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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/dmariemason
Rated: 13+ · Book · Experience · #940786
What's on my mind....
It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009
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April 3, 2009 at 6:44pm
April 3, 2009 at 6:44pm
#643681
Whooooooo! Spring break, baby!
When the last bell rang this afternoon, I almost ran over the kids getting out of that classroom. I am so ready for some R$&R. Talk about a person's brain and spirit being tired, tired, tired. Need some sun, some sand, and some ocean. Destin, here I come. Maybe then I can shake off this really stupid writer's block that's been bedeviling me (or that I've been allowing to bedevil me). I am wrestling back control and knocking down that wall between me and my muse. Bet.





April 1, 2008 at 12:15am
April 1, 2008 at 12:15am
#576839
Detroit to remove teachers, administrators from 4 schools, restructure them
Schools are a reflection of the society within which they operate. They service the members of the community in which exist. All the restructuring, rearranging, renaming, re-whatevering won't work unless the DPS students and parents buy into and become an active, productive part of the process. Addressing the problem from the angle of moving teachers and administrators out is for show. Changing the curriculum is probably a viable idea, but is that really going help ? It won’t if students and parents don’t make some changes themselves.

I spent 21 years as a teacher, then an administrator in DPS, which was an experience that prepared me to successfully work within any system. However, toward the end of my time in the system, I was disillusioned and beaten down by the shift I could see from the motivated, engaged, and involved students we had when I first started teaching to a more apathetic, social, and in some cases, combative clientele. I went from feeling like an educator to feeling as if all I was doing was keeping the lid on the pot. And this was at one of the city’s best magnet schools at the time. When I first started teaching in the late 70’s, early 80’s, we knew the parents because they made themselves known. They were interested in what we were doing with their kids. The children lived up to the expectations their parents and their teachers had for them. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a much more pleasant and productive time.

When I left the system in the late 90’s, the neighborhood was changing, as was the type of kids we were getting. By then, the only time we saw the majority of our parents were for Parent-Teacher Conferences, when they got called in for a conference, or when they were there to complain about something related to their child or about a teacher. The kids were fighting each other, disrespecting their teachers, and we had a couple of cases where parents came in to the building to confront teachers. We cut out requiring summer reading because of complaints about kids having to “work on school” over the summer. Many teachers stopped assigning homework. It was demoralizing to have so few kids completing it, while becoming avenue to low grades or failure. I left in ’99 when my husband’s job transferred, but the handwriting was already on the wall. I am not surprised at all by recent developments.

No school system can do it all on its own. Societal problems outside the school system will torpedo efforts at improvement if they are not considered a large part of the problem. The teachers, administrators, and the school buildings aren’t failing the tests; the kids are. As the saying goes, you can provide all the water in the world, but you cannot make the horse drink it. The citizens of Detroit, the parents and the students, are going to have to also be a part of the restructuring, bringing something to the table besides attitude and issues if any improvement is to take
March 23, 2008 at 3:00pm
March 23, 2008 at 3:00pm
#575265
I witnessed two disturbing incidents involving parents and kids while I was in the dollar store yesterday that prompted this entry. They both spoke to a major cause of my increasing disallusionment with being a middle school teacher.

The first was with this man and a little boy. I first noticed the man because he seemed to be following me down the aisles, but I think it was just that we were going the same way and looking at the same things. As he finally passed me, I saw that he had a bad limp, as if one leg were shorter than the other. He crossed the main aisle, going into another calling to someone, saying that whoever it was needed to hurry up because they needed to go.

I heard this little voice scream, "What!" Then a curly haired boy about eight or nine years old turned the corner, snarling and snatching away from the man, telling him, "YOU have to wait. I don't have what I want yet."

He blew past the man and went down the aisle with the toys. He was so nasty that I wanted to tag his little ass as he passed me Then when the man just followed the boy like a whipped dog, I wanted to kick him in his ass even more.

The other incident was also while I was in the dollar store, and probably going on while I was watching the thing with the boy, but I hadn't really been paying that much attention to it at the time.

While I was walking the aisles, I kept hearing a child crying. That wasn’t so unusual, but after a while I realized that it wasn't a baby's cry, and it wasn't a tired cry. From the sound, I could tell it was an older child possibly working into a tantrum. I continued slowly wandering up and down the aisles, taking my time, but the crying and screaming just kept on and on. Being a veteran mother myself, I wasn’t bothered by it, but I did wonder why it hadn’t been stopped in all that time. Instead it seemed to be growing worse.

Finally, after I didn't see anything I wanted to purchase, I headed for the door. As I did, I could hear the screaming still going on and that it was now pretty close to me. I wondered to myself why in all that time the mother, father, or whoever the kid was with hadn't shut the noise and the antics down. I turned around and saw a lady walking with a little kid who was maybe two or three, in a shopping cart. That child wasn't saying anything, but then behind her a girl about five or six, ran up just screaming and screaming that she wanted a different toy, she didn't want that one, she wanted to go back and get the other one. The mother wasn't saying anything to her or dealing with her at all.

Now I can understand the principle behind ignoring a kid having a tantrum, but I can't understand staying in the store while she was carrying on like that, ruining the shopping experience for other people and making a spectacle of herself and the people who were with her. It was an opportune moment for that woman to teach that little girl proper behavior for the setting she in. Instead, she probably set it up for the child to think that it was okay to melt down in that manner, regardless of the setting. I didn’t stick around to see if the girl got her way or not

If I had been the adult in that situation, the one who was losing it might have gotten it good right there in the store. Damn the cameras and security. I would have dealt with mine. At the very least, we would have left the store. No way would one of my boys have shown his behind on me like that, and there is no way I would have inflicted the sight and sound of an out of control child on anyone else.

And we wonder why some teenagers are so on the wild and out of control these days. Respect, impulse control, and situational behavior have to be modeled by parents and instilled in children as consistent expectations from the beginning of their lives. Whatever has happened to effective parenting?

March 22, 2008 at 9:58pm
March 22, 2008 at 9:58pm
#575147
Personal Irritations List of 2008

Silliness as opposed to happiness
Arrogance
Allotting myself too little time to get a lot done
My own clumsiness
Not having enough time- period
Liars and Thieves and Cheaters
Winter
Disrespect, especially from those who demand it from others
My tendency to procrastinate
(Note: Line above had to be revised- way too many words before “procrastinate”.))
Being compelled to do things I have to do but don’t want to do
Making small talk
Being made to repeat myself to people who don’t listen the first time
People who don’t listen
Being awakened as opposed to waking on my own and in my own time
Having circumstance set the course of my day off or my weekend
Someone else trying to map my weekend for me or pin me down to mapping it out myself
Being misunderstood
Assumptions or judgments made without enough facts or significant details
Whining
Bad body odor or obnoxious (noxious) perfume/cologne
Misused apostrophes
People who do anything to get attention
Slow drivers in the far left lane who won’t move to the right for faster drivers
Newspaper/Internet articles with poor grammar or misspellings
Having days when all I feel is irritated.



March 9, 2008 at 8:21pm
March 9, 2008 at 8:21pm
#572662
Missed a few days. Didn't feel like writing anything here. Not much was going on. This time thing is messing with me. Doesn't seem like it should be as late as the clock on the wall says it is. Funny how a one hour shift messes so much with that inner clock, especially when the shift is forward.

Even though I know full well that I am supposed to cherish and enjoy each day to which I am allowed to wake, I find Sunday, especially Sunday evenings, mildly depressing.

Sunday is the lead-in to Monday, the first and worst day of my work week. I absoutely detest Mondays. It is becoming increasingly hard to get up for them and to climb back on the monotonous treadmill from which I readily hopped on the previous Friday.

I really shouldn't complain. There are people who would love to be in my position. I have the job that I went to school to do. I've been judged reasonably competent at it by those who, I'm told, matter, even if at times it doesn't seem so, based upon some of the output that comes my way. It pays the bills, and I have weekends, holidays, and summers off. Not a bad gig when I look at it written down like this.

But in reality, none of it makes my Mondays any easier to do, nor does any of it make Sunday evenings any less gray.
March 4, 2008 at 12:54am
March 4, 2008 at 12:54am
#571425
In a span of thirty days or so, there have been at least four publicized cases of kids killing their parents and siblings. Here in Georgia, an 18 year old adopted son killed his mother and father, and the other day, a 17 year old son killed his mother and two younger sisters. In Maryland, a 15 year old Boy Scout killed his parents and two younger brothers, and yesterday in Texas, a 16 year old female and three of her friends participated in the slayings of her mother, and two brothers. Her father was also attacked, it is assumed with the same intention to kill, but he managed to survive and drag himself to a neighbor for help.

What in the world is going on with the kids these days? What are we doing wrong? Is it the violent video games, and other media? Lax parenting? Societal influence? Peer pressure?

People in general seem to have way fewer coping skills than they used to. Nowadays, somebody gets pissed off, and instead of taking the time to consider if a response is even worth it, they cuss people out, run them off the road, start a fist fight, whip out a knife or a gun to cut or shoot the offending party, or otherwise try to belittle or eliminate the object of their rage. With kids, it's worse because the impulse control and reasoning that is supposed to come with maturation has not yet developed. But even at that, one has to wonder how we have gotten to the place we seem to be, where kids are killing to vent their frustrations or act out their aggressions.

What was once thought of as normal teen angst, has now come to be a reason for sleeping with one eye open and a hand on your own gun. Kids are wiping out their entire families over disagreements with a parent, being told their "love interest" is off-limits, sibling rivalry, or hearing the word, "No" one time too many. In some cases, there doesn't appear to be a reason at all; it just happened, nobody saw it coming.

In recent years, there have been several school and university shootings. Students and instructors were ambushed, injured and killed. Then the perpetrator killed himself, leaving behind only speculation as to the reason for such an atrocity committed against people who, in most cases, hadn't done anything to them on a personal level.

It's a frightening phenomenon. Just today, a man walked into a fast food restaurant and shot it up, injuring several people, killing a man and then taking his own life. In Memphis, they just found six people shot to death in a house, several of them children. What has changed over the years to make people so devoid of conscience and so volatile in their actions?

What is happening to our kids?

I’m tired, and it's late. My head is swimming from thinking about all of this. Maybe I’ll add more to this tomorrow.
March 2, 2008 at 4:59pm
March 2, 2008 at 4:59pm
#571131
The other evening, my son phoned me to ask my advice on how to handle what turned out to be a sensitive matter and one very close to his heart. His dilemma was indeed a delicate one, but one close to my own heart.

My son is dating a young woman who is the single mother of a five-year-old son, a kindergartener. They all live in another state, so I don’t see them very often, but I have met and interacted with the girlfriend and the child, who I found to be very enjoyable people. My son is in love with both of them.

The little boy has a father whom he sees and spends time with, but because he and his mother live with my son, the majority of his immediate needs, including those that relate to his education are met by his mother and might-as-well-be “step-father”. Last Father's Day, when asked if he'd phoned his father to wish him a happy day, the child responded, "No, but I called Mike." Mike is my son.

Mike's concern that evening was that it was eight o’clock, a school night, and the child was still at the babysitter's even though his mother was at home. He said that it was beginning to bother him that the child is left in the care of other people so often, especially at times when it wasn’t necessary that he be away from home. He went on to say that some of those people aren’t, in his opinion, the best influences on the boy. And then, his natural father has other children by at least one other woman, who are there with him during the boy's visitations, so it he isn't getting the full benefit of being iwth his father, and again, he's picking up questionable habits from the other kids.

There have been some problems with the boy’s behavior at school, which Mike said he feels are a direct result of the amount of time that his mother is not spending with him. When he’s not working, Mike keeps the boy because he feels that at home with one of them is where he should be. The entire time I'm listening, I’m trying to stay neutral in my thinking, but I can vouch for that last thing. Many is the time that Mike’s been off from work and called me just to check in, and the boy is in the background, playing with the dog, one of his toys, or reading. When his mother is home, but gets the opportunity to leave him with someone else, Mike said, she does.

He was looking to me for advice on how to handle the situation. He didn’t want it to become an argument or a point of contention, but he said the situation was beginning to get on his nerves. He said that he cares for her, wants a future with her, and that she’s a fine person otherwise, but that when he looks at how she’s raising her son in comparison to how he was raised, it was giving him pause for concern.

I tried to be as supportive as I could, but the woman, the mother, and the educator in me were screaming, “When people show you who they are, baby, believe them.”

The truth in that statement slapped me hard on both cheeks when a wise friend once said it to me when I was trying to figure out a problem I was having with someone I loved. People can tell you anything, but it’s what they do that makes all the difference.

I explained to my son that he was in a precarious position since he wasn’t the boy’s father, and technically he wasn’t really even the step-father. Also, he came into the child’s life when he was three, so that pattern of leaving the child around had probably already been established.

In fact, the first time I met the boy was when I had gone home for a visit, and Mike came by to see me. He and the girl hadn’t been dating that long, but Mike had the little boy with him because she was at work. She comes from a large family that I get the impression makes my son nervous for some reason. Without going into any great detail, (and I didn’t’ solicit any) he has expressed to me that her people like him and want to include him, but he doesn’t enjoy spending time with them because, “they don’t operate in the way I do.”

Now this is not a shy young man, a prude, or a stick in the mud by any stretch of the imagination. He is outgoing and for the most part, a people-person, but he is also the most principled of my sons when it comes to doing things the way they should be done and keeping the details of his life as uncomplicated as possible. Thisthing with the little boy is a dilemma that I don’t think he’s going to find the answers he needs anywhere but inside himself.

Taking example from my own parents and my treasured in-laws, I try hard to stay out of my children’s personal lives. They are adults now, capable of handling their own affairs. Even when they come to me for advice or to vent about a relationship matter, I have to concentrate on staying unbiased, on holding my tongue. I steer away from offering opinions; instead I try to turn the picture they’ve painted to an angle that will allow them to take a more objective look at the details, which is what I did with him.

The situation was one that existed before he came onbaord. I told him as kindly as I could that there wasn’t a lot he was going to be able to do about it because ultimately that is her child. She comes from what she comes from, just as he is a product of his upbringing. How she does things, sees things, is not anything that he can change. At twenty-five, twenty-six years of age, it is what it is.

What I did pont out to him was, knowing what he now knows, having a child of his own with her was something he needed to carefully consider. Living together as they do, a baby, accidental or on purpose, is a possibility that needs to be faced. I don’t know their personal business, nor do I want to know, but no method of birth control is 100%, and a tender-moment decision is a helluva thing to have a baby by. If he’s taking issue with how she’s raising a child that isn’t his, what kind of problems might that set up for them should they become parents of a child together?

I laid it out for him that when we get involved with people, a lot of times we fail to consider the larger picture: the family dynamics, the differences in upbringing, the personal beliefs the two people share or don’t share, the values the other person considers important, all important factors that need to be taken into account up front before commitments are made. Many times we get sidetracked by what we see at first, those things on the surface, the personal appearance, the initial attraction, the laughter and good times, the- let’s face it- lust, and it isn’t until later, sometimes too late, that the person “shows who they really are”. And even then, we sometimes either don’t see it, or we go into denial about what we see because to acknowledge it would be to acknowledge that it isn’t going to work. My conversation with my son left {[b}me reflection on how much I wished someone had sat me down and explained that all to me, in those terms, back in the day.

In the end, I don’t know if I was able to help him any. I don’t know if it’s something that he and his girl will be able to overcome. I was never one for leaving my kids around when I was raising them. I can remember the lonely, frustrated days stuck at home with them or with them trailing behind me as I went about my daily affairs, declining invitations for lunch, to meet up, to shop or to hang out, etc. with my girlfriends. I can recall enjoying going to work because that was my only real opportunity for adult conversation and interaction other than that with my husband, and even that had become limited during that time of our lives. But at the time, I did what I thought I was supposed to be doing for the children I chose to bring into the world. They were mine, and when they were little, I could only be sure of what was going on with them when they were with me. One of the things Mike said in the course of our talk was that he can remember that I was at home with them, and they were with me, not the babysitter. For some reason, it felt good that he could recall that, and that it seemed to mean a lot to him as an adult and would-be parent.

If they can’t work it out, I hope that Mike can see that perhaps the best thing to do for himself is to walk away. That will be hard since he has become so attached to the boy and the boy to him, but if it’s going to be a point of contention between him and the mother, where they’re arguing and fighting over the child, then the best thing he can do for all of them is to let it go. As long as he keeps the situation as uncomplicated as it is at present, he has the power of choice, although if it comes to parting ways, a painful one.

Thinking on it these past few days, I was began to reflect on myself and my own personal evolution in the years past. Things were done differently back when I was a young person, just coming along. It was as if adults were afraid to tell you the things you should have been told. As if the people who should have been talking knew that if they spoke the truth, they'd scare us off the idea of marrying anyone or of procreating within the 'sanctity' of a marriage.

Thus, it took a while for me to see things for what they are in my life. It took me too long to get it, but I learned that I can’t change what was in place before I got here. All I can do now is deal with the things I have to, on {b{my terms, and choose to ignore/ omit from my life that which I’m not going to deal with all.

Very few of us, especially the girls, were taught that we had the option of just leaving it alone or of walking away before we complicated our lives to the point of not being able to easily extricate ourselves.

If asked, I am determined that young people be better educated about not cutting corners on the things that matter to them and about living on their own terms. Life has stones that it will throw from time to time. If they can been seen coming, one has a better chance of either dodging them completely or putting up the proper defense to keep from being mortally wounded.
February 27, 2008 at 11:29pm
February 27, 2008 at 11:29pm
#570433
I swear, in not too long, it is going to be easier, healthier, and more economical to stay at home and draw public assistance. On my way to work this morning, I had to stop for gas. I made the mistake of letting the tank get down to a quarter of a tank- my usual fill-up point is half- so I was dreading it.

When I first bought this car, a '99 Toyota RAV 4, to fill the tank from empty cost $11. This morning, I [b]shut the pump off[/b] at $30. It could easily have taken $5-6 more. When I arrived at the pump, it was still registering a previous purchase of $74. Who ever would have thought that it would come to this? I guess $30 isn't as painful as $74, but then I think that's one of those things that could be considered relative.

Then I got caught up in morning traffic, stuck behind a belching school bus. It was bitter cold this morning, so I had the heat on in the car, which sucked in the diesel fumes from the bus, nearly suffocating me.

I turned off the heat to stop that, but then it got quickly got cold in the car again. No sense opening the window. The fumes were outside the window waiting to utilize that point of entry, as was more of the cold.

A no win-situation, to say the least.

After work, my friend wanted to know if I felt like driving downtown to have dinner. Hell no, was my first thought. I wasnt' driving twenty miles for a frivolity. Gas costs too much and that $30 worth I put in this morning has to last.

But then, I thought what a shame it would be to allow gas prices to dictate my life and my enjoyment of it. I guess that's why I do get up and go to work, enduring traffic, and other negatives- so I can pay for gas and enjoy the more pleasant things this existence has to offer.
February 25, 2008 at 8:56pm
February 25, 2008 at 8:56pm
#570006
Once I get past Monday, the rest of the work week is a whole lot easier to take. Even though nothing catastrophic happened to me, and the day really wasn't all that bad, I still hate Mondays with a passion.

I'm sure one of my boys hated it worse than me today, though.

Fresh off the school bus, he sauntered into the building, fire engine red I-dare-you-to-say-something-to-me-about-it skull cap still on, ear buds in his ears leading from the mp3 player he wasn't supposed to have, cell phone hanging in plain sight from the waistband of pants sagged to the point of obscenity. When checked by the vice principal about the whole sorry state of his affairs, he copped an attitude with her and lipped off.

His repeat offender and on the bubble status with the Vice Principal didn't help his case any. Nor did the fact that it was Monday for her, too. The young man was suspended and in his mother's car, headed back to the house before the first bell.

One thing I can say for Mondays is they do not discriminate. Fair and impartial, regardless of race, creed, age, etc., that first day of the work/school/business week can be a bitch to anybody.
February 23, 2008 at 7:36pm
February 23, 2008 at 7:36pm
#569587
Today has been an excellent day. I feel very good even though I haven't accomplished much of anything.

Maybe that is the reason why I feel the way that I do.

Last night I was dragging. I left for work before 7:00 in the morning, worked all day until the buses left at about 4:30 in the afternoon, then I had a hair appointment. It was after 7:00 in the evening when I finally made it back through the door.

I took a bath and sat on the side of the bed to get some reading done. The hubby was still at work; it was one of his late nights. I had some editing to do, and I settled in to get to it while I had the house to myself for a while. To edit effectively, I need to have uninterrupted blocks of time.

When the laptop nearly slid off my lap a couple of times because I'd nodded off, I decided to give it up. I have one of those beds that's over three feet from the floor, and this is a new machine. Although it's under a very good warranty, that was an accident I figured could be avoided. It wasn't anywhere near my regular bedtime, but I turned off the light and lie down.

The next thing I knew, it was light outside. I sensed that it was much later than my normal time to get up. I was right; it was 10:30. I never sleep that late. On a Saturday, if I don't have anywhere to go or anything planned to do, I may not get out of bed until 10:30- 11:00, but I will have been awake since 8-8:30, 9:00 max. I could not believe it.

Since we have an empty nest now, and our work schedules aren't the same, he often sleeps in the back room, especially on his late nights when he goes in later the next day or he's off as he was today. The quintessential morning person, he usually pisses me off by waking up before me or coming into the room and waking me up with "What's for breakfast?" or "What are we going to do today?" It's one of the few bad habits I haven't been able to break him of in our time together.

This morning, though, he didn't surface until almost noon. By that time, I had gotten up, made the bed, and was in the bathroom taking care of the morning stuff. He was fussing about my having allowed him to sleep so long. I told him he needed to check the house for carbon monoxide leaks.

We had breakfast/ brunch and decided to run some errands. We started out going to Walmart to take back some jeans I'd bought, but that wound up not fitting my body shape too well. I'm not made for low-riders- it pays to read the tags, not just the size. We ended up, however, hanging out at IKEA.

Love that place. You want to buy everything. Just set the old stuff on the curb and start all over, doing it up in minimalist fashion- clean, neat lines, lots of color, clean surfaces and open spaces that make it easier for the cleaning ladies- not me- to easily tidy up.

From there, finally on our way to Walmart, we ended up driving into a new subdivision of 15 houses they just built near here. They are huge homes and absolutely stunning as well as absolutely out of our price range. Kitchens with granite counters, built-in stainless steel appliances, and some kind of stone flooring. Huge two story great rooms with towering walls of windows. Walk-in-walk around in- do the tango in closets, to die for master suite, a theatre room in the basement, double covered decks, an outdoor fireplace at the end of a stone walkway leading from a stone patio area- simply, plainly, absolutely droolworthy. One can dream.

We made it to Walmart where I exchanged the pants, found another pair on sale and bought them, and we did some light grocery shopping. Since it's just the two of us, we rarely do it heavy any more.

At home again, we grilled some bratwurst outside on the deck, had some leftover chili from the freezer that I had set out to thaw before we left. It was so good. Chili is always so much better way down the line. While we ate, we talked about things we hadn't had time to talk about through the week. It was nice.

Now I'm in the office writing, and he's downstairs in the man-cave doing his thing. I feel rested and refreshed. My mind is whirling with ideas.

It's been a very, very good day.

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