And now, for the main blog post–
So, the kids had their Open House last night– it was 104 degrees, the classrooms were too hot, and we made them eat hot dogs, which NEITHER of them like.
But mostly, it was a success. It seems my kids have been busy this year– and they’re so very proud of what they’ve done. Zoomboy’s teachers kept telling me about all of the amazing things he’s done (which was hard, because their classroom was at least 95 degrees– and they were DYING in there!) but they were so proud. So were we. That’s our Zoomboy– he’s funny, smart, and quirky–and every inch the monkey boy he appears to be. And he did very well in school, and we were proud.
He’s showing off here– can you tell? And he’s wearing his school made Navajo necklace. And he wanted SO badly for us to see all his artwork. Please don’t tell him that I’ve never gotten the knack of saving that someplace special. One or two pieces will knock around for years, but most of it will be slipped into the recycler when he can’t see. Because Zoomboy? He’s always making something else. I love him, in his lanky, scrawny, quirky, alien, brilliant glory. It’s so lovely to see his teachers seeing that same thing I do.
And Squish. Squish kept reminding us (like we needed reminding!) that this was her FIRST open house, and that she had a SONG for open house and that she needed to SHOW us things. And so she sang her song, and then, the teacher told them to come up and get pointers. She got a pointer and proceeded to show us around the room to all the things she’d done. She was very clever, and I was trying very hard to listen in the stuffy, crowded room, but what mattered? Was that look of intensity on her face. Her teacher came and told us that Squish was very social now– she’d started the year off shy. For a moment, this was difficult to believe–but then we realized. She’s just like Chicken used to be. Chicken is comfortable with her family–but mostly dared the world to fuck with her everywhere else. Squish was shy at school– but not anymore. And look at her. She’s absolutely sure she’s got something to tell us.
Her teachers knew me– I’d volunteered in their classrooms. I’d been an art docent. I talked to them on a regular basis. I remember when a parent came to talk to me as a teacher. 85% of the time, those discussions would be hostile. We only ever heard from parents during the bad times. We only ever heard demands– “Tell us EVERY time he misses an assignment,” or “You need to give them every chance to do their work!”. There were exceptions–but not many. I have friends on my children’s campus–they like to hear from me, because often I’m bringing cookies for a function or volunteering time or setting a date to be a docent. And I’m proud of that too. My Chicken’s teachers know me, and Big T’s knew us too. I knew which ones weren’t suited for my kids–but I also knew how to help the kids deal with them, because we all have to deal with people who don’t work well with us. I am a part of my children’s community. That’s an awesome thing.
And that brings me to the part about getting kicked out of hell.
I”m sure some of you remember the last graduation I attended when I was teaching. I ended up on the wrong side of the fence, facing 300 hundred late, drunk, stoned, pissed off parents who didn’t understand why a batch of over 1000 forged tickets meant that THEY didn’t get to see their kid walk across the stage as they skidded in to see it at the last possible moment.
I was scared, and I wasn’t really scared of much, even in that neighborhood with that district. But someone closed the gate at my back, and I was left explaining, and people were shouting in my face and there was more of them than there was of me.
And I was heartsore, because I usually LOVED graduation. I did– I loved talking to the returning students and seeing kids I knew formal and happy and proud. I got hugged a lot at graduation. I went out after a few of them and visited with my teachers. (Teachers like to drink–those were very entertaining moments.)
But that scary one–that was the last graduation I attended.
I ran into an employee from my former high school today. I said, “Yeah, my oldest daughter graduates from high school on the seventh. You guys must be graduating too.”
“Last week,” she told me. “No, not yesterday–the week before.”
I gaped at her. That’s heinously early.
“Yeah– we took nearly three weeks worth of furlough days this year.”
“Oh my God.”
Three weeks early. That’s how bad the furlough days have become. That’s nearly a months instruction, terminated for bureaucracy. She told me that the district is trying to institute a 13% pay cut– 4% of that would go retroactive, cutting into money the teachers had already made. They sent that out the Monday after everyone left, so teachers were scattering to the wind, and a bunch of instructors (yeah, even some of the people in my department) that I admired for their work ethic if nothing else were getting Fucked. Over.
And I’m doing okay. In a way it seems wrong– I mean, they did everything right, right? But in another way, it’s like a giant sign from the universe–and you all know how I’m looking for those. I’m doing okay. I am. I literally got kicked out of hell, just before the devil instituted a more efficient reorg for assfucking his inhabitants–something that depends on scary iron machines and unlubricated PVC pipe. Go me! I mean, it didn’t feel all that great when it happened–it was chaotic and random and frightening and meaningless. I was depressed and sad and then angry and sad and then depressed and angry and then…
I was happy. And I was living a good life, one on my own terms, and one that let me do something that I’m actually proud of, and not constantly questioning whether I should be or not. It’s like my story. I got a DO OVER.
So I can deal with critics, and I can deal with deadlines, and I can deal with pressure. Those are ordinary, everyday pressures.
I was in HELL–and home is so much better.