Friday, February 08, 2008

Fog and Parents

The tetanus-booster-induced fog continues.  Added to that, I think my immune system -- which was already fighting the plague going through our school (one aide works in a 2nd grade class of 18 in the mornings; on Monday no less than 10 kids, the teacher, and Aide B were all out sick) -- has given up.  It probably was the tetanus booster and hep-B booster that was too much for it.

 Now, about parents.

My allergies were also nuts today, plus the cold and brain fog.  Aide S was feeling sick.  Then I, like a dork, had the kids run on the track this morning, which sent Superhero's allergies into overdrive -- and this is when we get behavioral squalls, so to speak.

So he had a rough day.

Fortunately, he has an awesome mom.  How awesome?  I can say to Superhero, "If you don't stop, I will have to tell mom you lost your privilege (DVDs) tonight," and she'll do it!

Every year, I have a range of parents; this year is no different.

Angel has a foster family.  Sleeping Beauty's parents are both doctors; they are actively involved in the school, but can't always come to school if, for instance, she's sick, and since their entire extended family is in another country, that has made for a few naps on the beanbag.  The Boss's mom struggles but she's also been good backup in the past; once, when The Boss got in trouble, she made sure to pick her up at school the next day and read her the riot act in front of me.

Superhero's mom, as I said above, is made of awesome.  M's parents both have cognitive disabilities themselves, and while I've known parents with cognitive disabilities who were wonderful parents -- and who had very good support themselves -- they struggle.  Bulldozer's parents talk a good game, but also hand feed him and do some other ridiculous things.  I think they mean well -- his dad in particular understands he needs discipline -- but don't really get it.

Elastigirl's father is on dialysis and her mom really struggles but genuinely, truly, tries her best.

And of course there's PH's mom, who is from the far side of the moon.

And by "moon," I mean Pluto's moon Charon.

Or maybe something further out into outer space.

The moral of this story is: I don't care if you're an expert (Elastigirl's mom) or if you're genuinely unavailable (Sleeping Beauty's family) or if your job makes you 10 minutes late to pick up your daughter (Space Cadet J -- now a 7th grader).  If you genuinely care and genuinely try, you are awesome.

To any parents reading this: I'd be willing to bet your kids' teachers feel the same way.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Baseball Cometh

The last time I had a tetanus booster, my arm swelled up like there was a tennis ball under my skin.

But I was a little girl then, and although that was enormous at the time, it doesn't do justice to the Moya-shaped growth that is appearing on my right arm.  It's at least baseball sized -- although oddly it's not swelling out (vertically) as much as the tenderness, slight swelling, and...hardness (?) of the skin (touch your arm relaxed and then with flexed arm feels flexed) is swelling horizontally.

On the plus side, the brain fog that enveloped me after the doctor's appointment -- a mix of reaction to the blood draw, the tension about that, the two vaccines, and such -- is slowly abating.

Just don't ask me what the Simpsons I just watched was about.

Also: Memo to Vampire

Yes,  you.  The one who first tried to take my blood.

I sympathize with you.  I really do.  I know my veins are deep, and thus, hard to find.  Really.

But knowing that failed blood draws can leave painful bruising should have at least led you to NOT put a very adhesive, cheapie band-aid (that meant it was virtually impossible to bend my arm, thus making me want to take it off and replace at the first opportunity) with Super Glue adhesive.

Cotton ball and tape.  Good things.

Things that don't hurt like a mother-you-know-what-er to pull off.

Our Office Managers Think My Priorities are Skewed

Why, do you ask?

Well, I was bitten on the arm today, hard enough to break the skin -- which, per district policy, meant I had to go to the worker's comp place and get a blood test.

Being very much not a fan of needles, I was very freaked out about this.

The bite?  Meh, not so much.  Yeah, it hurt, but here's the thing.

It's not pleasant, but one of the realities of dealing with kids with special needs in general and kids with more severe disabilities in particular is that often they have moments with undesirable behaviors.  Most often, those behaviors are an attempt to communicate something, to fill some need, and it's my job as a teacher to teach alternatives.

But you know going into it that there's risk.  I've been scratched, had my hair pulled, had area pinched, been pinched, been head-butted.  A friend's foot was broken when one of her kids stomped on it.  It truly doesn't bother me -- I'd rather deal with a kid that scratches than a kid that whines all day.

Oddly enough, even though this is my fifth year of teaching, and even though I had a child for two years that bit everybody and everything, including himself, and even though I had a different child for a year and a half who was famous for biting a tree one day, I had never been bitten before.

It hurts, but not for a while.  My arm went numb for about twenty minutes, then started to ache.  It's swollen now and is going to bruise, but what hurts worse is the spot on my arm where they tried to draw blood and failed (ouch).

So, in my left arm, I have a poke from the Hepatitis B booster they made me take, as well as the poke on the inside of my elbow from where the good technician at the lab took blood.  In my right arm, I have my rapidly-swelling tetanus booster (I got it about 4.5 hours ago now and it's already visibly swollen), the very painful poke where the guy at the worker's comp place tried and failed to get my blood, and the bite itself.

Aide J was still out today, which was definitely a blessing.  The official Room Mine policy is "don't lie but don't volunteer" because Aide J knowing Bulldozer bit my arm will result in two things: (1) she will freak out and be all falsely mothery over a very-unperturbed me and (2) she will take every opportunity she has to "remind" Bulldozer to be nice and will probably work him back up into meltdown mode.

Meanwhile, my student teacher started today.  She hadn't been there 20 minutes when Bulldozer bit me...but she didn't run away, so that's a plus.

And I'm still more concerned over the "four blood tests over six months" policy than I am over the bite itself...that's just a scrape that happened to be caused by teeth.

The office managers think I'm nuts.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Elastigirl is still out sick. As near as I could get from my conversation with her mother, she has something "contagious" and has been on medicine for it but needs different medicine.

Thus, Aide J has been available other kids.

Bulldozer has done pretty well this week, but Superhero's had it rough. He was better today but spent nearly all day yesterday with me (Aide S was out getting her knee MRIs redone; he may have to have more surgery). Aide S can keep him simmered, but even when I told Aide J to do certain things, she (as usual) kept harping on him.

I use "harping" deliberatly -- just like PH, she picks and picks and picks and picks. Her praise is...unenthusiastic and clearly not heartfelt. (Or, so it sounds, which is all that matters.) Her redirections are wordy and judgmental. Turns out even our psychologist had tried to explain to her to back off from certain kids, but no dice.

Anyhow, poor The Boss and PH somehow always end up on the receiving ends of her attitude. (Granted, The Boss was pushing it today -- with lots of flouncy teenager attitude and such.)

Anyway, it's time for journals. Sleeping Beauty (formerly known as Princess) is not at school, nor is Elastigirl. New Boy C has not started yet. So it's 6 kids and four adults. The zipper on M's jacket broke this morning, thus messing with her perception of the entire freaking universe, and she was an absolute wreck. I was with Superhero. Aide T was with Bulldozer and PH. The Boss moved over there.

Aide J approaches while I'm up getting something. "Bulldozer, can I help you with your work?"

(My martyr complex, let me show you it.)

"No. Aide T."


So, she goes and sits next to M and Aide S, to help calm M down.

A while later, it was time for science. Superhero was iffy, but I felt like he was more or less under control.

Except that Aide J asked him, "Superhero, may I go with you to science?"


She eventually talks him into going, and I predict that they will be back nearly immediately. (They weren't, but I attribute that to the peer pressure factor; after a rocky first couple of weeks, he's generally an angel in his general ed classes.)

Things rock and roll for a while. I am planning on using these for New Boy C and for a second communication option for Elastigirl. Because Superhero is that kinda kid, I gave him one for his desk too (he'd have been all over the other kids' and getting into trouble) that has his own voice recorded saying "help please."

Right now, we're in the "oooh, cool!" stage, wherein he pushes the button repeatedly. Aide J threatened to take it away. I said, "No, we have to respond to this like we'd respond to another kid talking."

She tried to take it away again this afternoon, but caught my dark look. Meanwhile, I said, "R, I will help you when it's your turn," and didn't respond anymore.

But that was a tangent.

It's after News-2-You time, and we're splitting up into working groups. I have Bulldozer and Superhero because Aide S and Aide J are working together, and while I trust Aide S with either of them, she also had M.

Aide J went over to The Boss (girl J) and said, "The Boss, can I help you with your work?"



Then, after lunch, Superhero was doing his usual hyper-giggling thing. Aide S was redirecting him beautifully -- no words, just moving closer or farther away as the situation warranted. Aide J stepped in several times, escalating Superhero to the point that Aide S had to hold his desk so he wouldn't push it over.

Then, when the sixth graders had to leave for their Family Life presentation, she says (are you ready for it?), "Superhero, are you ready to go with me?"

He spit on her.

I think that's a "no."

At that point, Superhero wasn't ready to go anyway, so she left with Angel, while S waited calmly and patiently until he was able to put his shoes and glasses back on. She even (go Aide S!) asked if he wanted to walk there on his own.

He said he did, but I caught her eye and mouthed "Follow him, please."

"Ooooh, yeah," she mouthed back.

Go Aide S!

Meanwhile, I'm pondering whether or not Aide J will notice that on four separate occassions today, kids told her they did not want to be around her.

I mean...that kinda suggests it's time to reflect. Particularly since Aides S, Mrs. B, and T, and I are the ones making them do the hard stuff most times...if anybody, they should dislike us.

In other news, our program specialist recommended me to be a master teacher for a student teacher from CLU. I am (1) appreciative (I mean, nice compliment, yeah?), (2) happy (another body! woo-hoo!), (3) slightly annoyed (like I don't have enough to worry about in the Grown Ups department...Aide S needing more surgery now shooting right up to the top of that list), (4) resigned (when the program specialist recommends you for a job, you do it), (5) happy (master teacher = stipend), and (6) dreading having one more person to worry about.

On the other hand, maybe Aide J will listen to her.

And then I'll ride my flying pig home.

Zero Means None

While I realize that overwhelming majorities in one small area do tend to accurately predict election outcomes, it puzzles me as to how you can declare a winner (with percentages, no less) if none of the precincts have reported in.

Just sayin'.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Maybe THEY Should Play Free Rice


Ladies and gentlemen of the writing community,

Palatable = nice.  Yummy.  Good for your palate.  You like it.

Palpable = you can feel it.  Touchable.

I highly doubt that the electricity between two people was "palatable."



Sunday, February 03, 2008

Darth Mufasa

I will never, ever be able to watch The Lion King in the same way again.

That broke my brain in a way that The Simpsons tried for but never achieved.
Lisa: That was for you, Bleeding Gums.
Bleeding Gums Murphy: (appearing in the clouds) You've made an old jazzman happy, Lisa.
Mufasa: (appearing in the clouds) You must avenge my death, Kimba -- I mean, Simba.
Darth Vader: (appearing in the clouds) Luke, I am your father.
James Earl Jones: (appearing in the clouds) This is CNN.
Bleeding Gums Murphy: Will you guys pipe down? I'm saying goodbye to Lisa!
Also? I got to level 45 on Free Rice for the first time. Unfortunately, it now goes to level 55 instead of 50.

This is Awesome

This is awesome and hysterically funny.

Even if my "Minesweeper method" is more the "click random boxes and see what happens" variety.  Odd, I know, since it should be right up my alley, but there you have it.