Precautions

Alex was dancing like a madwoman on the very tile that altered her face a few months ago. I’m STILL paying the medical bills for that little incident, so when she started again, D took no chances.

“Hey! Go sit down until we get an insurance card from your dad!”

That, my friends, is quality parenting.

The List

I hate grocery shopping. I hate it with such a passion that I will figure out a way to eat 2-year old tuna with a side of A-1 sauce before I’ll go shop for food. So thankfully, I married someone who not only will go, but seems to enjoy it. The only task left for me to complete to get out of this chore is to make a grocery list, which is almost as excruciating to me as going, but slightly less, so I suffer through it.

Unfortunately for D, I am always on some weird diet, or see some crazy recipe on Pinterest that I want to try, so there’s always one thing on the list that throws him for a loop. I didn’t realize how often I did it until it became “a thing.”

“What the hell is that?”

“Citric acid.”

“What do you use that for?”

“I’m making bath bombs with the girls. I need it.”

“Where do I find THAT?”

“It should be by the canning stuff.”

Take 2:

“What is this?”

“Coconut water. It’s healthy.”

“Where do I find that?”

“I don’t know… by the healthy stuff, I guess.”

Take 3:

“Seriously?”

“What?”

“There’s always ONE WEIRD THING on your list.”

“No it’s not. It’s just DIFFERENT.”

“Unflavored gelatin?”

“YES. It should be by the Jell-O. Near the top or the bottom.”

He walked away, shaking his head.

I like to call it “The Education of D.” Without me, he would never be exposed to so many of the world’s amazing products.

Unspoken

Man, life has been crazy lately. Things happening all around, really put my life into perspective, and have given me reason to pause, truly pause, and reflect.

The ex has had a new girl for quite sometime. Honestly, any girl was better than TOW, but he managed to luck out and get a REALLY great one this time. Over the course of two years, she has brought out a side of him that I didn’t think existed, and managed to make him not only a better person, but I believe a better father as well.

Now let me clarify, because I know for years that I was angry and said some pretty sucky things, but Alex’s dad LOVES her. He’s a great dad. The problem is that I always compared him to MY dad, which was not fair to him. He couldn’t measure up in my eyes, just as no one will be able to measure up to HER father in her eyes. It’s a “Daddy’s Girl” thing, and that’s okay. I just think his girlfriend makes him an EVEN BETTER person, which is a win for everyone involved.

But the tell-tale sign is how much Alex loves her. She accepted Alex with open arms, and has treated her with such love and devotion that I am thankful in ways that I didn’t think was possible. She truly is a sweet, kind and remarkable woman, and I am thankful for her. Which brings me to the hard part.

Last month this amazing woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I am in a very weird position. I know it’s got to be weird to have your fiance’s ex-wife praying so hard for you to be okay, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. I want to be more vocal, and lend way more support, but I don’t want to cross any boundaries. I want to tell her thank you for being such an awesome influence to Alex, but I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying “goodbye,” because I’m not. I want to ask if I can help in some way, but I don’t want to get in the way.

I just want her to know that I love her, too. I really do.

Honestly, I have this problem with many people in my life, but this situation is particularly difficult because of the players involved. So I hang back respectfully, and pray for the absolute best. I hope I’ve said enough to let her know how much I respect her.

It also makes me unbelievably sad, because I believe that if I were diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, I’m pretty sure TBM would be overjoyed. I continue to try to do the right thing and be supportive (even financially), and we can’t even get to speaking terms. No matter what I do for her daughter, I will always be the person who destroyed her family. And that’s not even the truth… but it appears that will always be the perception. Without communication, I will never be able to change that.

If anything, I guess it’s made me a better person. I don’t want to be that angry, bitter and empty ex… I will embrace the good people in my child’s life, and be thankful for them. I will continue to be thankful for all the amazing people that cross our path, regardless of how they got there.

So as this beautiful and courageous lady begins her fight, I hope she knows that I’m in her corner.

She is family.

 

Lead Light

I had a small flashlight that was exceptionally bright. I shined it at Alex, who immediately shielded her eyes.

“Yow. That’s bright. Is it a lead light?”

“A what?”

“A lead light.”

“A LED light?”

“Yes. That’s what I said. LED. Lead.”

#geekmomfail #facepalm #hashtagsareridiculouslypretentiousbutI’mdoingitanyway

Snake

I’m pretty sure my damn dog has a death wish. A few weeks ago, Pixel shows up with a huge muzzle. He actually looked cute with his big puffy face, but I knew that it couldn’t be good, so after careful examination, I found two small puncture wounds next to his nose and immediately freaked out.

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed. “I think he got bit by a snake!”

D took one look at him. “Yep.”

“Well, should we do something? I mean, I don’t want him to die!” (Especially since we just spent a small fortune on this stupid dog).

“He’ll be fine. It used to happen all the time to my dogs out here. Just part of being in the country.”

“Seriously, this shit is getting ridiculous. It’s like something is out to get him.”

“I know. It took me forever to train those snakes.”

Moments in Love

I was sitting sideways in the passenger seat of the truck as my husband pulled through the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant. He pulled out his credit card, and with a mischevious grin, swiped the card between my thighs.

I opened my mouth in indignation when he poked me in the forehead four times.

“What the hell was that??”

“I had to punch in my pin number.”

Seriously, people, when he dies, I had nothing to do with it.

Kitters

A couple of months ago, one of my students came in with a peculiar look on his face.

“What’s the matter?” I asked him.

“There’s a kitten out in front of the school.”

I was taken aback for a moment. This student wasn’t the kitten type, but I could tell he was disturbed by what he saw. Winter was still in the air, and the temperature was hovering right above freezing. “Is it still out there?” I asked. He nodded sadly. “Is it alive?”

“Barely,” he replied in a wavering voice.

“Go get it.”

He looked at me with hope in his eyes. “Can I?”

“Yes. Go get it right now. We can’t let it die out there.” He scurried down the hallway quickly. A few moments later he returned with a tiny black waif of a creature tucked inside his jacket. His face beamed with a happiness I hadn’t seen in him before.

“It’s so little,” he said, holding it out for me to examine.

Its eyes were glued shut with the slime of sickness. He was having trouble breathing due to the crusty film that had solidified over his nose. I quickly removed the bright yellow scarf from around my neck and wrapped the pitiful creature in it. I handed the kitten to the nearest student and sent another to the environmental science teacher to get an eyedropper and some cat food. Another student ran for a warm, wet paper towel. They carefully cleaned the gunk from its eyes, and it greeted us with a tiny howl of distress.

The students took turns passing him around, the warmth of their hands bringing this poor creature back to life. It mewed pitifully, and drank dropper after dropper of water, its tiny paws clawing at the hands that held him so sweetly. The students gathered around, quickly forgetting their own troubles as they tended to the tiny black cat. Refill the eyedropper. Wipe the eyes. Sighs of “awwwww” when it would sneeze and shake its tiny head clear. Let me hold it. My turn. Be careful, it’s so little.

I know these students. I know the lives they endure and the pain that they experience. For a single moment, they were in charge of their destiny. In helping something helpless, they were empowered. You could see it in their faces: empathy. They took turns feeding and stroking the kitten. One would wipe the yellow goop from his eyes while another would refill the eye dropper and hold out a morsel of cat food for it to devour. Finally content, the tiny kitten fell asleep in their arms, a faint but distinct purr coming from the bundle of yellow fabric. There was something in the eyes of some of these kids I haven’t seen before. Happiness. Hope.

“What should we name it?” asked the student who found it.

“Kitters!” came the immediate reply. And that’s how Kitters got his name.

As the day progressed, the tiny kitten gathered strength. I had no idea what to do with him; it was obvious it had a cold of some sort. I couldn’t bring it home; if I brought one more black cat into the house, I was sure D would divorce me. To test the waters, I sent a picture.

“Look what showed up in my class today:”

IMAG0133_1

Response: “Uh huh.”

Hmmm….. I knew this would be a tough sell. The day wore on, and the kitten gained strength. By the time my conference period rolled around, it was walking around my classroom, meowing happily. Every time I moved around the room, it followed me, and when I would stop, it would look up at me expectantly.

“MEW!”

The MEW was always punctuated with a tiny sneeze and a shake of its head. Kitters had spirit.

I did not want to love this kitten, but I couldn’t help it. I sat back in my chair and giggled as it climbed up my pant leg, settling into my lap before the purring commenced again. I absent-mindedly stroked its tiny ears as I read my email, until it settled into sleep, its rusty motor settling into a comforting rhythm.  How quickly his life had changed from utter misery to this.

My in-laws are active in a local cat rescue shelter, so I’d called them in hopes of finding some help for Kitters. The kitten had been thrown from a moving car in front of the school on a freezing cold day; several students had seen it. It was a miracle the thing was alive, much less unbroken.  My father-in-law came to pick it up halfway through the conference period; I gave Kitters a kiss on top of his sweet head and passed the bright yellow bundle of cloth to him. He was taking him straight to a local vet to get him checked out. Several of the students stopped by my classroom to check on him; three had already called home and were willing to adopt him. It was a good day in the world of teaching.

About a half an hour later, I got the text from my mother-in-law.

“The kitten needed to be put down. Vet said very contagious eye infection secondly to respiratory virus.”

And just like that, he was gone.

I was devestated… not just for the tiny life that was quickly taken away, but for the hope that he had brought into the lives of my students. I was upset that they didn’t even give him a chance to fight. I knew he was sick, but like my kids, he was a fighter, and God knows I’ve seen what the power of love can do. In the span of a single day, I saw emotions in kids that I didn’t think they were capable of feeling… and I couldn’t bear to tell them that it was gone. We had a moment together, something wonderful and special, and like most things in life, it ended. I wasn’t ready for it.

For the first time since my father died, I cried in my classroom. I knew that they would all be waiting for a diagnosis when the bell rang. I took a deep breath and pulled myself together, and for the first time in my life, I did something to my students I swore I would never do.

I lied to them.

It took two weeks of telling them Kitters was at the vet, no, he wasn’t okay, no he probably won’t make it… until the day passed that I just couldn’t lie to them anymore. They, like me, were devestated. Some cried. The boy who had found him took it especially hard; he had already set up a place for Kitters to sleep when he brought him home. I told him there were plenty of kittens out there who needed a home that would love to belong to him.

“Yeah, but Kitters was a fighter.” I knew exactly what he meant. And we never even gave him the chance to fight.

It was a bad day for teaching.

These are the things that you don’t hear about at school. These are the moments that you can’t put into words, that can’t be measured or evaluated. These are the moments that you can’t share with parents, administrators, legislators…. these moments can’t be bought with funding, or standardized with testing. These are those teachable moments that no one can understand unless you experience them. Because it’s not always about the data, or the assessment or the curriculum or the standards…

…sometimes it’s just about being human.

Darwinian Fitness

A few months ago, I finally gave up my obsession with Apple products and switched over to an Android phone. While there are a few features I miss, I honestly can say that I prefer the Android platform over the iPhone; I find Google to be remarkably helpful, if not a little creepy at times.

Phone: DING!

Me: What is it, my incredibly smart phone?

Phone: Your drive home will be delayed by 15 minutes due to an accident on I-45.

Me: Thank you, Stalker Phone.

Phone: You’re welcome. Would you like me to put another pint of Coffee, Coffee, Buzz, Buzz on your shopping list? It appears you finished the last pint while watching The Voice last night.

Me: Uh… yeah. Don’t judge me, Phone.

So it took me a little while to adjust to another operating system. The phone apps automatically update without me having to worry about it, but I had to figure out which ones I actually wanted to use. I have an HTC One M8, and I REALLY like the camera. Of course, it’s not a Canon, but in a pinch, it can take some pretty decent photos when I don’t feel like lugging around my professional gear. I’ve also grown fond of painting and sketching apps on both my iPad and my phone, so I decided to link my Flickr account.

And this is where everything went horribly wrong.

Apparently, Stalker Phone assumes that EVERY picture you take is worthy of saving and uploading to Flickr.

EVERY. PICTURE.

Now, I don’t go around taking selfies. And I’m well past my prime for nudie pics (not that I’m against them, but I’d just like to look good when I take them). But I just happened to start a new weight loss program, so I wanted to document my starting weight in Evernote with some measurements and pictures. So I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in my gym shorts and a sports bra and took the most unflattering photos I have ever taken in an effort to motivate myself. I saved them in my Evernote Fitness File, and went about my business.

A week later, I finished a sketch that I wanted to upload to Flickr, so I opened the app to find a shot of Koal I’d taken earlier that day.

“That’s peculiar,” I thought to myself, as I scrolled down. “I don’t remember uploading that.” I continued to scroll down when the realization hit me. Oh. Dear. God.

And there it was.

48 hours, this picture was out in plain view on the Internet. Of ALL the pictures I’d ever taken, and wouldn’t even mind if they ended up on the Internet, WHY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PHONE, DID YOU POST THIS ONE?????

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

And now I live in fear of my own phone.