Oy, Weh

Today I was talking to a woman I work with, whose son teaches my kids’ swimming lessons. I’d noticed him before, because he’s just darling, and Monk thinks he’s the best thing ever. She beams just talking about him. I can see why.

And I realized, I am old enough to be this boy’s mother.

Oy, weh.



Life, Chewey Style

Today on the playground, some girls were calling Chewey names. Granted, they were doing it because they wanted him to chase them–they were the pretty princesses and he was Sir Stinkypants. He was getting very upset by this until M explained the situation to him and told him what to do about it. And here begins the conversation:

Chewey: I do not like the name Sir Stinkypants.

Girl (confused): What?

Chewey: I don’t like that name. You can call me by my first name, Chewey. Or my last name, Count Duku.

They elected to call him Chewey.

So, here’s the break down for Chewey’s day:

Good Choices: Check

Social skills: Check (He didn’t decide to go push them down. Go boy!)

Appropriate request to stop an undesired behavior: Check.

Real world: Uh… not so much. And apparently my last name is now Count Duku.

It’s my own darn fault, really. After all, this is the child we named Chewbacca Wolverine in utero (it’s a long story, and I’ll tell it, but not today). So no, I can’t fault the boy his Star Wars obsession.

All Over Again

For the second time in less than two weeks, I’m having a major case of deja vu. Weirdest thing ever.

Today, it was when I was entering my many-great grandmother’s information into a genealogy website. I know I’ve never done it before, except that as I did it, as I looked at her name and her dates and the name of the website, I felt like I had. That I’d done this before.

It happened last week when I was moving my office and again a couple of weeks ago too, when I was writing a scene in my current WIP. I was writing it for the first time, but it felt like I’d already done it.

I don’t know what to make of it, but it really is weird.

I’ve read that scientists think deja vu is the result of frontal lobe seizures, but I’m pretty certain I’m not having one right now. I’ve also read that it’s the result of partial wish fulfillment. Eh. Maybe. But then, how to explain the dream I had over two years ago that I actually experienced last week?

I can’t explain it, but I know it’s weird.

Have you ever had deja vu, and what do you think it is?

The Rant

In the year since I started this blog, I’ve never ranted about politics. Seriously, never. So I’m going to break my own rule about discussing politics and have my rant. If I offend, sorry about that. It’s not my intention to offend.

But, seriously, amidst all the budget cuts, I can’t help but post about the cuts to education.

I know, if I manage to offend anyone, that the first thing someone will say is, “Just be thankful you have a job.”

But here’s the thing… In my profession, I’m already underpaid. Unlike most teachers, I could go work private sector and make more money, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve been tempted to do just that. I work where I do because I love the kids, and I thought, by working in the schools, I could make a difference. And, IMHO, I’ve done just that. I’ve taken nonverbal kids and taught them to communicate. I always used to joke, “Oh, no one ‘s gonna die if they don’t get speech.” But you know what? That’s not true. Being able to communicate wants and needs is a basic human right. Being able to communicate thoughts and ideas, to be able to express what lies in your heart, is at the core of what it is to be human. To give a voice to a person who doesn’t have one is not only noble, it’s a gift.

So don’t tell me I haven’t saved a life. I may not have performed CPR, I may not be revered the way a doctor is, but in my own way, I have saved a life. When you meet a speech pathologist, thank her (or him, but mostly her) for the gift she’s given to the people she works with. She’s given them the ability to communicate. Provided them with the ability to express that spark that makes us human.

But, apparently, I’m not worth the money they’re paying me. I should be grateful they’ve decided to pay me at all, I suppose. I’ve even heard people–being interviewed by CNN, no less–say that the best teachers would do it for free, simply for the love of doing it.

And I wanted to vomit, because that, my friends, is bullshit.

It’s bullshit because only the independently wealthy have the wherewithal to work for free. I love what I do, but I need to feed my kids too.  People who work for free are called volunteers. I went to school for seven years to do what I do, and not just anyone can do it. I am not a volunteer.

Would you get up and go to work every day if you didn’t get some sort of monetary reward for it? Most of us wouldn’t.

I love my job, and I’m glad I have one. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be paid for it.

Teaching, like many professions that are dominated by women, is undervalued. So many people think that because they went to fifth grade, they can teach fifth grade. What people don’t understand is that teaching is hard. It’s harder than the coursework. It’s working long after your contract time. I don’t know a single teacher who works 9-3 (in fact, we’re contracted for an hour beyond that), and I don’t know a single teacher who doesn’t come in over vacations, or correct papers at night, or work long hours planning. We get paid for seven hours, but I can guarantee you, the children we serve get far more of our time.

When the economy was great, construction workers weren’t volunteering their time to educate children. No, they were out making more money. I didn’t see the people who were making money hand over fist offering teachers raises, either. In point of fact, my mother, back in 1973 (the last time she subbed), made only ten dollars less per day than what a sub does in 2011. In my eight years in district, during the time the state was flush with money and had a surplus, teachers got one four percent raise, spread out over two years. So, no, don’t cut our pay. We have to make a living too.

And, weird, laying off teachers doesn’t help unemployment rates. The private sector doesn’t create more jobs to stimulate the economy because a whole passel of teachers got laid off or had their pay cut.  In fact, laid off teachers don’t spend money. And teachers who take a ten percent pay cut spend ten percent less.

I think that means the private sector suffers too.

Teachers didn’t mess up the budget. Teachers didn’t cause the economy to tank. And when the politicians scream about no new taxes, what do they really think a pay cut is for teachers? Essentially, my friends, it’s an income tax only teachers have to pay.

Teaching is a noble profession. It’s a calling as much as being a doctor or a pastor  or a nurse is (another undervalued profession, IMHO) is. It’s a passion and a way of life. Without teachers, there would be no doctors or lawyers, no nurses, police officers, businessmen or politicians. There’s not a single profession today that isn’t dependent on teachers.

Well, maybe professional panhandler isn’t, but someone must have taught him to write “Will work for food.”

Just sayin’.

First Day Jitters

Monk has been… a little challenging recently.

Typically, she’s very enthusiastic about everything… Unless, of course, she hates it and it’s wretched. Simply wretched.

Lately, she’s been hating everything, so her attitude has been… not the best. Not to mention that the sleep walking has been really, really bad. Every night, up and confused, wandering the hallways. Last night, we found her in the bathtub. We think she might have been trying to pee in there.

In any case, today I found out who her first grade teacher is going to be. So when I picked her up at daycare, I told her in the car. I talked up the teacher–she’s really pretty, and really nice, and just so great. I told her she’d love her teacher, and I think she will. I’m pleased by who she got.

So when we came home after swimming lessons, Monk ate dinner (she never eats dinner), took a shower, and went to sleep. And now, at almost ten o’clock (her witching hour), she is still asleep in her bed. It’s bliss.

In any case, I’m feeling like a mom failure because I didn’t recognize her bad attitude for the anxiety it actually is. I’ve only been aware of the symptoms, but not the etiology of the problem. If I had been, maybe I would have talked her through it, rather than punishing her behaviors. I should have seen her behavior for what it was. I should have been more empathetic. I should have done a lot of things it didn’t occur to me to do until after the fact.

I’ll do better next time.

Nurture v…. More Nurture

I am a fan of finger quotes. I catch myself using them all the time… Maybe it’s the curse of the weak-minded, because I’m hiding behind a veil of sarcasm (ah, sarcasm, my favorite), but it beats swearing. Not that it matters, because Chewey has ears like a freaking bat when it comes to swear words.

I mutter a curse word under my breath.

Chewey, three rooms away: “Jackass? Mommy, what’s jackass?”

“Another word for donkey, honey. I just really, really like donkeys.”

I’ve learned I can’t completely suppress the urge to swear, so I  substitute other words. I’ve been using a lot of “freaking” and “Schnikeys.” I tried using “donkey,” but…

Yeah, it doesn’t do a damn thing for me either.

In any case, even when I’m not swearing, I’m starting to realize some of my phrasing can be viewed as… unique. I have a tendency to use old-fashioned words. I use words no one else uses.

For example, today when Monkey and I were taking a walk in the park, she said, “Clearly, Mom, I have issues with this. Clearly.”

I have issues is all mine, baby. It sounds very odd coming out of the mouth of a six-year-old. I wonder how often I say it?

Or when she recently told her brother, “If you’d stop being contrary, maybe I wouldn’t be so vexed all the time.”

Oh, sweet Mother of God, she sounds exactly like me, and I sound… so weird.

Those are my words. I know I have a particular fondness for the word vex, and I’ve referred to Chewey on more than occasion as “The Contrarian.” In my defense, maybe it’s because he often is one, bless his heart (that’s another phrase Monk’s picked up from me).

Both my kids have their father’s personality. For the longest time, I felt like I had just been an incubator for two little mini-M’s. There was so little of me in them.

But now they both use my language. My words.

Which makes their lexicons… diverse. It’s good, don’t get me wrong. There are far worse things. But hearing the words coming out of their mouths, it explains a lot about high school. I remember someone once laughing at the way I phrased something–I can’t remember what, but I do remember it was in my Senior Advanced Placement English class–and me thinking, “But that doesn’t sound weird.”

Now that I hear those same words coming out of someone else’s mouth, it totally does. Sorry kids.

I guess it’s bad when you’re in a room full of nerds and they think you are the nerdy one.

It’s alright. I was nerdy. Still am, in fact.

And, clearly, I don’t have issues with that.

Dollywood and/or Bust!

I am fascinated by Dollywood. Or at least the idea of it.

Can I explain this? No.

I am not a fan of Dolly Parton’s music overall. She’s got some great songs, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t typically listen to country music. But as a personality? Oh, hells yeah. Big fan.

I know it’s weird. This fascination with Dolly Parton began in… I want to say 2002 or 2003, when I was watching So Graham Norton on BBC America and she was his guest. It was, quite possibly, the funniest interview I’ve ever seen. And when she presented him with “the tit pillow,” (her words) a pink, bejeweled concoction with a giant nipple in the middle? Oh, honey, priceless.

That was the day I discovered you can say anything, just so long as you say it in a genteel Southern accent.

So yes, I want to go to Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Maybe get a “tit pillow” of my own.

Dear Sir:

Dear Man Sitting Behind me at the Wild West Show:

That thing you were kneeing for the ENTIRE show was called my back.

Yes, yes, I realize you are tall and needed more room than the bleachers allowed. I get that. I was even willing to accommodate said knee in my back. Really.

But when you started bouncing your knee while it was lodged against my back, well, my friend, that’s just rude.

But what’s worse was that when I, the person whom you were kneeing, moved down to avoid you and your interminable bouncing, you then splayed your legs and continued kneeing me in the back. Dude, that’s a big no-no, and not just because it was my back. It’s wrong because a) your junk was not that big–no one’s is, and I doubt yours was anything special; b) your junk was not going to have a meltdown like some blown nuclear reactor if  you kept your legs closed. Trust me. If it were so hot outside that the temperatures melted a man’s junk, I’d think we’d have bigger fish to fry and wouldn’t be at a Wild West Show. But if you’re worried, get a freaking ice pack; c) it’s just rude. The woman in front of you (yes, that would be me) was trying to get away from you and your knee; to splay your legs so that you continue to knee her in the back is ruder than the kid who talked on his cell phone for the first 10 minutes of the show. You know, the kid you kept complaining about. I mean, for the love, by the end of the show, I was perched on the edge of the of my seat, and not from excitement. Yet you continued to move with me.

Maybe my back really is that sexy. I get you probably want a piece of this lusciousness, but I’m taken. Sorry chum.

And, for the love of all you consider holy, why couldn’t you just stop the infernal bouncing? Do you have a tic? Did the sound of the blanks being fired scare you? Did you have a scorpion in your pants that you were trying to shake free? Are you on meth?

Or is it that you’re just a jackass?


Meggan Connors.

P.S. Thanks for kneeing my shoulder while you shoved past me to get out of the bleachers. Because they were obviously on fire and you had to get down RIGHT NOW and couldn’t wait for the family with small children to descend. Oh, riiiiight, you just wanted to be first in line to get your pictures taken with the fake cowboys (they’re actors, my friend, not actual cowboys. You’d have to drive maybe 15 miles to the west–as the crow flies–to find one of those).

P.S.S. I really don’t give a good goddamn that you came all the way from Iowa. No one does.