Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Picking a New Page

Hi. How are you? I've missed you. Did you miss me? I sure missed me. I've been under a lot of stuff. Snow, mostly.

But a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the weather. See, I know that I last posted in September, when school was new and things were staring up again. But at the same time, things were ending. And I had no idea. Turns out that even though it takes two people to be married, all it takes is 14 weeks and one person to end it. Quickly and with no warning. And when that happens, blogging goes by the wayside, because really, you  are just trying to figure out what happened and how to put one foot in front of the other.
And how to get up in the morning.
And take the dog for a walk.
And go to work.
And just breathe. Because you forget to do that.

You forget a lot of things. When your whole world flips upside down and every plan and every thing that you thought you knew to be true turns out to be false and you realize that nothing will ever, ever be the same, you have two choices. Go under the covers or try to remember how to put one foot in front of the other. So, I thought about it. I thought that I could just curl into a ball and sort of disappear and dissolve and fade away. But I realized that, in fact, I was not made that way. So I had to force myself to remember how to put one foot in front of the other. And I had to get up. And I had to move forward. And I had to re-asses the situation and the life I was in and go through my grief. But nothing said I had to do it alone. So, I quit my job. I apologized to my kids and my heart broke again when I told them I had to leave.
In December I moved myself, my dog and a truck full of my stuff back to NY where my family was waiting. (I did not actually drive the truck. I left that to my father who, on the way back, missed New Jersey. To be fair, he drove it the whole way and we both had colds.)

And then I did nothing. For three months.Well, not nothing. I got tan.

I went to Hawaii.

I went to Barbados.

I drank lots of things with umbrellas and read really bad books on beaches and cried.

And I thought about who I was and who I wanted to be. I thought about all of the things that I had not wanted that had been thrown in my path and to which I said "oh, well. Ok, I can work around this" I thought about all the stuff I had settled for and finally I realized something. I get a do-over! I get to do it all over. I can move to London or teach in India or get my real estate license because apparently no one is getting a teaching job in NY.

I can dress up my dog any way I want. (well, let's face it. I was going to do that anyway)

I can make totally different choices. Kind of like a "Choose your Own Adventure" book. Remember those? You got to a point in the story and if you picked choice A you went to page 45. If you picked choice B, you went to page 96. I did page 45. I'm going back to the beginning and picking page 96.

People keep asking "What are you going to do?" and the truth is, I don't know. I'm in mourning for the person I was and the marriage that was and the vacations and houses and children and all the possibilities that I imagined but will never be. I don't know.

I do know that I am surrounded by friends and family who have offered me unconditional support and love. I am lucky enough to be able to live in a place that asks very little of me and where I don't have to pay my utilities and I get cable. So I ask those of you with whom I have been incommunicado to please forgive as I am only now beginning to communicate. I'm struggling to find out what my new adventure will be and waiting to turn the page.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lice is NOT nice

'Tis the season for....lice. Actually, lice season is August - May, so maybe we should be rejoicing on the days when it isn't lice season. This year, we lost our full-time school nurse. She was supremely fab, and knew all the kids and all the fakers. And she would check my head when I was totally creeped out. But because we do not have a high risk student at our school (i.e. a diabetic, student with a physical disabilty, etc) she was re-located and now we, a school of 800 plus children, gets a nurse either Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday and Thursday, depending on the week. Awesome. Meanwhile.....one of the totally fab teachers at my school was notified that a kid in her class had lice. So she told the nurse, who was there that day. She was fully expecting the nurse to say "OK, bring your kids in for a head check". Instead, she was told that doing a head check was "Not a priority" and that she "might get to it in the next two or two and half hours, if at all". WHAT? SERIOUSLY? WE ARE TALKING PESTILENCE, PEOPLE! But, I guess that is the new policy. Love them budget cuts. I just kept thinking to myself "This cannot be good."
       Fast forward to today. I saw a class on the sidewalk. There were about 9 kids in the class. I said to the teacher "Where is the rest of your class?" She told me that four were testing, but that five (FIVE) had just been sent home because of lice. Mr. L will now be checking my head. Every. Single. Night. ew.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The New Kids

I have begun this year afraid that I would have no "personalities" in my class. I am used to big personalities. Those not sure of what I mean need only to look back at the past year. But a new year, new kids. This year has been relatively quiet. So far. I was content to ride it out in peace. Today, there is a glimmer of hope. Bug Boy from last year came to visit me today. I pulled him next to me and said "See? He's in fifth grade! People do survive this class"

Without missing a beat, I hear
"Is he the only one?"

Things are looking up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dirty Harry aka Bad Boy

Yes, I know, it's been a long time. Such is life when one reaches this time of year, but I have been saving things up and so plan on some more regular postings. At this time of year, when there are only 11 days left of school, everyone goes a little nuts. The kids, the teachers, even the administration. Last week, they were suspending kids left and right, although when you have 2 fourth-graders who pee in the garbage can, you really have no choice, right? In my own little kingdom, the jesters have taken over and I am in danger of being de-throned.

Last week, Drama Boy comes up and tells me that he is off his medication and probably will be for the rest of the year. Trying to keep the panic from my voice, I replied "WHAT?!?!" He nodded and grinned at me. Now let me state right now that I am not normally in favor of medicating kids. I think we do it waaayyyyy to often with kids, especially boys. But in this case, the medication keeps DB from crawling around under the tables and cutting and eating his own hair (which he did the last time he was off his meds.) So when he announced this stunning development, I can only hope that my eyes remained in place and did not bug out of my head. Turns out he is a little underweight (the meds really kill his appetite) and so the Dr. wants him off them so he can gain a few pounds. Perfectly reasonable, but the man could not have waited two weeks? REALLY?!?!?!?!

By the second day of DB medication-free, the choices were down to either he goes or I do. I would have preferred to leave, but it's frowned upon to leave 23 9-year-olds un-supervised, so I told Bad Boy (who has been remarkably awesome lately) to take him to Mrs. K's room. Get him a clipboard with his work and go. Now. BB, DB and a partner were gone almost 25 minutes. When they came back, we had this conversation:

Mrs. L: Where have you guys been!?
BB: (sighs, shakes his head and looks at me) Well, Mrs. L., about halfway there, DB decided he did not want to go anymore. So I had to pick him up and carry him. And you know how he's little and really skinny? Let me tell you, he gets heavy after a while.
Mrs. L: You carried him?!  How? (keeping in mind that BB is one of the smallest kids in the class as well)
BB: Yeah! Like this (indicates a fireman's carry) What else was I supposed to do?
Mrs. L: (really slowly) Ummm....what happened then?
BB: I had to throw him into Mrs. C's room!
Mrs. L: Oh. OK...... Wait! I told you to take him to Mrs. K's room!
BB: I know, but she's too nice, and he needed to learn a lesson.
Mrs. L: (looking stunned) Umm yeah, ...great, thanks, ok.

So apparently, I need not make any decisions anymore...justice can be meted out by a 9 year old.

After a conversation with Mrs. C at which she expressed surprise at having DB in her room and confirming that yes, indeed, he had been carried and then tossed into the room like a sack of Idaho spuds, she asked BB why he put DB in her room. The reply?

BB: Mrs. K is too nice, and I knew you were already in a bad mood, so I thought it was better this way.
Mrs. C: Oh.

11 days, friends. 11 days.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Stream, A River, A Lake

OK! I know it has been, like, a month since I wrote anything, but friends, let me tell you....state testing time is no joke! We have successfully weathered the storm and I am thrilled to be able to tell you that Spring Break is right around the corner. WHOO-HOO!!! Because after that, folks, we have nine weeks left.
 My kids all took the state tests, and now, I can finally begin all of the fun stuff that happens in fourth grade. I kept promising them it was coming, and now it is here!!!!!!
However, allow me to tell you all that has transpired in the last month.

Friends, I promise to hit the highlights, but first of all I want to know what $&#*$(%)$ bureaucrat decided that during testing, it would be OK to have thousands of nine-year-olds sit still for a minimum of 70 minutes. Seriously. They take the test and then they have to sit there. Theoretically it gives them time to check their work several times, go back over things, etc. But I don't know ADULTS who can sit silent and still, staring into space, for at least 70 minutes. Do you? SOOOOOO frustrating. Most of the kids actually end up falling asleep. I really loved the testing day of two back to back 70 minutes testing sessions. In which they get a stretch break. for two minutes. Utterly, totally ridiculous.  Which is why, after testing, I let my kids play games until lunch. About 40 minutes.  Sorry, Connect 4, Battleship, real, actual games. They love it and they don't feel so burned out. With that said, there are many things that happen during the time between the end of the test and lunchtime.Some of the high points?

*Bad Boy yelling out in the middle of a game of Uno "Who busted a gump?" Now, if you know what that means, you are way ahead of me and I am really impressed. Apparently, it means passing gas. This statement from Bad Boy managed to get three boys into a shouting match about who, in fact, "busted".

*The nose-to-nose shouting match between two girls who either love each other to death or are at war. When I told them they were done and they were not to be near each other again, one of the told me "But I really want to work on this friendship" With what, dueling pistols?

*The Tornado Watch in the middle of the test which stopped our testing, forced us to stay in our classrooms all day (no bathroom breaks, because we would have to go outside and we were not allowed to do that) and prevented my kids from getting lunch until 1:00, 2 HOURS AFTER we normally eat. The kids had to eat in the room, and my room smelled like cafeteria beef for the next 24 hours. EWWWWW. Thankfully, I had bought Cheez-its for a snack and had leftovers in the classroom,  and a generous art teacher bought my kids snacks for after the tests and we had those. Thanks Mrs. Stone!!!!

* And finally, the piece de resistance, the ultimate, the show-stopper event -THE ACCIDENT, involving, of course, Drama Boy. Now, DB dis not test with me. He got to test with another teacher, where he spent 40 of his 70 minutes of the reading test asking her about the bar code on the front of the test. She is a saint. Now the rules of testing state that during testing, students cannot go out to the bathrooms by themselves, so we have to go as a class. I am NOT dragging my class out every 7 minutes so one person can go to the bathroom. At 10:00, DB said to me "Mrs. Lewis, I have to go to the bathroom" I said "I am sorry, DB, you will have to wait until we all go together in about 15 minutes. " He went back to happily playing games. At 10:15, we all went out and went to the bathroom. At 11:00 we went to lunch, and we went to the bathroom. At 11:40 we came back from lunch and went to the bathroom. At 12:08 we lined up to go to PE. I walked to the back of the room and saw what looked like a lake under the back table. I opened my mouth and said "Did somebody spill......." when a voice at my elbow furiously whispered "Please don't tell, please don't tell!!!!!" I looked, and it was DB, with his enormous sweatshirt wrapped around his waist. I realized that the lake had been created by him!!!!! Yes, he had managed to have an accident at the table right before we lined up. To say I was stunned is an understatement. 10 years old. Really? I told everyone to go to PE and DB and I followed quickly behind. As soon as we dropped off the class, I was going to take him to the clinic for fresh clothes. Apparently, my class does not move as fast as he would like because he kept saying to me "Hurry up! It's dripping!!!!!" I hustled everyone to PE and kept him moving smoothly towards the clinic. As we walked, I said "If it was such an emergency, why didn't you tell me?" His response? "I DID!!!!" I looked at him and said "At 10:00 this morning!!!!! It's 12:15! Are you telling me you held it for two hours even though we have been to the bathroom three times since then???!!!" His response "I told you and you said I had to wait. So I did."

I am so glad this week is over.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I write, therefore.......my hand cramps

I know.....it's been forever. But there has been a lot going on. On February 9th, the fourth grade took the FCAT writes. Now, for those of you not in education, let me explain a little about the FCAT. Thanks to the stupid No Child Left Behind act, states have to prove their competencies through a series of tests.In Florida it's the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or F-CAT. If you really want to know how I feel, go here.

Anyway, in fourth grade, we have to prove how well we write. So from August to now, we spend an hour a day doing writing prompt after writing prompt. Learning about 5 paragraphs, creative language, expository and narrative. The whole thing is so phony and canned. But, of course, we are not teaching to the test! I want to tell everyone that kids DO NOT learn to write this way!!!! I want to tell them that it is totally counter-productive!!!! But I can't, because the truth is, it's my ass on the line. And guess what? If my scores suck, I get blamed for it. So we practice, practice, practice. I try to make it fun and creative, but by the end of January, we are all sick of writing. Really sick of it. I had 3 kids who just refused to write anymore. And I kind of don't blame them. So we sat down and had a conversation. All of us. And I told them that we were finished with writing. We were tired of it, and really, we had practiced as much as we could. They knew what to do, we had gone over it a million times and they could do it. So the deal was, no more writing. But on the day of the test, we all had to give our best effort and write, write, write.

"Yes, Mrs. Lewis!" my friends all chorused together.


On the day of the test I had one kid who wrote one line. and then erased it. And then wrote half a line. Total. In 45 minutes.

Another had 4 lines and one more had one paragraph. And that was it.

When I glared at the one-paragraph kid (because I cannot say anything during the test. I am not even allowed to know what the prompt is) He looked at me all indignantly and said "What? I'm done!"

4-liner just put his head down and went to sleep, and when I asked 1/2 line kid what happened, he just shook his head and said "I don't know".

Now part of me feels really bad that these kids hate it so much, but part of me want to scream "YOU KNOW THIS!!!! I HAVE SEEN YOU DO THIS!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????" But I didn't.

The biggest surprise? Bad Boy! That child put his nose to the grindstone and I saw him plan, write, edit, re-read and edit again! He worked the entire time!!!!!! At one point, about halfway through, he put his paper down, heaved a huge, resigned sigh and got back to work. I was so thrilled! I told him how proud I was of how hard he worked and he looked at me and said:

"What do you mean? I just did what you told me to do."

I almost collapsed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh the Drama!!!!!

My class has a penchant for the dramatic. (and, truthfully, so do I, so I may be partly to blame. oh well) Nothing is ever stated, nothing is ever just said. Instead, we have to yell, exclaim, shout, demand, announce, proclaim and broadcast each and every item. I am glad they are so enthusiastic, but I am certain that if this level of hysteria over everything continues, at some point I will probably have to bring in fainting couches for the Sarah Bernhardts of the class. Maybe I can get a bulk discount. Today's drama, which was relatively minor, went something like this:

"Mrs. Lewis? I have red spots all over my arms! And they're getting bigger!" (Which she did and they were)

"Mrs. Lewis? I just fell (at recess) and cracked my head on a rock and now I'm bleeding."

(Two girls nose to nose, both yelling and crying)
"I did not punch you! You are a liar!
"I am not a liar, you are horrible and mean and I hate you!"
"I'm telling! You are the liar!"

and no post would be complete without a moment brought to you by Drama Boy, who yesterday looked at me and said "You are WRONG!" Today was a better day.

Drama Boy: "Hey Mrs. Lewis! Did you know that I went to Animal Kingdom with my mom and we went on the Yeti ride and it looks nothing like it does on tv and its way scarier than I thought it would be and did you know that Yeti's are real it's true I saw one but on the ride they are much bigger and I thought that it was going to get me but then I realized I was on the ride and it can't get me but I want to know where they live and do you know because I need to find out and I need to go to the media center to look it up.'K?"

And then we had to get under our desks because there was a tornado drill. And another class was with us. Yeah, Wednesday. Sigh.