Category Archives: growing

For the love of teaching

Some things have come to light about my former job and the teachers that were hired after me.  They are things that make me incredibly sad and frustrated that I didn’t pass that fuckin exam in time to get rehired.  Yes, I know the timing wasn’t right anyway.  I know it was way more important that I was here at home to help out with Marion than to be at EDCO but I think about the kids that are there now and how these teachers are selfish, rude and immature.  They are unable to not take things personally with the students.  Grow the fuck up! Seriously?

My chosen profession of Special Education Educator can be quite challenging at times.  If you are especially good at what you do~ ie: not sending kids to the office every hour. You become a dumping ground (I know, bad term) for all the behavior problems that other teachers are struggling with.  I used the word dumping because that is how a weak administration often handles difficult students.  Grouping them all into the category of they must have cognitive weakness otherwise why would they behave so poorly.  At times this could be a good fit for my class or it could be a negative fit.  One student a young lady Patience (names were changed) was put into my mildly cognitive challenged self-contained classroom.  She had quite a few problems going on at home, mom was trying her best but Patience challenged the authority of every kind.  So someone said,  oh Patience struggles with the material so let’s put her in Jen’s classroom.  As soon as Patience was placed in my class I knew she was much higher functioning than any of the students in my class.  She quickly went through the assignments with little or no guidance.  I pointed this out to our department chair and administration.  So her schedule was changed, she was put into more appropriate classes.  She refused to do work.  The administrator was pretty savvy started having Patience walk the track whenever she was refusing to work.  For some reason this work.  Now Patience lost some weight and started receiving attention in a positive way for staying in class and being open to new topics.  The reason the walking around the track helped was she was doing something physical, and she got to talk to a teaching assistant or other special ed. teacher.  But this also worked because it appeared that Patience realized she was important and not to be discarded.

In my current placement, I have a student, Roman.  Roman’s mother died a couple of years ago, it was also at that time he found out he was adopted.  Roman is now living with grandparents.  And English is not their first language, they are also very religious. Roman, is gay and rather low cognitively.  He is very critical of himself constantly putting himself down.  Roman is in a class with some tough students.  Kids that are used to being critical of themselves and others.  I was able to have a little one on one time with Roman the other day.  I told him I didn’t want him to be so critical of himself.  I also told him, I was so happy he was in my class and that I loved him.  I really loved him for his interest in plants and animals. How he thinks of others and is kind.  He started getting a little teary-eyed.  I did too when I realized the reason he was acting out, he didn’t feel loved or wanted.  Just the simply saying that yes, you do matter and you matter to me was enough to help him get back on track.  Is he perfect no but he is trying now, which he wasn’t doing before.

My students just want to be seen.

#metoo

So every woman has a story ~ sure most women have multiple stories.  I think it is brave so many women are coming forward and I hope it changes behavior.  I have so many stories I don’t even know where to start.  Getting molested when I was 7 at the beach in Miami when I was just wading in the water- having a stranger teenage boy stick his hand down my swimsuit,  or having jr. high boys or high school boys assume because I developed big breast that this somehow makes me easy and that I want it.  It’s funny after my father died I did want attention from boys or males.

So I decided to take control of my sexuality and I became rather intimidating to most of the boys my age.  I would tell them what I wanted and how I wanted it.  I was confident and sure.

And there were many #metoo experiences that were not asked for.  Many times I would be grabbed or pinched or stalked.  But the time I recently looked back on~ with such great sadness is after my sister and mother passed away.  My boyfriend B.  I was crazy about and he acted like he was crazy about me.  He was very affectionate with me and very attentive.  He was also very sexual.  I didn’t realize that he would masturbate multiple times throughout the day even after we would have sex.  I knew he had a real porn habit and discovered he had naked pictures of old girlfriends.  All of these should have been red flags.  But I was in a vulnerable state~  I was separated and divorcing my ex-husband. I had just lost my sister who was my best friend and my mother in a matter of weeks.  And I had this man who was expressing interest in me.  I wasn’t sleeping a lot initially during that period.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and usually wander downstairs and read or write.  Some nights I would be so tired I took something the doctor prescribed for me to help me relax.  I might actually sleep for 4 or 5 hours on those nights.  One night was like that~ I was tired and just wanted to sleep.  But B.  was feeling horny.  So even though I was asleep he fucked me.  I remember waking up and pushing him off me and telling him no.  But that didn’t stop him.  When he had climaxed he stopped and then rolled over and fell asleep.  I was awake by this point.  WTF?  I stayed with him for 4 more years. But he had 4 daughters that I felt needed love and attention and he wasn’t giving it to them.  So the mother in me stayed for them.   I bought us 2 houses. He lied repeatedly and had emotional affairs with women he met on the internet, and regularly corresponded with an old girlfriend.  He got together with her after he and I broke up.  I emailed her and warned her about his sexual addiction and other issues.  She ended up marrying him.  Better her than me ~ just wish he hadn’t taken so much from me.

Things I wish I could tell my daughters~

Not sure how I should start this~

Dear Emily and Erin,

First of all, I don’t regret marrying your father because he gave me you.  You were able to be raised in a comfortable home though not always conventional. I stayed for you both.  I am so proud of you and what you have become.

The Wedding~

I don’t know how much you know of your parent’s wedding.  We got married at Grandma Pat’s house.  We had a friend of mine who was a judge since your father was an atheist.  We got married on the rug a neighbor gave us that this couple had gotten married on and their marriage lasted over 40 yrs.  Neither Aunt Laura or Florence attended the wedding.  It was very small but then we had a reception a few days later.  The night after the wedding we went out to eat at yet another friend’s new restaurant, He was Italian and a great cook.  Your dad and I stayed at Larry Bird’s Motel ~ the Boston Connection.  It was much fancier than it sounds.

The first few years~

I wish I could tell you it got easier, and some parts did.  I have always been surrounded by a disorder.  I don’t know if it goes back to my learning disability or the way my brain functions.  I am not lazy or stupid.  I do have a zest for life, which was always under the surface.  I think this scared your dad.  I did and would speak to strangers, wear loud bright and colorful clothes, loved to dance, laugh at myself, try new things and wanted to talk, laugh, be goofy and surrounded my stuff.  I don’t think I fit his idea of a wife and mother. My mother told me I needed to have dinner on the table waiting for your dad when he got home.    How I tried, to organize myself and the house.  And your dad didn’t make it easy for me.  But I loved being a mom.  I read every book I could on parenting, feeding your child, discipline, activities to do with your babies.  But then I went back to school, and things got really tough.

Mistakes 

I don’t want to call them mistakes but I did make choices that weren’t always to my highest calling.  I lied to your dad over stupid things~ like getting the internet for free, how much things cost, friends, ideas, issues, and problems.  I learned to just get along and not rock the boat.  I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time.  Because of that, I know there were times I wasn’t a very good mother.  Times when I wasn’t present or angry at your dad and would take it out on you guys.  I am so sorry.  I realize now I was doing the best that I could to get by.    Your father accused me of sleeping around.  I didn’t.  I did have an active fantasy life.  I read books on improving myself, kept dream journals, gratitude journals, and regular journals.  I wanted to feel love and wanted a partner that liked me and liked to do things with me.  Your father found my dream journal and thought it was my real journal.  Your dad thought I was having an affair with Denzel Washington,  Ellen Degeneres, and others.   He even said to me I guess that why the house is never clean.  I wasn’t.  But I did pretend and dream about meeting various actors or musicians and have them falling in love with me.  I tried to make your dad happy.  But then finally gave up,  I didn’t like who I was becoming.

Aunt Laura~

Laura was my protector, my confidant, my best friend, my hero, and my sister.  I was so proud to have her as my sister.  This was one reason I was so glad that I had two girls. Laura had been Great Grams favorite.  I was definitely not her favorite and she seems to go out of her way to be mean to me.  I got to where I didn’t even notice.  But Laura did and defended me and spoke up for me.  Something my own mother wasn’t able to do.  There was a mother/ daughter luncheon at church, I was pregnant with you Emily.  Amanda was a baby, Aunt Laura, my mom and great gram were all going to attend.  Great gram was saying pretty awful things under her breath about me how I was dressed or something I said or didn’t say.  I guess Laura finally had enough and spoke to her.  Laura spoke to my mom too.  It was the first time, I could remember someone speaking up for me in the family.  I guess that what I wanted to happen when you both were being mean to me after the divorce.  Laura spoke up to your grandma Janet and Dad.  She always said I was the kindest person she knew.   When I lost her and your grandmother I also feel like I lost a bit of my mind.  But I did get the courage to leave your father.

The Loss~ 

Now I wish I hadn’t jumped into a relationship, but sometimes when we are grieving or going through something really hard and horrible we don’t make good decisions.  That was a difficult lesson I had to learn.  Losing you all was the worst.

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The Capitalist

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I am very much of the mindset to take life as it comes.  Yes, I work and I have at many times put in too many hours for a job I felt required to do so for it.  After working … Continue reading

Holidays~ Thanksgivings

It’s the wonderful, joy filled time of the holidays.  Family, friends, food, activities, a time to connect and remember.  Growing up a couple of Thanksgivings come to mind~ both of them accord in New York.  The first memory was going to the Macy day parade when I was about 4,  we lived in Brooklyn and this was a big treat.  I was most excited about all the colored paper from the floats so I collected a large amount of the paper.  We (my family went to a restaurant before heading back home.  While I was in the bathroom with my sister, the waitress cleared off the table and threw away my color paper.  (Actually it technically it was trash I picked up off the street.)  The other memory was when I was 16, I was with the Long Walk for Survival in New York City.  I had run away to be close to a boy I fell in love with Charley Grass. That Thanksgiving I joined the group and fasted for Thanksgiving.   I fasted to remember all of the Native Americans that lost their lives for this fun-filled holiday.  The night before Thanksgiving that year  I also fell asleep on James Taylor’s couch. I met him when I was “playing the role of a secretary” for the medicine man Leonard Crowdog.    In some ways that was a very lonely Thanksgiving.

Other memories of the holidays ~ going to visit my cousins in KY.

Or when my father would invite faculty and or students that didn’t have any place to go.   These were usually foreign or visiting students.  They would bring a dish to share.  Then after my mother married my stepfather ~ we always had a house full.  We sat around the big table, and laughed and ate and told stories.  We always had a puzzle on a table in one room and would play a board game after the meal.

The first Thanksgiving my now ex-husband shared with us.  He told me it was his favorite holiday.  He also told me my mother was a much better cook than his mother.  He also told me I was a better cook than his mother.  I wish he remembered when he was telling his mother cutting remarks a few years later. But he got to see how we celebrated family~ and that was through sharing.

After we got married I continued the family tradition of inviting faculty or exchange students to our house for the holiday.  I loved opening up my home and sharing food with new friends and family.  It also worked out well when my brother Randy married a wonderful cook April and she would come and help. I would make very traditional dishes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, apple pie.  One year I made a very fancy pumpkin pecan torte 7 layers.

Another Thanksgiving,  Don (my ex) got us invited over to a colleague’s house but the turkey took much much longer to cook than his friend knew. His friend was very embarrassed but we explained it was all good. They were a young couple and this was their first holiday meal they were sharing.    I had planned to host guests at my house too.  Luck for me my brothers and niece felt comfortable going into my house and getting things ready without me.

But my biggest memory throughout those celebrations later when my sister and her family were unable to share it with us.  Were the phone calls from my sister,  she would start off calling me about 7am on Thanksgiving and tell me her big plans for the turkey.  One year she found a recipe in the New York Times ~ this is going to be the best turkey ever.  She would call me throughout the day keeping me up to date as to how her meal was progressing.  Things started off positive and then would take a turn and she would call to tell me she was having this problem and what should she do.  I would advise her.  Then she would call back a few minutes later telling me something she decided to try instead.  I believe that was the year the turkey was raw on the inside and burnt on the outside.  She said, well Martha Stewart isn’t a good choice.  The next year, it would start all over again.  I would always advise her to go simple~  turkeys should be moist and don’t need much to make them taste good.  Her phones calls seemed to follow a script.  We would laugh and how things were going or not going.  This happened for a few years till she called to tell me they were just going to have lobster and picked them up at Whole Foods.

 

 

 

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Marion’s death

When I first moved out here to the Boston area~ I thought I would live with my former brother in law and niece for a month or so till I got on my feet  unaware of how much more expensive … Continue reading

Unemployment checks!

Since my job was restructured last year~ I have been able to recuperate from my last teaching job.  A job that started off as a great place to work and I thought it was my dream job but after the first year~ it became a nightmare.  The director though a nice man ~ he is also a very weak administrator so there was no follow up on discipline or support given to staff.  Even though I was the most experienced on staff and the oldest and the most grounding I still needed support especially since I was put into a nearly impossible position.  Full time special education teacher (or in charge of all the paperwork and making sure all the services were being met and teaching 4 history classes.  I thought at first no problem~ the director understands this is a big job he will support me.  But nope he didn’t in fact when I asked him for help and even gave him suggestions as to what would help me do my job better and/ or make things easier for me.  He actually gave me more responsibilities.  WTF? dude seriously?  But the guy has some serious passive aggressive issues.  I started to push back too.  I didn’t make any attempt to waste my time doing pointless paperwork  such as writing out my lesson plans in a complete format ~ and I told him I felt like I had more important things to do like actually teach rather than fill out some sheet that he would look at once and then forget about checking on it ever again, ok I didn’t say that to him but I had noticed had been his MO.

When he told me he was going to restructure my position, I told him good luck with that. And good luck finding someone to fill my shoes.  Well, he then restructured it to what I had originally suggested to him but he waited to tell me that on the last day of school. And told me I could reapply if I wanted.  Well, that and I needed to pass this fvkkcing exam that has nothing to do with special ed.  As of this writing, I am still waiting to hear if I pass it or not again.  I was angry at first ~ feeling like he never appreciated me.  Well, seriously he didn’t until it was too late.  I did speak to him and told him my issues and I recommended he think about going into another field where he could actually make a difference instead of holding back progress at the school.  He rolled his eyes at me~ asshole.  So he lost all 5 of his teachers.  He had lost 5 teachers the year before too.  But he was saving the collab.  money by hiring new inexperienced teachers every year.  The program be damned.

But I would not have been ready to return to work back in mid-august ~ the woman I lived with was dying.  I was still feeling burned out, and I had that exam to retake.  eye roll!  But lucky me~ I could get an unemployment check.  So I go through the motions~ applying for jobs and re-writing cover letters.  But this time has given me time to think and appreciate.  I will write later about Marion’s death but if I had been teaching  I wouldn’t have been an option to assist and then be apart of her transitioning.  I am reading books, going to the beach, spending time with Lucy, hiking in the woods, think about my own health and write letters.  We don’t know what the future holds for us~ and sometimes we are giving such sweet little gifts thrown in among the sludge.