Monday, December 19, 2011

worry wart

Today began quietly.  Like any other day, really, until I went to wake Lucy up and she rolled over and said to me, “I don’t think I can do this.”  It progressively got worse, highlighted with my carrying her upstairs to brush her teeth (she refused) and holding her while she bawled and shook, saying over and over again that she “just didn’t feel well and couldn’t possibly go to school.”  This is how many of our days have started lately, and it’s hard for me to write about it because it’s so raw right now, but I feel like I have to.  I’ve written before about Lucy and her anxiety, but somehow at six years old, she’s found new and different things that trigger it, and we are yet again searching for answers to this situation.
When she finally got out the door this morning (and before the two subsequent phone calls from her teacher and the nurse, each saying she was fine but needed to talk to me…and each supporting Lucy to the best of their abilities) I sat and cried.  I cried because it’s the week before Christmas and my six-year-old daughter is miserable – not just miserable but just plain sad.  I cried because I somehow feel responsible for her emotions, even though I know deep down that I have very little control there.  I cried because I knew I’d have to finally break down and call our pediatrician and try to explain to him what in the world was going on.  Has been going on.  And finally, I cried because my sweet baby girl is six. Six years old.  Way too young to have these feelings, right?
I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about depression or anxiety in the clinical sense of those terms.  I only know that I was a very anxious child.  I pushed so many of those memories back into the recesses of my brain – back where I’d never have to pull them out again…until this week.  I was a worrier, I worried myself into barfing, I was homesick even with my parents right down the street.  I put my parents through hell, and now I guess I’m getting paid back. I would, however, like to state for the record that if payback is a bitch, I get it and I’d like this to stop.  I understand but this is enough. 
The thing is, I’m trying to toe the line between giving Lucy the acknowledgement that she needs to know her feelings are valid and real and telling her she’s being silly.  The one memory I have of being that scared, anxious kid was feeling like I was at fault for feeling those things, and when I couldn’t control them, how could I possibly be to blame for them? What a lonely thing for a little girl to feel.  I remember that clearly, and I’m trying to show Lucy that her feelings matter while also trying to figure out how to get her beyond them.  We met with our pediatrician, are meeting with the school counselor and are also meeting with a behavioral psychiatrist as soon as they can get her in. 
Why am I telling this story? Simply because I want people to know that it’s not unheard of for young kids to have these issues – they are real and need to be taken seriously.  I realize that one day Lucy might look back and be mortified that her mother gave away her secrets – sold her out for a blog post – but instead I hope she knows it’s just because I love her and have to write in order to sort out my own feelings about this.  Oh, sweet, sweet Lucy B…one day I hope we can look back and laugh at this day.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

fart sandwiches.

So, I've not posted in so long that I forgot my password. Blogger kindly told me "you changed your password THREE months ago." Just like that.  Thanks, Blogger.  Life is insane here, and tonight I'm sitting in bed while my eldest child is laying on the floor next to me getting up to barf every few minutes.  I called this post 'fart sandwiches'. I usually say poop sandwiches when things suck, because you can really sink your teeth into a turd, but this is more elusive suckage. The barfing? Total shit - I'm going to let you in on a secret: I FUCKING hate barf. Hate it. I have anxiety about people getting sick. Seriously. I'm happy to say that today has taught me it doesn't matter at all - someone is always going to barf on your shoes in life.  Might as well be your cute kid. And, because there are a lot of other elusive suckage issues going on, I just thought I would share something I wrote for a class instead. 

I'll preface this by saying that I've been taking the world's worst internet class.  The professor has asked us to write 250 words weekly about articles or books she's asked us to read. Now, if you know me (and if you're reading this blog, chances are you know enough about me to believe this) I can't write 250 words. TWO HUNDRED FIFTY WORDS is for pussies.  It's like asking me to write 5 sentences about something that I could write a book about. And the worst part is that no matter how much I write (trust me: over 250 words. every. single. week) the professor has not ONCE given me personal feedback. Ever. Which simultaneously makes me want to punch her in the face and write like eight pages just to see if she's paying attention.  I digress. So, for the final project we were asked to write the usual 250 words about the "state of education" or what we as educators will find most challenging in our future.  Again.  Something I could write a book about.  But today, I read a friend's Facebook status that read something about getting her K-4th grader ready for college and I just had to share this. I figure if the dummy professor isn't reading it, I should at least share it with you all.

I seriously hope that none of you have a barfing child anytime soon.  And if you do, that you have a large amount of wine to fill up on while you're holding the hair out of the puke. I figure it's killing the least for me. Right? Enjoy:

I have started to write this for about three weeks in my head.  I start, think I know what I’m going to say, and then something else happens either in the media or in my job as a teacher to add fuel to my fire.  I believe that the biggest challenge that educators face is a generation of children who would like to be spoon-fed the answers, are not able to conceptualize, who get frustrated when asked to think critically, and many of whom are unable to make informed statements about anything they didn’t first hear from someone else.  In the past few weeks and months, I have had conversations with educators from all walks of life and from all different teaching backgrounds and sadly, I feel like we all say the same things – we are worried about kids. 
Naturally, we teach in a society where we are forced to think about funding and testing and all the other frustrations that those go along with, but while they are frustrations, they aren’t really all that new or different.  There is always, always going to be red tape in education.  Always.  It’s time to turn our focus toward something that we CAN fix.  Just today, I read about the number one worst baby toy in 2011 – an electronic device similar to an iPad.  For an infant.  And I wonder why children come into my preschool classroom and don’t know how to PLAY.  It’s been my experience over my ten years as a preschool teacher that children are more and more unable to be in open-ended play situations without being guided in some way or another.  I’m a preschool teacher and part of the joy of my job is that it’s so child driven.  I get to do what the kids want to do and make my lesson plans based on their interests.  Recently, though, I’ve noticed a trend toward more teacher led activities – because the children can’t seem to come up with ideas on their own.  When I ask, “what do you want to learn about?” I get blank stares. I want to say to them, “listen up! This is the last time it’s going to be like this – someone is going to get to tell you WHAT to learn for the rest of your life beyond this point!”  It’s sad and shocking and it’s no wonder these same children are failing in grade school and beyond. 
I believe it comes down to being an advocate for these children rather than trying to place blame.  It’s hard work, for sure, but it becomes an issue of advocating for play in early childhood classrooms (early childhood means up to and including the age of EIGHT) and for different approaches in teaching older students.  More play, less rote memorization. More writing, less homework.  More questioning their opinions, less teaching them to fill in the right answer.  While I know that I am starry eyed in some ways about this, I do believe that we can change the future of American education.  I’m not certain yet how that will be done, but I do know that I will be a part of that work in some capacity.