Friday, February 25, 2011

Excuse Me, Would You Get Out of My Light?

I have had a near death experience in the past. While I was in surgery, after my car accident, I saw "the light". It was quite interesting. In my experience I was walking down my school's hallway and all the classroom doors were open and the light from the classrooms were glowing into the hallway. I could hear the voices of friends and family that had passed talking, but not directly to me. Suddenly, I heard the surgeon shout, " Cathy, you have to stay here with me!" The rule follower in me listened to the surgeon and pulled through. I have also had many lack of oxygen moments that I call "seeing angels". When I don't get enough oxygen I start to see "angel wings" fluttering around my head. Since, I get pneumonia once a year when I start "seeing the angels" I know it is time to go to the emergency room.

The other day, I "saw the angels" again. The "sistahs" are in town and I was talking to Chris and taking some pills that I take everyday at the same time. As I was swallowing two pills, Chris shouted, "Hey!" I jumped, suck in the pills, and one got stuck in my throat. I was okay, I was talking about it and drinking to try to get it down. I was sure it was the little pill and it would dissolve soon. Breann came and tried some Heimlich moves she had learned in a CPR class. They didn't work, but I was still talking. Then it happened, I stopped talking. The universal sign for choking is putting one's hands at one's throat. I can't reach my hands to my throat! I am panicking and starting to "see angels". Chris is panicking. Janet is panicking. Breann calmly continues to work on me, bending me over and slapping my back. I swear her pulse didn't raise a beat. The pill came up. It was the huge one. As Breann calmly walked out of my room at the same speed she walked in, she asked,"So, Cathy, what did you think about right before you die?"

"I was thinking, excuse me, Breeze, but could you get out of the way of my bright light?"

Paco's Perspective

I twirled

The Flip Side

I hid in my bed, but I jumped on your laugh and gave you a big kiss afterward.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Hate St. Valentine and His Chubby Little Friend

Valentine's Day started out as the feast of St. Valentines. There were fourteen martyrs named Valentine. Apparently the church didn't want to have fourteen different feasts so, February 14th became the Feast of St. Valentines. How it became a celebration of love is beyond me. There is no real historical connection between all the Valentines and love. I have a need to know who made Valentine's Day a day to celebrate love because I want to slap him or her. (I don't think a man would have done it, unless, there was a possible cash flow behind it.) I hate Valentine's Day for many reason.

Number 1: I haven't had many Valentines around Valentine's Day. When I did have a valentine he always ended up being a cheapskate or as romantic as a Zebra. So, I get to be the one that has to oooooooh and ahhhhhhh over everybody's flower deliveries at work. Valentine's Day is not fun when one doesn't have a valentine or has been recently dumped or divorced.

Number 2: After thirty-two years of teaching, I am over classroom parties.  The students look forward to class parties. I hate passing out all those cookies and cupcakes and candy. I know that the students are going to be on a sugar high for over week. I also know that something is going to get spilled on the carpet and with Valentine's Day it is probable going to be RED.

Number 3: I hate sap and sentimentality. Who wants  a card with a big, hairy ape on it that says, "You are the gorilla my dreams."? People get paid to make up that stuff. Valentine's Day cards are almost as bad as the radio program Delilah After Dark. That is the program where people call in and dedicate a song to the one that has made all their dreams come true. Whenever Janet and I hear the dedications, we look at each other, count to three and stick our fingers down our throat. One week later, the person that made the sappy dedication is on the line dedicating another song to their dream maker that expresses how much they are missed because they have been dumped by the dream maker.

Number 4: I hate roses. Roses are expensive and even more expensive on Valentine's Day. Roses have thorns. Roses don't smell good. Different colors of roses mean different things. It is heart breaking when one is expecting red roses and are given yellow.

Number 5: That chubby little cupid thing with the bad aim is weird. Did St. Valentine have a chubby, little, naked, winged baby as a sidekick? I thought Don Quixote was the only one with a chubby sidekick. In myth, Cupid ended up punishing his lover because she had the audacity to look at him.  Cupid left her.  Psyche spent endless amounts of time searching for him and had to do some strange tasks in order to find him. She ended up dead. Who would want an overly shy, naked, fat guy that can't sustain a relationship picking their mate?

The worst part about Valentine's Day is that if a woman says that she hates Valentine's Day, everyone thinks it is because she is a lonely old maid.(Hey, I resemble that statement!) My hatred of Valentine's Day is not a product of "sour grapes". I have had valentines. I just don't like choosing one day to let someone know that you love them. I think that people should do that daily! The name Valentine came from the word valens which means worthy, strong, and powerful. Valentine's Day should not be a day to celebrate love, but a day to celebrate strength and independence. All those who have been dumped or divorced, Valentine's Day is your day to celebrate your ability to stand on your own. Take yourself to dinner, buy yourself some flowers and celebrate your courage.

Paco's Perspective

So, because you love me I should be expecting a treat everyday!

The Flip Side

I LOVE this new house. There are so many lizards and quail to chase and many new places to explore. I gotta make this house a Valentine's Day card! Let me think . . . . lizards are spotted, quails are black, I am off exploring, And I may never come back!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Losing Control

I have been losing control lately. I have been handicapped all my life, but I really hate it when I FEEL handicapped. I am a control freak, so when I am feeling especially handicapped it makes me feel like I am not in control. This week I was feeling weak and I lost control.

When I did my student teaching thirty-four years ago, I was horrible at classroom management. The first time I was left alone with a class at one point the students were running wildly around the classroom and I was almost in tears when my supervising teacher returned. After school she had a straight forward talk with me. "Listen," she said as she stared me directly in the eye, "because you are in a wheelchair, the kids are going to think they can take advantage of you. You have to make sure that NEVER happens."

"I knoooooow," I blubbered, "but , what do I do?"

"Number 1: Learn the sixth-grade-teacher-glare. The first two weeks of school just sit in front of the classroom and glare at them. Number 2: Follow through with whatever you say. Don't say something that you can't follow through with. Number 3: Never let them see you sweat! Be in charge at all times. Don't allow anyone to think that you are unable because you are disabled!"

After that, I made a vow to myself that I would be the best at everything I did when it came to my job and working with children. I knew I had to take control. I became a strict, but respectful disciplinarian. I perfected "the glare". I can make a mouthy sixth grader drop to his knees in apologetic fear with just one look. As the years went by, I became better and better at discipline and have been considered an expert in classroom management. Unfortunately, when one is given the label of being able to "handle" anything administrators put the all tough cases with that person.  I have always been given the tough cases that no one could handle. I once had an administrator say that he called classrooms like mine " the black hole" because he knew if he put his troublesome students in my classroom, he would never see them in the office because I would take care of things on my own. I was given the gang bangers that hated women. I had one young man that refused to look at me because that would have been a sign of respect. If I moved into his line of sight, he would shift in his chair. I used to move around the room just to watch him spin in his chair. But when he was being chased by a gang of high school boys, guess who he came running to for help. Yep, me, and he was crying like a little girl. Just the other day, I had a student that I was having a disciplinary discussion with say, "You're in a wheelchair, if I run you won't be able to catch me." My reply was, "If you run, I won't chase you, but I will catch you." In the classroom, I am ALWAYS in control.

I am strict, not mean. There are rules and consequences and I follow through with what I say. Everyday when my students leave my room I say, "Take care, do your homework, READ, and I care about you." I have always given my students my phone number to call for help. I have been giving my phone number out for thirty-two years and not one student has ever abused the privilege. Eventually, every class asks, "Miss C, why do kids say you are mean?"

"Do you think I am mean?'
"No, you're not mean. You are fair and you expect us to do a lot. But you are really nice."

"Please, don't tell anyone I am nice. I have a reputation to keep. If someone asks you if I am mean, bow your head, try to squeeze out a tear and with a shaky voice say, "Yes."
Now that I am an Achievement Specialist, I don't have my own classroom. I go into up to ten classes a day. Working with so many different classes and grades, it is essential that I am spot on with my classroom management. Many teachers complain that the minute I walk into the room their students are perfect angels, and when I leave they go bananas. When I am asked how I do it, I answer, "I have a huge supply of fairy dust."

And then the other day, it happened! I lost control for the first time in thirty-two years. I was doing a fluency activity in a classroom and the teacher had to run up to the office for a minute. All of a sudden, the students went berserk. I am not a screamer. I have never been a screamer, mainly, because I can't physically scream. I do not have the lung capacity. As I have become older and more crippled, my voice has become even softer. I couldn't get the students to be quiet. I couldn't get them to stop what they were doing. I tried using every discipline strategy that I knew and it wasn't working. I felt as if I was in one of those nightmares that teachers have every year before the first day of school. I was starting to sweat. I was sure, if the teacher didn't get there soon, the students would have dragged my body out to the playground, tied me to a tree, placed sticks at my feet and  would, eventually, start the sticks on fire while taunting me the entire time. I kept looking at the door in hopes that the teacher would return soon.  When she did return, I wanted to run to her and sob uncontrollably in her arms, "Ple-e-e-e-essssse heeeeeelp me!"

In your mind, you might be saying, "Yep, fifth graders can be harsh." It wasn't a class of fifth graders. Fourth graders? Nope. Third? Nada. Second? Not on your life. Not first? No, not first. KIN-DER-GAR-TEN! I, Cathy Cunningham, the Queen of Discipline, lost control of a classroom of KINDERGARTENERS!  Kinders are not my favorite group of students to teach because they have the attention span of a worm, but I can teach them, at least, I thought I could. I was so glad when it was time for them to go to lunch. When the class left for lunch, I ran as fast as my wheelchair could move across campus and went into a fifth grade class and asked if I could teach for awhile. Ahhhhhhhh, big, misbehaving boys and snotty, eye-rolling girls doing everything I asked of them! Heaven!

Next week, I am going back. I am getting back on the horse. Over the weekend, I will be practicing my "kindergarten-teacher-glare. I will be back in control. 

Paco's Perspective

You could practice your glare on Flip. If you want to practice corporal punishment on him, be my guest.

The Flip Side

We have horses in the backyard you could ride.