The Sixth Grade Dissolution

When R and I decided to tie the knot fourteen years ago, I knew that everything was going to change for me. I would no longer be living in the state where I was born and raised and where the majority of my family resided. I would have to live in the south which may as well have been an entirely new country. I would no longer be teaching.

Not only that but my new husband would be deploying within a month of my move to Augusta, Georgia.

I would be alone in a new place for four months.

Back then we didn’t have smart phones and our internet connection made a screechy sound. Any contact I had with R was sporadic and emotional. True, we did not have to wait months for snail mail like previous generations but watching any news about the Middle East was nerve-wracking especially since I had no idea where he would be.

So it was no surprise that as soon as he came home, we were expecting a baby! An actual baby! We were excited because this child was a first for both of us but terrified because we were nowhere near our families. Though the ultrasound was inconclusive as to the gender, I knew I was having a boy. After a couple of months of morning sickness, I craved steak and eggs. Hot dogs and rice. Chick-Fil-A several times a week. Yes, I gained forty pounds! (Compared to the girls’ pregnancies where I gained 25 pounds each pregnancy.)

I remember I was hot all the time. I insisted on opening the sliding door at night while R bundled up next to me in a thick cotton comforter like a caterpillar in a cocoon. One of those evenings we started doing the math of when R retired. How old would this unborn baby be when R finally retired? Where would we be living? Would this baby remember all of the times R was gone?

Sixth grade, we determined. The baby would be in sixth grade.

Fast forward to a week ago when this Georgia-born baby promoted. My, how time flies.

Congratulations, kid. We are so proud of you!

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The Dribbling Derivative

Today
I subbed at the high school today and the students were pretty well-behaved. I love teaching, even as a substitute teacher, but my favorite part of the day is seeing my family after working all day. After I greeted my daughters with a hug, I asked my son M the same question I always ask: HOW WAS SCHOOL?

M said, “I told everyone that I had to finish last night’s work for full credit but really I snuck my homework out and finished it.” He ran off to play with his sisters.

“I knew you’d be fine!” I yelled after him. It didn’t matter if he heard me or not. He knew he’d be fine too.

Yesterday
It was hot and humid and that combination makes for a cranky me. Still, I agreed to practice on the basketball court. It was an air-conditioned court in a nice gym but we wanted to make sure M knew we were listening and we were going to do something.

I tried to get him to tell me who these were. I begged to know who had the audacity to treat another person like they were garbage. Don’t even get me started that this person is not any person.

This person is my son.

A son who’s mom would think of a million ways to kick your ass but she won’t.

“You can tell me,” I said. “I’m not going to tell your teacher.” I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t chew her out anyway. I just wanted to picture this kid and his mom getting a good beat down from me.

Kidding.

“I can’t tell you, Mommy! They’re my friends!”

I gave him a Look.

Seriously? These are your friends who treat you this way?

M looked on the internet for drills and skills to practice probably quite obsessively during the hour between his school dismissal and my foot in the door of our home.

Last night
My husband R and I got into a heated discussion. No objects flew through the air, no insults. That’s not our style.

“It makes me so mad that kids treated him that way,” he said. “I fucking hate sports!” It’s no secret that he despises them with a passion.

I, on the other hand, never played sports in high school or college but I enjoyed watching the Oakland A’s and the Chicago Bulls play on tv (not against each other) with my dad. He was a man of few words so I considered sitting awkwardly in the living room, staring at an 18″ wood panel television to be quality time. Even now, I would take the kids to see more professional sports teams play if it weren’t so expensive. I knew how to play a lot of sports. Not enough to be a star player but enough to join any game.

I knew enough.

Despite many similarities in our upbringing such as growing up in the 80s and no cable, one striking difference between R and I is the way our gender played a role in how we were treated and how we had to behave.

Where R grew up, he got into fights almost daily. In PE he was always picked last to be on a team and was frequently bullied. When he first revealed the fighting part, I couldn’t believe it! He still can’t believe that he’s met so many coworkers who had never been in a fight.

There were no organized sports when I was a kid. Maybe there were but most kids in my neighborhood couldn’t afford them. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area where if you asked to join a game with kids you didn’t know, they always said yes. Even when I admitted my non-athleticism, the leaders of the packs never made me feel bad, I got the “catcher” position or random ball retriever. I wanted in and they let me.

The point is even though there weren’t adults around we got along, we made up our own rules, and we had fun. I can’t tell you the names of the kids I played with a hundred times let alone the names of those I played with only once. It warmed my heart when my then 4-year old would count how many friends she had in her whole life and would include the little girl she met at the Chick-Fil-A playland at lunch earlier that day. Did I get the little girl’s name or arrange a play date? No.

And that’s okay.

I found a ton of articles on how organized sports have changed childhood and free play, a concept I thought was another buzzword for the helicopter-parent generation. I found articles on how to coach your kid to play basketball. Most importantly, I found an article on what makes a good player.

This article found that there are three factors that make a great basketball player (though one could venture to say that these factors could make any athlete excel). Through karate, he’s got athleticism (strength, agility) and mentality (focus, motivation)

All he needs are the skills.

Suddenly I had a great idea.

Day 0
My son admitted he hates school. He finally mustered up the courage to try a new sport at recess. Soccer, he decided.

“Come on,” yelled a kid to the kid with the ball. “Let’s start playing!”

The kid with the ball shook his head. “No,” he said. “That kid” (the kid pointed at my son) “is following us.”

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The Long-Term Decay

Why do I do this to myself?

I happily am a substitute teacher and relish the fact that I don’t have homework, that I don’t have to work every single day, and that I can avoid certain schools if I wanted.

So why did I accept another long-term sub job?

Sometimes I miss NOT being a substitute teacher. Sometimes I love being a regular teacher with my own classroom.

I’m pretty sure it’s easy to track via social media, this blog, and my personal calendar to tell when I’m in a long-term teaching position. I unintentionally fall off the face of the planet. My face is in a permanent scowl from reading so many misspelled words that I just can’t. I leave early for work because if I left any later, traffic would make my commute three times longer than it normally is.

Last fall I taught fifth grade and I loved it! It was very difficult as I was {bear with me} taking over for a substitute teacher who was taking over a teacher on maternity leave. It was no contest. The kids had bonded with him and I was the wicked lady who took over. But I didn’t mind.

Previous to that, I took a kindergarten class for a week. Even though I have claimed in the past that the little ones were my favorite to teach, this claim was long before I had my own children. Five year olds are babies! Luckily they were babies who responded to my read-alouds in foreign accents and singing along to my ukulele. I still see these kids at this new long-term assignment and awe at how much they have grown and dare I say, even matured.

I’ve been at this assignment for two months, also for another teacher on maternity leave. [Whatever is in the water at the school district, don’t give me any.] Sixth grade has been treating me well.

So well, in fact, that there are talks to hire me part-time for the fall.

Perfect.

I reflected on how this might affect our family and as usual, my husband is very supportive.

The kids? Not so much.

I came home at about 4 pm yesterday because I wanted to correct papers there and prep for the following week before I left for the day. I didn’t want to bring any work home which of course, if you know any teachers, is a lie because there is always work to do.

I asked the youngest who will be turning seven years old in the next couple of months if she missed me. She said, “I like it when you come home.”

“What?” I asked. “I come home everyday!”

The middle one who just turned nine said, “Well, not everyday.” They were referring to a couple of days where I had to stay late for a staff meeting and parent meetings.

“But I still came home!”

They just gave me a look and gave each other a Look.

I suppose here is where one would normally queue the working-mother guilt but hey, I don’t have any. Especially now that we are finally a two-parent family after being a constantly-growing-despite-one-working-parent family for so long.

If there is any guilt here, it is because I have forgotten who I am and what I used to do to just be me.

I used to write all the time. About anything and everything. I started writing this blog because I thought it would help me deal with everything that was going on in life.

And it has.

But I stopped for every reason in the book. Life didn’t stop however. My ability to deal with stress has slowly declined. Perhaps remembering who I am will help.

I used to read all the time. Anything. Everything. But like everything else, I tend to get slightly obsessed. Case in point, I’ll go on a reading binge getting to the point where I can read a novel between 1-3 days. And that’ll go on for a couple of weeks until I can’t find any book that is as awesome as the previous book.

Don’t forget about my stupid TV series obsessions phase. We’ll leave that for later.

But part-time work would be a perfect balance. No, let me rephrase that.

Part-time work will be a perfect balance. There is no reason that I can’t be in charge of my own life. If I feel that something needs to change, I need to be the one that changes it.

Last fall I stopped running regularly but still completed the half-marathon that I was working toward for the past three years.

Last month I completed my second half-marathon. I came in second to last but I don’t care. I wanted the medal and I got it. This week I have even gotten up early to run one or two miles four days this week! I hurt but eh, thank God I can still run.

Thank God I can still feel.

I will know more in the next month about my job assignment.

Let’s hear it for taking charge. 

The Long Term Triangulation

I have been a long term substitute teacher in a fifth grade class for over a month now and I can see how truly busy I’ve become. I have not even posted since my half marathon!

I am exhausted from teaching, planning, and correcting papers all day… then I come home to be a wife and mother. If I don’t have a staff meeting, then my son needs to go to karate, my daughters need to go to gymnastics, or I have to teach sixth graders at the church.

Even simple conversations with my husband R are far and few between. Gone are the days when the last thing we’d do at night was… well, you know. Instead we savor the quietness of the house and talk about how tired how we are.

We are okay with that.

I assigned a Saint project to my sixth grade CFF class and the students did everything on their own. Their projects were awesome! I was so proud of them when they got to display their posters in church with all of the other CFF classes, 1st-6th grade.

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The kids dressed up as Saint Anne, Saint Agnes, and Saint George. A dressed up as Saint Agnes because her story really spoke to her: Agnes was very beautiful and rich and all of the boys wanted to marry her; she, however, did not want to get married.

A has declared that she NEVER wants to get married.

I am okay with that.

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It’s a busy, exhausting life but I love it.

The teacher I’m subbing for has extended her maternity leave so I will be in the classroom until Thanksgiving week. Being a long term sub has its pros and cons.

CONS:
I have to be the TEACHER who plans and corrects papers at about a third of the pay per day.
I can’t just call in sick when I’m tired of the class or working for that matter. This was the first year I couldn’t hit the after-Halloween clearance sales. I don’t go too nuts, just buying a couple of things here and there and then putting them into storage for the following year.
I missed two field trips that I wanted to chaperone for my two daughters 😦

PROS:
I get to teach!
I get to decorate!
I get to go to school functions as the teacher!

Speaking of school functions, I was able to attend our school’s Harvest Festival, a major fundraiser for the school. I bought wristbands for my two daughters and they played games and ate candy to their heart’s content. I bought five raffle tickets for five dollars… and WON THE MOVIE NIGHT RAFFLE BASKET! The basket contained eight bags of uncooked popcorn, boxes and boxes of candy, and a gift card for the movie theater.

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Halloween came quickly. We even FORGOT TO GO TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH THIS YEAR. WE DID NOT EVEN CARVE PUMPKINS!

We did not forget to go trick or treating. I dressed as a zombie from The Walking Dead but I’m not going to spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen the latest episodes. I am not one for gore but man, oh man, I love that show!

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The My Melody Mystery

I have loved Sanrio ever since I can remember back when it was (and still is) ridiculous to pay outrageous prices, back when it was not so cool to like that cat and her friends.

Needless to say, my girls love Sanrio but we don’t have Sanrio everything. I have a slight addiction to their pens and cute little notebooks in which I actually do take notes. So naturally when I found a notebook this afternoon, I threw it in my purse with the intention of writing my To Do To Do Eventually List.

Only it already had an owner. And that’s alright with me.

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Lonely But Not Alone

Dear Husband,

You’ve been home less than a week and yet you still encourage me to travel out of state for a conference on my relatively new business venture.

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How did you do it all of these years? I mean, when you dropped me off at the airport, I was excited to be able to, for the first time, pursue a goal as the past twelve years of goal-pursuing for myself had been put on hold. I was elated to travel be myself for the first time in twelve years. I love my children and I love my husband; the past twelve years is evidence of that.

But how did you get on that plane all of those times to turn around and see what you’re leaving behind, to stand in line at security or waiting patiently while other parents lovingly held their children’s hands, to go back to an empty hotel room, or in your case, an empty apartment?

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I’m in Indianapolis where I sit in this nice hotel, writing this post, having a wonderful time, yet loving you more and more every day because damn, I cannot even imagine how much pain, both physical and emotional, you’ve been through since the moment we decided to live apart.

I won’t be home for a couple days but it warms my heart to see you and the kids through FaceTime. Whenever I see how happy the kids are, especially since you’ve come home, I know that we’ve made the right decisions. It would have been very difficult for the kids to be uprooted right now with them going into sixth, third, and first grade!

Thank you, my darling husband, for everything. I will never know everything you’ve been through; thank you for taking one for the team.

Love,
Me

Cocktail in Dallas

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Pit stop at the Indy USO

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And a mocha, of course!

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The DC/Marvel Spring Fling

Our kids’ school Spring Fling theme was superheroes. Dozens of volunteers, phone calls, and hours were dedicated to this four hour extravaganza and although the event did not make as much as last year, everyone had a great time!

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That is my daughter A’s second grade teacher sparring with another teacher and A!

Last week, A’s class sang This Land is Your Land for the Talent Show. They did such a great job!

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