Monday, April 30, 2007
I guess it had to happen. My twelve year old daughter officially has a boyfriend.
She’s liked boys in general for awhile, oohing and ahhing at that wrestler, this actor, or some other celebrity. But until now she hasn’t liked a specific boy, an actual living male that lives in this town. Now she proudly announces that she has a boyfriend.
What exactly does it mean to have a boyfriend when you are in sixth grade? In middle school it sometimes means just that you are identified with someone. Sometimes they don’t even sit together at lunch or talk much during the day. I’m ok with a boyfriend like that.
But my daughter has to have one of those “talk on the phone” boyfriends. She spent an hour this evening standing in front of the house chatting away to the object of her affection, a young man named “Corey”. She says that he is nice, smart, and makes good grades. I don’t guess she would tell me if he had a purple Mohawk and 23 body piercings.
We’ve all been there. I started noticing and liking girls at about her age. That is part of the problem. I KNOW what I was thinking in sixth grade. Ok, so what I was thinking in sixth grade was a jumble of hormones, myths, and sage advice from my fellow sixth graders, but today’s kids are a lot more savvy in the ways of the world than I or my classmates were.
She didn’t help herself the other night when she announced that she wanted to have a baby before she was thirty. She said, “sometime between twenty and thirty I want to have kids. You’re too old after thirty.” A few minutes later she said, “Dad, do I get to date when I’m sixteen?” I replied that this wasn’t the best conversation to be having a few minutes after talking about having babies.
Despite my grousing, I understand that she is at the age where you begin to be attracted to the opposite sex and I’m ok with that. It is kind of amusing to walk into the room of this girl who has a “boyfriend” and see stuffed animals, baby dolls, and baby pacifiers sitting around. She’s straddling two worlds and slowly, inexorably, slipping into the world of adolescence.
Here we go.
Friday, April 27, 2007
TGIF and not a day too soon! I’m glad to be able to do the weekend roundup this week and found some excellent posts for your reading pleasure.
In the process of trying to subdue an extremely agitated fifteen year old female student. I got slapped very hard in the face. I didn’t see it coming and wouldn’t have expected it from her. I told my coworkers that I hadn’t been slapped by a girl since a high school dance. Actually, I don’t think I ever have been, not that I probably haven't deserved it once or twice.
A coworker patted me on the back and said, “that’s why you make the big bucks.” Umm..yeah. All this education to be a punching bag!
But I digress….there are some very good posts for you to read rather than hear about me being slapped. Enjoy!
Have a wonderful weekend my friends!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
It is midweek and…well….it is midweek.
We had a nice bout of thunderstorms last night with tornado watches, heavy wind, and lots of rain. Aubree called me when she got home from school and wanted to know about the tornado watches. We determined that there were no watches in the area around my home, but there was a warning where I worked. She still didn’t like the storm and said, “Dad, I can’t die today. I have a wrestling match I want to attend!”
Ever complain about your kids? It could be worse. What would you do if your child did this?
Were you as amused as I was about Sheryl Crow’s admonition to only use one square of toilet paper per bathroom trip? Recycle? Yes. Conserve? Sure. Drive lower mileage car? You bet? One square of toilet paper? I don’t think so…not even if its double ply. Sheryl, remember your song, “If It Makes You Happy”? This wouldn’t make me very happy.
The job fair went fine. We interviewed some promising candidates and had a lot of fun with the “Hawaii Five Oh” music. It even made the superintendent break into a dance. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone walked by and said, “book’em Dano!”
Patrick had his favorite meal for his birthday. His choice? Spaghetti and meatballs, breadsticks, and rocky road ice cream.
We finished up state testing today. *Big sigh* Twenty five days left of school and counting. Not that I’m counting or anything!
So how is YOUR week going?
Labels: Midweek Meanderings
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
It is a day late but I want to acknowledge my son’s birthday. Patrick turned fifteen years old yesterday. Fifteen! He is slowly growing into a man right before my eyes, his boyish features becoming more masculine and defined with each passing month. There are times when I just look at him and think, “how did this happen so quickly?” Yesterday morning I woke him to get ready for school as I do every morning. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes he said, “say the words Dad.” Still getting my brain unfogged early in the morning I replied, “what words?” He said, “DAD…YOU KNOW…THE WORDS!” I remembered, smiled, and said “Happy Birthday Patrick!” He hugged me and said, “thank you dad. Can I eat breakfast at school today to celebrate my birthday? They are having breakfast pizza and I really want some.” Sure thing buddy.
For fifteen years Patrick has graced my life with his presence. He certainly hasn’t always been the easiest child to raise, but I can’t imagine what the past fifteen years would have been like without him. He has raised my blood pressure many times, such as the time he took a hammer to the large window behind me while I was sitting down working on the porch swing. He has also softened my heart many more times than that, sometimes showing a sensitive side that makes me understand one of the reasons I have been given this life.
My son is a special young man, possessed of many gifts and given many challenges. I wouldn’t want him to be any other way.
Happy birthday my son.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
One of the topics I’ve discussed with my classmates is the idea of resiliency. How does someone overcome obstacles that would seem to make it impossible for them to succeed in life? Why do some fail where others succeed? One friend, a successful principal who grew up on inner city mean streets, told me, “Brian, sometimes I don’t even totally understand why I’m still here. Most of the guys I grew up with are dead or in jail. When I put on that suit in the morning I look in the mirror and wonder why.” Another wondered why she, apart from all of her siblings, went on to a higher education, a successful marriage, and a professional career. They grew up in the same house and in the same neighborhood. What did she have that they didn’t? What was it?
The answers are important, because in our line of work we are all about helping kids to find that resiliency. I was looking at these resiliency factors and thought about how many of the kids I work with have so many of those negative things going against them. What are the keys to helping those kids overcome such difficult circumstances? The guy mentioned above is considering writing his doctoral thesis on…..himself. How did he do it? What support factors made it possible for him to escape what so many others did not? What does the research say about this? Genetic traits? A helpful teacher, mentor, or church leader? A supportive community?
I had very few of those negative factors going against me. My “shy temperament” as a child is probably the only one that applies to me. I also had the advantage of having almost all of those positive factors going for me. I SHOULD have made it, given the fact that my childhood had the factors that typically lead to successful, well balanced, adulthood. Of course we know these negative examples as well. There are people who have every positive advantage growing up and still have significant problems as adults. Certain things may help or hurt, but we human beings are too complicated to be reduced to a formula.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The theme of the event? Hawiian luau. A luau job fair! We should have a roasted pig at the center of our table. I'm wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt and the slideshow music is the the theme from "Hawaii Five Oh".
Have a wonderful weekend my friends.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It is midweek, the sun is finally shining, and life just keeps rolling along.
Tired of looking at our dilapidated recliner, we decided to purchase a new one and a coffee and end table to boot. They look just great and seem to transform our living room. Aubree has the idea that the new recliner is hers even if it seems to just swallow her up.
I have reminded Patrick that none of our new furniture is to be disassembled to build a hyperfrequency modulator.
Several of our students beat up a new student at the bus stop after school. One of the kids watching it captured part of the incident using a camera phone. The video was so violent and disgusting, a kid curled up on the ground in fetal position while another dances around kicking, stomping, and punching him. I showed the video to the offender’s mother and she was speechless. The consequence was severe and deservedly so.
I was so gratified that one of my students from long ago found me online and emailed me this picture. This was taken in 1989 and is a picture of me and several of my students. Oh the memories! These kids were great. It is somewhat hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that they would all be in their mid 30’s by now.
Thanks to Robby for sending me this picture. Those were the days.
I have one final paper to finish up and submit. I’m ready for a break before I start citing research sources before I order from a restaurant menu.
So how is YOUR week going?
Labels: Midweek Meanderings
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I just shook my head driving home as I heard the radio personalities talking about campus security, the university president, police, etc. and how they didn’t respond effectively and how they could’ve prevented what happened at Virginia Tech.
Perhaps they could have. We’ll never know, will we? But this kind of recrimination while blood is still pooled on the floor and while families, students, and friends are grieving is tasteless and unnecessary. So are debates about gun laws or the lack thereof. There will be time for all of this later. Investigations will be conducted and legislation will be debated, but now is not the time. Why don’t we just support those who have lost so much and leave the politics for later?
The honest truth is that a determined killer with lots of weapons who is willing to end his own life is always going to be able to find targets. No security plan in the world on a school campus could stop it. This could’ve happened on any college or public school campus in the country. Maybe it wouldn’t have been this bad somewhere else. Maybe it would have been worse. By their nature schools have an open, inviting atmosphere. They are “soft targets”. Schools and universities should always be evaluating their security plans, trying to make their institution as safe as possible for students and staff. But we should never lull ourselves into thinking that any plan is foolproof and that it can’t happen here. It can. Hopefully it never will.
I don’t understand the anger, the evil, the hatred, the disregard for life, that lurks in the mind of a person that can do this. I don’t think that I ever will. I’m not sure I even want to. When they released all those documents from the Columbine case I spent a few days reading through hundreds of documents, including notes and papers written by the killers. I’ve seen writing like this over the years….angry, alienated young people who rage against those they perceive to have mistreated them, sometimes expressed in violent revenge fantasies. None of those kids turned out to be murderers. How can you tell which ones will be? This is something we’ll all be trying to answer in the years ahead.
But in the meantime, lets grieve with the Virginia Tech community, pray for them, and reflect on the senseless loss of so many.
Monday, April 16, 2007
I don't even pretend to attempt to understand why someone would do something like this. Late April is always a tense time in schools around the country because of the Columbine incident. Now we have another horror to add. Senseless death. Tragic loss. What can we say at times such as these?
We can say that we are so sorry and that we stand with all affected as brothers and sisters as they deal with this loss.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Two of the biggest headlines in the past week involved the Duke rape case and Don Imus’ inappropriate language. For some reason I thought about these two stories together. Both cases involved accusations, one that turned out to be untrue and one that it is undeniable. The Duke lacrosse players went through a year being under the threat of suspending a large chunk of the rest of their lives in prison. Imus’ words were splashed across You Tube, talk radio, and the newspapers.
I think about those lacrosse players and I wonder what it would feel like to have your picture and name splashed across the news, your college life interrupted, your dreams in tatters, and know that you weren’t guilty of what you were being accused of. All of us have been there on a much smaller level? Ever been accused by a parent, teacher, boyfriend, wife, or close friend of something you absolutely did not do? It is so frustrating to know that you are not guilty of the accusation but to have no way to prove it to the other person’s satisfaction. You want to just scream, “I DIDN’T DO IT”, but the words fall on deaf ears.
Now imagine that times a million as professors from your college, television and radio pundits, legal commentators, and activists call you a rapist. People you thought were your friends shrink away from you in horror. You are kicked out of school. You know it was a stupid thing to throw a drunken party that night and hire strippers, but stupidity shouldn’t get you twenty to life. You were the king of the college universe and now you’re just a guy in a mug shot with a prosecutor who wants to put you behind bars until your hairs are gray. You are fortunate because you have parents with some means who can hire a decent attorney to defend you. You know you didn’t do it, and in one case have ironclad evidence that you weren’t even there when the crime was supposed to have occurred. You think that your life is practically over, but the system eventually works for you in a slow, tortuous, way.
Then there is the “shock jock”, a guy who has entertained the masses with coarse, locker-room style humor for thirty years. You’ve said a lot worse than “nappy headed hos” and gotten by with it. You too are the king of the world, a millionaire many times over, a guy who politicians suck up to just to get in good with your audience. You’ve done good works, raised millions for good causes, contributed to the needy, but your shtick has always been to insult people, many of whom are not able to fight back. You are so set in your way that you don’t realize that you can’t get by with this stuff as easy in the day of You Tube and blogs. You took an unprovoked, nasty potshot at some college girls whose sole crime was to have been successful enough to come across your radar and offer you another target to shoot at so that your audience can laugh. Unlike the Duke guys, you KNOW you did it and you can’t deny it. You apologize profusely, but this time its not enough. You lose your job and know that you probably won’t be remembered for any of those good works you did. You’ll be remembered for that remark.
We’ve probably all been there too on a much smaller scale. Ever done something wrong that you couldn’t or wouldn’t deny? Had that feeling of trying to atone, to seek forgiveness, to not let one incident tarnish your reputation, your relationships, your own feelings of self worth? Ever wanted to scream, “I’M SORRY” from the highest rooftop so that you can know you’ve tried to make things right? Sometimes an apology just doesn’t end it. Sometimes there are consequences that must be paid regardless of whether someone feels bad for what they’ve done.
There are lessons to be learned from both of these cases, from refraining from a rush to judgment and assuming an accusation must be correct if it comes from someone with a title to the depths and limits of forgiveness. We all have to face accusations within ourselves, fight against the false and forgive ourselves for the true.
As Polybius once said,” There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.”
Friday, April 13, 2007
As previously mentioned, I have class this weekend and therefore will be unable to do the weekend roundup. It is cold, wet, and rainy here and I have much to do. After running back and forth from job to car to school to car to home I felt a little like the dog in this picture.
I’ll be back sometime this weekend with a post. I have several posts just floating around in my head that are begging me to write them. Soon I will submit.
Have a wonderful weekend my friends!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
It is midweek and all is well.
We all enjoyed the Easter weekend and the kids enjoyed their Easter baskets. Patrick took the toys that were in the basket and promptly took them apart. After all, he does need parts for that hyperfrequency modulator he plans to build.
I spent the past two days in training on a reading program. This program is for the primary grades and I’m a secondary school guy, but I did enjoy hearing some of the research on how kids learn to read. When you look at all the things that have to happen to learn how to read, it’s a miracle that any of us ever learn how.
Because the training was focused on elementary teachers, I think the ratio of women to men was about 80-3. I don’t mind that kind of ratio at all.
Of course, when one misses two days of work to go to training, one’s desk is piled up with work and the email inbox is overflowing. It took a good part of the day today just to get caught up.
It looks like Patrick and Aubree will be attending separate church camps during the same week in July. Whatever shall we do…an entire week with no kids around?
I’m still neck deep in writing papers. I’m sure you’re all anxious to hear my thoughts on how using computer technology and cooperative learning impacts student achievement, but I’ll have to disappoint you for now.
I’ve also been installing Promethean Boards and showing teachers how to use them. They are way cool. I want one in my house! I was showing a student how to use one in the library. We pulled up a web page with a picture of lots of people and were drawing hats and mustaches on them right on the board. One of the teachers walked up, saw what we were doing, laughed, and muttered while walking away, “boys will be boys”. Of course!
I have class this weekend. This is the last class until June and I am looking forward to a small break from classes so we can finish this school year.
So how is YOUR week going?
Labels: Midweek Meanderings
Sunday, April 08, 2007
I was honored by a recent post of Melessa’s where she named me one of the bloggers who make her think. I typically do about one meme per year, it is about that time, and this one sounds as good as any. The rules of this particular meme are simple:
Not only is a the Thinking Blogger Award for recognition, it's also a meme and the rules are simple
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. (Optional) Proudly display the "Thinking Blogger Award" with a link to the post that you wrote. (Oh you'd better believe I'll be doing that!)
Wow. Picking out these bloggers makes ME think. There are so many good ones out there and so many that have given me valuable insights over the years. But alas, the rules of the meme are clear and I will attempt to comply.
Michael Bates writes Batesline, a blog which focuses a lot on local issues but which also explores religion, politics, children, music, and culture. I don’t always occupy the same ideological ground as Michael does, but he is a gifted writer, a community activist, and a true gentleman. (I can say that since I have met him.)
My friend Thomai tunes in from the other end of the political dial from Michael, but she too is full of insight. You might find her writing about food, raising a son, working in the film industry, or her thoughts on politics and current events. She has also steered me toward some other sites which proved to be interesting reading.
Irina is someone else who makes me think. She is a brilliant young law student with an interest in international politics. She writes from her perspective as we all do, but she has a way of asking questions that make you stop and go…”hmmm”. Her blog covers international affairs, her law classes, her personal adventures, her faith, and a host of other topics. I’m more than 20 years older than she is, but she is living proof that age does not always equate to wisdom.
Leen also makes me think but her bailiwick isn’t politics. She writes from the heart as well as I’ve ever seen anyone write. You can feel her tears on your cheek, her elation in your smile, and her disappointments in your soul. She examines her own life, her decisions, her heart, and her future in a stunningly moving way.
Try as I might, I can’t categorize Walker and that is part of what of makes his blog so compelling. He writes stories from his past in a manner that makes you feel as if you were there, writes on politics in a way that makes you feel his beliefs, and writes about his life in a way that makes you feel you know him.
I’m cheating and adding a sixth one. Hey, it is my blog and this is the only place I get to change the rules when I want. Edge is someone who I’ve read for years and he is certainly one of blogland’s most talented and creative souls. His passion and pictures of the great outdoors make me want to break the tent out of the garage and get the hell out of Dodge for the weekend. He is brutally honest sometimes, says what is on his mind, isn’t afraid to offend, has a flare for words, and is always fun to read.
Participation in the meme aspect is optional of course. I think I might need to do a part two, maybe a part three……
Saturday, April 07, 2007
My memories of Easter are probably similar to those of many others. I remember going to church, seeing women in their new spring dresses, observing the Easter services, and coming home to a large meal followed by a hunt for eggs in our backyard. Like Christmas, Easter has both a religious and secular bent, combing celebration of Christ’s resurrection with the mad scramble for those hidden eggs.
Ignoring the blast of cold wind that has swept through this area recently, I reflected on spring time and Easter. Just as buds begin to push out of the ground, the grass begins to grow, and long-dormant leaves appear on the trees, we celebrate the Christian ideal of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is a time for renewal, a time for reflection over what has come to pass, and yes, a time for celebration. The resurrection signaled the death of Jesus for all of our sins, the willingness to bear the burdens of our imperfect lives. We celebrate this during my favorite time of the year, when all becomes bright and beautiful, and everything seems possible. We survived the long, bitter winter and we are now stepping into the sunlight again to renew ourselves. Our own personal winters may not always contain cold weather. They sap our energy and our spirit but we have the ability to rise from it and begin again, comforted by our knowledge and experiences, and informed by our faith and values.
I am looking forward to watching the kids run around the yard trying to find those eggs, the search always being more enjoyable than the reward itself.
Have a happy Easter and I hope than when you open those eggs, physically or imaginatively, that you find what you search for. As with the kids, it is all about the search and how we choose to live our lives.
Friday, April 06, 2007
I wish each and every one of you a wonderful weekend, and to those who celebrate it a very Happy Easter!
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The good news is that it is midweek. The bad news is that we have teacher parent conferences that will keep my at work until 8:00 the next two nights in a row.
My other good news was an email from my professor granting the class an extra week to work on the paper that was due Monday. Now I may actually come up for air this weekend for a few hours to celebrate Easter.
I was flattered when Melessa nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award on her blog. I perused a couple of the other blogs she nominated and I am in very good company.
Aubree told me she had a long day today. I asked her why and she said, “girl drama. You don’t want to know.” She’s probably right.
After weeks of stunningly beautiful weather it turned cooler today and we are supposed to be flirting with freezing temperatures tonight. Count me as one of the people who are going to be hoping that the plants they put in the ground too early will survive.
I’ve been a techy the last few days, installing a lot of new computers at my school. Now I see why morticians have a sense of humor. Dump a big pile of technology on the school and then close it down? I told someone today that it was like giving your wife an expensive gift and then dumping her the next day. Still, the computers should follow the kids to the new school and we’re glad to have them.
It somewhat reminds of the position one of my brothers is in. He’s a supervisor in a telecom company and most of his employees will be laid off due to outsourcing in the coming months. But his company did a study comparing job roles and compensations and he was able to give some people raises up to $25,000, only to be forced to lay them not too far down the road.
I’m looking forward to the month of May. No papers due that month! I may even get a couple of weekends off.
So how is YOUR week going?
Labels: Midweek Meanderings
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
I was upset with the young man who sat across the desk from me. He had been pulled off a girl in gym class, pummeling her with his fists as she lay on the ground after a disagreement. Earlier in the day he had shoved a different girl in the hallway, slamming her into a locker. I told him that he shouldn’t be hitting anyone, but that it really bothered me that he seemed so prone to hitting girls.
I guess I’m a little old fashioned in this area. I was raised to believe that a man does not strike a woman under any circumstances and it still viscerally offends me when it happens. I do believe in equality of the sexes and opportunity for all, but I don’t think guys should hit girls. I don’t want guys to hit guys either, but that doesn’t seem quite as bad.
I told him what I believed. He said, “that’s you. I think if the b….(he stopped short of saying the word and plugged in “girl”) comes up on you then you hit her just like you would a boy. I leaned back in my chair and said, “you were going to say “bitch”, weren’t you? He didn’t say anything. I sighed and said, “it sounds to me like you apply that to a lot of girls. Does that apply to your mom? Your grandmother? Your sister”? He shook his head. “What would you do if someone called them that?” He said, “I’d hurt’em.” “Why? If you can use the word to apply to any female that annoys you, then why can’t someone else?”
It is a disturbing trend that I’ve noticed growing over the years. I see the wiry young man across from me and think that he’ll be doing that to his wife ten years from now. In his world violence is acceptable and violence against women is no longer taboo. It is even glorified in popular music that sells CDs by the millions. The kids at school always tell me that they have to be “hard”, that this is required in the life they live and in the neighborhoods they live them in. You have to fight often and not let anyone see you as weak.
I told him at the end of the conversation, “I can’t make you see how wrong you are and where you are going. I’m recommending you for counseling and I hope you’ll go. But in the meantime, you’re not hitting anyone at MY school while I’m here. You feel that way about your sister. I feel that way about everyone here, including you. You’re all my brothers and sisters and I’m going to protect you all to the best of my ability. I’ll see you when you return from your suspension and I hope you’ll work on this…for your sake.”
The very “hard” boy had tears in his eyes.