A Right to Complain

I know many people are irate at the way our president is …. just is…. speaking, tweeting, lying, perhaps even breathing… you know, that whistling sound some people make with their nose… but, I digress…

Many people are rightfully complaining, loudly, about the leader of our country and his loyal followers. You can complain to whomever you choose, but your complaining means nothing if you only complain to those who chime in and spur you on.  Living your life as the ‘good guy’, the upstanding, decent, charity contributing, liberal means nothing if you are not willing to say ‘I do not support Trump’, ‘I am a Jew’, or ‘I am a liberal Democrat ‘…. only then will people who hold you in high regard perhaps think twice about their own ideas… when you are respected you MUST be willing to be honest about who you really are… allowing someone to believe that you are a ‘good Christian’ or a staunch Trump supporter does nothing to enlighten those you may have the power to impact.

IF you care, IF you disagree with the direction  our country is heading, IF you are irate…. YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION….

If you are not willing to stand up… then perhaps  you should just suck it up and hang on for the next 3 1/2 years… otherwise the time has come to say ‘No, I did not and do not, support Trump’…

 

Sympathy for the Devil

I almost feel sorry for him… day after day, speech after speech, meeting after meeting and tweet after tweet… people still support him ~ those same people who wore the red hats and flooded the internet spreading fake news ~ they are standing tall by their man.  Billing himself as the only one who could come in and ‘save’ our country, he was (and probably still is) look at as the Messiah. I recall reading  and hearing his supporters  speak about Trump being the choice of God.  How frightening for them to think that God was really not in charge of our election but actually a narcissistic loose cannon and his helpful Russian friends (whether he knew it or not).  Trump is spiraling out of control, digging his hole deeper by the day, and alienating our global friends. Most every day we can hear him speaking the alternate truth.  Watching Trump’s presidency is like watching a train wreck or a singer perform who can’t carry a tune… cringing, I watch, through my finger, shaking my head…  I almost feel sorry for him because he is making himself and our country look like a fool…. and a man in his 70’s should behave with more dignity and speak with more care…

Impeachment? I don’t think it will happen…. but I can hope…

People say that everything is either a gift or a lesson…. well, America?  Have we learned our lesson yet?  If so, it is time to move on and do better next time.

Sometimes Dishes Break

Sometimes dishes break… even the ones you love… the ones that you have cherished for years,  saved for special occasions, or something brand new… sometimes they just slip out of your hands, get bumped by someone who was a bit clumsy, or tip because they were teetering on the edge, and before you know it, you are sweeping up the broken bits of something that can not be fixed…

When I was first married I broke a lot of things… my husband would get upset and tell me that I just didn’t care enough about this, that or the other thing… He would get upset with me and I would be hurt or angry and try to defend myself… what a waste of energy… that attitude, that we made mistakes or had accidents because we didn’t care almost cost us each other… we went through a rough patch, developed a new vocabulary to deal with small hurts without letting them get big and and soon it just became our little joke… when something would crash to the floor one of us would say something about not really liking it or not caring about it…  we would pick up the pieces together and move on…

The truth is, some things can get bumped and just in the nick of time they can be caught before they crash to the floor… life is like that… a constant catching as things topple over… a bit of super glue to mend what was not caught soon enough …. and when you really cherish something that has shattered, you can still pick up each piece carefully and create something completely new and even more beautiful… a mosaic

If you don’t use the things that you love, they can never be broken… but they can’t really be enjoyed either… Some of the most beautiful mosaics can be created from things that have been broken… remember that…. And always look for the joy

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. 😉

Building An Effective Wall

I just read that the ‘Wall Proposals’ are due on Wednesday.  I had this picture in my mind of people all over the world sitting in little teams contemplating materials and design.  Suddenly I had a flash of a children’s story I read to my first grade class every year: The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas.  From the title you can see that the classic tale is flip flopped and the sweet little wolves are terrorized by this big mean ugly pig.  The wolves like to play games like badminton, hopscotch and croquet … they try to protect themselves by using not straw, sticks and bricks, but iron bars, metal plates, concrete block and a video surveillance system… each time the Big Bad Pig blasts their home to bits with dynamite, sledgehammers, or his ever ready pneumatic drill.  Finally the wolves give up trying to build this fortress against their enemy….

I imagine our wall as their final house, a wall of flowers (or better yet edible plants) swaying delicately in the wind, having a similar effect on boarder dwellers, as the wolves flower house had on the Pig…. as one draws near our wall “they are filled with the fragrant scent of flowers”… their hearts grow and they begin to dance.  At my wall they may pick a strawberry or snack on an apple before shaking hands with the boarder control, who tend the wall, take selfies with the crossers and welcome them to America.

Gone are the people dying in the desert, gone are people dying in storage containers or the backs of overheated trucks and gone are those profiting from human trafficking…

I am sure there are holes in my dream… but if you don’t have the dream nothing can ever change…

Disturbing Visit

It may not have gone unnoticed, but it hasn’t gotten the response it deserves.  The very first school our president went to visit was a private Catholic school.   This should have made headlines, drawn criticism from the National Teachers Union, and the separation of church and state should have been part of the discussion around the CNN newsdesk.

I am not against private school or private religious schools. If parents want something different than their local public school and a non-secular education based on agreed upon standards and curriculum, they can pay for it and make that choice.  They have the choice to take their child to a public school out of their district out of their area and still have that education paid for. That is very different than our government paying for private schools. His  visit sent me, a public school teacher, a clear message. Our president is going to follow Betsy DeVos’s lead and work to funnel some of our meager education dollars into private religious schools. Where is the separation of church and state?

The idea that somehow this will make education better, that the students of my little rural school will reap the benefits of this potential change in policy is ludicrous.  Unless the parents of these children are willing to drive  their child long distances each day they will be educated in their local school.  Who are those parents willing to make  that drive? Families who can afford the gas, families who care deeply about their child’s education, and parents who are involved.  Not to say that many lovely families who value education will choose to keep their children in their local school…but there may be an exodus of many of the best and brightest to schools where they can screen out children who struggle to behave, are low academically or demand too much attention from a teacher.

Who will be left in public education? If Trump has his way, I fear for public education, where we will have to make do with less and less while educating an increase percentage of those most difficult to educate.

This voucher system has not been thought through, but someone needs to start doing some serious thinking and stand up for our children, all of our children… and in standing up for all our children we ARE standing up for public education.

This disturbing visit should have sent shock waves through advocates of public education but instead we were freaking out over 3am tweets.  Don’t let him shift our focus on what really matters…if we become caught up in his distractions we may just miss what is really happening…

Never Give Up!

Never give up… the show must go on.  A lesson confirmed by my 17 year old son last night at his final performance of his senior year.  Just as he was about to go on stage for his last ‘big number’ his mic went out.  Panicked, he was trying to change the batteries and finally just pulled off the battery pack, tucked in his shirt and stepped on stage.  The band is really amazing, but without a mic on, the singers are almost impossible to hear.  He knew that… and he knew that this was his final performance.  He told me that all he thought about was that no matter what, he would be heard.  And he was.  He sang much of his part up an octave so he could really belt it out.  The adrenalin rush pushed him beyond what he had done during every rehearsal… and he made it work

So, this is the lesson… at our time of crisis… when things are not going our way… don’t give up… that is the time to sing up an octave and really belt it out!  Do not let the band drown you out!  This current political craziness is threatening to silence us at one of our most important moments… sing loud, sing strong, and put it all out there… Never give up and always be heard!