Monday, December 26, 2016

Ghost of Christmas past.. or Christmas future?

My dream last night...

I walk up to the boys and their friends.  They are outside the city limits of this big city in a completely flat area that looked like a desert.  The ground is dry and cracked. I ask the boys what they are doing and they say "Nothing."  It is evident that they are doing target practice of some kind.

Then, all of a sudden, one of them shoots something and a huge explosion happens on the edge of the city.  The ground begins to shake like an earthquake and a crack begins to run down the ground towards us.

"What have you done?" I yell.  "Just run!!"  they yell back as they grab my arm and pull me away from the crack that is increasingly growing as it comes towards us.

We run to a hill.  As we crest the hill, we see green lushness beyond it.  There are men with shotguns at the top.
One asks, ""Where do you think you are going?"
One of the boys replies, "We need to get there." pointing to the bottom of the valley on the other side of the hill.
"Go around!" the man yells.  It is obvious this is his land and he doesn't want us to cut through.
"No time." says the boy pointing to the crack that is following us.
Nodding us on, the man says, "Go."

We run over the crest of the hill and start to run down it.
During this running, 2 young girls join us; one is about 8 and the other is about 3. They ask if they can join us... They are obviously poor.  They are wearing rags and you can tell they are just want something to do.  I ask the 8 yr old if she has ever rolled down a hill. She says no.  I look off to the landscape beside us and it is green plateau, then a craggy drop, then another green plateau, and another craggy drop.  It continues like this down the side of the hill, even though the area that we are running is just a smooth hill.  I tell her that when we find a good hill, I will teach her how to roll down a hill.  As I'm telling her this, I'm thinking that I have never been successful with rolling down a hill since I hit puberty and gained boobs, but decided to deal with that when the time came.

When we finally reach the bottom of the hill, we reach a pond and decide to rest.  I tell everyone to be careful around the water.  Then the 3 yr old starts crying.  I ask her what is wrong. She tells me that she lost her doll's shoe in the pond.  It is obvious this doll is worth more than what her family probably could have afforded on their own as it is brand new.

So, I go to the water's edge and scoop my hand into the water. I come up with a handful of doll shoes.  I show the little girl and ask her if any of these are her doll's shoe.  She shakes her head.  I scoop again. Again, she shakes her head and says, "It's pink..." I have several pink shoes in my hand.  "What about?..."  I asked as I start to point at a pink shoe laying on my hand.  She cuts me off and says, "No, it's pink like a bunny's nose."  I wade into the water and scoop up a handful of shoes from the center of the pond and carry them over to the water's edge.  I show the little girl again. "No, like a puppy's nose." she innocently says again.  I decide that I don't have time to keep looking randomly for this doll shoe in a pond full of doll shoes.  I tell her I will keep my eye out for it, but that right now I will go home with them and explain to their mom what has happened and that I will take the blame for it.

We walk into the shack of their house,  Stair-steps of children are running around...It is obvious that the two girls I met are just two of many.  We walk into the kitchen where their mom is in front of an old stove.  The scene is from the 1930's Great Depression. I start to explain why I'm there.  Suddenly, the door is slammed open by her husband. "Woman!!!" he yells. She looks at me and whispers, "Not now." I sink into the background of the kitchen.  He bursts into the kitchen. "Woman, what have you done?!!?" he yells as he shoves a square bottle of dark alcohol in her face.  He is wearing trouser pants and a pageboy hat, but they are tattered. "I had to take care of your children somehow. I made sure they gave you credit." she said. The bottle he is holding has 3 calligraphy initials on the front label.  "Woman, don't you know this stuff is illegal?  And now they know WHO made it!!"

Monday, December 12, 2016

Car wreck PTSD

So a month ago, the boys and I were in a wreck... not my fault...It totaled my car.

I have lived through many traumatic things in my life... However, I can't seem to shake this one.

Maybe it's because I'm still in pain from it.
Maybe it's because I HAVE to continue to drive on a daily basis.

Whatever it is... I am suffering major PTSD from it.

I pull over if someone is following too close behind me because I'm afraid they will hit me.
I jump if someone I am riding with pulls out into traffic even if the cars aren't that close.
I still won't take that road home that I got hit on.

Yesterday, I knew without a doubt I had been traumatized...

We went to Incredible Pizza where they have 4D movies.  We did the Jurassic Park one.  Unbeknownst to me, it is basically a car wreck where the dinosaurs wreck your car over and over and over again...

I walked away with fingernail indentations in my hands from gripping on so tight, a nauseous stomach, and a splitting headache.

Then last night I woke up from a nightmare where I was riding in a car with a friend and because she was crying so hard she didn't see the car in front of us, so I braced myself as we rammed into the car in front of us causing me to throw my hands forward and brace myself on the dashboard.

Then I woke up.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not mine

Another year is starting.

Tonight was open house...
This night used to be filled with anxiety and excitement... LOTS and lots of excitement... because it meant I was meeting a whole new group of smiling student faces and I knew they were mine.

I saw lots of smiling faces at open house tonight.  I got to stand at the front door and greet as everyone came in and say good-byes as they all left.

...But it wasn't the same.

Even though I again will have every student in the building, none of them are mine.  I'm not sure I will ever get over this part of it.

It especially made it worse when former students of mine came back (because of younger siblings) and gave me hugs...

... because they all know that once they are mine they are always mine.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

At least we didn't die

I have a VERY vivid imagination.
I always have.
I think that's why I don't watch scary movies... because later I recreate those scenarios in my brain.
I haven't watched a scary movie in a long time, but last night I felt like I was living one.

Let me set the scene...

Todd and I went to a friend's wedding up north.
He got married in a big little town...  It seemed quaint but had all the amenities of a city, but seemed like a town.
All of their hotels got horrible reviews.  The hotel we picked had 3 out of 5 stars.  Most people knocked them down for their breakfast.  We weren't planning on eating breakfast there, so I decided to book it.

When we got to the front desk, the clerk seemed distracted and a little at the end of her rope.  When the printer flashed it was out of paper, she said, "I really don't care if I have a copy of your driver's license. Just don't smoke in the room, okay?"

She handed me my copy of the reciept.  It said we were in 208A.  She scribbled out the "A" and said, "Ummm... Don't worry about the A. It's just 208." I thought that this must be a suite or something, but didn't question further.

We headed up the outside stairs to our door, 208.
I slid the key, the light would flash green, yet I couldn't get the door open.
I did this three times.
No luck.
Finally, Todd decided to try.
He put all of his body weight against the door and it came open.

The room was dark with the exception of the light from the tv screen.
It was playing a black and white movie.
(I'm pretty sure I said, "That's weird.")
I didn't like it.
It gave me a bad feeling.
I then switched on the light switch.
Nothing.
No light.
I started to back out the door.
I told Todd that something was not right here... that we weren't staying.
He trudged forward.
He turned on the lamp at the far side of the room and looked behind the door of the bathroom.
Nothing.
He told me to come in and close the door.
I still wasn't convinced it was safe.
I turned on my flashlight on my phone and looked under the beds.
Then we heard something outside, I went to the peephole.
Someone had stuffed toilet paper into the hole so you couldn't look out.
I thought for sure we were going to die!!
By now my brain was reeling with scenarios.
I started looking and relooking behind the doors and under the bed.
Then I remembered the "A"...
The room was NOT a suite!!  Why would they number it 208A if it was NOT a suite??!!
This sent me into more of a tailspin.

Luckily, I have a calm boyfriend who knows how my crazy brain works.
He jokingly says, "Well, if we don't wake up dead, we know it was all in your head."

We didn't wake up dead (I know that doesn't make sense - In other words, we're still here...)
Maybe this is how movie writers become so creative... Maybe they stay in weird hotels too with rooms like 208A.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The point of too far gone and not nearly there

You know that point where you are so tired that you know you have stuff to get done, but instead you do nonsensical things that seem productive, but really truly aren't and are most DEF not getting you any closer to the goal you are hoping to achieve???

Yep.

That's where I'm at.

Been up since 5 am.
Put in a full day at summer school.
Went shopping for supplies with the summer school team after summer school.
Picked up Sam and took him to practice.
Got home at 7pm.
Have been doing nonsense for 2 hours while my niece's cake sits on the counter waiting to be decorated.
And yet, here I am blogging.

 And this hour and a half decorate job I think is going to take several hours.

...I should have taken a nap...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Better than a box of chocolates

It's Teacher Appreciation week.

This week when you are a normal classroom teacher is filled with gifts and surprises...
But this year, that's not me... I'm a "specials' teacher... and I have come to realize how often they are left out of the loop.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not here to complain about not getting gifts... Quite the opposite.

You see... During times like this, when I am feeling a bit invisible... all it takes is just one child.

My little friend who has been checking in with me all year, that I have been forcing to change out of her stinky clothes into clean ones on a daily basis, so I can wash hers, so she can gain confidence about herself...  She arrived at my door today with a letter to me.

The letter said how I was the best teacher in the district because I listened to her and cared about her and that she knew she could tell me anything and it would still be okay.  It was a page long... a whole page from a child who struggles to write a few sentences for an assignment.

It made me cry!!
A box of chocolates has never done that...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Darn responsible kids

The boys and I have been running ragged for quite some time now...  Honestly, it has become our norm.  It's what we're used to. What we expect.

However, there have been little cracks lately. Like Sam telling me for the past 3 weeks that he doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning or go to school because he's so tired. This is my child who LOVES school!

In fact, just this morning, he complained and complained and refused to get out of bed until 10 minutes before we had to leave... Which, of course, then made everything frantic to try to get out the door on time.

So... Tomorrow I don't have school.  I decided to do something I have never done.  I decided that we were going to sleep in and the boys were going to be tardy... Just because.

I almost didn't tell the boys, but then the teacher in me kicked in and I had to make sure they weren't going to be missing any important tests or anything...

And that's when it happened.

Sam complained......and complained... and wouldn't stop complaining. I would make him miss PE...  Even though he was having a sub, what if his teacher left something important... He would have SO much work to make up!!!

And I lost it.

I just couldn't believe he was complaining over the ONE thing he had been asking for EVERY morning for the last three weeks.

And as my brain was exploding... telling him "Fine. Fine. I will get up early but that I didn't want to hear him complain about being woken up early especially when we had stayed up late." (9:30. lol Late for them)...I caught myself.

I realized that I was actually proud.
Proud that I was dangling the carrot and my son still chose the right path (Honestly, not the path *I* wanted tomorrow morning - it's my day off.  I wanted to sleep!)  But still...

This was an easy decision.  This was a why would we be doing anything else? decision...  Because that's how I raised them.

Doesn't change the fact that I wanted to sleep in. *sigh* Here's to responsible kids *glass raised*

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Who knew circles could be so scary?

So I went to get my diagnostic mammogram today...
I've prayed... SO many prayers...  Many of them just for comfort.
I have cried every day since last Wednesday.
I have seen how horrible cancer is to families... to moms with young kids...

I decided that after telling Todd and R. and seeing their reactions that I needed to limit the worry, so the only other person I told was my principal... and only out of necessity.

When the tech brought me into the exam room, she showed me my scans.
There they were... circles...
Six circles on each breast.
SIX! On. EACH. one!

She described how these were the areas of concern and that she would be taking multiple scans and if the doctor didn't get all of the answers she wanted, she would come and take more scans.

By the last few scans, I was placing myself into the machine.  The tech joked, "What you think you're a pro now?"
I smiled and said, "Just a fast learner."
I already knew this wasn't something I wanted to be good at...

After she was done, she sent me back to the waiting room.
Waiting sucks.
There were probably 4 or 5 other women waiting too.
No one made eye contact.
Eye contact is intimate. Eye contact can reveal things.
As we all sat in our hospital gowns...This was not a place for eye contact.

Finally they called my name.
The doctor shook my hand.
She said, "You had lots of areas of concern.  Have you had any areas of tenderness on your breasts lately?

You know those times when your brain is lagging behind and it takes a while for you to process what someone is saying to you??
That was me.
I think I was mentally preparing myself not to lose it... Then she was asking me a question.
All I could do was shake my head no.

"Good.  I was hoping not." She said. "I have examined your scans extensively and despite how hard I looked, I couldn't find anything."

Again, it took me a minute.
"So I'm good?"
"Yep." she said smiling. "These are the kind of meetings I like to have."

For all the stress I've been through lately, I think I would like to forgo all meetings... Esp. ones with circles.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What do you see in the sky?

As I was driving the boys to meet R. this morning, we were talking about the sky.
I comment on how gorgeous the sunrises are most mornings or I might just simply say "Dear Lord thank you for this beautiful morning."

This morning I said, "Look how the clouds are sprinkled across the sky."

Colby says, "Do you know what clouds like that make me think of?"
Me: "What?"
Colby: You see how the bottoms are dark.  I think that represents the darkness and evil in the world. There's a lot it scattered all around. And the sun represents God.  The sun is touching all of the clouds, just like God touches all of us... and just like when God touches us and changes us, the sun changes the dark clouds to light."
Me (holding back tears) "You're right, son. What a beautiful analogy!"

I'll never look at scattered dark clouds quite the same again...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Filling the gap

It's late and I'm tired.
I was actually physically ready to go to bed about 3 hours ago.
But I'm up.

You might wonder why...
Yes, I do have too much on my plate right now...
But sometime you have to push those things that overflow your plate aside.

Like for your nephew's birthday...
Who so sweetly asked me, "Aunt Dawn, You know Curious George? I want a Curious George cake."
So... of course, despite the fact that I had my 4 hour final exam this weekend and a thesis paper that isn't finished and is due in 2 weeks, I make him a Curious George cake.

And as I wander the aisles trying to figure out what a 4 year old little boy who loves Curious George would want for his birthday, I think about my momma... and how she would stay up late and always came through sewing up whatever themed thing we loved at the time.

It hurts my heart that my mom didn't know her grandchildren, but even more that they never knew her.
So... instead of going to bed when I was tired... In honor of my momma, I sewed this.

I hope when my nephew lays his head snuggled next to ol' George, he will know that I sewed it for him because there is a gap where a grandma should be...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The unexpected comfort

On Monday, I got my first mammogram. (Have I mentioned turning 40 sucks??)
The tech cautioned me that if there are any concerns, they would call me for a follow up because it is better to check it out early.
I nodded. ("Technicalities", I thought "They tell this to everyone."

But when they called me today (2 days later) to tell me that I have "dense breast tissue" and they would like to schedule me ASAP... It didn't feel like a technicality.

It felt scary.
Down right scary.

In fact, it took all of me to keep the tears from falling out of my eyes before I got to my car.

I called Todd.  I needed some reassurance that this is normal and I'm fine...Even though I didn't feel fine. I'm scared.  
All three of my aunts (from both sides) have had breast cancer. They have all survived it... but they had it.
So Todd tells me that he is sure it is fine... that there's no reason to freak out until there is something to freak out over.

... and you would think that would have helped... but it didn't.
You see... I was already freaking out!!  And to tell me not to freak out didn't stop me from freaking out!!!

So I got off the phone and bawled my eyes out until I reached the boys' school.
I knew I had to pull myself together before I went inside - It was baseball pictures and I didn't need all of the baseball parents asking questions when I definitely didn't want to share.

When I got a second by my ex, R., I just said, "Hey. Just so you know what's going on...I had a mammogram on Monday.  They want to run more tests next Wed, so I will be taking off school. Please don't say anything to anyone."

He asked me if I was okay.  I told him I was scared... and then I walked off for fear of crying again.
He walked over, gave me a side hug.  
Later, he texted, "Whatever happens, we'll get through it."

Strangely enough... Not telling me everything was going to be fine, but that we'll get through it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The howl

The howl of immense pain.
The howl of great loss.
Once that howl of sorrow has emitted from your body, you recognize it in others immediately... even if you don't know the details, you know the cause.
Loss.
Loss of a loved one.
Loss that despite the howling sorrowful tears, they will not be coming back...
But at the time, you can't think of that... all you can do is howl like a savage animal that's crying out into the night.

I heard that howl today.
It stopped me in my tracks.
I almost didn't go towards the source because... I already knew.

But being someone who has had that sound come out of me before, I couldn't turn a deaf ear and run... Despite desperately wanting to.

So... I turned the corner to find my friend, C.  Her granddaughter is due this week... and I knew.
Without words, I knew the howl of loss.

I walked towards her and wrapped my arms around her and hugged. A hug so tight I thought I would crush her... and she sobbed. Such powerful, forceful sobs that I knew if I let go, she would fall to the ground.

In between the uncontrollable shaking and howls, she breathed out, "No heartbeat. Why? Why?? I don't even know what I will say to my son and his wife."

I continued to hold her and tell her that there are no words.  She will go and be a mom, and hold and hug her child like no one but your mom can.

My heart breaks for her... Not only for her loss, but because she too will hear the howl and know it's meaning from now on.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A mirror reflects your appearance. Your heart reflects your soul.

Some parts of my childhood I keep buried.
Somehow though, teaching finds a way to bring things to the surface that I don't think about or haven't thought about in a VERY long time.

This morning my little friend that comes and checks in with me, was mad. Like boiling mad.
She wouldn't hug me or look at me.  This anger was directed at me because yesterday I made her follow directions when she didn't want to.

So, even though she is required to come see me in the morning, she didn't want to be here.
Every time I tried to say something, she responded with "I don't care!"

I got down to her level.  Without out even thinking, something deep within me came out and said, "I get it. I used to be you.  I used to say 'I don't care' because it is a whole lot easier to tell people that you don't care... and to put up a wall then to let them in... because if you let them in, they might just disappoint you... and let you down.  So, instead we say we don't care... but really... we really, really do care!"

As soon as it came out, it took me back.
I think back to my early teenage years when I was SO mad at my mom that my family wasn't "normal" because of my parents' divorce... and I would yell, "I don't care!" any time she would give the same explanation as to why we weren't around my dad.  Don't get me wrong... my mom made the right choice to leave an abusive marriage, but being a "Daddy's girl" clouded my judgement many times and left me very, very mad.

Throughout the years, I have repeated those words many many times, "Whatever. I don't care." and I learned to keep a stone face. I felt like giving up emotions in front of someone else made me feel like I lost something to them...

Then later, alone, I would cry and scream, and ask "Why?!!" even though no answers would come.

So, yeah... "I don't care" carries a lot more then I ever thought about until today.

She waited until I hugged her good-bye.  She didn't hug back, but she was definitely showing that she DID care.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A hard nut to crack

Because I'm not in the regular classroom any more, I am given students that "check-in" with me at the beginning of the day to start them off right and then they come back at the end to tell me how their day went.

I have 2 girls that come and see me.  They are basically complete opposites of each other, one is friendly, yet doesn't take care of herself physically.  The other is a perfectionist... she is hard nosed, has guarded emotions and tries not to show any emotion. However, my strategy has been the same for the both of them.

Every day, I welcome them with a smile, give them a hug, and then before I send them on their way, I say, "I love you. Have a great day!  I'll see you later."  (Honestly, the same things I tell my boys before I leave them in the morning.)

Normally, I get back "K. See you later."

I get it... They may not hear this at home.  They may be embarrassed to say it in return...

But, today, after being out of school for a week due to snow...
Today, I before I could say it to my stubborn, hard nosed little one, she said, "I love you! Have a great day!"

I caught the lump in my throat long enough to say, "I love you too!"

Yep.  Today was a successful day.