Friday, April 29, 2011

Simplicity of Spring

We went to Rob's parent's farm in West VA over Easter weekend. We had so much fun! They have a calf that they are bottle feeding and their neighbors have four baby goats that they are also bottle feeding. As a child, I spent my summers on my great grandfather's farm in West VA. Sitting in the barn on a haystack with baby goats climbing all over me brought me right back there. I am so glad that the girls get to have these experiences. They got to help feed the goats and calf, ride in the back of the pick up, ride on the ATV, and wade in the creek. Caroline even got to drive! It was a very nice end to spring break.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Worry Wart

Funny thing, I was looking up the correct spelling for worry wart and came up with worry guts as a synonym. That about sums it up. I worry, my stomach hurts, I don't eat, I worry and so on. I can't for the life of me figure out what on Earth I am so overwhelmed about. At 2 am I am plagued with lists: things to do, thing not done soon enough, things not done well enough. I think I spent so much of this winter in a sense of hyper alert, that my body is just on worry auto drive. It stinks because it is irrational, it is ridiculous, and yet I cannot stop. Here it is spring break, my time to relax and what do I do? I fret, I don't sleep, I'm back to being able to only keep cookies and crackers down. Oh good grief! I do have some valid worries, but they are so out of my hands. I kid myself by thinking shear determination and wishing on my part will change things. I also have turned into a bit of a maternal bully. If my family won't do what's best, I will bully until they cave. I hate myself like this. I am no fun and enjoy nothing.

What is the chief worry you wonder? Damn SOL tests. Caroline is right on the border of failing the math one again. If this happens, she looses band next year in order to receive remediation. No flexibility or creative thinking on the part of the school system. My amazing daughter is simply a statistic. It is enough to make me want to scream at the school. Of course, I don't. I also don't let her know what a crummy system this is. All that would do is give her permission to quit. I've been told that she'll get it together if she wants it bad enough. How does she know what she wants? I don't let my six year old choose her dinner (she'd pick ice cream) and I won't let my 13 year old decide her entire educational path. She's not informed, she's too young. Other's think it isn't a big deal. Things are different now. Her diploma path is decide this minute. I've also had other parents tell me they'd rather their super bright children had Caroline's work ethic (she really is a very hard worker). Oh yeah? Your kid might decide not to turn in work and fail classes, but all that matters is if they can pass that stupid test. Which of course they can. All of this has made my poor girl feel like she isn't smart. My goodness of course she is. She is kind and loving and insightful (although along with this goes naive). She just doesn't take tests well. She needs a different approach. One is not available.

I don't really blame her teachers. I understand the boat they are in. Teacher refer to it as the era of extreme accountability. Teachers have no choice they need to work within the system. I could go on, but honestly, I am loathe to mention anything about education without worrying (there it is again) about getting in trouble. I love my job and I respect teachers. I think those in the trenches of both education and medicine have it really tough these days. We know what is best, yet our hands are tied. Do we jump ship? I don't. I choose to stay and try to create change within. However, I don't work at Caroline's school. I can't follow her to class and make sure she has the best possible learning environment. Even if I could I wouldn't, I'm not that far gone. I believe in public education. So what do I do? I hire a tutor and bribe her with a shopping spree if she practices math everyday on the computer. I also pray. I am not profoundly religious, but I believe in a higher power. I know that if I have done all I can, I need to turn the rest over. I need to have faith. Faith is hard to have when you want complete control. I know how silly this seems in light of larger world problems, but my kids are my world. Getting the best for them is why I am here. It is my only real purpose.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Motherhood

Things are really so much better now, just very, very busy. I just don't seem to have enough time to wear all of my hats: teacher, mother, wife. I am looking forward to this summer when I can be the kind of mother I want to be; when I can be the person that I want to be. I can read, go to yoga, garden, and blog. I came up with an idea as I was cleaning up vomit from the latest round of Simpson family illness. There needs to be a dance club for mothers. A place where we can cut loose and be with others who understand how hard this job is; others who can understand just how hard it is to be torn in so many different directions. How often do we get to dance nowadays? Probably only at weddings. I don't regret my choices. I love teaching and I love my family. I know this stage in life is so short.


Caroline seems to be in the thick of teendom. A couple of weeks ago, we had a heated discussion about how she could improve her grades. We spent the day snarling at each other. By the time evening rolled around, it was time to go meet my mother for a concert.My mom wanted Caroline to come see her friend's band play. She wanted Caroline to see the drummer, especially. At that point the last thing I wanted to do was spend 1 1/2 hours in the car with Caroline and her ever changing emotions jumping around the car. I didn't want to disappoint my mom, so we went. Big surprise Caroline pinged all over the car, laughing one minute, grumbling the next, changing the station, generally driving me crazy. All that I could think is that I was dragging my cranky pop music loving daughter to a folk concert. It turned out to be an amazing concert. I was expecting my mom's friend to play the hand drums. Instead she played with a full drum kit! She played with such force and passion, they had to put a plastic barrier around her. Caroline smiled and was thrilled. During the intermission, we met her daughter. Her daughter has a developmental disability. She was delighted to meet Caroline. She wanted to talk with Caroline about music, she loves Justin Beiber, Caroline not so much, but she went gamely along. At first Caroline seemed to feel awkward, but I tried to steer the conversation to common interests like T.V. They found common ground on their own. Her daughter started complaining about her mother, and sure enough Caroline jumps in with an "I know right?" I guess their are no boundaries when it comes to being annoyed by your mother.