Welcome Autumn

Welcome Autumn

In Wisconsin, sometimes we don’t get much of a Fall. Winter and Summer are the big seasons here, and even Summer pales in comparison to our Winter.

If you’re in Wisconsin, you’ve heard all the jokes. Our Winter is 6 months long. Snow in April is not a surprise. I’m dreaming of a white Halloween. Spring is “mud season.”

But when we do get Autumn, it’s glorious.

This year we’ve been treated with several bright, chilly, vibrant Autumn days. And it’s already November!

Family

They tell me it’s a lot of work, maybe more than I can handle. They tell me it’s hard to balance school and life and work as it is, let alone with a kid. But other people do it. I see other people do it. I know I have a family. Not my blood relatives (except my little brother–he’s the only member of my biological family I talk to)–I have friends so close I consider them part of my family. But I want someone to come home to, who can come home to me. Someone I can love and take care of. Someone I can give a name to. Someone I can spend my days with. Someone I take take places and explore with. Someone I can teach about the world. I want that family. I want to raise someone, someone who’s mine.
Why can’t I go for that–just because I want to? Do I need a better reason than that?

Picture This

Imagine you’re in elementary school. You take fraying textbooks out of a locker that won’t lock; it’s been broken since before the kids in your class can remember because no one has the time or money to fix it. You walk into a classroom with no window, dimly lit by dusty, dying light bulbs.

You and your classmates take your seats. There’s no one at the head of the classroom. You wait on bated breath. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes go by, and you realize you don’t have a teacher today.

Maybe you take out your books and read anyway, hoping you’re still following the lesson. Maybe you meander the halls to see if another classroom will take you today. Maybe you just go home.

You find out the next day that your teacher left to teach at another school. You wonder if they followed all those white kids who moved to the school that’s farther away but is said to have cleaner classrooms and newer books.

Your new teacher is a lot older. They don’t know what’s in these textbooks so you spend some time catching them up on the material. Sometimes they just talk about what they used to teach a long time ago, before you were even in kindergarten.

Eventually you get another new teacher. This one is younger. They seem surprised that there are only a few white kids in your classroom. When the kid next to you throws a paper wad at one of the kids in front, the teacher looks at them but doesn’t do or say anything.

You have a hard time listening because you’re tired; the babies cried half the night, and even though he tried to be quiet, dad still woke you up when he came back from work around two in the morning. At one point you fall asleep in class. Your new teacher wakes you and up scolds you in front of everyone. When you get home your mom is on the phone with the teacher. You hear your mom try to explain that she’s not a bad parent, she’s just having a hard time keeping things together right now. You remember her telling you how she’d dropped out of high school after she kept being suspended for being “disruptive.” Even though the white kids could have been doing exactly the same thing. She was always the one who got called out for it. Just like you.

You go to the table to start doing the math homework your new teacher gave you. You’re not sure really what it is, because you haven’t done this kind of math in your class yet. You chew your pencil and you wonder if you’re going to be like your mom. If school keeps being like this, maybe it would be better if you just stayed home and helped take care of the family.

Musings of a Childcare Teacher on a Gloomy October Day

Musings of a Childcare Teacher on a Gloomy October Day
Sometimes I just get really bummed out, and I wonder why I even like kids when I get angry at them so often.
But on Monday I went into a school for the first time this year and met girls who’d never seen me before, one of them asked for a hug after hanging out with me for maybe three minutes.
And today I went into another school with a class of third graders I’ve never worked with, and after our 30-minute session of introductions and Q&A, two of the girls hugged me on the way out. One of them reassured me that she still liked me even though I had a hard time pronouncing her name, and the other one stayed to chat with me until I had to go.
Another one asked me if I liked getting pictures and cards from students because she knew not everyone liked that.
And I’m sitting here like…I get to work with some really sweet kids. And I get to do some really, really cool stuff.
Like–I don’t want to brag–but I developed some pretty awesome programs and I have a lot of people telling me that what I do is amazing.
And I keep doing it, no matter how frustrating and exhausting it is. Because I can be having just a horrible shitty week and sometimes all it takes is a five-year-old holding my hand on the way back from school or one of the kids proudly showing me their “invention” or telling me a funny story or about their favorite book and suddenly I feel okay again.
And sometimes it doesn’t matter who I work with, or whether or not I like them, because these kids are the ones I’m working for. Not my supervisor, not my CEO. My job is making these kids’ days.
And they know–no matter how many times I take them aside for a “talk,” no matter how many times I show my anger, I’m always going to come back to them with a smile and a listening ear.
I’m not going to be my mom. I never, ever give a kid the cold shoulder. No matter how angry I might be. I might yell at them for throwing rocks in the street, but if they come up to me two minutes later with a picture or a story, I’m going to listen and smile just like I would with anyone else who hadn’t made that bad choice.
I can’t punish every choice for the rest of the day because of the one bad one they made. Then there’s no consistency. Why would they bother making good choices again if they know they’re going to get the same reaction from a teacher that ignores them because they were “bad”?
I work hours and hours and hours to make programs and activities and events that will make these kids smile. I can’t let some bad choices or bad days or bad feelings ruin that.

One Long Year

Hello everybody, it’s bee a long year. I know it hasn’t been a year since I posted–but it’s been a year since I’ve posted regularly.

It’s also been over a year since I’ve self-harmed, which I consistently fist-bump myself for. It’s a great feeling. It’s the longest I’ve gone without a relapse since I started back in…I can’t remember when. Dudes, I haven’t even pinched myself or pulled my own hair out. I’m pretty proud of myself.

It’s been over a year since I got my job. I’ve successfully survived two summers at this place. Summers are insane. It’s the only time of year the school-age program is more full than the early childhood program. Since I run school-age, I am on my toes constantly. I planned an entire summer full of over 40 activities–field trips, STEAM workshops, dance lessons, theater and improv games, yoga, guest artists, trips to local businesses, and other stuff I can’t even pull up right now.

I was easily at work 10-12 hours a day at least twice a week running everything. For my first summer as a supervisor, not shadowing, it went pretty well. The kids had a blast and the teachers seemed to, almost as much.

Now summer’s winding down and I”m preparing to be a student again. I’m finally enrolled at UWM’s online Cultural Foundations of Community Engagement and Education program. In May I had to go through the process all over again to prove my residency. Last fall, they were going to charge me out-of-state tuition unless I filed an appeal or delayed my enrollment for a year. I didn’t have the time or energy for an appeal, so here I am. Classes start next week. It’s a Master’s program, but I’m part-time, so I’m not sure how intense it will be.

I’m hoping less intense than this summer. I tried to take an accelerated summer class, but ti didn’t work out. I was reading close to a thousand pages a week along with writing several discussion posts and reflection pieces. My final paper proposal was turned down a week and a half before the class ended. I dropped the class. It’s not because I didn’t think I could do what I needed to do–I knew I could. What I couldn’t stand was the idea of me turning in a sub-par paper, skimping on my readings, and half-assing reflection papers simply because I didn’t have time to put in more effort. I knew I could get so much more out of this course if I had more time. So I’m taking it this fall instead and planning to get the most out of it.

Oh, and I’m having nightmares about the upcoming school year as it affects the kids at work. Fun stuff!

I’m taking photos for a wedding in a couple weekends. It’ll be my first legit gig, and I’m pumped. I want to get some more practice in if I can. I also kind of want to start my own photography business. Some friends are encouraging me too. I take really good pictures and my camera is awesome. I think I’ll give it a try.

Stay tuned. I have a lot to say, just haven’t had much time to write it.

Peace out.