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June 4, 2018 / sharoncopy

Visiting Mom – June 2, 2018

Her face lit up when I entered the small apartment. Her smile showed how glad she was to see me, and my hug and kiss to her showed that I felt the same way. I sat and watched her finish her noontime dinner. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and watered-down carrots. She doesn’t always eat the veggie (they are blah!) but she finished it all today – slowly. In between bites she looked at her folded newspaper which was opened to the Classifieds. She mentioned something about my needing to find a job – which means she remembered a conversation from awhile back. She folded and re-folded her paper towel napkin and her napkin. She unfolded it all the way and decided it was big enough that she could divide it in half and save half of it to use later. I watched, realizing that while I found this totally unnecessary, it seemed important to her, and it was something she could do with her hands. It reminds me of when my granddaughter Zoey went to Kensington with me 4 years ago and I went swimming with her for a really long time. She found a piece of seaweed and a stick and played with it for about half an hour – doing this, doing that, intrigued by it’s possibilities. Being with Mom is like being with a toddler in many ways, now. But not entirely. She still deserves the respect of being my mother, an adult with rights, and I struggle to balance when to swing this way and when to swing that way. I refreshed her coffee and she enjoyed a few sips of it. “Boy, is that good.”
After she finished, I suggested we go outside and eat our dessert there (I had brought McDonalds sundaes – caramel for me, hot fudge for her). I asked if she wanted to use the bathroom first, and she did. I checked the floor because if there is even a speck of paper or food, she will bend over and pick it up, and with her current frailty, I am afraid she will fall over again. I helped her up and with her walker she slowly walked the five or so feet to the bathroom. As she entered, she noticed that the bottom drawer was sticking out on the cabinet. She bent over and tried to push it shut. When it didn’t close, she lifted her right foot and tried to push it with that. I stood horrified, imagining her breaking her hip on the bathroom floor because of not remembering that she can’t do that sort of action anymore. I told her I would fix it when she was done. Before I left her, I glanced to see if her Depends was clean, because she isn’t so good at noticing, and I would call the staff if necessary. She’s gone past her intense modesty just in the past year or so, and she didn’t care that I didn’t close the door right away. I gave her a half hour – it takes her a long time, so I watched the Hallmark channel where everyone lives happily ever after. I was very pleased when I knocked and opened the door (we had the lock removed months ago) and she was standing and getting ready. I helped her pull up her Depends and pants. Helped her to the waiting wheelchair because I wasn’t sure if she could walk all the way to the outside gazebo or not. Should I have her use the walker and then push her if needed? She seems so wobbly these days. I used the wheelchair.
I pulled her backwards because I seem to handle the heavy doors better that way. Punch in the code, push the door with my backside, roll to the elevator, enter backwards, push the “1” button. Roll forward to the outside door, then turn to back out. What a gorgeous day! I took her to the “porch swing” and she wanted to sit on it. She really enjoyed being in the sun, swinging, and listening to the birds, and seeing the flower arrangements around the gazebo. We ate our McDonalds sundaes and she mentioned 3 times how good hers tasted.
We used her bottle of water to wash our hands and poured some on the dripped hot fudge on the cushions. After awhile I got uncomfortable and also hot so I went in the gazebo and she said she was happy to stay there. I looked over every few minutes to make sure she was still happy there and also not trying to get off of it by herself. She could reach with her foot to make it swing. Every time I looked, she was smiling.
When we conversed, she tried to say things, but anything even the least bit abstract seems beyond her ability to find the words. It’s as though I can see her casting about – reaching, trying to find elusive vocabulary. She can talk about the ice cream and her surroundings. She saw a man in a blue shirt and asked if that was Dad. I reminded her that Dad is in Heaven. A while later I asked if she wanted to eat downstairs instead (she never does) and I would stay and she said, “I don’t know, let me ask your Dad first,” a phrase that she said for over 65 years. I reminded her again. “Oh, that’s right.”
Mostly I talk. I say “My son Brian has a boy named Matthew that is 2 years old…” and I tell her a cute story. She laughs at the story. Or I say, “My son Tim has a baby named Melody,”
(“He does?” she smiles in joyful surprise) and then I tell her the cute story and she laughs. She doesn’t remember any of them, exactly, but she knows a cute story when she hears one. I talk about how much Dad liked birds and flowers. Sometimes she can reminisce about him or about something in our family history. She can pull accurate facts out about her home in Gladwin or a cottage we had at Portage Lake. I avoid subjects that always spur anger (her mother-in-law and a myriad of words that always lead back to her mother-in-law – you’d never know what they were unless you had been through the conversational paradigm a few times. Subjects like lemonade, miscarriage, the restaurants they owned, – you’d have to know the context and have seen how each button connects to a long winding wire that goes back to a certain place in order to know which ones to avoid).
We stay for about 90 minutes and I’m surprised that she wants to stay longer, but I need to get home and it’s time for her next meal. That’s a good time to leave because it’s good to settle her with something to do when i want to go. She’s always surprised that I’m leaving.
And when I get her upstairs and into her dining room chair – well, it seems that whenever I take her out of her apartment – whether to the hospital, or just outside – she doesn’t think she lives there and wonders why I’m leaving her. She starts to talk about what she wants to take with her when she leaves. I point to the walls and show her pictures of Dad and her and the family and say, “Mom – see those pictures? THIS is where you live.” Sometimes she comes around, but sometimes she is still confused. LAST time I was there, she was angry that I was leaving her there, and I felt down and depressed as I drove home – wishing I could care for her in our home, but knowing that I can’t manage it – but if it was the only option – I suppose I would, by God’s miraculous grace, somehow handle it. I go back and forth. She needs a lot of care now. But Dad hoped one of us would take her into our home after he died – he told me so and seemed surprised to think that she would have to live there all alone. Guilt. But also – she gets good care where she is, and probably I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. I’ll never know, will I? We have always butted heads, doing things differently. Loving, but having a certain amount of distance too. I lived so far away for more than 30 years.
She is settled with a dessert that was in her fridge, and she’s waiting for her evening supper to arrive. I have put her new newspaper on the loveseat in the living room so that she doesn’t read it during the meal thus stretching it out to 3-4 hours (no exaggeration). I heat her some leftover coffee. I hug her and she kisses me and I remember that when I was little I always had to have HER hug and kiss last (after Dad). Once she asked why I never came to her first – maybe I was about 8 or 9? I told her that I had to have hers last because it was the last thing to remember when I went to bed – and because my brother Dennis Osborne had taught me when we ate our pancakes with bacon pieces in them to always eat the best piece last (that was also why we gobbled our canned green beans first – to get them out of the way so we could enjoy our meal). ๐Ÿ™‚
There’s a certain – comfort – that always comes with a mother’s hug and kiss. There is with Dad’s too – nothing can match the hugs he gave me, and I miss them. But Mom’s – it’s just so – necessary, wonderful. They aren’t the same as they used to be. Now its’ more that I’m hugging HER, not the other way around. I scratch her back and she loves that. Dad used to scratch her back all the time. She sighs in happiness, “Ohhh, that feels good.” I kiss her and either she kisses me or I ask her to kiss me and she does. It’s like – I don’t know – leftovers – still good but not quite what it used to be. Or maybe just 20% of what it used to be. Is it for her benefit or mine? Both?
I tell her goodbye and she reminds me to drive carefully. I promise that I will. She always used to ask me to call her to tell her I got home safely, but I always said No, because I knew I wouldn’t remember, and I thought it silly. She doesn’t ask anymore – but then – she doesn’t really make phone calls anymore and one can’t rely on her picking up one of her 4 phones, either. 3 are cordless and I tend to find them in drawers or in her purse (she doesn’t have a cell phone anymore – kept losing it). One is not cordless and it has big buttons with our names on them that she can push if she remembers to and thinks to call someone. Last call I remember hearing about, she called my brother in the middle of the night thinking that she was calling Dad – wanting a ride home from her job at Cody High School (retired 26 years ago) and also a ride for her twin sister Esther who was also working the night shift there (never happened). More recently, staff called me because Mom was freaking out about not being able to find my brother Mark Osborne. We got Mark on the line too, but Mom thought Mark was about 10 or 11 years old and she had taken him shopping and couldn’t find him. She made me promise to go outside and look for him and then call her back, so, since Mark’s comments to her weren’t succeeding (even when he tried to sound 10 – which was comical to me) – I promised. I called the staff and asked them to give her some kind of pill to calm her down (it had been going on for hours – she even walked into other apartments searching for him). Sigh. She’s a mixed bag. She can be so sweet, the staff say, but she has also tried to bite someone giving her a shower and tried to stab someone with a fork who tried to take her plate away recently. She takes a lot of meds but doesn’t have diabetes or cancer or stroke or a number of other things.
I often wonder if we took her off ALL the meds if she would actually be better off, but everytime I approach the subject, I am told she needs this for that and that for this so it ends up she’s on the meds, and happy for the most part. Tired, though. Weak. Physically, and now mentally.
I can sum it up in a way that is humorous to me though very sad at the same time: in the past six months she quit washing her dishes and doing her hair – if that was me, nobody would think anything of it. ๐Ÿ™‚ But for her – a woman who has ALWAYS looked nice – hair, makeup, clothing, jewelry, and never leaving a dish in the sink (a habit we disagreed on) – this is a sign that she is sliding downward.
I know that she looks forward to going to Heaven, and I know she will be happier there. I keep expecting the phone call. But as she slides mentally, she doesn’t tell me how much she wishes she could go to Heaven anymore. She’s just kind of – here, a lot of the time.
So, while she is HERE, I will go there as often as I can manage and see her face brighten when I walk in. I will encourage other family members to go often as well. I will hope that she will always know who I am.
I have been tired – real tired of this 4-year long episode of life. But days like Saturday really help. God give me strength to be there for her like she has always been there for me.
May 22, 2018 / sharoncopy

Santa Fe, Texas

Art class and substitute teachers.ย This shooting is so close to home.
He knew that building. He chose those art classrooms on purpose. Why? Was he laughed at in that space because he wasn’t good at it? Or did he just know that certain people were in there. Was it the creative kids that teased him, rather than the jocks, this time?
He didn’t shoot people he liked. Apparently the two substitute teachers weren’t on that list. Are we ever? We go in and try to maintain order among a group where at least half are trying to get away with something; we teach a subject that we haven’t thought about or prepared for, so it mostly ends up that we are told to force them to be quiet and do the busy work that the teacher provided. We don’t have much time to build rapport.
There is so much evil in this world. And while politicians seriously debate which stance about guns will get them re-elected (because that’s what really counts), a few dozen more peoples’ lives were shattered and altered. Here comes long-lasting grief.
It’s not nice to say this, but why didn’t he just kill himself instead? If it comes down to “Hmmmm, should I kill myself or shoot a couple dozen people”, then he should have gone with Option A. Could he have gotten help? Probably. Or if his parents did consider counseling, were they put off by the incredibly high cost of it?
Incomparably sad. No easy answers. A world that rejects the love and power of Christ.
May 18, 2018 / sharoncopy

“Who is Adams?”

The sixth grade art class read from pages 4-11 in an art magazine, with pages 4-9 being about Ansel Adams. The class members answered (apparently) challenging questions based on the reading that they did. During the last five minutes of class, I asked them which of Adams’ photos they liked best. About 7 kids answered and explained their choices. But one student – who had been rather difficult all during the class period, said, “Who is Adams?” ย  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The fifth grade class was tasked with taking off one shoe and placing it on the table and drawing it. Most of them did a pretty good job. Some argued. Some needed assistance and I was happy to be able to show them how to look at it and do an inch or two at a time. We did shoes in our art classes at Henry Ford College. Two (out of about 75?) students rebelled. L. just could not understand what could possibly be the purpose of drawing something so normal as a shoe. I explained several times: still-life, contour, details, arches and curves, training your eye and your hand to work together…..Nope. So he submitted a blank paper with only his name on it.

Another boy, D., spent most of his time messing around and trying not to get caught for messing around. He didn’t ask for any help. What he drew you would call a shoe, but it obviously took little time and effort. Next to it he wrote in large letters that his picture “sucked.” ย And then – on the back – he wrote, very disrespectfully, “You = (poop emoji)”. I think he was surprised that I saw it when his paper was turned in, but since SO MANY of them forget to put their names on their papers (seriously!) I check every page on both sides and I saw it. I confronted him. He tried to say that it was “ice cream”. No. I’m not that stupid. While not doing so well with a shoe, he was quite good at drawing a poop emoji. He finally admitted to it and admitted it was disrespectful. I stood there and waited. He stood there and stared at me. “What????? I’m gonna be late and miss my bus.” I waited. Finally he said, “Sorry” and walked out of the room. I left a note for the teacher.

The cool thing was that most of the kids did quite a good job on the shoes, and that I was able to help a couple who had no clue how to get started on it. I loved seeing their excellent work.

May 1, 2018 / sharoncopy

5732 North 4th Street

I am sitting on the front steps at 5732 N. 4th St in Philadelphia PA, 19120. ย In front of me I see a twin home and some trees, neighbors’ homes further down the street, and above all the full moon in the eastern sky. There’s a streetlight in front of our home which makes our hunter green 12-passenger van (license plate: EXTRA RM) look kind of navy blue at night. Behind me the white door is open to the enclosed porch. There’s a low brown shelf filled with shoes and skates, a tall blue shelf with various items on it, 6 bikes and a purple scooter. A few toys are littered about with a small stray sock or two, a couple of hoodies here and there. On the front of the porch there are 6 large windows, and on the sides are two large windows, each, which I have covered with a white sheet to be a privacy curtain from Stan on one side, Elmira on the other.

A french door with many little windows is closed, but leads to the living room. A sea of blue and white pleases – the free blue carpet that was once in Dr. Cornelius Van Til’s bedroom (raisin and cough syrup stains included in one small area) – “Dr. Van Til slept here.” There are blue cafe curtains and valances adorning the 2 windows between the living room and porch, with a beige-y sort of sofa bed below them with a sort of stripes of dark red, gray, and the tiniest bit of blue. On another wall stands a spinet piano with two nature paintings above. A third wall holds an entertainment center with a small television and VCR, books, etc.

The next room is the Study, with both sides lined with 72″ tall walnut-colored bookshelves, and in one corner, my desk, with a funny clothesline over it holding pictures and papers. In the corner there’s a small coat closet. In another corner there’s a window with a steep stairwell beneath it. There are toys and books and red and white cardboard bricks and lidded boxes marked with a picture of their contents. In the center there’s a sturdy pine table with a few chairs around it.

The next room is the dining room. There’s a white hutch that was probably original with the house in the 20’s if the layers and layers of paint and non-closing doors have anything to say about it. There’s a hutch that my dad built for us when we first moved to PA. There’s a 72″ long pine table from IKEA, surrounded by a variety of chairs – some with padded seats and navy/floral patterns that I recovered. The wainscoting is painted burgundy with a burgundy/pink/blue/green floral pattern stenciled just above it on the cream-colored ledge. There’s a refrigerator too. There’s a window ledge and window into the kitchen area, usually covered with stuff or else used to help get the dishes put away or served.

The last room in the straight-through is the little kitchen, light green-tiled because it came that way, painted white above, with little floral valances above. There’s an original sink with all white metal cupboards around and below it that creak when they are opened. There’s a small counter on each side of the sink, and an old gas stove. Above the stove is a pretty design I stenciled over white paint after I accidentally melted several of the light green tiles there. There’s a rolling cart and built in cupboards with a green/white counter above them, and a step stool in the corner. There’s a back door with a window with a curtain on it.

Out the back door are the steps that my brother built. They lead down into a small yard bordered by 5′ tall hedges; Stan the neighbor keeps the left one trimmed so it looks good in his yard. He ties a clothesline across it so that it will come out evenly. There’s a back fence and gate to a small alley that leads to the driveway which makes up one side of the “little block” the kids are allowed to ride around. Underneath the kitchen is a small Alice in Wonderland room that is not used for much, but we were once crazy enough to crawl in there and tack insulation above our faces in an effort to warm up the kitchen. I get claustrophobic just thinking about that day. There’s a sidewalk that goes along the right side of the house (from the door’s vantage point) and about 5-6 steps down to the laundry room/half bathroom.

As I sit on the steps, I ponder and pray. In the basement, Dennis is reading in the small office that my dad and brother built for him, or else he’s upstairs asleep. David is asleep or reading in the small bedroom that was built for him in the basement. When one goes from the dining room to the rather primitive-looking basement, one passes a mural I painted by tracing around each of our six kids – “Cookie Time!” Straight ahead would be David’s room, to the left the tool area and come around to go to the laundry room/half bath or outside to the yard. Opposite – under the front porch – is the “sand room”, so named because it was difficult to get all of the sand off of the floor, but at one time it was a favorite play place for Julie, Brian, Tim, and Kevin. And David’s room was a green-carpeted playroom with Dennis’s old cement block and board shelves for the toys, big plastic kitchen thing-ies, marked boxes, always, and a mattress to jump on. In the large laundry/half bath, there’s a clothespin by the dark gray door that one pulls on to turn on the light. The pin is attached to a long string that goes to the overhead bare bulb near the washer/dryer and toilet/utility sink ย – allowing whoever enters to have light immediately. On the wall next to the toilet in the corner is a thick red plaid bedspread covering the wall to bring a bit of warmth to the freezing cold room. There’s also a small space heater for long stays.
There’s an old metal coat rack where I hang clothes on hangers to dry after about 10 minutes in the dryer, a shelf with our old record player (the radio still works), and another shelf or two for the boxes: one per person – laundry gets sorted into them and then each child is to retrieve the box and put his/her own laundry away. Above the washer is a large inspirational (yes, it was!) sign I made that reads, “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Prov. 31:27

As I sit on the steps I think about Brian, Tim, and Kevin in bed in the turquoise room up above the living room. It used to house all four boys in bunkbeds. Then Kevin moved into the hall closet for 6 months, desirous to have his own room – we did it on New Year’s Eve – why not? Sofa cushions made for a bed, shelves held his clothes, a sheet tacked up gave him privacy and I even hung his name plaque in there. But when my dad and brother build the room for David (1996), Kevin was moved back in to share with Brian and Tim.
The boys have navy blue ย and white sleeping bags.

The bathroom is painted mauve – which looks tan to Dennis. It has an old footed tub, a toilet, mirror, and sink. There are 8 hooks with personalized mugs of mauve, blue, and white hanging from them. Just like the basement bathroom and the bedrooms, the only locks are hook-and-eye.

Julie and Amy will be asleep in their bunk beds in the next bedroom where Amy told people “I just love my lavender walls.” Julie chose the colors. I built a triangular shelf in a corner, up high above her horse-covered desk, for her American Girl doll bed, as there was no place else for it. The closet is tiny and odd-shaped. There’s a big dresser and a small dresser, and every inch under the bed is in use. The girls have matching lilac comforters.

Last of all is our bedroom, with the same gold/brown carpet that we bought in MI and brought to all of our homes. At Jenkintown Road it was in the living room. At Lynwood Ave it was in our living room. At Boyer Street it was in the middle bedroom. And now it is in our back bedroom. We have a king sized bed, a small closet, a dresser, various shelves and pictures, including a tiger on the wall above our bed. I have stenciled yellow roses with green leaves around the top of the room. At one point in time we had our small television upstairs and many of us laid on the bed to watch “Garfield” and “Gummy Bears” on Saturday mornings.

With my eyes closed, or looking at the moon, I can imagine sitting on those front steps late at night. It is oh, so real that I could practically turn around and see it all, or hear someone calling, “Mommy?”



April 19, 2018 / sharoncopy

Divide and Conquer?

Divide and conquer. ๐Ÿ™‚ The great thing about experience is – obviously – knowing what to do the next time around. ๐Ÿ™‚ Today I taught PE in the morning and the teacher had suggested Duck Duck Goose. I have learned that you NEVER play it with 26 kids – always break it into 2 groups or it takes forever for everybody to get a turn. Well, I sent all the girls to one circle and all the boys to another. They LOVED that, and this way – the boys could be “boys” (throwing themselves on the ground, running around the gym to be funny, trying to change the rules or sneak an extra turn….) and the girls could be girls (screaming). For two classes, the numbers were even. For the other one – it really didn’t matter.
Mrs. Bee’s rule is that when I blow the whistle, they are to stop and listen. Well… after a couple of infractions I made a boy sit out for a few minutes because he was running across the gym well after I blew the whistle. Then I did it to a girl who did the same thing. She sat and cried, and then refused to play. It took some coaxing to get her back into a game later on. On the one hand, they NEED to stop and listen so I can give instructions – so much time gets spent waiting….waiting…..waiting….. for the few kids that don’t cooperate. On the other hand, I remembered how happy and carefree she was and her big smile prior to when she was told to sit out – and it made me sad that I made her sad.
It’s a lot like parenting.
April 11, 2018 / sharoncopy

Encouragement in Phys. Ed class

A student’s mother was searching the gym for the regular teacher. I introduced myself as the sub and asked if there was any way that I could help. She explained that her 7-year-old son A. has spina bifida and uses crutches. He was upset because whenever they play tag – no one ever tags him. No doubt they think it’s too easy to catch him and they shouldn’t, but he wants to be included. We discussed what I might say to the class without using his name. When the class arrived and I announced we would be playing “Sharks”, I said that when they play tag, they should not just chase their friends and tag them, they should tag everyone – that everyone in the class was playing and should be tagged. Now, it helped that in Sharks, there are 4 taggers and once a person is tagged he takes over the job of Shark. I noted that A. did get tagged a few times and also was the tagger – he couldn’t chase them, but he caught some as they ran past him. ๐Ÿ™‚

Later they were practicing basketball skills. I stayed with him and chased the ball (sometimes all the way across the gym) when it got away from him, and it occurred to me to also count how many “dribbles” he did each time around. This encouraged him to try and even to adjust where his left crutch was so that the ball wouldn’t bump it so often. He reached 26 a couple of times and his best score was 37 bounces. He excitedly told his teacher of his accomplishment.

A boy in the nextclass was getting very upset – nearly in tears – because he could not make a basket. I got down on eye level with him and told him that’s why we were practicing and that just because he couldn’t do something right now doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to do it next week or next year or even later today. “We have to practice – that’s how we learn.” I worked with him, and though I don’t know a huge amount about sports, I encouraged what seemed a better technique (probably remembered from high school!) and he kept trying. Eventually he got a basket and I could see the relief on his face. He got another one a little later and then I left him to practice alone.

What is a substitute teacher? Just a glorified babysitter? No – we have the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives also.

June 17, 2017 / sharoncopy

Oh, Kensington!

I was bound and determined to get to Kensington tonight.

I left work around 4 pm, stopped at a yard sale, and then my car wouldn’t start. Since I didn’t have my phone with me, I asked the yard sale people if I could use theirs to call AAA. Instead, they used my new jumper cables to get my car started. I was only a couple miles from the AutoZone that Dennis used to work at, so I drove straight there and learned that my battery was basically toast. Dennis’s former boss – Tony – was happy to sell me a new one and install it for me. I debated for a moment or two, but then I drove to Kensington and arrived at about 7 pm. It was well worth it.

It’s hard to describe the myriad of feelings that I had while I was there. I rehearsed some pleasant memories, reveled in the beauty of the lake and the sky, experienced the gentle massage of the water as I swam and floated, and smiled at some little kids.

After I got dressed, I sat in my chair on the lawn and a tall sandhill crane came within 5 feet of me and just stood and watched me. Since he stayed around for a long time, I decided to make a couple of sketches of him. I’m sure he was interested in some food, but since I had nothing to offer, I just talked to him and waved my arms – which seemed to make him come closer. He would look directly at me and kind of tilt his head a bit. Eventually he walked on – came back later – and after I finished my sketches, he went to the beach, fluttered his magnificent wings, and took off across the lake.

The sunset was not spectacular, but since the crane was so friendly, I stayed until about 9:30 p.m. or so. I enjoyed watching the silhouettes of the crane and a man, woman and dog – against the water. It was all SO lovely!

On the way home I stopped at the Redford fireworks for about 10-15 minutes and enjoyed them, then came home feeling very relaxed and happy.

June 17, 2017 / sharoncopy

Last Day of School/Subbing

At least – I hope so! Three years of subbing has brought me many wonderful and some awful experiences. I am SO glad I was able to do this. But I really hope that I can find a job (or enough customers to go freelance) in graphic design, writing, art, and editing – hey maybe even helping people organize (I did that once before and loved it).

I was able to work a full day today – in the morning I was supposed to be in the Resource Room. I arrived to find everything packed up because they are moving to another room. Nobody came – all the kids were happy today and had little or no work (report cards are already finished…..) so – nobody came down there. I spent an hour reading, getting sleepy, and they went to the office to ask what I might do. They found some filing and I did that until lunchtime.

When they announced that the school year was over, I went into the hall to wave goodbye. I got one hug (from a girl who I drew a picture of last week) and one high-five and some goodbyes from kids who recognized me. Then all the teachers went outside to wave to the kids on the buses as they went by. There were quite a few girls crying as they came down the hall – but I didn’t see any boys crying. ๐Ÿ™‚ This school has 5th and 6th grade, so the 6th graders (now 7th graders) will go to the Middle School next year – so it was a farewell for them.

I spent the afternoon working with another sub to completely pack up everything in the teacher’s lounge (it’s being renovated). I enjoy this sort of work, even if it is a bit more physical. I emptied about 10 cupboards and a few drawers, sorted and matched up categories (for instance, there were napkins in about 5 different places) and then we boxed up everything and marked the boxes. The two of us worked for 3 hours and it was finished.

The only thing left to do is to drive to Melvindale and pick up my brand new lunchbox that I left there next week. That can wait until Tuesday, the secretary said. At 3:50 p.m. I picked up my 2nd-best lunchbox at a Livonia elementary school where I worked on Wednesday. Yes, it’s time for the school year to be over. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t think the kids ever realize how much the teachers look forward to it.


June 15, 2017 / sharoncopy

Rough Redford

I decided a long time ago that I would not sub in Redford anymore. Too bad, because there’s a school across the street from me. Well, I didn’t have any other work this morning, so I figured – hey, why not, and agreed to sub in 4th grade this morning. I decided that I was NOT going to leave there upset.

From the start, I only enforced having their work out and at least pretending to work on it and staying in their seats. I knew that keeping any level of quiet would be impossible.
Some of them did a few pages of math. Then, to my surprise, all of them worked on reading their Time For Kids magazines since I let them work together on it. It was actually quite nice for about 15-2- minutes. Then they made Minions and that wasn’t too bad. The problem was that certain kids wouldn’t stay in their seats, and when they got up it usually meant trouble. I sent 3 kids to the office at various times.

I debated what to do for the last hour, and decided to turn on a video. There was a lot of arguing about what to watch and I said that there was NO way they were going to agree on what to watch. Ended up watching two Donald Duck cartoons, a couple of Tom and Jerry cartoons, and some of the newer Road Runner cartoons (same plot, updated graphics and Wile.E.Coyote has a computer for ordering from Acme.) The kids were totally shocked when they saw Donald Duck and others SMOKING. I explained that the cartoon was made long before smoking was considered bad for you. It was interesting.

The good news is that I managed to not get stressed out and upset, despite disrespectful looks, comments, and behavior. It’s the penultimate day of the school year – my goal was just to keep people safe and survive. Rain poured down right at recess time – which means that they kids would have the (teacher-dreaded) indoor recess – I was VERY glad to be leaving before that.

In the afternoon, I was the gym teacher at a Livonia school – one that happens to be air-conditioned! Two classes went fine and then the last teacher said they weren’t coming due to their class party. I had a break – then was asked to take recess duty outside. Whew, was it hot out! Some kids I subbed for a few weeks ago saw me and hugged me and some remembered – you guessed it – the Pizza Hut song.

The only odd thing about the afternoon was that as I was passing by the gym to go to the office at the end of the day, I noticed that there were a lot of kids lining up for their buses but NO adult in there. I’m sure that was an error – one NEVER leaves a large group or even a small group of kids alone at a school. I went in and sat down and kept an eye on everybody for about 10 minutes until the principal came. I mentioned that I was surprised that no one had been in there – I wanted him to know, although this late in the school year it likely won’t be addressed.

Gym: varied activities between freeze tag, free play with lightweight soft volleyballs, races, and rock-paper-scissors-capture and r-p-s-last person standing. The kids loved it!

June 14, 2017 / sharoncopy

“This is an emergency”

School secretaries are under-valued.

I sat in the air-conditioned office during a half hour break I had (no recess duty) today.
During that time the secretary fielded phone calls, answered questions from students and staff, and no doubt tried to take care of some of her OWN work along the way.

The door opens and a dozen kids walk in. This is a little unusual, since usually it’s just one “injured” person (kids think that ice fixes everything) and a friend who is along for moral support.

Secretary looks up at the entourage (all about 2nd grade level).
Very solemn voice says, “This is an emergency.”
Secretary, not seeing any blood or tears: “Which one of you is hurt?”
Several kids sort of taking turns talking (it’s like waves – one overlaps the other and another and another): “We found a butterfly with a broken wing. (Pause) We want to take care of it, so we need something to put it in.” Solemn faces all around.

Phone rings, other duties are calling. Secretary says that she will find some kind of container. Stands. Says that only two of them may stay – that the rest of them have to go back outside. Goes to find the container and take care of another request. Kids start arguing about who gets to stay.

“Me and L. found it”
“Well, it was my idea to come inside”
I stand, put on my “Guest Teacher” identity again, walk across the office and command them all to leave. They analyze me briefly, not knowing who exactly I am, but recognizing the authoritative voice – at least on the second time I tell them. I choose the two who most adamantly seem to think that they are the founders and say that they can stay, and I shoo the rest of them out the door, sad faces on all. Another boy has stayed. He informs me that he is in THIRD grade, implying that the “only two can stay” rule didn’t apply to him. I send him packing as well. Secretary comes back with some sort of food container for the poor broken butterfly. I return to my seat, figuring that this isn’t the best time to tell the kids that holding a butterfly actually causes harm also, or to ask how they expect to help it get well. She tells them to put some leaves and twigs in the container. I’m thinking: fruit, maybe?

Before I think to add my comment, the door flies open and a staff member ushers in a wide-eyed, covered-face boy, stating, “Bloody nose coming through! Bloody nose coming through!” She takes the boy through the office to the appropriate room, followed by the secretary who now has to take care of this real emergency as the staff member returns outside. My “recess” time is over, so I head for the door. The secretary returns to her desk to answer the ringing ringing ringing phone and thanks me for my assistance as she picks up the receiver.