Archive for January 2011

Final Exams

January 27, 2011

Princess started studying last Friday night.  She spent the entire weekend in her room…with her books….and her notes….and her ipod…..studying.  There was a break for his soccer game on Saturday night and for her soccer game on Sunday morning.

On Sunday night she posted a message on Facebook saying that she was ‘ready’ for finals to begin and to ‘bring them on!’  She was  informed by her friends that finals wouldn’t START until Wednesday.  She had NO idea.

Her first round of high school semester finals and she ‘wasted her weekend’….she said.

Prince is an old hand at final exams.  He IS a high school Junior after all.  HE can’t study much before hand….he says.  HE needs to go over the material the night before so that it’s still FRESH in his head. 

He had a friend over on Tuesday – the night before finals started – to study together….to have dinner…..and go to the evening cross town rival basketball game which was being played ‘right around the corner.’  And I heard some laughing coming from the basement in there some where.  A wii racing game  study break, he said.

Final exams mean half days and no transportation for my kids.  HRH took Wednesday afternoon off in order to pick them up at school and deliver them home to study for the next day’s finals.  I change schools at the half day point on Fridays so I would be able to pick them up and deliver them home – or not – on Friday.  They might be taking me to my second school and then driving themselves home.  Princess has a basketball game and needs to be there early, you see.

But today is Thursday and I am sitting at my school desk writing this two and a half hours earlier than I need to be here.  Prince dropped me off and drove them to school in order to be able to drive them home after three hours of final exams. 

Did I mention that I gave them twenty bucks to go out to lunch on their way home?



Let Me Tell You About My Day…..

January 15, 2011

The television goes on first thing in the morning at our house.  It generally plays in the background as we get ready for the day.  We get the weather report and road conditions in between showers and toothbrushes.  This is important when you live in an area that fluctuates between snow and ice and nothing at all in the winter.  My son always has an ear out for the sports reports and my daughter has an ear out for nothing at all.  Unless there are snow day reports.  Current events spill over and catch my ear while I am throwing together a lunch.  This morning, however, I was stopped in my tracks.

There were reports about the Saturday shooting in a Tucson shopping center…..about the victims….and the shooter.   A nine-year old girl born on 9/11 was one of those killed.  Portions of Congressional Rep. Gabby Gifford’s skull were being removed to accommodate the swelling of her brain – a residual effect from the bullet that tore through her head. 

There was a lump in my throat.

Opened up my school mail as soon as I got to work.  There was a message about a second grader – an occasional student of mine and younger brother of a student I see regularly – beginning treatment for lymphoma over the weekend.  Teachers and parents were banding together to provide meals for the family while mom is holed up in the hospital with her hockey loving youngest.  I checked the schedule and they seemed to be covered.  A seven year old dealing with chemotherapy and its after effects.

There was a lump in my throat.

Third graders are generally very talkative in the morning.  They want to share everything….especially if they haven’t seen you in a while.  Since I see my classes just once a week, I am always prepared for the onslaught of weekend news when the third graders come into the computer lab on Mondays.   And I wasn’t disappointed.  There were haircuts and skiing excursions to hear about.  And trips to the movies.  As the class was settling down and logging in to their computers, a round-faced cherub was going on and on about the video game he had played with his dad all weekend.  And how very good he was at it.  The game?  Halo Reach.

Now, I have a 16-year-old who has played the game.  I have kept a blind eye to it because I know that his gaming preference mostly leans toward the sports genre – hockey, football and golf.  I know that the Halo series is science fiction and about super soldiers battling aliens.  I know that kids know that its not real.  But its a ‘first person shooter’ type game. When you play it, you see the barrel of the gun as you aim……and ‘you’ shoot.  To kill.   To blow things up.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Halo:

The series has been praised as being among the best first person shooters on a video game console and are considered the Microsoft Xbox’s ‘killer app”.  This has led to the term ‘Halo killer’ being used to describe console games that aspire, or are considered, to be better than Halo. Fueled by the success of Halo: Combat Evolved, and immense marketing campaigns from publisher Microsoft, its sequels went on to break various sales records.  The games have sold over 34 million copies worldwide, and all Halo merchandise has grossed more than $1.7 billion.



 For a game?

And this is what we invent to entertain ourselves with?

There was a serious lump in my throat.

When I opened my email, I found an update from a group that my family supports on a monthly basis – Compassion International.   The email was an update about their work in Haiti – a country still struggling to come back from a devastating earthquake, cholera and famine.  I had gotten another report from another group over the weekend telling about the frustrations with providing housing for the slum dwellers still living in tents.  This email was a letter of thanks – for support and prayers and money – for aid in CI’s continuing work in Haiti.  Pictures flooded my brain of children and adults living under blue tarps with winter weather underway.  Of kids crowding into school desks  just so they can learn anything at all and get at least one meal a day.  Of hospitals and clinics flooded with feverish patients….who were dying.  Of women risking rape as they go in search of food….and water.

All the while – not so very far away – third graders are playing Halo. 

There was a lump in my throat.

And my day went on, the lump softened somewhat.  There were mundane tasks and things to do.  Basketball practice.  Dinner.  Homework to oversee.

But the lump was still there.

The kind of lump that gives you fleeting moments of despair.  Of children playing games pretending to shoot and kill and blow up.  Of nine year olds being shot alongside the public mentor she might of chosen to be like.  Of seven year olds struggling with cancer.   Of  frustration for what the future actually holds.

For all of us.

And then I logged onto my Facebook to check in with family and friends as I usually do in the evenings.  Suddenly, all of my cares and frustrations and worries melted away as I read this tidbit about this delicious, penguin loving,  just turning six-year-old daughter of a friend.

   “…….. is sitting with the cutest little ballerina girl who is writing a “To-Do” List for Dr. Marfa Lutha King, Jr. Day. “We read a book all about him in library today, mommy. He was a good man that wanted people to be safe & good to one another.”   Her little to do list involved taking down the Christmas decorations and putting up things about people getting along, and making snacks to share and other such almost 6 year old trappings.

So, as long as we still teach about and think about  – and hold true – the ideals of ‘Dr. Marfa Lutha King, Jr.’….

……all will be well in my world.

I hope.


Riding in the Car with Mom

January 13, 2011

“….now we need to find him a car and I am never driving my kids to school again!”

At first, I heartily agreed with a friend’s Facebook status expressing exhilaration at her son finally getting his driver’s license.   Not having to cart your socially active/sports playing kids/teenagers around town is kind of freeing.   But driving them to school?  Hmm…..

My children have had to deal with Mom’s Taxi from the very start of their school careers out of necessity.  Since we didn’t live in the school district where I taught, and wanting him (and later, her) to be on the same year round school calendar as I was, I enrolled Prince across district boundary lines.  This meant that he needed to ride with me every day and spend a time in the before school child care program at his school so I could skedaddle to mine.  Later I managed to find a parent closer to our house who could babysit in the mornings and they could catch the bus from her neighborhood.  Then I was transferred to a school right next door to a middle school so they could ride to work with me in the mornings and then walk down and wait my classroom till the end of the elementary school day.  When he went to high school we even managed to finagle a ride for him on a high school route that would drop him off at my elementary school so he could wait even longer.

But they did their homework in the Media Center, helped out in classrooms and got into some harmless trouble now and then.  But we rode together……every day.

Back and forth.

In Mom’s Taxi.

When they were younger we would sing songs at the top of our lungs, practice spelling words and talk about books they were reading as we drove back and forth.  We knew the routes to take to see the MOST obnoxious holiday displays and the short cuts to avoid – or not – on muddy days.   We knew where to plug our noses to avoid the smell of mulch in the making.  We knew where to see nesting swans and baby ducks in ponds along the way.  

But the reason that I could relate to my friend’s happiness at those ‘taxi’ days coming to an end is because driving kids – now teenagers – can be a bit aggravating.  We have had days when the only conversation we had were grunts or snorts as they took cat naps in the car.   And the surliness of kids who were tired of the mundane routine of school was a little hard to bear at times….especially if my own day had been challenging. 

 I did have some respite from the task when HRH was laid off from his job for a period of six months last year.  He did the chaffering to their schools and I enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave home a bit later in the morning.   To play MY songs on the radio.  To roll the windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

But the truth of it is, I kind of missed those morning and afternoon drives after a while.  I missed the forced containment in a small space with my kids for a short period of time. 

You see, riding in the car with Mom gave me a few moments of the day to reconnect with them.  To hear about how their day went, who they were sitting with at lunch and what ‘crappy’ homework they had to do.  I heard about substitute teachers that were awesome and shenanigans in the hall that others were involved in.  Always….others. 

I know the music they like and the radio stations they tune into.  I know the fast food places they want to stop at for an after school ‘snack’ and how quickly they can ‘power shop’ in the mornings at the 24 hour grocery store.  I knew how they felt about the current events we saw happening on the news as we were on the way out the door. 

So now that one has a license to drive and the other has her learner’s permit the campaign to get a car for them has stepped up somewhat.  They want to drive themselves to school.

But, in all honesty, I am planning on holding out for at least another year. 

I’d miss my kids.