students how to be good people. I've started this post many times over the last several weeks, and have been unable to complete it.

The horrific events at Sandy Hook have left us all reeling. I have tried valiantly to avoid news coverage, and have marshaled all of my forces to behave as if everything is the same in my classroom. Except it's not. The parents that picked their children up on 12/14 knew it; they squeezed them extra hard, and one mother with red-rimmed eyes hugged me and simply whispered "thank you." I can't help looking at the first grade classes, continually noting how very, very small they are. We have all shed many tears, both for the children and their teachers, knowing that each one of us would do exactly the same for our students if confronted by the unthinkable.

There have been many calls for things people can do to honor those killed - performing 26 acts of kindness for each person murdered, creating snowflakes to decorate the new school where the students will be housed. These are loving and generous ideas. But for me, they are not enough.

I cried when 13 people were killed at Columbine, and again when 12 people were killed at the Aurora movie theater. I have tears springing to my eyes as I type this, and I have realized that my tears, and acts of kindness, and snowflakes are not enough.

I am a teacher, and I value information. So I started doing some research. And now, after digging through piles of information, though I am still fighting tears, I am also fighting anger. Anger that in a country with incredible resources, these mass murders are allowed to continue. Anger that we seem to value the lives of our youngest, most vulnerable citizens less than the "rights" of gun owners. Anger that the official response of the NRA CEO, Wayne LaPierre, is to call for armed guards in every school. I wonder if he realizes what a group of 20 six and seven year old first-graders looks like.

In a country with immense wealth and education, we have somehow allowed this state of affairs to continue. We have had so many mass murders in America that you can actually see a map of them (approximately 62 since 1982). What's even more appalling to realize is the amount of children that are killed by guns in America every year, which last year totaled the equivalent of more than two dozen Sandy Hooks. And still we do nothing.

I have had enough. America has had enough. I will shed tears, and I will make snowflakes, and I will mourn for all the children who have died. However, I will also take action. I will be writing to my congresspeople, both on the state and federal level. I will be donating to organizations who support gun control action and legislation. I will be writing to my mayor to ask why he is not currently a part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. And I will return to school next week, and do my best to keep my students safe - with or without the assistance of my duly elected governmental officials.

We are better than this, and it's time to prove it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time Keeps Marching On....

Well, it's been over a year since I last posted, which somewhat boggles my mind.  I know that I am not alone in the fact that time changes as I age.  Twenty-four hours doesn't seem the same as it did when I was young. I still remember the seeming endlessness of summer vacation, with long, lazy days and complaining of being bored.  I'm never bored now.  I don't know if that's an improvement, but it is what it is.  Summer now zips by, and the next one is upon me before I can believe it.  I start school again at the end of this month, and as I am lucky enough not to be starting at a new job for the first time in four years, I am looking forward to it.

I am actually lucky enough to be teaching the same grade in the same school next year - I even get to stay in the same room.  It's another one year leave replacement, but I'm relishing the ability to actually build on the work I did last year, rather than leave it in a filing cabinet for the next person.

One of the reasons I'm now never bored is that there is always something new going on - sometimes good, and sometimes not so good.  One of the not so good things happened last week - I was getting ready to go out in the morning, and walked into the kitchen to find a puddle covering the floor.  Being the quick-witted gal that I am, I instantly recognized that something was probably not as it should be.  Upon closer investigation, I discovered this:

Even without my glasses, the cause was startlingly apparent - who would have thought a pipe could be metal one minute, and fine, dusty particles the next?  Luckily, one of the wonderful benefits of owning an apartment and not a house is that I have a super I can call on his cell phone who will come and fix life's little problems.  We now have a fully functioning, less airy pipe, and all the sundry nonsense I keep under the sink has been dried out and returned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Still Knitting

Now that summer is here and I've packed up my classroom, my brain is free to concentrate on other things besides report cards and grading math homework - things like knitting!  Since we're going to Cape Cod soon, I decided I'd better finish the socks I started with the yarn I bought there last year (thus making the case that I definitely need more yarn when we go back).  Here they are (complete with Big Trouble's foot, which he felt was a crucial part of the photo):

They came together nicely, and passed the itchy test - I had no idea I had such delicate feet until I started knitting socks.  There are so many that have ended up with my Mom because after wearing them for about 5 minutes I want to rip my feet off.

The sock yarn blanket continues to make slow progress - in heat of the summer I am somewhat loathe to drape myself in wool as I work on it, but it's growing:

 I like working on it, because you can get a small square done in under 1/2 an hour - there's definitely something more gratifying about finishing one and cutting off the yarn than just going round and round on something that looks slightly bigger than when you started, but you can't tell for sure how much you've done.  Instant gratification is definitely not over-rated!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Father Time

As all of us are, I am getting older.  It doesn't bother me, and I'm not really doing anything to counteract it.  My hair has lots of white in it, which I don't dye.  I claim it's because I want to grow old gracefully, but it's really that I'm both lazy and cheap - I only get my hair cut once or twice a year - can you imagine the fabulousness of my roots if I dyed it?  I actually had a woman compliment me on my "highlights" and ask me if they were natural.   Ummm, yeah!  I thought she was joking, but she was looking at me rather earnestly with her 20-year old face, so I simply said they were.  Once when I was substituting in a 1st grade class, a little boy walked up to me and said, "You know, your hair is really different - some is brown and some is white."  The other 1st graders decided this was worth a look, and I was the object of wonder for several minutes - where I live you don't see much gray hair (you also see a lot of fake body parts, but that's a different post).

That all being said, I went into Fairway last week, and along with my groceries I bought a six-pack of beer.  As part of the cheapness thing mentioned earlier, I keep track of our spending, so a few days later I was typing the info from the receipt into Quicken.  And I noticed something odd on the receipt - where the beer purchase was listed, it had a birthday keyed in.  Apparently in this store you need to ask the patron their birthday and key it in when they make an alcohol purchase.  I don't expect to get carded, as I have long ago passed the age where anyone would think I am below the drinking age.  However, I am not a fan when the cashier simply picks an arbitrary birthday for me and punches it in to the register.

Especially when the birthday is 2 years too early. It's enough to make your hair go white...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer summer summer summer summer summer

Yes, it is indeed summer!  My last days of school were this week, and my classroom has been packed up and cleared out.  My job ended, but as it was a leave replacement for the year, I wasn't exactly blindsided by that fact.  I was, however, really sad to leave.  It was such a wonderful place to work, and the people I worked with were fabulous.  I loved working there, and it was really hard to drive away for the last time.

The good news is I have a new job.  The bad news is that it's another leave replacement for a year.  But, with education tanking left and right, I'm thrilled to have a job at all.  It's in a great district, the school is beautiful, and the people I'm working with seem terrific.  All in all, a good start.

The kids are home from school and enjoying the beginning of summer.  It's not too hot out, so we can all enjoy the nice weather without melting in our little apartment.  Not a bad way to begin (except, of course, for the piles of junk I dragged home from my classroom and haven't yet dug through...).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sleeping Under the Stars

Well, the pretend stars.  Last night Big Trouble and The Professor had their very own version of Night at the Museum.  Big Trouble's Boy Scout Troop (and apparently every other little boy in America) had a sleepover at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.  The Professor is Big Trouble's adult for all things Boy Scout (you have to have a background check now, and as they only check one guardian, said guardian is the one who goes on all the activities), so he accompanied.

Apparently, a lovely time was had by all, although apparently not a lot of sleeping was done.  Big Trouble usually drops off by 8:30 at the latest, and lights out was 11:45 last night, with the museum staff issuing a firm wake-up call at 7:00 am.  Needless to say this has made for a bleary-eyed Big Trouble today, who has not been able to muster up the energy for much trouble at all.

They got to walk around the exhibits at night after the museum closed, saw a raptor show, had a late-night IMAX movie, saw Fossils by Flashlight, and got to sleep in the Hall of Planet Earth.  This was part of Big Trouble's Christmas present (sleepovers at the museum don't come cheap, I'm afraid....), and he seemed to be truly excited.  I could tell, because he was voluntarily trying to carry their items out to the car, rather than claiming that he was having to do it "against his will."  (Big Trouble claims he has to do a lot of things against his will.  I tell him my whole life is against my will, but he doesn't seem to grasp this....)

Miss Serious and I stayed home and enjoyed a dinner out and a movie in (and got to sleep in our own beds).   Merry Christmas, Big Trouble!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet...

Add these to some of the many reasons I'm not a mail carrier.  Today I woke up to the odd pitter-patter of freezing rain flinging into my windows.  I was then greeted by the more pleasant sound of the phone ringing to tell me we had a snow day. 

I like snow days.  I think the teachers like them more than the kids.  I was thrilled to not have to brave what would have been a slippery and (as I am surrounded by giant SUVs who think they are invincible) scary ride.  And since we live in a co-op, we don't have to shovel.  (The Professor does dig out my car, for which I am eternally grateful.)

Unfortunately, since this winter has decided to get all out of control, this is our third snow day.  We have three snow days in our calendar.  It is only mid-January.  So, while I enjoy a day off as much as the next gal, this doesn't bode well for vacations, which start getting pulled the next time all that freezy stuff decides to fall from the sky.

I do need to remember to thank my mail carrier the next time I run into her, though...