Why Give Teachers Presents?

My children have had a fair mix of school teachers over the years; good, bad, never ugly. Some could have been ….better at their jobs. -You know, jobs where they should have known they were working with small children and might need a smidgen of patience and crowd control. One or two others were phenomenal and more than earned their middling teacher’s salary. The rest land just lower than that, which is fine for a normal human.

But that’s it: teachers make the same whether they put a movie on at least once a week day or whether they split children into ability-appropriate groups and organized educational games.

And all of them take my children all day. That right there is enough to earn their pay.

On top of that, they manage to teach my kids a thing or two that I couldn’t. I’d say that’s good for a candy bar on their birthday.

Best of all, that saint with a yardstick did not end up killing that one child (who looked a lot like my son) who dumped water on her on Field Day and ran off laughing about it. I’m …still working on what to get her.

nicole-honeywill-1465559-unsplash

Teaching is a highly underrated and underpaid profession. Yes, teachers only work 9 months of the year. Technically they work from 8-3 instead of 9-5. They get summers off and Christmas Break and the occasional PTA present of a mug. Some do not try as hard as they might and some go into the profession intending to not try.

In actual practice however, teachers spend the ‘extra’ 3 months setting up lesson plans, classrooms, and schedules. Their days run from 7 a.m.-whenever they finish grading homework. Many work summer jobs to make ends meet (often also in an educational position like Driver’s Ed). Some have so many mugs they donate them straight to Goodwill. Most do not go into teaching to make money, but to make a difference.

Even the (two) times my children have had barely passable elementary instructors, I made sure those women received some token of appreciation at Christmas and during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Why?

The very people teaching my boys with positive reinforcement could use a little of their own. Teaching is difficult. The pay’s not worth it. In several areas of the world, the children and the parents put stress on already impossible expectations.

And maybe every time a child (who looks suspiciously like mine) acts up a bit, they’ll feel somewhat better knowing a parent out there loves them and appreciates what they do.

—————

Sunday, May 26: “Happily Ever After is Possible, but it Requires an Epic Journey,” a post encouraging couples to work at their relationship.

Monday, May 27: Wrote a poem titled, “Summer Vacation -Almost.”

Tuesday, May 28: Shared an appropriate image about real life expectations.

Wednesday thru Saturday: Nothing, nothing; tra-la-la.

Sunday, June 2: That’s today!

Photo Credit:
Nicole Honeywill

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Happily Ever After Is Possible, but It Requires an Epic Journey

It’s happened again. Another couple we’ve known and loved announced the big D-Word: Divorce.

As a child raised in a nuclear family around other nuclear families, divorce was a word we heard on TV. It was almost akin to the cuss words my parents muted whilst watching films like “Hook.” Sure, I knew a few kids at school whose parents had split, but that wasn’t close. That wasn’t real.

As an adult, however, my perspective is quite different. Why? Well, frankly, because that ol’ D-Word has come up in conversation with my own spouse. As in, applied to us. As in, “What; do you want a divorce?”

Mature, I know.

Now, divorce is not always a villain. It is often a very good idea. I have a close friend for whom The Split was necessary for the welfare of herself and her children, and that was mostly from an emotionally abusive aspect.

In other cases, however, I can see it for what it is: giving up early.

hannah-busing-1370823-unsplash.jpg

My husband and I know this because we chose to fix our relationship. We chose counseling, to try and follow the counseling, and to try to work on us every day. And believe me, it’s not like the movies. If we don’t do our ‘homework,’ the counselor’s advice does not work.

Countless hours and advice and helpful correction has helped enlighten me. I’ve realized that love goes through stages. From my own perspective, they are:

  1. The Honeymoon Stage. When you’re dating, flirting, or first married you don’t have to really try to love. I thought the husband and I didn’t have this going into marriage because we dated a while and knew each other pretty well. Believe me; we still did.
  2. I’m making these up, but I’d call this The First Itch. The wife sees an old friend or a new boss. Husband sees a hot young thing at the office. You’ve still got your good looks and vitality and someone else seems interested. You still love your spouse but the attention is sure flattering. And tempting.
  3. Mid-marriage slump. Remember when I said I didn’t think we had that first stage? I know we did, because we’ve entered this third period with definite feelings of dislike at times. The love that came naturally, the one that simmered in the background all the time -even while we had newlywed fights- is absent. Why? Because we are not trying to feel it.
  4. I’d guess that one or two other stages come next, like Midlife Crisis and Reconnection. I’m not positive since we’re not there yet.
  5. Acceptance and Mature Perspective. I think this is the age we all hope to get to, the one older couples are at. They’ve seen all the warts, moved past all the warts, and decided the warts are not what matters after all. They’re mature and their love is mature.

As the number of divorces climbs to a point of shrugged acceptance, I see patterns of behaviors in those who choose it. Most often the pattern is that one or both parties wants the constant feeling of Stage 1. When love isn’t exciting or doesn’t just happen any more, surely that means they are “out of love.” Surely that means “we just drifted apart” or “we realized we didn’t have much in common after all.”

I know an older couple who raised seven children together and went through a #2 Stage after #3. What happened? She forgave him. He repented, reformed, and is a much different husband to her now. They literally have little in common regarding shared interests but they sit by each other holding hands, each with his own set of headphones, each watching his own show on his own television.

Now that there is love.

C’mon, people. Try harder. Stop looking at Happily Ever After stories as fantasy. They’re not. You just may need to slay a few dragons or journey to find the lost stone before you’ll (again) win that princess.

It’s not easy. It’s not. You both have to work. You both have to know what’s most important. You both have to think a little bit about the future. I mean, do you really want to end up with only a trail of broken relationships to look back on; or do you want to share retirement (and possibly grandchildren) with a sweet, old person who understands you?

marisa-howenstine-1070388-unsplash

—————

Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, May 19: My procrastinating son inspired me to write “Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess.”

Monday, May 20: Wrote “A Poem, I Think.

Tuesday, May 21: Shared a quote by James Baldwin.

Wednesday, May 22: Suggested fancifying your food for littles.

Thursday, May 23: “Don’t Forget Your…,” a snippet about my forgetful boys.

Friday, May 24: “Mom, What Can I Do?,” a post about taking a quick hour for your kids.

Saturday, May 25: Shared TwinzerDad‘s tweet about being an example, technically on Sunday.

Sunday, May 26: That’s today!

 

Photo Credits:
Henry Hustava
Hannah Busing
Marisa Howenstine

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess

“Mom?”

“Mmmm?”

“They’re voting for student officers at school and I want to run. I can spend $40 in materials and can give out gum and mints and need to make some posters.”

I eyed my oldest from my peripheral vision, so as to not crash into anything whilst driving. Trying not to panic him nor myself, I thought before phrasing a question. “Okay. And …when do you need to have them done?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Friday.”

It was Wednesday. Given his usual record, that was a pretty long time to prepare.

“Okay. Well, I can’t buy you supplies right now. We need to get home and clean for your brother’s baptism this weekend.”

“That’s okay. I’ll have time.”

I wasn’t sure. He had a history of not only springing things on me the half hour before they were due, but also of completely breaking down over the inevitable failure from not being prepared. Fortunately for me (and him), whoever was in charge of the campaigning sent all parents of interested students an informative e-mail.

annie-spratt-223429-unsplash.jpg

Did I say “fortunately?” More like “indispensably.” For one thing, she said the materials were due Monday instead of Friday. For another, there were size requirements on posters and ….a campaign video.

Which is what he we have been working on since church this morning.

After a meltdown yesterday in which he yelled about not needing us to suggest campaign ideas but that he really just needed us to suggest campaign ideas, he came up with a Minecraft theme. Actually all on his own; he crafted a zombie, squid, villager, and slime poster with pun-laced slogans like, “Don’t be a Zombie, Vote For Me.”

He took my suggestion to use some of our thousands of Lego Minecraft sets to do a stop-motion video. His father is helping making the whole thing on the computer.

I am very proud of my son, but try to avoid special projects like this. When he (or his brothers) get the look and start discussing supplies and cost and what I need to do; I foresee the stress, yelling, meltdown, extra store trips, last-minute failures, and special project hangover when it’s all over.

I am frequently left -not only holding the bag; but buying the bag, filling it with expensive things we can’t reuse when most don’t get used, driving the bag to school when they accidentally leave it at home, and then cleaning up all the bag scraps left over the next day.

Yet… this is childhood. This is learning. This is trying and mistakes and all that important stuff I want my kids to learn.

Not that remembering those things makes the mess and the stress go away. What really makes it worth it is the other look: pride. It’s that look that lights up my kid’s face, even subtly, when he surveys what he has done. It’s when he smiles with a sense of accomplishment.

Having him clean up afterwards is a nice perk, too. We’ll do that as well. Probably Tuesday.

samuel-zeller-358865-unsplash

—————

Sunday, May 12: Shared a previously-written bit on Mother’s Day: “Happy Mother’s Day?

Monday, May 13: Trotted out a short poem titled, “Just a Little Housework.”

Tuesday, May 14: Shared a quote I found online.

Wednesday, May 15: A toast! -to toast with “Breakfast Tip 3.

Thursday, May 16: “Time Out!,” a snippet setting the ‘punishment’ record straight.

Friday, May 17: Reminisced on Pregnant Times and how we ought to lay off ourselves in “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself.

Saturday, May 18: Shared WTFDAD‘s tweet about scary(?) stories.

Sunday, May 19: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Annie Spratt
Samuel Zeller

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Happy Mother’s Day?

The sun isn’t very bright yet when she wakes to the sound of loud whispering, to the sight of a homemade paper card a few millimeters from her face. The smell is that of unsorted laundry; bedsheets a tad late for their cleaning, with an infusion of overdue diaper. She doesn’t seem able to lift her legs, or one arm. Even her lower extremities are penned as the sleepy man to her side wakes enough to stretch and embrace what he can reach affectionately.

Using her free hand, she grasps at the paper and pulls it to the range at which she can make out its contents. It’s too early, her brain complains, to decipher Cyrillic. She blinks and refocuses. Ah, she realizes, those were flowers -and probably people. Maybe letters.

Taking a guess, she attempts speech. “How nice, Sweetheart!” The artist frowns at the unusually croaky sounds. She clears her throat some, and tries again. “I see you drew me and you and flowers…” She relaxes as his scowl turns to smiles. Satisfied, he turns and falls off the bed, relieving one pinned leg.

The next boy thrusts his offering at equal facial distance to the first, then turns and frowns disinterestedly at the wall. This one is definitely English; it’s even partially typed. She sees he is clearly the most talkative child on paper, too, with so many one-word responses to this standard form his class was given. Age: 33, Hair: brown, Favorite food: food. She smiles, then looks more strained at the next two answers he’d supplied: She likes to … do dishes, She’s really good at … doing dishes. She tries to look grateful as he’s pretending not to watch but really is. “Thanks, Honey,” she smiles and is not surprised as he shrugs and dodges her attempts to hug him. He, too, leaves the bed and another leg free.

She looks to her other arm and her other half. Both smile up at her with similar expressions. Genetics will do that. “I love you, Mommy,” the wet diaper owner says sweetly. He cringes adorably as she kisses a plump cheek.

Dad sighs again and sits up. “Let’s go make Mommy breakfast,” he tells his youngest. He scoops her remaining impediment into the air playfully. He looks down at the bedheaded beauty who birthed them all.

“Happy Mother’s Day,” he says, and leaves.

Finally alone, she looks over her offspring’s offerings, and cries.

kevin-liang-683790-unsplash

(I originally wrote this and posted it on Facebook on May 14, 2017.)

—————

Sunday, May 5: “Parenting is Hard, so Why Still Do It?,” a fantastic piece that came after a really long week.

Monday, May 6: Wrote a ‘poem’ titled, “Short Mom Rap.”

Tuesday, May 7: Shared a quote on patience by Paulo Coehlo.

Wednesday, May 8: Recommended against Sour Patch Kids cereal and others of its milk.

Thursday, May 9: “Those Little Shutterbugs,” a snippet hoping that all those phone pics will lead my kids to a productive life as a photographer.

Friday, May 10: “Take Time for You. Ish.” Advised parents, everywhere, to eschew the guilt and get out.

Saturday, May 11: Shared Heather is a Hot Mess‘s tweet about Magic Socks (or Magic Couches).

Sunday, May 12: Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo Credit:
kevin liang

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Me Time Just Might Be Wishful Thinking

dmitry-bayer-1397461-unsplash.jpg

One of the best pieces of advice for parents is to take time for themselves.

I find this especially true for parents of young children. There’s nothing quite like days and nights and in-betweens completely filled with the whims of tiny people. Parenting is a noble business, but that nobility is hard to realize when one is exhausted.

Hence, as I said, the advice to have “me time.” Unfortunately, many parents are blessed with more challenges than others. Those challenges include proximity to decent babysitters, proximity to a money tree to pay for decent babysitters, various behavioral issues that make babysitters unlikely to want to tend, and various behavioral issues that make it so that the parents need to find someone competent to tend.

I’ve heard the advice to use family members, but what if you have none? I’ve heard that “you’ll make time for what’s important” -but that’s why parents spend their paycheck on food, clothing, shelter, and health care.

When, then; how, then are parents to get that sacred time to themselves?

Since I hate to leave anyone hanging, I thought of a few ideas.

  1. Hire Mary Poppins. Simply list what you need in a nanny, tear up the paper, and release it out the window.
  2. If Mary Poppins can’t get round to you, look at online sitter services. Some areas have special needs options listed. Some countries assist parents in paying for those services.
  3. Use electronic babysitters. If your child is young, pop in a movie while you take a closet break and read or watch what you want to. If your child or children are older, go for a walk or to your own movie while they watch one at home.
  4. If they are able, have the kids ‘watch themselves.’ When we’ve been invited to a neighbor’s house or to a movie nearby, we’ve paid the kids to tend themselves. They watched a movie the whole time so, technically, it was an electronic babysitter again.
    The trick is that each child reports to me whether he thinks they all deserve payment. If a brother or two tells that another was rotten, he doesn’t get paid.
  5. Use sleep. Don’t stay up too late, but use the hour or so between kid bedtime and your own to catch up on your shows.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If anyone has input as well, I’d love for you to add more suggestions in the comments.

—————

Here’s what I wrote for the past week:
Sunday
, April 21: “Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers,” an article suggesting we teach women to be mothers as well as world leaders.

Monday, April 22: Wrote a short poem titled, “Good Morning.”

Tuesday, April 23: Shared a quote by Milton Berle.

Wednesday, April 24: Recommended having options for breakfast.

Thursday, April 25: “Here, Mom,” a quick thought about how often mothers are garbage cans.

Friday, April 26: Talked about kids who don’t like hugs in, “Steal Your Kisses if You Have To.”

Saturday, April 27: Shared Snarky Mommy‘s tweet about how crazy we all are.

Sunday, April 28: That’s today!

Photo Credit:
Dmitry Bayer