That’s Why They Pay Me The Big Bucks

I sat on the floor in the hallway.  An upset child sat with me.  He was not in trouble but had used the word ‘penis’ when talking about where the ball had hit him.  His friend, who he now hated, came to tell me that this sweet little guy was using inappropriate language.  Quickly I told him that the word ‘penis’ was not an inappropriate word, it was the name of part of your body.  There was nothing wrong with that word or that part of the body.

How do we explain that not all families like to use that word?  I tried my best.  ‘That word is something that doctors might use, or that some families use, or ….., hmmmm, it is a word that makes some people worried’… The boy fired back, ‘It is a normal word!’ Yes, it is, but not all families like to use it.  “Like the ‘H’ word?” Yes.

We got through the moment… I told him, “If you are worried about something it is okay to come to me, I won’t be mad and it doesn’t mean that someone will be in trouble. It’s my job, that’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

‘They pay you a lot of money for this?’….’Well, not a lot, but enough so that I can buy good food to eat. Okay?’ Okay….

Oh, my….

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It’s Not About You

My blogs are snapshots of what I am thinking at any given moment… sometimes they are clear and I really convey precisely what is in my heart and sometimes they are clumsy and are misunderstood…

This morning my blog must have been that… now, people who were not Christians did not read my blog as anti-Christian.. but some of my Christian friends read that very thing.  I have no hatred for people who follow Christ, who live by his teachings, or who live their lives with the love of Him in their hearts… I think that they are good people and many of them are people I care for and respect.  I actually don’t pay much attention to the beliefs of others.  I was brought up in a diverse community with Christians, Mormons, Jews, atheists, and more… I never thought much about it until I moved to a mostly Christian community.

My point is that IF you believe God has a plan and that everything happens for a reason and according to His plan then how do you explain mass shootings? How do you explain our country being taken over by a man like Trump? How do you explain people who hold up _________________ (insert any religion) as the reason they voted for Trump or will vote for Moore in Alabama.  But my main point was about people who profess to be Christian but voted for Trump because although he was morally vacant he was still their man, and those same people who fight against any shred of gun regulation and blame the gun violence in our country on mental health issues although they are unwilling to pay more in taxes to fund services.

Making things different will need to come from religious organizations in our country and it is my belief that actions not prayers are needed.  Church signs need to denounce Trump, to get on board with gun control, to support our LGBTQ  brothers and sisters, to open their doors to immigrants and promote healthy active lives.

So, as I write, I am writing from my perspective… if I write about being vegan and caring about not participating in animal cruelty you could be angry because you choose to eat meat, if I write about the value of college and you did not go to college you could be angry… perhaps you are angry because even though it is not about you or how you live your life, you may still feel challenged … maybe that’s a good thing

 

Stop Looking Up and Start Looking In

Many of us have heaps of criticism about the daily (often hourly) assaults on our moral sensibilities by the president.  Yes, he is horrid, racist, misogynistic… and at least five more labels that go against all that I hold dear… But, many are picking apart, not just what he says, tweets and does, they are picking apart the efforts and commentary of those who oppose him.

Tina Fay did a comedic piece on SNL with a sheet cake… It was great. I loved it.  And yet, here come the haters who didn’t get it. They are critics who suggest that her piece was serious and that it encouraged us to join a ‘sheet cake-eating movement’… Really? They obviously missed the point, the frustration, and the anger of the segment.  If you missed the piece on one of the platforms you follow, here it is again: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tina-fey-sheet-caking_us_599675d0e4b0e8cc855cce85

Instead of looking to criticize people who are putting their opinions out there, we should look at what we are doing ourselves to push back against Trump.  Send postcards, write e-mails, have those difficult conversations where you listen as much as you speak, march, boycott, make a statement, help solve this crisis, resist…. criticizing people who are trying to do something is counter productive… YOU do something.

I am tired of hearing that ‘This is not who we are’ from all sides… sorry folks, it is.  We elected him and WE need to sort this out.  WE need to grow, to listen, to make it right.  I know that this is who we are because we are a country where an angry few can terrorize the many, where one bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch… 20 cars can give me plenty of room when I am out riding my bike ~ it only takes one jerk to buzz by me honking and yelling for me to get off the road to do harm.  Our town is working on improvement but over and over people hatefully complain about what is being done… Our town and our country is being terrorized by hate ~ that is what racism, anti-semitism, homophobia and misogyny are really about… we could say it is fear but that just makes you feel sorry for the haters… we need to combat hate, we have elected hate to our highest office and hate has been given a license to flourish with the protection of the first amendment.  Hate is on the rise and we must rally against it.

So, when you turn on your ‘feed’ make sure you are not contributing to hate… make sure you are being constructive and helpful… and to all of the teachers out there beginning your school year, make sure that you are teaching the most important lessons of our time… teach kindness, understanding, love and peace… let’s raise a generation where hate dies a quick death because it is drowned out by US… let’s become what we wish our country was now… sadly, what’s happening in our country IS who we are, but it doesn’t have to be…

 

 

SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

Yes, certainly…

I love my job.  Every day is something different, a challenge, and often a joy.  Teaching young children I have the power to make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families, and hopefully an impact on society.  If you have read my blog before you know that I have very strong political opinions… I am a liberal, believer in universal healthcare, pro-choice, anti organized religion, LGBTQ supporting, science believing, spiritual, singing, dancing, mother, wife and teacher.  Most of those things I leave at the door.  I do not bring my politics and  other controversial beliefs into my classroom or impose them on my students.  I just don’t. It wouldn’t be fair or right to do so.

When my students cheered because Trump won the election I said that many people were happy and that I hoped he would be a great president.  I try to promote the idea that all presidents wanted to make our country a better place for us all. We wrote our letters of congratulations to President Trump on November 9th, and mailed them off to Trump Towers… it would have been nice to get some recognition that they were received, but oh well.

I am not giving up on what I believe is right for our country.  I am working in my own way to support the causes I feel most passionate about, to write, and to motivate… but I am also wanting to challenge the ideas of the opposition.  If we don’t continue to challenge them, if we just sit by quietly as health care is lost, people are rounded up, and our education system is decimated we will have no one to blame but ourselves…  But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about what we can do in our own towns and communities to create the world we want to live in and to leave to our children.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary… but in my small sphere of influence, I am working to make it happen.  The things I teach in Room One can be a guideline for making a better society… So, this is the beginning of a series of Room One rules that illustrate some core ideas about how to do just that.  Here is just one of my rules and my thoughts about why it is important:

  1.  If you get out of line you can have your spot back.

For years, teaching young children, I would hear ‘He got out of line, he has to go to the end!, ‘He got out of line and now he is trying to cut me!, or (with a bit of a shove) ‘He is trying to squeeze back in!’… I have heard many teachers tell their students that if they get out of line they would have to go to the end. In fact, I used to say that myself.  It just felt sad and sometimes I would make an exception… But now, in Room One, if you need to get out of line because you forgot to grab your coat, get a drink,  tell someone something, or for no good reason, you just need to say please hold my spot.  When you get back to the line you say, excuse me, may I have my spot back and the person is supposed to say (we practice this), “Yes, certainly.” Even if you forget to ask someone to hold your spot you can get it back… That is the rule.

It is not about eliminating conflict or complaining, it is not about where you stand in line or the reasonableness of why you got out of line… it is about treating other people the way you want to be treated.  If you get out of line for any reason would you like to get your spot back?  If you forgot to grab bananas at the grocery store, you might leave your cart in line and run back to get them… imagine if when you got back someone had shoved your cart aside?  You want to be treated kindly. So, in Room One, everyone gets their spot back. It is polite.  It is the right thing to do.  It makes people happy and it is easy.

How can this apply to the world?  Imagine the on-ramp of your local highway, imagine the line at the bank, post office or market… imagine what is the right thing to do and make that happen… we have moved away from worrying about others’ feelings – political correctness has become a bad word – the pendulum has swung – pushed by some very angry people who would never give you your spot back… Time to push back and show what it feels like to say “Yes, certainly”, and really mean it.

 

 

Dishing it Out

It is so interesting that Trump and Trump supporters are calling foul when the opposition and news jump on his ‘missteps’ and ‘alternative facts’.  It is interesting when they shout unfair, untrue, and unpatriotic as he is called out and scrutinized by the public.  Have they forgotten the election?  Have they forgotten ‘Lock Her Up’ and ‘Drain the Swamp’, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, and Lying Ted, ? Have they forgotten ‘ Look at that Face?’, ‘Snore Fest Jeb’… where were they? Where was he?  He spent over a year saying the most outrageously untrue things, calling names, and disrespecting  respected leaders in our government… how quickly they have all forgotten his SOP.

Trump and his supporters are concerned that there is an unprecedented level of fake news, yet they won their election by promoting fake news.  His head man, Steve Bannon, is the king of fake news… get a grip, people!

The problem is, that unlike Obama (who our current president seems to be obsessed with), Trump reacts, highlights and defends every bit of news that paints him in a bad light.  He is obsessed with the past statements of people who spoke out against him during his campaign which is why, after a month in office he has only appointed 14 people to key positions… he can’t find anyone with much experience who did not support one of the 17 other candidates!  His vetting process is whether or not they said something mean about him in the past.

Last night my husband asked me what HAPPENED in Sweden.  Nothing.  Nothing happened.  Is the media and public supposed to just ignore that.  Trump got his information from Fox News. I am not saying they peddle untruths, but Trump must not have really been paying attention to what the story was really about (an issue for him) and then repeated what he thought he heard to thousands and then millions of people.  HE IS THE PRESIDENT! It is our duty and the media’s duty to call him out when he says crazy s***.  Our DUTY!  This is not being unfair, this is about public safety and world respect. It is about holding our president accountable.

He was, and still is, great at dishing it out… if he can’t take the heat… time to get out of the kitchen.  All this whining does need to stop… Mr. Trump, enough is enough, stop whining!

Minor Inconvenience

Only a minor inconvenience… 90 days… that is nothing… people can be properly vetted and go back to their regular life… I am not sure why the country is making such a stink.  Okay, folks, here we go…

I am sure you have heard the stories of the Fulbright scholarship student whose plane was turned around, the Iraqi translator who worked for the US military, and the man (with an MBA) with his wife and three children who had waited two years to be vetted, sold his house and was pulled off the plane in Cairo… they have all been inconvenienced by this new policy and how it is being enforced across the world.  We are only protecting ourselves, keeping America safe… why should anyone be upset? This all because we have built up a collective fear of terrorists… they kill, on average, 120 Americans a year over the past 20 years (that is including 9/11)…  But wait a second… domestic gun violence kills, on average, 12,000 people a year… cigarettes kill, on average 480,000 people a year… and 2,200 Americans die EACH DAY from heart disease…

So, until we get a ‘handle’ on THIS situation, let’s put a 90 day ban on the sale of any new firearm, a 90 day ban on the sale of cigarettes, and a 90 day ban on the sale of animal products like beef… it is only a minor inconvenience… let’s keep America safe…

Oh, is that going too far?  It is only 90 days, and I don’t own a gun, smoke cigarettes or eat meat… so how bad will that really be?  It is really for your own good and the good of our country.

And if you think that this new Trump executive order will have any effect on our safety, I hope you realize that it will… we are in far more danger after this stupid move than we were Friday morning.  This just fuels the flames of radical groups, gives Muslims and Muslim countries reasons to fear and distrust us and puts our citizens and country in jeopardy…

This ‘minor inconvenience’ is just the tip of the iceberg… Stand up against hate, fear and tyranny… Trump has already proven he is unfit… continue to resist and speak out! His whole presidency is an inconvenience…