Sometimes the Teacher Needs to be Taught

I hate being the mom that complains. I really do try to wait and see if the situation will work itself out before I intervene. This situation was not working itself out. I was growing tired of the whole “I don’t want to go to school!” spiel each Sunday night.

Hannah has 3 fifth grade teachers—but only cried every other day about one of them. Mrs. X has a tough outer shell and a soft center that no one had really ever verified existed. She’s the type who will make a federal case out of any mistake students make and humiliate them sometimes to tears.

Hannah already has a big fear of messing up and it was exacerbated by this teacher who couldn’t let anything go. Each day I heard about conversations and incidents between Mrs. X and students (sometimes Hannah). Mrs. X seemed to have an attitude that let you know your lack of common sense grossly inconvenienced her. I had witnessed this in the couple of times I dealt with her.

It also really bothered me that Mrs. X referred to students as “special” when she felt they were being especially dim. I asked Hannah, “What does she mean ‘special’?” and Hannah said, “You know, mentally challenged.” Is it just me or does that seem inappropriate and offensive? I know kids are annoying, that’s why I don’t teach. But if you do teach, I feel like you have to be able to deal with kids being kids.

Aaaaaanyway, last year, parents of a friend of Hannah’s moved their daughter out of Mrs. X’s class because she had upset her so much. I seriously contemplated doing the same thing. But then I thought, what about the other students? Removing Hannah took care of my kid, but what about the others? What did it teach Hannah about dealing with difficult people and circumstances?

I felt pretty confident Mrs. X would not be receptive to my concerns, so I contacted the principal. The next day Mrs. X called Hannah into her room for a talk. She apologized for being scary and making Hannah not want to come to school. I forget the rest of the conversation, but I do recall that Hannah felt her apology was genuine and she felt a million times better about dealing with Mrs. X.

It’s been 2 weeks since the talk and Hannah says Mrs. X is still a changed woman. Hannah says she feels like now she can “talk to her like a normal person”. I realized that there was a pretty big chance that Mrs. X didn’t realize how she was coming across or understand how it affected students. I appreciate that she has worked to create a different environment.

She might not be too crazy about me now, but at least I don’t have to see that stressed out look on my kid’s face everyday.

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Where Perfectionism Exists, Shame is Always Lurking

My good friend and I were taking our lunchtime stroll when I mentioned how my recent 3 week cough had gotten me to the point where if I coughed too long and hard—I peed a little. What’s that about, I pondered, since I had a C-section birth. Is it just typical aging? I’m only 40!

“They say we are supposed to be doing those kegel things,” my friend noted.

“Yeah, in the car at red lights or whatever,” I said, “I never remember to do those things.” Why can’t I remember to do things, I thought silently.

My friend sighed and unknowingly answered, “There are just too many things to do!”

I agree. There are too many things to do. And it’s pretty overwhelming when you insist on trying to do all of them.

Recycle or prepare to see your face on the wall of awful citizens,
Don’t use too much electricity and get those green lightbulbs, too.
Don’t eat too much sugar. Or carbs. Or meat. Or dairy. Or fat.
Eggs will ruin your life. Oh nevermind, eggs are awesome.
Drink tea but not coffee..oh wait coffee adds years to your life..who knew.
Walk 5 minutes every hour or come to terms with an early death.
Use sunscreen and make sure it has SUV protection..oh I mean UVA.
Get teacher gifts but no more apple items for pete’s sake.
Moisturize. Exfoliate. Condition. Floss.
Use glass, not plastic everyone knows plastic contains BPA.
Eat organic. You know, if you want to live and all.
Keep your photos archived, backed up and printed if you want to be a good mom.
Get your oil changed every 3000 miles ok how about every 5000.
Do your breast exams or it will be your fault when you get cancer.
Change your air filter do you want your kid to get asthma?
Clip the cat’s nails or you’re going to suffer the consequences.
Lift weights because you know you lose muscle mass every year after 40.
Read or stay completely ignorant.
Don’t watch too much TV because then you’re just wasting your life.
Keep up your gratitude journal because people who journal have happier lives.
Back up your files and if you don’t, your hard drive will definitely go bad.
Update your iOS if you want to be in the know.
Rotate your tires or you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for that blowout.
Cut the grass or the neighbors will think you’re bad lazy people.
Take these vitamins but not these or these, but yes these, no not those, these.
Register for PTA but only if you’re a good parent.
Remember birthdays or just be a thoughtless sucky person.
Meditate or just have that heart attack instead.
Drink 8 glasses of water and no diet soda doesn’t count.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

“You don’t have to do all of those things.” —People who live what must be a wonderful and peaceful existence.

Yeah. But.

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” —Brené Brown

Nailed it! That’s exactly how I operate.

I have often been criticized for being bossy, uptight and wanting things “just so”. Part of that I attribute to a bit of a roller coaster home life. I had no control then so, in order for me to feel ok as an adult, I need to have as much control as possible now.

But the other part, I had not considered. The not wanting to be judged. Not wanting anyone to tell me I messed up. Not wanting to look like I don’t have a handle on things. Because if I have a handle on things, then that means I am worthy and I am good enough for people to want me around. I am worth spending of their time and energy.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.

How many of us think:
If I don’t lose this last 20lbs, I am clearly not datable. If I don’t get these photo albums made, I won’t have any proof that I love my child. If I don’t remember a to ask my friend about their surgery, I am a self involved loser. If I forget to get back to a colleague, clearly I am incapable of handling my job. If I have a car wreck, it must mean I am a half wit. If I don’t play that game with my child, I am a terrible parent.

Brené talks about the usual “I am enough” type things, but what she says about permission slips caught my attention. She said a lot times, in order to stop beating herself up about things, she has to write permission slips for herself. I give myself permission to _______________.

I give myself permission to:
Be lazy.
Cry.
Take a break.
Let things go.
Be too tired to finish.
Not read a book.
Watch trash TV.
Slip up and yell.
Forget things.
Not be in the mood to deal with certain things all the time.
Let go of guilt.
Be ok with knowing I did my best.
Just get by sometimes.
Be silly.
Not sweat the small stuff.
Complain.

We are supposed to live in the moment. But plan for our future. And also learn from our past. Let’s give ourselves permission to do all or none of these things any time we damn well please.

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So What’s Switzerland Doing Anyway?

I keep reading over and over that Switzerland is the happiest country. We don’t need the Alps or the yodeling but, you know, the other stuff is kinda awesome.

The Swiss have the lowest government spending on health care in the developed world—and some of the healthiest citizens. Apparently America’s Affordable Health Care Act adopted the mandate, but forgot the rest. But I’m not only talking about health care.

The Swiss people are happy. They invest in top notch education. They have a lot of guns, but little crime. They have a drug policy that has proven results and is actually a model for many other countries. They seem to set their people up for success.

Are we just too wrapped up in thinking we’re the greatest? Do most people assume Europe=Socialism?…which is a scary word to a lot of people. I’m not saying that we suck and they don’t. But I don’t see why can’t we take a look at what they’re doing and then do more of that. If you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to get the same results. And I think our results aren’t too hot right now. But what do I know?

You Don’t Know My Life! (And Other Things About Being Judgmental)

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A few days ago, Hannah and I were watching Glee. It was the episode where they killed off Finn and paid tribute to Cory Monteith, the actor who played him. Hannah is a big fan of the show and was aware that he had died from a drug overdose over the summer. She told me how a few people had commented that he was a drug addict and it’s his own fault. She felt bad that they were saying that and told me that it wasn’t his fault he was addicted to drugs. This was a great opportunity for a conversation.

I told her that people make their own choices and it certainly was his choice to take drugs. However, sometimes as human beings, we should take a look at the root cause of behavior. Usually people take drugs to escape some kind of pain. I have compassion for people who feel the need to turn to drugs to numb whatever feelings they can’t seem to face.

I also notice people, in general, seem to have a really low tolerance for people with drug problems. They get super judgy, super fast. Yet drugs are not the only way people numb their pain. Many times, the people who feel they are better than drug addicts are the same people who deal with life and its discomforts in “acceptable” ways. Maybe they gamble, shop, eat, work too much, drink too much, watch too much television or stay on the internet all the time. Some of these things have obvious consequences, some less obvious. But the motivation is always the same. Escape.

I’m not suggesting they should not be held accountable for their actions or that we should take responsibility for them. Maybe we could judge a little less and empathize a little more. “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”