Everyone is talking about it. So let’s talk about it.
I would take a bullet for your child, mama. As I write that I’m teary eyed because I can see my 8 month old baby playing on her mat. I would protect your child with my life. I love them, and you trusted me with the most important thing in the world to you. I would die protecting your child, but I shouldn’t have to.
We have lockdown drills. Procedures in place. But what is a locked door to someone with a gun? It’s just a sign that a class is inside hiding. Stifling cries. Praying. Panicking. I’m fairly certain every teacher has their own real lockdown plan. Are there closets large enough? Can furniture be moved in front of the door? Can we make it to the tree line from the windows?
Instead of practicing for a horrible event, how about we work on preventing it? How about we look at our gun laws. Is there any reason someone needs an automatic rifle? Just because they want one? Well, I want to live. I want my 33 students to live. I want my baby to be able to go to school when she’s older... and live. Why should your right be more important than my life?
“Guns don’t kill people.... people kill people.” What if these disturbed individuals didn’t have the means to take out a dozen people in the blink of an eye? Even if they decided to commit an atrocious act, wouldn’t it be better to limit the reach of their hate and their bullets? The world will never be perfect. There will always be tragedies. But just like those who sit by and watch bullying without stepping in, isn’t us continuing to watch these horrific events unfold and not taking action just as bad?
“I have the right to bear arms.” What do you need to bear arms for? Protection? Get a handgun if you ABSOLUTELY must have a gun. I highly doubt you’ll ever find yourself in a situation where you’re facing 25 home invaders at once. If you do, your odds aren’t good no matter what firearms you have. They probably have them too- and 24 more of them than you do. For fun? Shoot a regular rifle at a target. Although, I do feel like you could find other means of having fun but... either way, I’m certain you don’t NEED an automatic rifle.
“The Constitution says so!” Does it? Does it say we have the right to bear mass-shooting weapons? I’m fairly certain they didn’t exist at that point. Should we also be able to own grenade launchers as long as we have an ID? That sounds silly, right? So does us owning an AR-15. No civilian needs that.
“Drugs are illegal and that hasn’t stopped drug dealers!” While that is true, I imagine it has greatly limited those choosing to deal drugs. It has limited the availability. You don’t swing by Walmart with your driver’s license and pick up a bag of cocaine along with your kale. Once again, does that sound crazy? Yes, but so does picking up an assault rifle at Walmart. While making it illegal wouldn’t make it IMPOSSIBLE to get, it would make it harder and that is a step in the right direction.
The direction where we see fewer thoughtsandprayers hashtags. Fewer shooters’ psychological profiles being done far too late. Fewer articles listing the red flags a shooter displayed. Fewer failures of our systems.
I went to a college with a mass shooting. One of the girls in my class was killed. She used to be an Army contractor but her parents wanted her to have a safer job. She was getting an elementary education degree. It was so upsetting that what should have been a safer path is what ended her life. Sadly, it continues to be a threat to teachers everywhere.
I came home and hugged my baby a little tighter. I will go in next week and hug my kiddos. I will worry any time I see the alert system lights come on, but I won’t show it. We will follow our procedures for drills hoping that they take them seriously but not fully understand exactly what that means. My first graders say “in case there’s a bad guy” and that’s as much as I want them to know. I don’t want my 6 year old students going home thinking “I survived another school day. I didn’t die today.” We should do better for them. What is more important, your right to own something or a child’s life? Think about it, America.
So, little Susie didn’t get straight A’s. Well, straight 1’s, because little Susie is too young for letter grades. And you’re bummed. No, you’re mad. You’re thinking she won’t get into a good college. She won’t ever become the doctor you want her to be. Everything is ruined and she is only 5. You are about to march yourself into that teacher’s classroom and tell her exactly why Susie deserved straight 1’s. She is precious and perfect and couldn’t possibly make mistakes. I ask you to slow your roll, mama. Take a breath. You said it yourself, she is 5.
It isn’t the end of the world. It isn’t even the end of the week. Maybe she doesn’t know all of her ABCs, but she is kind. Isn’t that the more important thing? Don’t you want her to be the one who asks lonely kids to play? The one who hugs her classmate when he falls down and tells him that he will be alright? The one who cleans up the class library simply because it is the right thing to do? That isn’t on a report card, but it is infinitely more important. I promise you her teacher notices and loves her for it, she just can’t fit it in the little box and admin demands data. She nurtures her strengths but also acknowledges her weaknesses and informs you so that you can work as a team.
What you teach her by yelling at her teacher will impact her life more than receiving a 2 on a report card. You will teach her that when she doesn’t get her way, yelling is the appropriate response. She learns that bullying someone gets what she wants. Grades you earned don’t mean anything and there is a way to change it. Why do your work? Mom will step in and fix it for you. Until Mom can’t, and then you don’t have the skills to cope. You will teach her that grades are all that matter, and that will morph into the idea that money is all that matters as she gets older.
Instead, let’s praise her for her compassion, her sense of humor, and her creativity. Let’s show her that she’s more than just a number. We will tell her that there are things that she needs to practice, but that we will be there to help her through it. We will show her that hard work and perseverance pay off. Accomplishing things she couldn’t do before will do so much more for her self-esteem than seeing a 1 her mom got her on a piece of paper with no significance to her. The 1 doesn’t mean anything to her unless you make it mean something to her. It shouldn’t. That report card is for you, mama. For our team. It is there to help little Susie; let’s not let it hurt her. Oh, and Harvard isn’t going to check her kindergarten report card. I promise.
“Let them be little.” Those four little words are more than a song title or a trending hashtag. They’re important and it is a phrase that schools should keep in mind. I teach first grade. We have 20 minutes of recess. They spend almost 7 hours sitting. I have discussed—nay, argued with as much respect as I could muster— with admin that this is not conducive to teaching six year olds. I even begged for an extra ten minutes so we could have two fifteen minute breaks. The answer I received? “It is mandated that we are only allowed a 20 minute recess.” I hit them with research about gross motor skills, attention, focus, and all of the other benefits of more unstructured play. I was told there is nothing that they can do and we would get in trouble if we were caught giving more recess. So, you’ll see us outside doing “outdoor learning” from time to time. “ADMIN ALERT-GRAB A CLIPBOARD AND LOOK BUSY!”
Unfortunately, recess isn’t the only problem. We are taking away free play in classrooms and any activity not deemed “standards based.” Now, don’t get me wrong, teachers are wizards at tying things to standards. However, should we have to be? Shouldn’t we be able to make a Groundhog Day hat just because it is fun? Isn’t it important that kids enjoy school? That they see the “silly” and “exciting” in it? That they get up in the morning and can’t wait to see what they will do at school? Sure, we can make stations fun. We can make an engaging vocabulary game. But we should also be able to make a craft without panicking that admin will walk in and that our kids can’t tell them what standard they are working on.
Not only are we eliminating fun at school, but we aren’t giving these students valuable experiences that they might not be getting elsewhere. I am shocked when kids tell me they don’t have markers at home or have never made a necklace. Seeing a child use tape will blow your mind (like, seriously, Billy…you have to CONNECT TWO THINGS with tape. Putting it on one sheet of paper does not actually accomplish anything. Anyways, I digress…). When asking what my students are going to be doing on a nice day, more often than not I get “I’m going to play video games” or “I’ll play on my iPad.” Many kids these days are not putting together puzzles, making art with glitter glue and feathers, or making masks for a play they created when they are at home. I know robots seem to be more and more entrenched in our lives but….I’m starting to be concerned that we are turning into robots ourselves.
We proudly walked out with our groundhog hats today and were not questioned. However, I was ready with “We made them as part of the anticipatory set to creating our six week weather tracking journals in which we will collect data and graph our results.” When I run into admin in the hallway while on planning and they shoot me a “Where are the kids?” and I reply with a sarcastic “Ah, they’ve got some coloring pages, it’s fine” it hurts my heart a little because they know my kids wouldn’t just be coloring.
Let me start off by saying I am 110% against bullying. Someone very close to me told me about how she was bullied in school and it made me the bleeding heart than I am. How could anyone treat such a sweet, funny, generous person with anything but kindness? I couldn’t understand it and it made bullying something I could not tolerate, even as a child. However, I think the word “bullying” is starting to be misused. In a world where bullying has gone to a new, horrible level with things like cyber bullying, we don’t need to lessen the gravity of the word by calling everything bullying. That way we can all rest assured that when it is bullying, it will be handled appropriately.
A child saying that they do not like another child’s pencil is not bullying. A six year old saying she’s saving the seat for her best friend and not allowing someone to sit there is not bullying. Now if she and a group of people were not letting the child sit near them to shun the child or were ridiculing that child then that would be different. However, just like adults, children have preferences. They have their best friends that they want to sit next to. They might like superheroes more than princesses. They also have less of a filter than most adults. Instead of calling it bullying and saying those students must be separated from each other at all times because Bobby hurt Sarah’s feelings, why not use that as a teaching opportunity? It is a wonderful teachable moment for conflict resolution and teachers are missing out on that when administration is saying that the children cannot be near one another during any activity. All that is teaching them is if they don’t get along with someone, they don’t ever have to work with them again. It also means that the real world is going to kick their butt. “What do you mean I still have to work with Karen? Didn’t you hear me say that she said no when I asked her if she wanted coffee because she prefers tea? She’s so mean. I need her to be transferred to another office.”
Instead, let’s give them the tools they need to be functional adults later in life. When my first graders come up to me and tell me something along the lines of “Johnny said he didn’t like my LEGO monster!” I respond with “Did you tell him you didn’t like it when he said that? That it hurts your feelings because you worked hard on it?” They then go tell their friend those things, their friend says sorry, and they continue being friends. I don’t have to rearrange my seating chart. Special areas teachers do not need to be notified that they can’t be together. No bullying incident report needs to be filled out. I have done class lessons on how people are different and different things hurt their feelings. We have talked about how sometimes we say things that we think are funny but the person you said it to gets their feelings hurt. “Does it matter that you thought it was funny if it hurt his feelings?” and they answer a unified “No!” My students are learning that people feel differently about things and that their feelings need to be respected. They are also learning the difference between someone unintentionally hurting their feelings and bullying. These students are learning how to cope with things when they are upset. They are learning to regulate their emotions. They are learning how to function in the real world before the safety net is removed and they face-plant. My kids will land on their feet.
I often find myself in the situation now where I am broken-hearted while reading the comment section on education blogs. I can’t believe these thoughts are coming from educated people. I hold teachers to a higher standard. I believe we should be compassionate, caring, kind, a champion for human rights and positive change, and DEFINITELY not racist. It’s not that I cannot handle people having different views. That’s what makes this country, different views being able to be expressed. Feel differently about health care? Fine. Have a different view on education? Alright. Where I can’t handle a healthy debate or respect your opinion is when it comes to not treating others with respect, compassion, and as human beings.
When someone says they would rather let people from Norway in as immigrants rather than from “less than” (a nicer phrase) countries, what they’re saying is they want privileged white people. That they’re better. That the fact they didn’t have a tough lot in life makes them inherently good people and those from other circumstances and skin colors are inherently bad people.
A teacher agreeing with this and defending it rips my heart out. Do you feel that way about your students? Do you not want or love little Billy because of the color of his skin or the circumstance he comes from? “Alcoholic parents? Let’s not afford him the same education. He can’t succeed. He doesn’t deserve a chance.” That is insane.
A teacher saying “I like that he says what he means.” Do you? You like how he speaks about people? Entire professions? Entire races? Blanket statements that hurt and offend others? Racist comments? Demeaning statements about anyone who opposes him? That’s a bully. A racist, reckless bully. How could you, as a teacher, respect a bully? We are supposed to protect, nurture, and inspire. We teach students to choose their words wisely, speak with kindness and decorum, and to be respectful. Yet, you’re proud of someone who does none of those things?
It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t something I can agree to disagree on and move along. I am sure this blog will burn some bridges but when the bridges lead to hate, it’s not somewhere I want to go anyways.
Hi! I’m a teacher. However, I’m also a human being. A human being who makes mistakes, who tries her hardest but sometimes comes up short. Who is hurt when you tell her she isn’t good enough.
I know that as a parent, I’m going to be fiercely protective of my baby girl and any other future children I have. However, I’m also going to be respectful. Here is my oath that I’m putting out there now. Hold me to it when she hits school age.
Instead of accusing, I will inquire kindly just as her teacher will do of me if maybe I drop the ball and forget to do something.
I will thank the teacher for her hard work even if my child doesn’t get every concept immediately. I will put the same hard work in at home with her. I will understand that it isn’t lack of effort sometimes, but the child just isn’t ready for that yet. I won’t stop trying, but I’ll celebrate her successes as well and ask what I can do to help.
If something doesn’t come home graded immediately, I will remember that the teacher has a family too. She may have chosen to snuggle her sick baby that night instead of grading a math paper.
I will understand that there are a lot of moving parts at a school and that the teacher can’t control all of it. I won’t take my frustrations out on the teacher when it is out of his or her hands.
I will ask my child what happened, but I will also take the teacher at his or her word unless there is a glaring reason not to.
I will understand that teachers have 2 eyes and 20+ children. Not everything can be seen, but I know they’re trying to. They want to send them home in the same or better condition than when they arrived.
I’ll understand that the teacher didn’t discipline my child because he or she is mean. I won’t think he or she did it to humiliate her or make her upset. As much as it breaks my heart when she’s upset, I will look for the lesson the teacher was trying to teach and work to reinforce it at home. They’re teaching my child to be responsible, take responsibility for their actions, treat others well, work hard, and many other things we work on as parents as well. School isn’t just about learning math and reading.
I will not try to change my child’s grades. She didn’t turn something in? There’s that lesson again. A low grade? Maybe we needed to practice more during homework time, ask for tutoring, or ask the teacher if she could go back over it with her. I will try to teach her how to cope with it and how to avoid it happening in the future.
If my child is having a continual problem with another child, I will let the teacher know but will also be teaching my child peaceful ways to deal with it. I won’t let her get bullied or hurt, but I will understand that kids are kids. If someone says they don’t like her shoes, she can tell them they don’t have to wear them and that it hurts her feelings when they say that. Conflict resolution is so much more valuable than fighting or avoidance.
I’m teaching my child to be a responsible, kind person. I appreciate that the person spending 8 hours a day with her is doing the same thing while away from his or her own family. Be kind to teachers. They love your kids. They want the best for them. They are doing their best.
You can tell the veteran parents from the newbies. They're the ones rolling their eyes and laughing as someone states what they will never do as a parent. They're also the ones saying things like, "Hang in there...it will get...well, just hang in there" to their new sleep-deprived mom friends. They're too wise to state things will get better. Exhaustion is your life so buckle up and get a Coffee Perks Punch Card. You'll need it because you will be too poor to afford full priced coffee as regularly as you will need it.
New Parent: Registers for a wipe warmer, name brand clothes, and just THE CUTEST little headbands you ever did see
Veteran: Gets new parents a Nose Frida, burp cloths, and diapers because 80% of your life as a parent is cleaning up the bodily fluids of your offspring
New Parent: Buys books on sleep training
Veteran: Knows books on sleep training are not only ineffective, they waste important time that you could be sleeping to read it. You're pretty sure they're in cahoots with the energy drink industry.
New Parent: Makes baby food in the baby bullet using only organic vegetables
Veteran: "Give your brother a bite of your french fry."
New Parent: Buys expensive, research-based, developmental toys
Veteran: Turns on the ceiling fan
New Parent: Has baby strapped to them at Target
Veteran: Is strolling through every. single. aisle. at Target with a latte and sans kids. "Errands" are your escape. Don't bring your captors to your refuge, Rookie.
New Parent: "Don't let the dog lick her in the face!"
Veteran: "C'mon, Spot! Baby sister needs a bath. It was peas- your favorite!"
New Parent: Signs up for Kiddie Music, Little People Gym, and Story Time classes
Veteran: Hands baby a crinkly chip bag
New Parent: Gags when they get a little poop on their hand
Veteran: Didn't flinch when they had to clean the wall, bathe the baby, and shower themselves after a particularly difficult changing.
New Parent: Writes out schedule for the family
Veteran: Tells people, "I'll try to be there at 2:00 today but it could be next month before I see you. It depends on Johnny's mood when he wakes up. I'm going to try my best to guess the snack that won't send him into a rage but I've been wrong the last 3 days."
New Parent: "We have to sanitize all of the pacifiers in boiling water between uses and wipe them with paci wipes during the day."
Veteran: Found paci under couch, picked dog fur off of it, & popped that sucker back in
New Parent: "OMG. Little Billy rolled and bonked his head on the couch! I am the worst parent ever. Do we need to go to the ER?!"
Veteran: "Is it bleeding? A lot? Grab a band-aid, bud."
We could all learn a thing or two from them. Just don't ask in a text, unless you're asking for advice for your child when they are 3-4 months older; it will probably take that long for a response.
On Veteran's Day, it is time for another serious post. It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the community I work for is. Just this last field trip I had someone chaperone a couple days before their PCS (military move) while the moving trucks were at their house. I also had someone who got back from training and got his background check and volunteer packet completed and turned in at school that same day because we were low on chaperones. Additionally, I've had parents come on a field trip the day before a deployment and others come to meetings with me after having been on duty for 24+ hours. One parent came to parent-teacher conferences yesterday on crutches after breaking his ankle on a night jump the night before. I've witnessed a mom come in at lunch to say goodbye to her daughter before deploying that day. She ran back for another hug and we all cried. One of my little guys had both of his parents deploy on the same day for a year; his grandma came to live with him. This wasn't their first time doing that. Luckily, I have also been able to see my share of surprise homecomings and countdown excitedly with the kids when they know their parent is returning soon. This is just a part of their reality. They have long periods of time without their family member, holidays celebrated again at a later date, and many "see you later"s to their friends and loved ones. However, they also have friends all over the world, resiliency, courage, strength, appreciation, respect, and so much more. They are incredible. They all have so much going on in their lives and still make their family the top priority. Veterans, we appreciate all you do for your kids, the community, and our country. Families of veterans, we see and appreciate your sacrifices as well. You’re all heroes in every definition of the word and I feel honored to even be a part of your journey. ❤️💙
Look out for a different kind of veteran post coming soon. Veterans vs. Newbie (ie naive) Parents.
Moms. Definitely moms.
The quiet game? A mom at the end of her rope on a car trip.
"The floor is lava!" was started by a mom who had just vacuumed the floor for the THIRD time before her mother in law came into town.
Counting down from 5.... No one knows why it works but many moons ago some mom was so mad she just started counting backwards to buy herself time to come up with a really great threat and the kid complied for no apparent reason.
"I'm going to beat you!" No...this did not just take a dark turn. It's the way parents get their children to hurry the hell up whether it be putting on shoes or walking. Kids have two speeds: racing and sloth.
"A little dirt never hurt" came from a mom who could NOT wash that paci ONE. MORE. TIME. This then spiraled out to scientific "evidence" that immunity is built through these experiences when she called her friend Jennifer who works in the science field in order to keep the sanctimommies outta her grill.
"See you later, Timmy!" This tactic to get your child to follow you came from a mom legitimately saying she had had enough of his temper tantrum and was leaving him...but that little booger followed her. I guess that works, too.
The 5 second rule was invented through "Go ahead and throw that food on the floor. You're going to eat it anyways." It was recoined in order to sound a little less Beast ("Go ahead and STAAAAAAAAARVE!!!").
"I'm going to steal your broccoli!" Reverse psychology at it's finest. There's nothing little Kimmy wants more than something she can't have.
"Fresh air is good for you" and you having less energy is good for me.
Moms, do whatcha gotta do to survive. Future generations will thank you for your ingenuity.
welcome to my mess
I've always dreamed of being one of those moms who makes Bento Box lunches with artisan sandwiches cut out into cute shapes along with carrot sticks and grapefruit that my perfect children will gobble up, but I am fairly certain my child is going to end up with a package of deli meat and a Snickers bar. I can barely get myself ready in the morning and I once screwed up a grilled cheese maker. Who knew the top part of the grilled cheese maker also heated up? Spoiler alert: everyone. I'm not sure who decided I was capable of raising a human, but they handed her off to me anyways and I love her more than I can begin to explain. However, love isn't magic--despite what Disney claims. I cannot suddenly wake up without 46 snoozes or manage my time well enough to have the opportunity to use conditioner in my hair. I'm still me. I just have a cute mini-me now. I have a master's degree in education and a participation award for adulting. Please follow me on my journey and give me a wave if you ever end up on the struggle bus with me. I also frequent the hot mess express, and I check my email on occasion. Wherever you run into me, just know I woke up like this. No, seriously...I didn't have time to do anything else.