Back to Work

Not a bad office view...

Not a bad office view…

Starting work today was something completely new.  You see, since I graduated college in the mid-nineties, I had only a handful of interviews, and they were for teaching jobs.  Even though I may have had a new job here and there, I kind of knew that school was school, and nothing would be that different from my previous job.  I needed to know who the secretaries and the custodians were ASAP, and always, always treat them nicely.  I needed to know where the copy machine was, and where I could eat lunch.  The rest was pretty much the same.  I went to my room and taught.

Today, I walked into my new job, not knowing how many hours a week I was wanted, nor how much exactly I was to be paid.  I didn’t even know exactly what my job entailed but that my title would be “Event Coordinator” for a long-standing, local boat tour company.

By the end of the day, I had impressed my new boss a bit, been told I could work full time if I desired, and would make enough for me to not have to worry about my bills anymore.

Best of all, I enjoyed my day.  I edited and formatted, created spreadsheets, and researched, all the while learning my new boss’s idiosyncrasies, and getting along well with the other office “girl” whose job is separate from but most similar to mine.

I’m back to work, but work like I’ve never known it.  I’m thankful.  I’m excited.

Happy Day-Before-Black-Friday…

wild turkey visitorsI love Turkey Day.  Today is our only truly American holiday that doesn’t separate us according to religion, ethnicity, familial status, or socioeconomic status.  It’s inclusive.  It’s about giving gratitude for what we have.  It’s about showing love to those we love most.

I hate Black Friday.  It has overtaken Thanksgiving.  It overshadows the time we are supposed to be taking to reflect on how little we truly need.  It taints the entire season with the greasy feel and steely smell of money.

I will not be shopping today or tomorrow.  I never do.  I enjoy my family to the fullest extent.  But I do have something to do on Friday…

I will be working!  I finally got a job!  I need to go in on Friday to get an orientation of sorts, and I am very thankful to be employed again.  This is a good thing.

I’m thankful we got The Boy into a much better placement.  He has had a great week, and I look forward to many more accomplishments in his future there.

I’m thankful that for the first time since 1991, I am not traveling anywhere today, and was able to wake up in my own bed next to my wonderful new husband, for whom I’m also thankful.

I’m thankful I get to spend today with all of my beautiful family.

I am also thankful to have “won” NaNoWriMo (scroll down and check out my badge on the bottom right of the page!).  I finished and validated my 50,000+ word  novel yesterday afternoon, and it feels GREAT to accomplish a goal that a lot of people think about doing but never quite accomplish.

I am thankful for so much more, but you don’t need to sit here and read about me.  Go have a fantastic holiday, and keep it simple. 😉

On Being Busy

English: bocce courtA friend posted a link to this opinion piece, “The ‘Busy Trap'” by Tim Krieder of the New York Times.  Go ahead and click it.   Read it and then come back.  I’ll wait…

Did you really read it or are you cheating?  No, it’s a thought-provoking read, and will give you some context for what I’m about to write.  Go ahead.  Just be sure to come back.

I have to say that as I read it, I recognized my old life, to some extent.  When I was a teacher, there were always committees and leadership opportunities, and I rarely said no.  This resulted in sometimes three meetings after an already long workday, and barely any time or energy left for my son.  From the time I was in college, I was a do-er and you would often find me on the board of some group, or chairing some committee, and my planner was my lifeline.  I always had rehearsals and meetings scheduled, often into the wee hours of the morning.

And I also recognized my old students.  The kids who were at the dance studio every day after school until well past a normal dinner time, and when they weren’t taking classes, they were teaching them.  The kids whose hockey schedules ruled their lives instead of school and friends.

And the kids of friends.  Those friends who find it hard to say no.  The friends who made a conscious decision to sign their kids up for competitive activities (big parenting hint: “Competitive” anything will rule your life, and leave no bones).  And who say this “saying no stuff” is easier said than done.

It is.  I was there once.  And I get it.  We want our kids to succeed, we want them to be involved.  We don’t want them to be loners or losers.

My kid isn’t involved in much of anything, which is actually a blessing of his disorder.  Team sports are not and will never be our thing, thank goodness (I know his dad has always felt otherwise, but not me).  He loves to just ride his bike around the small neighborhood we live in.  Or mess around on his computers.  If I had the money, he might take swimming or Tae Kwon Do, but only if he wanted to.

I wasn’t either.  I was a brownie for awhile until our troop leader quit.  And I was in band, but it wasn’t like competitive marching band of today’s standards, with rehearsals 2-3 times a week not ending until 9pm.  I was on parks and rec basketball once.  And softball one other time.  And I took flute lessons once a week.

The rest of the week, I was free to play with my friends in the neighborhood.  Sometimes we played school (can you guess who instigated that?), but often it was tag (remember tag?), and around dusk it was Ghost in the Graveyard.  Guess what?  Our kids don’t even know how to play those games anymore.  Because they don’t have the time.  Between piles of homework from schools trying to jam more curriculum into a 9 month school year, and all of these scheduled activities they are in, no wonder there are so many young people growing up depressed.

We need to make ourselves a priority in our own lives.  If you (and/or your kids) are so busy and stressed that you don’t have any time in your week to just sit and think, there is something seriously wrong.

We need to take a page from our parents, and their parents, and all the generations who came before.  When people age they generally downsize to a smaller house or apartment (less maintenance and upkeep = more time with your family), get rid of the belongings (see George Carlin on “stuff”), and spend their time doing what they wish, or even nothing at all.  They may sign up for a low-impact Zumba class, or head over to the senior center for a round of Bocce Ball with the boys.

But it’s not Competitive Bocce Ball.

First Day Report

The Boy had a great first day.  I received a note in his planner reporting on it, and an email from his new band teacher saying he did very well, and pointing out that we could work on the rests (and listen to recordings of the tunes on the band’s website).

Tuba with four rotary valves.

Just like The Boy’s but his would never, ever be found on the ground like that!

This, THIS is what I’ve been looking for.  The Boy had a communication log in elementary, and while I know that middle school is different, this communication about his day is essential to me if I want to know what’s going on.  He did struggle in social studies today (of course!), and I’m not sure what that means yet, but we’ll figure it out and get him there.He was super excited to be at his new school, and to ride the van that is his transportation to and from school.  He gets to go directly to Grammy and Poppy’s house after school, and everything in that arena worked just as it should.  Longer rides, but he isn’t the only kid in the van, and The Boy seemed happy.

I’m happy.

I think this just might work.

 

My Bright Spot

I mentioned I have a new tutoring student.  She is in kindergarten and has developmental delays, both physical and otherwise.  A petite little thing, I need to hold her hand to climb the stairs to the tutoring room where I work.  She doesn’t often look me in the eyes unless I’ve told her she made a mistake or has a wrong answer, when she looks at me with eyebrow cocked, as if annoyed with me for not complying with her view of the way things are.  She often repeats nursery rhymes and facts she’s heard about random things, word-for-word, in that way I know so well from my own son.

She has a tube of some sort – I haven’t asked – and doesn’t take much food orally, so I brought stickers today for working hard for me.  She is whip smart, knows all of her letters, and their sounds, as well as many, many numbers.  We’ve been working a bit on adding (up to 5), and clapping syllables.  At some point today, she chose a sticker of a rhinoceros.  “The rhinoceros, ‘rhino’ for short, has a horn on his nose,” she recites.  “Rhinoceros!” I say,  “How many syllables?”

“Rhi-no-cer-os!” she says with a clap for each syllable, as I toss a foam block onto the table for each clap.  She smiles broadly as she sees the blocks splay out in front of her.  She taps each block as she repeats each syllable, “Rhi-no-cer-os!”  she says, victorious.  “How many?” I ask.  “One-two-three-four!” she replies, tapping each block again. “Four!” she exclaims, triumphant.

I am just as excited, happy that I am able to help her make a connection, giving her something concrete to hold on to while she tackles these abstract concepts.  She makes my day. 🙂

DSC00090

Triggers and Blowups

Last night, The Boy and I sat down to do some social studies homework (it never ends), and like most on the spectrum, he has a hard time with the whole concept of homework:  School stuff should be done at school, and home is home.  It’s a struggle, but as long as I break up our sessions, reward him, and don’t ask him to do too much at once, he does what I ask, and we are relatively successful.  Usually.

At first, I couldn’t even find the answers to the fill in the blank questions.  It took a fair amount of digging in the textbook, something at which my boy is not so good.  Nor is he patient.  “How long is this going to take?” he kept asking.Knowing the assignment was four pages and that this is his last week at his current school, I was overly optimistic about how much we could get done.  If the assignment hadn’t been so challenging, we probably wouldn’t have had a problem.  But we did.

He began playing with a chip clip on the table, and when I needed him to read from the text to find an answer, he was distracted.  I asked him to put it down until we finished five answers, and he refused.  I tried to take it away, and all hell broke loose.  Screaming, swearing, breathing heavily, skin becoming mottled, and near tears, The Boy was all of a sudden not The Boy.

swearing in cartoon Suomi: Kiroileva sarjakuva...

He became preoccupied with the “swear” which wasn’t really a swear, but he knew he had crossed the line, and was now punishing himself, saying he had to apologize to everyone he had ever sworn in front of, and was throwing quarters across the room (a family joke about owing someone a quarter every time they let a swear word slip in front of him)…  I had to get him calm enough to figure out what had triggered this, and get him off the idea that I was mad about the swear word.  It was a challenge.

After about a half hour, making him sit with me on the couch, practicing deep breaths together, I was able to get him calm enough for me to understand that the homework was just too much.  I told him we would cut it down to one page tonight, which turned out to be 3/4 of a page, but I was amazed that we were able to get anything done after a blowup like this.  Progress?  Maybe.

As he gets older, his triggers change, and what these blowups (pre-cursors to meltdowns in our case) look like change, as well.  I won’t ever stop learning about my kid, oftentimes after the fact.  It seems that as long as we concentrate on why the blowup happened, and take the focus off of consequences for “poor” behavior, I am able to learn so much more, and he is able to recover much more easily.  Usually.

Just Sitting

flutterI’m just sitting here in the relative silence, ignoring the thousands of random thoughts, to-do list items, and NaNoWriMo story ideas that are flitting above my head, begging to be caught and tagged.  Most of them have probably been “tagged” (written down) anyway, but I’m just too tired to collect them.

It’s a busy week.  I suddenly have two interviews, along with two new tutoring students, one who decided to be a beast today, and the other is just, well, adorable (in kindergarten with developmental delays and I LOVE HER).  I have to try to bring The Boy back down to Earth to get final assignments in to his current school before the Big Switch on Monday, while also prepping him on two new pieces of band music for a concert with his new band class the week after next.  I also have to see his new doctor about getting him out of his PE requirement so he can even have band, and darn it, I didn’t turn in that library book.  What am I going to make with that chicken sitting in the sink defrosting?  I haven’t written a thing today, meaning I’m exactly 1667 words behind, and now my projected end date will be past the November 30 deadline if I don’t do something about it.  I have that registration paperwork to complete and get back to the new school, too, and when am I going to pick up the new tuba? I’ve committed to helping The Man paint at his current work site, but I think I can only work a half day tomorrow, and not at all on Thursday, due to interviews and other stuff.  We really should get a new gas tank and hookup before cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  And I have to wash these jeans – they can probably stand on their own by now.  Speaking of washing, The Boy’s hair is way overdue…

Hm.  How ’bout that?  Got ’em tagged after all, didn’t I?  I’m sure I missed some, floating up there…

New School Visit

Today, The Boy and I go to visit his new school in the afternoon.  I am picking him up for lunch so that he doesn’t have to go to social studies.  We’ll have a special McDonald’s lunch and then head to the new school to see where his classes will be and meet some of his new teachers.

The Boy is extremely excited, and asks for a daily report about how long it will be before he goes to his new school.  We got the phone call today from the company providing his transportation, as they thought he was starting tomorrow.  I told them they could wait another week, but The Boy was excited to learn that he will be transported to and from school in a gold-colored Town and Country van.  It will be a long trip for him, but he has missed riding this bus all these years, and was always so envious of his buddies who were “bussed” in from other districts at his old school, often in charter company cars like he will now be using.  I think he will love it.

plannershot1I hope he can contain himself at his current school for one more week.  We got a note home from his social studies teacher on Thursday that he was “jumping out of his seat” during class, and I immediately thought, “because he’s happy he only has one more week in your class, lady!”  I didn’t bother to respond.

My excitement is tempered with a bit of anxiety, as any mother’s would be.  But I take heart in the fact that those who know him best on this planet agree with me that this will be a good switch for him, and that he can handle it.  Judging by his excitement, I’m fairly certain he will prove us correct.

Newlywed Report: I Like This

After I got divorced, I swore I would never get married again, and mostly because I had such a horrendous financial mess on my hands, but also because I had been so miserable for so long.  I felt and still feel that people should not have to live miserable lives if they don’t have to.

Even as The Man and I progressed in our relationship to the point of thinking about marriage, I was still nervous.  Did I want to make that kind of commitment again?  Did I want to subject my son to a relationship that could possibly fail?

UsAnd then I came to the realization that all relationships have that potential.  They also have the potential to enrich our lives, help us grow as people, and give us the support to make us the best we can be.  I had never experienced that myself, but I knew the potential was there, and I also knew that I had never ever felt about anybody the way I felt (and still feel) about The Man.

We’re coming up on being married for five months, and in that time, we have joined households, developed routines, and purposely chosen to spend time together when other options were available.  We even work together on occasion.  And you know what?  We work well together.  Yes we have disagreements, and momentary lapses of bitchiness (on both parts), but we never get to the point of purposefully hurting the other person because that is the absolute last thing either of us would want to do.  And 99.9% of the time, we are enjoying each other’s company.

I just got off the phone with The Man.  It was just a random mid-day phone call to tell me what his plans were for the afternoon, and we talked for awhile about this, that and everything.  He said, “You know, I like being married.  I thought it would be bad, and I had bragged for so long about remaining single, and some of the married people I talked to seemed so envious.  But I really like it.  Plus, I have a good woman.  And she’s not bad to look at either,” he concluded.

I think I’ll keep him.  ❤