Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yes, No, Maybe So

Are you one of those people who likes/needs to be right? Not right in the "I know it all!" way. Just right in the "Is this the good and wise thing to do?" sort of way?

I am a bit of both. While I'm trying to let go of my bossy-know-it-all tendencies I still long to do the right thing. Know the right answer. Have the better outcome. But sometimes it just doesn't work that way.

A certain situation has been plaguing me for years now. And I try to approach it from different angles. Stop caring so much about the outcome. You know, get Zen with it. But no dice.

I just can't figure it out. Or how to make it stop. I just know viscerally how it makes me feel.

No right answers. I do not know at all how to handle it. In fact I do not think I can handle it. It's times like these that I truly hate. Times when you pose a question to yourself and the world and all you get back is a Yes, No, or Maybe So.

What am I supposed to do with that? I couldn't tell you since I don't have the answers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

As fast as you can

As they say...Run happy!
I have a natural proclivity towards drowsiness, which I have to fight like the plague. Running is one way I kick the lazy.

This Sunday I ran for the first time as a Race Ambassador for the 2nd Annual Fort2Base Race. I was joined by hundreds of other runners including my husband, one of my favorite guys, and some awesome ladies from my women's run club.

In fact, my Fairy Run Mother (from my 1st ever run club) won her age division.

As we got ready to line up for the start I asked my husband why do we continue to sign up for these things? It's usually cold, our legs get tired. And sometimes my lungs hurt.

But there's just something about racing that keeps pulling me back. I think its those precious minutes that turn to hours (if you're lucky) where you lose yourself in the miles and the music. It's hard to explain, but its worth finding out.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sons of guns

I have three boys. Three boys who love to wrestle, draw, dance, game, and shoot. Not in that order and not everyday. But often enough for me to have to pull them apart. Yell for people to stop jumping off and onto the couch, turn off that game system....and for the love of god stop making gun noises.

I often have to check myself and evaluate what is just a bunch of boys having fun and what is a teachable moment. Which things should I let ride and what behaviors  should I  I discuss with them.

I gotta say. This gun thing is driving me mad. The pretend shooting. The interest in all things camouflage. The designation of good guys and bad guys.

And for my three sons, I know this play is just not that deep. For them its all fun. But for me....

Well, I wrestle with knowing there are rarely absolute "bad" guys and "good" guys. That often the people deemed "good" are the ones who have won the war and got to write the history books.

I wrestle with letting "boys be boys" and wanting to explain to them that people with guns can irreparably hurt one another. More than any fists, speeches, or wrestling matches ever could. People with guns can take out entire populations. People with guns can shoot first and ask questions later.

And that people with guns....I just don't want them to be the people with guns who hurt other people.

When I've asked my oldest what he would even need a gun for he says, "Protection." But how safe would a gun real or imagined really keep my boys?

It's one of those things I have no clear answers on. Just millions of questions.

So I say to the universe...

"Please keep my sons safe from people with guns. Let my sons be keepers of peace. Not of war."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle

You don't have to be from or in Illinois to have heard of the Chicago Teachers' Union Strike. It is now entering it's second week and negotiations and concessions are apparently underway.

It's an all around tough situation for everyone involved. Hundreds of thousands of children are at home or with impromptu sitters, teachers are not being paid, the City of Chicago looks bad, and there's still this massive education system to fix.

Having sent my children to public, private, and charter schools I've seen pluses/minuses/neutrals about them all. And at the end of the day I feel it is my job to ensure that my children are properly educated. And to do that I have sought to place them with teachers who feel it is there solemn duty to teach my children. But my endeavors have not always been successful.

"It takes two to tango"

On the flip side I've seen teachers who are truly committed to teaching children, yet they have to fight with administrators who are notorious time-wasters or micro-managers. Or teachers whose heart is in the right place but their skills do not yet match the class or grade assignment. Teachers who would greatly benefit from working with a teacher-mentor or class collaborating, but with falling budgets that almost never happens.

At least not in districts like Chicago Public Schools (CPS) where there isn't enough money to go around. And the money that is spent rarely shows up directly into a classroom or into lesson enhancements.

Then there are the absolutely terrible teachers who should have never been hired or more immediately fired. The teachers who demean, belittle, or hurt the children by lowering their expectations of themselves and what they are capable of. And these people seem to stick around forever.

Where are the answers?

Professional educators and administrators have countless sources of motivation so I don't purpose to know what's in the hearts of all those striking educators. But if I were in their shoes, as a dedicated educational professional...working in a district where violence is awfully common place, where high-stakes testing is considered a silver-bullet, and where longer school hours were the prescriptions...I might just be picketing too.

Sobbing and picketing.

Educators get into the field to educate. We want to teach even as we learn. Sure impostors join too for the tenure and health care, but honestly if I did not love working with children I wouldn't stick around. And I would trade tenure for a more competitive salary any day of the week.

I guess I say all that to say that I feel a great deal of empathy for the CPU teachers, parents, and children. It's a jungle out there. And no one knows how to clear away the path.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The What

I've never understood bullies. I mean, I get the concept of feeling "higher" by lowering someone else. But I never understood the motivation to actually put something like that into motion. Yes, I could say or do something to take someone down a peg or two. But how does that make me feel any better?

Won't I just feel crummy again later? And maybe that's the case. Perhaps people who intentionally hurt other people do feel bad later so they seek out another victim to damage.

Maybe it's a cycle that isn't easily broken.

I was bullied a few times as a child. Each time was terrifying because I am by no means a fighter. At least not in the physical sense. But with the exception of the time my sisters and I were chased home by a pack of girls (yes, a pack), someone has always stood up for me.

A friend, one of my sisters, or random kid who apparently also knew I wasn't a fighter and didn't want to see me beat up or taken advantage of.

I've been a mixed bag when it comes to standing up for myself and more specifically to bullies. It may be that I over-think most things. I try to understand why someone would seek to undermine me. Or say dishonest things.

But I'm learning that the "why" does not always matter. It's my "what" that means the most.

What am I going to do about it?

I'm gonna stand up for my own d@mn self, that's what!

Monday, September 10, 2012

With a little help

I finally buckled down and got a math tutor for the new Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency. Waiting so long to seek out help made absolutely no sense. But that is exactly what I did. Yesterday we spent an hour and a 1/2 working on practice problems and I honestly feel better equipped already.

It's funny because I know math is not my strong suit. Yet, I pretty much felt if I just kept trying I'd eventually figure it out. Then my husband said that the investment into a tutor was worth more than the trial, error, and defeat of retaking the same test with the same skills.

The funny part is that I'm generally the person that suggests we should look for help. I have no qualms about marriage counseling, therapists, expert advice, or GPS. If I don't know something I know there is a way I can find someone or something that will help me figure things out.

But apparently (and with great irony) my own education is one of my blind spots. Because I preform well in most of the things I need I often think I can just power through the areas that require support.

There's nothing wrong with getting by with a little help from our friends/tutors/therapists.

Monday, September 3, 2012

And we're off

I just experienced the best vacation of my life. At the husband's suggestion our family picked up and headed to Minnesota for Labor Day weekend. We had Mall of America on our mind and were looking to kick back before officially kicking the new school year off in style.

I was a little nervous about the drive. Fearing it'd be congested and we'd come back stressed. But the drive up was fantastic and the trip itself was really laid back. I was able to forget about everything going on back home and just enjoy my family.

"What's crazy is just how thoroughly I was able to completely forget everything that was waiting back home." 

So when I pulled into the garage a bunch of things came flooding back and I let out a sigh knowing the vacation was in fact over.

But after unpacking and settling in a bit I decided to drop the responsibilities and concerns about the future and just replay the most zen vacation of my entire life over and over again.

Even if it's just for tonight.

Happy Labor Day!