The Dreaded Hat I Wear Today

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Over the years, I have worn many different hats in the working world. I was 12 years old when I took on my very first job as a babysitter. I moved on up through the ranks over the course of middle and high school- as a Mother’s Helper over summer vacation to part-time live-in Nanny. One year, I think I was in 8th grade at the time, I had so many clients I was balancing at once, all of whom needed my services on New Year’s Eve, that I ended up turning my living room into a temporary overnight daycare with the help of my best friend. Eight families worth of kids and the ultimate sleepover we provided them with earned us just under $400. Each!

When I turned 16 and got my license, my father and stepmother laid down the law in a manner that made sure I would continue to be a hard worker in life. They were sticklers about ensuring that I would always earn my keep because there are no free rides in life without a trust fund. And I certainly was not a trust fund baby, nor were they. In order to have unlimited access to my recently deceased grandfather’s almost decade old, teal-colored 1990 Ford Astro minivan- complete with a wheelchair lift installed in the trunk- I had to work for their in-home small business. A Security Guard service, of all things. (Makes sense, if you realize my father was also a police officer.) For the next four years, even after receiving my own first (gently used, lol.) vehicle as a graduation gift from my mother and stepfather, I dutifully fulfilled my commitment in exchange for free gas and full-coverage insurance. My job was to drive a 25-mile long circuit around a neighboring city at the ass crack of dawn and again at dusk to unlock and lock the gates for the 16 different parks they have for community use so no cars could be in the parking lot after hours. It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had because it was actually a lot of fun, though it took a bit to get used to getting up before the sun every day. Oh, the stories I could tell you of my adventures, but that’s not what the subject of this piece is supposed to be about.

Of course, since I was only being compensated by my parents for the gas and what not, I needed cash in my pocket to live off of. At this point, I was getting too old for watching other kids at the same times during the weekend that my friends were out partying, so I found a real job which would give me a real paycheck. At the local Bingo Hall. I ran the concession stand, providing hundreds of ornery and intolerant old ladies with coffee, popcorn, hot dogs, and candy. Again, I could tell you some hilarious stories about working there. It was another of the greatest jobs I ever had. I was heartbroken when the building was bought out by the neighboring car dealership and closed down for good.

After that was my job as a cashier at an upscale Fruit Market and Deli. Most teens and young adults in my community have worked there at some time or another and have many horror stories about how awful it was for them. I guess I’m lucky, because I loved it there, even though it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the other jobs I had had. It didn’t last more than a year before my college schedule of classes became a conflict with my scheduled shifts and the bosses wouldn’t budge an inch to work it out with me. Onto the beloved local deli-based diner as a hostess and carry-out girl. The owner was a dick, but alas, I loved that job, too. Eventually, I became pregnant with my oldest and couldn’t keep up the pace and found a position with my friend’s home daycare where I could bring my baby to work with me and focus on finishing my schooling.

It was right after the birth of my second son, one year and a day after his big brother’s arrival, that I finally got my certificate and passed the exam to become a Health Unit Coordinator. I was hired into one of the 3 major hospital corporations in our area, working the Labor and Delivery/Post-Partum/NICU/Pediatrics circuit. A Health Unit Coordinator is just an extra fancy term for the person who is in charge of the Nurse’s Stations and does all of the behind the scenes work with decoding patient charts and the doctor’s orders within, procedure scheduling, and admission/discharge paperwork. They are the backbone which keeps the nurses and physicians from having nervous breakdowns. Again, this was an amazing job full of excitement and good memories made. Unfortunately, I was hired in on a contingency basis, so after 2 years without being offered a permanent position with benefits, I had to make the choice to leave for another of the 3 hospital chains who would give me the job security I needed for my growing family. I loved that job, too. After finding out I was pregnant with my fourth child, though, my husband and I decided it was more practical for me to become a stay-at-home mom. So I did.

Almost 6 years later, I’ve yet to return to the working world again. So, if I have enjoyed all the jobs I’ve held over the years as much as I have, what could possibly be the worst job I’ve ever had?

The one I’m doing now… as a SAHM.

It sucks for me. I’m not a Pinterest kinda mom, not in the least. Nor am I well-organized, patient, or calm. I’m a blubbering hot mess of a woman and dedicating every waking breath I take to four tiny humans who push my every button, test my resolve constantly, and fire demands at me faster than my brain can process the whine, is just not fun for me. I’m eagerly counting down the days until the littlest of all begins kindergarten this coming fall so I can go back to work without exorbitant daycare costs rendering my income useless. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my tribe of mini-me’s more than anything, but I don’t have what it takes to spend my entire day chasing, hovering, teaching, and disciplining without any adult interactions to stimulate my crazy brain and relieve the boredom of endless monotony. I need to be more than just a Mom.

 

I have 197 days to go as of today…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject was “ What’s the worst job you’ve ever had. Why?”.  It was submitted by http://www.southernbellecharm.com.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy  

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

Simply Shannon  

The Bergham Chronicles

Confessions of a part time working mom

Not That Sarah Michelle 

Southern Belle Charm  

When I Grow Up 

Climaxed

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Lunch or Starve

Say all you want about me, but I don’t give my children a choice –  they have to buy school lunch every day. The new government-instituted nutritional requirements have eliminated the mystery meats and bad carbs, so I’m not concerned about the quality of the food being served in the least. My kids can either get school lunch or starve. I received the old school hot lunches as a kid and survived, so I know mine will, too. In fact, the invaluable knowledge I gained from my experience has helped me transition into adulthood easier than my friends who were spoiled with craft-style lunches made by their moms.

Everything I needed to know about life was on that plastic tray laden with eraser bit macaroni salad and boiled gray hot dogs.

Nothing is fair in this world. Nothing at all. Life gives what it gives and you have very little control over how much or how little you get if you don’t try speaking up. You’re not always successful at getting what you ask for, though. Sometimes you are forced to watch your mortal enemy get the coveted piece of pizza with two pieces of pepperoni while you get the all-crust corner piece, even though you hate the crust. It’s about learning to accept life on life’s terms – appreciate what you have, always work hard, and keep striving to reach your goals, making your dreams a reality.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Sometimes every option sucks. There are three categories on the menu every day to choose from. Despite an array of choices, there are going to be days not a single thing sounds appetizing and you are going to have to settle for the least offensive to your taste buds. Life is good for that. There will be many times when you’ll find the only choices you have been given are nothing like what you had hoped for. Like the first apartment you have imagined moving into in contrast with the options, you will actually be able to afford when it comes time. Or, how you will expect to find work right out of college in the position you always dreamed of, just to discover your choices are nothing comparable for a multitude of practical reasons you’ll one day understand. You just have to pick the suckiest one and hope for a better circumstance the next go-round. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, so hang in there.

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Someone else will always have it better. And someone else will always have it worse. Just because someone has a fancy looking lunch does not mean they have a happy home. If other kids get free hot lunch due to low-income status, it doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them or work hard to provide. Appearances can be deceiving- the piece of pizza with two pepperonis may be lacking cheese underneath. Life gives you what it wants to for a purpose greater than you could ever begin understanding. You can’t let your story give you room to judge others.

That lunch may not measure up to those handcrafted, creative masterpieces, but the option is still better than having no food at all. Enjoy what you have.

Step out of your comfort zone. Waiting in line, making a choice, placing the order, carrying the tray through the crowd, and finding your seat in the cafeteria is a daunting task for some. Whether they are shy, soft-spoken, easily distracted, or indecisive, the daily routine is helping them break out of their shells, one platter of rigatoni with meat sauce at a time. Without a trusted adult, like Mom, Nana, the principal, or a favorite teacher walking you through the process, you’re coerced into gaining independence. From speaking up to classmates who try to cut in line to making yourself heard over wanting a larger portion as you order to excusing your way through the chaos to your assigned seat, you are paving your own course in life. The opportunity often arises to try new foods, as well. Even if you find the food leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can still taste the personal growth. The school lunch experience is almost as valuable as the education, itself. Outside the box of comfort is where all the good stuff happens in life and your true potential lurks in wait.

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Premium costs extra. Just like the real world, all the top-quality, highly coveted items from the snack cart are going to cost a little extra. ‘Tis price you pay for wanting the good things in life. You’ll have to work for what you want because nothing is ever truly free- even if it costs nothing monetarily. Your time, your dedication, your strength, your talents, your joy, your health…the list goes on and on. Only you can determine if the cost is worth the price to be paid and the work that will need to be done to achieve the prize you desire. I can promise you, though, hard work will always be worth it. Then, you can afford all the bags of chips, granola bars, popcorn, cotton candy, and novelty ice-cream your little heart desires. If not, you have no room to envy the kids who do.

My oldest is in sixth grade and has never expressed a desire to have a bag lunch. He’s responsible, outspoken, and driven to excel at anything he sets his mind to. I can’t help but attribute some of this to the lessons he has learned from getting school lunch; especially since his younger siblings are heading in the same direction. If you had any doubts that I’m the meanest mom in the world, I am sure I only reaffirmed you were wrong by now. School lunches are the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll be your Bento box problem one day when Junior grows up expecting his life to be balanced on a silver tray held by someone else while he dictates from his high horse.

Park It Elsewhere – The School Drop Off Dilemma

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Mornings are always hectic when there’s children involved. Those cereal munchers have no respect for time. They dilly dally like little squirrels bouncing from one cracked acorn shell to the next, hoping to find a meaty one. Only, in this case, it’s a missing shoe that is the prize. We pack ourselves into the minivan like a tin of sardines. I am more than ready to celebrate the hoodlums departure at the institution of education six blocks away.

Bad enough that it takes fifteen long minutes to get through the four-way stop and the formidable crossing guard between us and the school, but when I get around the corner just to see the drop off zone full of parked cars, my blood begins to boil. The urge to start throat chopping everyone in my sight grows with every brake light in my way that can’t pull in because of these idiots.

I do not know what makes other parents think it is okay to do this shit without realizing how many of us are scornfully imagining ramming their vehicle right out of the line. It is rude as fuck. Every parent knows damn well this behavior violates the drop off code of conduct. The school asks everyone not to park there, but apparently these parents are so shitacularly special they are exempt from following authoritative requests. (Yet they wonder why Junior keeps getting suspended for bad behavior.)

Our parking lot is located behind the school and is the size of a shoebox, it is restricted. Staff only. The drop off zone is located directly in front of the school for grades 1-5 for a reason. If we cannot let our kids off there, we are forced to let them off down the street, past school property and into the neighborhood, and walk the block by themselves. Not all of us are capable of walking with them for many reasons, which is why we want to use the drop off zone as it was intended. Some parents are handicapped or have a chronic illness which physically prohibits them from making the trek down to the building which is why they drive. Some parents have to go directly to work… Or drop other siblings off at their schools or daycare… Or be anywhere besides this should-be routine eviction of the demon spawn for the mandatory brain stretching.

Then there are those, like myself, who simply are in a hurry because they have exactly 3.25 hours to spend alone before a child returns home again – shattering the silence and the corresponding fantasies of what it must feel like to have an identity undefined by the role it was named after once more. Damn preschool for not offering an all day program!

Consider, as well, how our kids feel on bad weather days- having to walk the length of a football field in order to get to the schoolyard while your kid gets to sit in a warm, dry car. Less than fifteen feet from the entrance, no less. The only other option we rule followers have is to pull up alongside of you or try to squeeze where some of you have left. It is pure chaos as this unfolds, and it looks more like bumper cars at the county fair than school arrival. Think about how absolutely dangerous it is for everyone else’s children to be darting between double-parked cars trying to push in between and around one another.

You, you selfless assface, are solely responsible for creating this hazardous game of musical vehicles which endangers everyone… except your stinky little brat. Of course!

May I ask while we’re here, what in the balls are you even doing parked there?! C’mon now! You have nothing better to do with your time in the morning than to show up for school a half an hour (or more, sometimes!) before school actually starts? To hang out in a NO parking area, nonetheless? I can think of almost fifty dozen things to do off the top of my frazzled head with the extra time you somehow find yourself with. Hell, you could swing by my place instead and help me finish getting my kids out the door on-time. You obviously have this morning productivity thing down pat – and me, well, I’m still just a beginner. (Might I add that it scares me a little that you do mornings so fucking well?)

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Now, if you are trying spend with your kid, why in God’s name are you doing it at school…in the damn drop-off area!?! Why can’t you go park down the street, if you must sit there with your kids, then you can drive back around to the doors when the bell rings? Take ‘em to the Tim Hortons just out on the main road and enjoy some real conversation over donuts and coffee, for the love of cheese and rice!

I’m pretty sure some of you nitwits are only sticking around because you want to keep an eye on your hooligans once the rest of us begin evicting our uterine trophies so they can play before the bell rings. Our school actually asks for this because it helps the kids transition into their school day better. They provide plenty of safety monitors to watch them on the playground and at the doors for each grade level- both with paid classroom/office aides and with PTA volunteers. Plus, the student safety patrol is there at the doors once they open to make sure kids don’t leave again after they enter the building. There is no need for you to cause a domino effect of problems bringing your children every morning by hanging around. If you cannot trust the school to do its job taking care of your babies, then park your vehicle down the street and go sit on the playground yourself, dammit!

Whatever your reason, please just stop parking in an area where you are not fucking supposed to.

I mean, do you really believe you are above being conscientious of other’s needs and entitled to hog what should be a free flowing drop off zone? Sure seems that way to the rest of us who follow the code. That makes you just as big of a twatwaffle douchemuncher as the evil souls who park in handicapped parking spaces without being disabled or parking in the middle of four parking spaces – as if their car is something extraordinarily priceless.

Get over yourselves already and do the rest of us parents a favor already…

Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way
Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way

5 Ways My Kids Fail (Miserably) At Getting Out Of School- UYW March

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If you have school-aged kids, this will all make perfect sense. If you don’t, please take notes – this will be on the test one day, before you know it. Best prepare yourself for it, now…

At some point, even your most genius-level teacher’s pet will want a day off school. With four kids, I’ve seen many a tricks tried to get permission granted to skip class for the day. Here are five of the more humorous and creative attempts they have made in their efforts to skip out on the education they take for granted, and my counter-attack strategy for each.

1. Faker, Faker, Belly-Acher – Last night, you put a healthy, happy, giggling child to bed who was walking and talking with no issue. This morning, you have a kiddo walking like a constipated pregnant woman carrying triplets, ooohing and ahhhing with moans as they rub their invisible baby bump. Imaginatively, they have put to good use the fake burping talent your Sunday fun days have been spent supervising the rehearsal of. This sound is supposed to prove how nauseating they feel, scaring you into believing they could retch at any given moment. They won’t, though. Suggest to their sibling that you were planning to serve cupcakes for breakfast and watch your full of baloney child beeline for the table; as if the tummy troubles were merely a figment of your imagination, not their own. Miraculous powers those subliminal cupcakes have…

2.  Who You Gonna Call? Maybe The Ghostbusters.-  Whenever Halloween is in season, one of my kids are bound to try this one again. Like I am not going to remember all the prior years’ hilariously failed attempts. As always, someone’s costume will require face painting of some kind. Knowing my arts and craft skills are minimal, we must do a trial run beforehand so I can get an idea of how bad I’m going to screw up this All Hallows Eve affair. Sometimes, this also coincides with a costume party, trunk-or-treat event, or haunted house fiasco which keeps us out long past our routine bedtime. And sometimes, when that happens, I’m too worn out and angrivated to take the effort and make sure everyone is washed up completely. Next morning, whichever child will claim their abnormally pale skin is really a sign of their imminent death and need to avoid school, than their mother’s laziness. The only call-in I’m going you place is to the Ghostbusters – if my children are THAT pale, they’re likely already long since dead. And they’re NOT gonna haunt me, either. Really. I had no choice in the matter when they were living….

3. Calculated Accrued Sick Time- Yes. That means exactly what you think it means. My oldest child has kept record of his sibling’s taken sick days and believes in The Law Of Relative Fairness. Meaning: everyone should be allotted the same amount of time off, so based on however many days the kid who’s been sick most often has accrued to the day in question, the others should be able to use theirs as they wish. He has yet to realize what an unfair world this really is; what, with all the participation trophies they’ve gathered from everyone’s a winner activities thus far, it’s really a no-brainer to him. I have yet to accept this proposed theory, but he still keeps trying. When he does, I remind him of the Fall-Winter-Spring cleaning I had planned to undertake and how much of a help he will be since he’s not actually sick. By the time I am done divvying up the list, he’s dressed and ready to go.

4. Dazed and Confused: Elementary Edition- “But, Moooom! I didn’t know we had school today. I forgot. How am I supposed to remember these things? I didn’t know it was a school day. So I didn’t sleep good because I thought it was the weekend. And I’m so tired. And you don’t want me falling asleep at school, do you? If I had known, I would’ve stayed asleep the whole night. But I didn’t. I just can’t go today.” My dear child. Dear, dear child. I was not born yesterday. When you asked why you had to take that shower, the one you so loudly protested until my very last nerve almost frayed, I told you, “because, it’s a school night.” You would make a wonderfully bewildered actress on a soap opera one day, though. As frazzled and exhausted as you think you are on this morning, let’s just call today, “A Preview of Life As A Parent.” Then we can call it even for every morning the past eleven years, in which I have woken up feeling quite the same way; only wishing it had been a babysitting gig and you kids wouldn’t still be here, instead. Yet you still are, every damn day. Mommy loves you so much. Now go the fuck to school. Insert a ridiculously cheap bribe they can have after school, if they go, and, just like that *snap fingers*, my kid has fallen for the bait. Whiny kids usually just want attention and nothing says “you’re special” to little kids than a bribe they think is just for them.

5. Demonic Possession- Every so often, one of my children will wake up an aberration of their cheerful, silly, easy-going selves. This replica may look identical in physical traits, but their features are much darker. The pout is spiteful. The eyebrows deeply furrowed and the eyes narrowed into a glare of intense deviancy. Their body language is guarded, but engaged for combat. This evil twin is not budging from his refusal to get ready to go to school and there nothing short of an exorcism will change their minds. Time to pull out your omniscience – down the Super Mom cape and appeal to the Third Eye On The Back Of Our Head. I go about my business without engaging said child directly, yet I act so silly they can’t help but release the demon and summon my kiddo back to reality in a fit of giggles. Or else, I will put on my most ill-fitting bathing suit, pick up that evil child, and head for the car. They will reconsider quickly when they see I am dead serious about taking them to school in such manner. Works like a charm every time on my part-time demon spawn.

***Today’s post was a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
I’m using:    humorous ~ pale ~ nauseating ~ accept ~ bewildered

They were submitted by: My Brain On Kids 

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:
Baking In A Tornado

The Bergham Chronicles 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver                                     

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Southern Belle Charm

Not That Sarah Michelle

My Brain on Kids

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Someone Else’s Genius

Confessions of a part time working mom

Spatulas on Parade

Climaxed

 

By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom

There, There…Everything Will Be Just Fine: Failing In School And A Teacher’s Love

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Sitting in a child-sized chair that is forcing my knees to my chest, I resist the urge to get up and walk out. To run away before anyone notices I’m here. I don’t want to be here. This well put together woman with the strong facial features and a warm, inviting smile, wasn’t about to set me at ease as it appeared by the sympathy she wore on her face. I knew what was coming and it was going to sting worse than a slap to the face.

And it did.

It can never be easy for any parent to hear their child is not doing what they are capable of. To know they are just about failing in school. To find out that they are not even trying a bit. Her face didn’t change as the worst words I have never heard spoken about my kid came tumbling out of her mouth. The there, there everything is just fine look on her face made those words even harder to digest. Surely, everything was not just fine if my son wasn’t doing well in school. Something is wrong here! Very, very wrong.

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I don’t know how we got here to this point. Why I am now sitting in this shrunken down seat being patronized for failing in my duties as a mother. I mean… I kinda know how, but not really why. The so-called expert reports say, a love for learning starts in the home. Great readers are made when you make reading a priority from infancy. You lead by example. Your children will come to love what you love. Bullshit. I’m calling bluff on this hooplah, because I wouldn’t be in this brightly lit, child-sized plethora of educational materials and artwork, otherwise. My four kids have owned more books than I have in my entire lifetime, which is a lot because I love to read! My children have been read to consistently since birth. They see both their father and I reading often and learning to do new things through the wonders of the internet. We math in front of them, talk current events, encourage their exploration of nature, mechanics, and mess-making fun. Where did we go oh so wrong then, to have a child who is not only failing school, but one who hates it, too?

Now, I don’t expect the kid to love learning and always want to go to school. I certainly do not expect to raise geniuses who never have difficulty picking up fractions, understanding colloquialisms, or memorizing all fifty states capitol cities. It matters not whether my kid makes it on the honor roll or pulls a straight C- average. As long as he shows up to learn and gives it his all. He has all the tools he needs for success at his disposal, yet he doesn’t use them accordingly. Routines are in place, homework agendas are being strictly monitored, communication lines with his teacher are open, and he has a place to do his schoolwork away from distractions in our home. Our system works well for the other kids in our family; just not him, as I’m finding out now. All I want in this moment is for my son to find his self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning. To stop waging war against the system he still has another eight years left with which he has to stick it out.

He is his own worst enemy, after all, and I can’t help but to think this is all my fault. I know in my heart it is not… But I have to blame somebody, so I blame myself.

Facing the facts of your child having some sort of learning disability or disorder is a hard pill to swallow. When your child’s teacher is telling you, earnestly and sincerely, that he is sabotaging his own self so he cannot absorb anything into his mind, enough must become enough. Action must be taken. There’s no way to deny the transparency of the situation; something is broken wrong dysfunctional not working right inside my son and it needs to be handled with care. STAT. This is my baby we’re talking about here- no matter if he is ten years old already, or not. Any mother knows exactly what I mean here. They will always be our babies. And my baby has come to hate his schoolwork so much because something isn’t writing right in his brain, that he is destroying the learning process for himself.

We have all kinds of appointments and meetings coming up in order to tackle this problem. My emotions are all over the place, wondering how we’re going to get through this; how I’m going to help my son get his mind on track and find his happy place at school again. I know he has it in himself, because he has proven it in years before now.

Something has changed, though, and I beat myself up for not seeing it coming and doing something about it sooner. For most of the conference, I keep my head bowed, for it is beyond impossible to look this teacher in the eye and say what has pained me so much to admit:

“I’m defeated. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to help the very child I gave life to.”

When I do finally look up, into her eyes, it is after I hear her say to me, “Only a good mother would truly care so much to be as visibly hurt as you are by the situation.” I’m met with the same look as when I came in. The there, there everything is just fine look. Now, though, it is quite comforting. And I understand why. Everything will be just fine in the end. This is isn’t the end of the world, or, even the end of our road. It’s just a fork in the path and the time has come for us to change course. This wonderfully patient and gentle-souled teacher already knew it, before I ever came through the door of her classroom. She had softened the harsh blow into an encouraging push in the right direction for my child and I. We can make this work, no doubt. We can get him right back on track again. My son doesn’t have to be his own worst enemy for a minute longer. We got this! Everything is going to be okay in the end.

As I push my tiny chair back and release myself from its hold on my plump rear, I thank her through the tears in my eyes. She pulls me directly into a hug so warm and comforting. “I know you want to blame yourself,” she says in my ear. “I know you think you’ve failed your son and this is all somehow your fault. But it’s not. And only a great mother would sit here with the tears that tell me so, desperate to break down the situation and fix it in one fall swoop. YOU are that great mother and YOU are the greatest mother your child could ever have to face this situation with. You are amazing. Don’t ever doubt yourself again.”

I can’t promise her I won’t, but I know her words will be there in my heart to set me straight again and again. Because I AM a great mother to one fantastically awesome boy who will have my heart forever. Even if, just temporarily, he is failing school.

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By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom

Don’t Be A Snot Bubble About Back-To-School

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With the school year soon encroaching on the waning summer fun, parents everywhere are rejoicing. Kids are sulking in between whining over boredom. There’s a ripple of unsettling air coming through on the stale summer breeze.

It’s a prelude of the chaos that will voraciously erupt with back-to-school preparations, like a sneeze coming from a kid with a sinus infection’s snot-crusted nose: the massive, gelatinous, green glop bubbles in and out of the inflamed nostril with each rapid, croupy breath, just as the sales and advertisements will spew their time-crunching countdowns from every media outlet possible. Newspapers, commercials, internet advertising, Facebook pages and Blogs, radio advertisement, billboards, etc.

The sight of the bubbling advertising snot is enough to cause widespread panic to erupt in the search for tissues high and low, before it becomes contagious. The viewing of these repetitive, pervasive announcements to buy all the right stuff, sends the masses out in droves. Everyone becomes panicked over loading up on the right style of gear, the perfect look to fit in with the crowd clothes, and all the supplies necessary for an entire school year- or else their kids will be left behind eating dust with the loser kids. No parent wants their child to be “the loser kid.”

Where’s the humanity in this? Have we lost our kindness and our compassion in the name of our own selfish desires and ideals? What lessons are learned by teaching our children they must have everything conceivable for an entire school year, all of which is brand spanking new, all purchases by the very first day. Which is, typically, just a half of day anyways for a very short school week! We stoop so low as to take outward action preventing judgement from being passed on our offspring. Yet, we never stop for a moment to consider those kids we’re not wanting ours to be pegged as.

We give no more than a passing thought as we purchase a single, cheap, sale item, with little consideration for the child who might receive it, to toss contritely into the donation collection bins. The ones which are strategically placed near the entrance ways, so you immediately notice it’s looming presence coming in to that mainstream, all-in-one store, but, also, so you will also feel terribly guilty walking past it empty-handed on your way out. Unless, that is, you’ve done your civil duty already and made a purchase to donate a half dozen trips, or so, ago, giving you the right to ignore those loathsome bins now. Bins long forgotten about, before you even locate your keys and pop the trunk you’re about to fill with the bags of many nicer, more stylish, better quality, purchases for your own child(ren).
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Sure, it isn’t your fault, nor your problem even, these kids aren’t lucky enough to have parents able to provide the same kind of lifestyle you work so hard to give your own. Neither is it the fault of those kids, who often do not have many other reasons to smile and feel happy about, for circumstances out of their innocent little hands. They are the one’s who have to face the first day of school with whatever charity’s donate, pieced together from that collection bin, plus hand-me-downs from thrift shops and internet swap groups, plus whatever of last year’s leftovers are still nice, which their parents scrounge up.

This year, let’s slow down and stop the rat race. We’re creating a Black Friday atmosphere over pencils and notebooks, rulers and calculators, tennis shoes and backpacks. Greedily stocking up on things our kids won’t even need until the end of second trimester in February, thinking of our own family’s needs. Avoiding the possibility of our children not measuring up against the standard. Unable to repudiate that flicker of a fleeting thought from the store. Inept to show an ounce of sympathy for those you wouldn’t want your own children to be tagged as, at the start of a fresh year.

Let’s show our children how to be accepting of everyone for what’s on the inside, by toning down the hoopla over Back-to-School style. We can show them that having style doesn’t always mean it has to be brand new, be covered in designer names, or be national chain store-bought. Start teaching moderation and mindfulness when they are actually listening. Most importantly, though, let’s show them it’s just as good to give as it is to receive. Incorporate our kids into the donation process and let them take a moment themselves to think about what it must be like to be on the losing end.

What harm can it do to throw out a few limitations and say, “This year, kids, we’re only getting what’s necessary for right now and spend the difference to help those who have nothing at all.” PAY IT FORWARD AND CHANGE A LIFE. Then, just maybe, this new generation that we’re molding will strive further to break the barriers on all of the stigmas, labels, stereotypes, and judgement- once and for all. After all, we don’t want to be crusty-green-snot-nosed bubbling boogers, do we? I know I don’t.

Here’s some ways that you can get your family involved in helping families in need:

1. Make purchases that you would make for your own child to add to the collection bins. EVERY. Single. Time. You shop at that store. Have your children choose the items so that way you know another child that same age will be as happy as yours would be.

2. Have your child think of a few kids in their grade that they know comes from a family not well-to-do or call the office and ask for suggestions of a family, giving you only the sex and ages to protect privacy, then arrange to drop off finished package on first day of school for the staff to pass out. Buy them a backpack and stuff full with a new outfit, new pajamas, a pack of underwear, a pack of socks, (gift receipts just in case sizes don’t match), travel size toiletries, and a few school supplies. Most low-income families can afford the ten cent pencils, crayons, and notebooks, it’s the larger, more costly, more necessary to fit-in items that are needed most.

3. Call your local United Way chapter or Salvation Army to find an organization you can work directly with to provide assistance for Back-to-School.

4. Call your local radio station or go to their website. Many will host events to collect school supplies for charities.

5. Call your local Department of Human Services (it may be called something slightly different state to state) and talk with someone in Child Protective Services/Foster Care about donations. They always are in need of clothing, personal care, baby care, and bedding items year-round.

6. Facebook is a treasure trove of parent/baby/children’s swap groups. If you look hard enough, some are actually designated as free or trade only. That’s where you can find many families who will be looking for help. Put up a post with your full intentions for the help you’re offering and specify that the offer is limited to the first, or the first of however many, to comment on the post who meet the specifications you’ve listed (ie: location in relativity to yours, ages of children receiving your help, whether they need to be on state assistance or not so you know as fact that they’re low-income, etc.).
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This piece is part of the EffitFriday Link Up at Modern Dad Pages and Absolutely Prabulous (filling in for: Life With Baby Kicks). Check em out for more awesome blog reads.
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I’m Angrivated By Common Core Math… But Not For The Reasons You Think

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What in the world is the big deal about Common Core, particularly the math part of it all? Every single day, somewhere on Facebook, the tv, or the radio, I see someone bashing the new system. Whether it’s used as the butt of a joke, a complaint, or a satirical statement of vehemence doesn’t matter, it’s all negative. People say all the time- if it’s broke, don’t fix it. But the system was broken!!!

The largest country in the world was ranking at the bottom of all comparable nations for education standards and performance scores. Especially in math. The very foundation of almost all jobs centering around the growing advances of every major industry field. How could we, as the largest country in the whole world, combat this issue of a broken education system with the same mathematical teaching system used for at least the last half a century or so? The same exact system that was used to earn that poor excuse of a ranking! We needed a change. Desperately!

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We all know that change is difficult to do, and harder to maintain, until the new habits/routines/expectations sink in. No one likes to change. No one likes the discomfort of change. Certainly, no one likes the adjustment period that happens with change, either. There’s no denying, though, that once the worst is over, change can be the best thing for the situation at hand. In this case, it involves our children. Those children that will one day be left to run this country for their children’s children. Our namesakes and legacies, our precious little bundles of joyful, unconditional love. Their quality of education and their future as successfully employed citizens, to be exact, depends on change and Common Core is that change, like it, or not.

It seems like such a no-brainer to me- I want my kids to be successful throughout their entire lives. I want them to have the greatest foundation to build their futures upon. If that means getting rid of the old and bringing in the new, then I’m ALL for it! BRING IT ON!

First of all, everyone thinks that Common Core is an entirely new mathematical calculation system. That’s so not true, not in the very least. When us parents were students, back in the olden days of rotary phones and tin-foiled, rabbit-ear tv’s, math was divided up and taught by topics in an order perceived as easiest to learn to hardest to learn. Basic math systems were slowly taught over the entire course of elementary school, when kids are capable of absorbing knowledge at a higher rate than the rest of their lifespan combined. Then, as they passed into higher grades levels, during puberty, nonetheless, when their body’s are more preoccupied with changing on a cellular level than increasing brain mass, the more complicated subjects of math are crammed upon them. This it’s why so many of us gave up during Algebra or Geometry. Preoccupied by hormones and overwhelmed with higher doses of learning expected from every area in school, tweens and teens give up on anything that takes effort to accomplish in lieu of social butterfly syndrome.

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The biggest problem with this subject by subject approach, is that math isn’t easily cut up into subjects, where you can just pick one aspect of it to learn and forget the rest. Every one of these math subjects tie in together. You can’t multiply without being able to add first. You cannot successfully complete a Geometry lesson without first understanding the parts of Algebra where equating values of unknowns and property rules for solving equations are mastered. Calculus wouldn’t need to be slang for Smarty-pants-Teacher’s Pet-Bookworm-Geek’s-Wet Dream. Common Core has thrown out the subject labels and reorganized the system so all levels of mathematics are taught together as they are needed, right alongside the basic functions of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.

There’s also more focus on exploring different methods of calculation to accomplish the same result, so each individual can find the system that works best for them. Parents are balking over this new approach all over Facebook, because it’s not the one-way-must-fit-all they’re familiar with, which landed us in the education crisis we are now facing. Common Core is designed for the individual brain, not the average brain of the whole nation. The new system also takes full advantage of those little brains being thirsty for knowledge in elementary school and challenges them to absorb all that they can while they’re actually able to and willing. By the time they get into middle school and high school, they’ll have the skills to explore math in a way that we never thought possible before, helping them qualify to compete with much higher educated foreigners.

The tried and true has crippled and died. It’s time to unite as parents for the betterment of our children’s futures. When we throw tantrums because we just might have to take the time to open our own minds a little to a new way of doing things, maybe having to learn something just as our children are, what example are we setting for them? To cry over spilled milk? That’s all it is! Change will never be simple, or else there would NEVER be any sense of familiarity or hard work known to man. But familiarity isn’t going to pave the way for the future. It’s going to hold us back, limit our potential, cut our opportunities. That’s what we think is best for our children? It’s not what I want for mine.

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I want my kids to be able to mingle with peers from every nation in the world and feel at home-neither inferior nor superior. Five years ago, it finally dawned on our country that our nation’s brightest, most talented students were finding themselves feeling inferior amongst the crowd. The largest nation in the world was failing at raising it’s children! But, nevertheless, here the citizens are, complaining left and right that their children’s homework is too hard for US to help with, that the broken, outdated WINDOWS ’95 program running prior to the upgrade was working just fine!

This world is growing in technological advances quicker than we can Netflix marathon watch an entire season of our favorite show. Being well-spoken and well-written are not enough to carry our children through life successfully, win them the job over another equally qualified candidates from foreign countries, as it was for our generation. We have failed to grow our education system alongside the growth of technology and our world ranking shows as such. Math is the foundation for this technology and it needs to be as fluent to our future generations as the English language they speak.

Common Core may not be a perfect system. It’s got it’s flaws, on a compository departmental level, but it’s change! Change is always a good thing. So PLEASE, for the love of all things good, STOP complaining about Common Core! Our system was failing and someone actually had the guts to do something about it, and that alone should be an effort applauded by all! It’s not, though. Because, we parents, still see math through the rose-colored glasses of the past. An unnecessary annoyance preceding recess and the day’s scheduled extracurricular class. Nothing more, nothing less.

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