What it is like

Two years old and my mother is diagnosed with glomerulonephritis.  Degeneration of the kidneys.  At two years of age that means nothing. In the 1950s it was a death sentence.   I had a new brother that screamed night and day and a sick mother.  That I can remember.  At an early age I learned to worry.

I do not remember childhood being traumatic or trying.  Yes, I remember being sent to live with my grandmother (mammy) and granddaddy far away from my home.  I remember the outdoor toilet and the water-bucket on the back porch.  I can feel the sun and smell mammy cooking.  She cooked three square meals a day.  Rain or shine.  I don’t remember her ever looking on me as a burden.

I was allowed to go to the hen house with her.  I followed her to milk cows.  When I whined I was given a small container and allowed to pick cotton from the field beside her house.  I watched her quilt and work.  She had all sons and I was a welcome change I guess.  I hope.

My brother was sent to live with our other grandparents.  I missed him.  Our grandparents lived out in the sticks of Louisiana.    Back in those days travel was something that required a non-work day.  Phones were on a party-line and it was difficult to arrange things even though we were close in proximity.

My mother would, when told by the doctors at Ochsner’s that death was imminent, rise up and get better briefly.  My dad would gather us up and we would go home.  I still don’t know how my parents managed to hold together.  Most men would leave.  My dad and mom never gave up.

What is it like to have the opportunity to observe people that do not give up or give in to overwhelming odds?   It means you learn resilience.  It means you learn you learn to not whine and not give up.


6 year olds and love

I have been lectured to by a 6 year old, to-wit:

“you are like a tree that a bird pooped on.  Now you are afraid all the birds are going to poop on you. ”

My mom and I sat there in stunned silence.  My mother finally says that you know she might be right.

6 year old “You are afraid of all the birds.”

She may be right.  The lecture involves me ever loving anyone again.  I am afraid that I will be hurt.  40 years of marriage thrown out the window tends to do that to a person.  I wish I could say that I am not afraid.

But…the birds might find me.


H and the crazy day

I was in my room a few years ago with about four people.  They were desperately trying to catch up on work they had missed.  I felt like I was doing a fair job with helping some with science.  One or two of them needed help in other subjects,  I can try to help with other topics.

I heard the side door of the building open.  My door was open (right next to side door) so I looked to see what was happening.  It was H and he was sniffling.  He did not act like it was a cold.  H acted as though he had been crying.

I went back to my students.  I was going on as though I had not noticed H.  His hand darted through my door and grabbed a box of tissues.  I thought that MAYBE he was sick and MAYBE he was going to blow his nose.   The bathroom was right past my door.

All at once his hand reappeared around the door and he grabbed a bottle of lotion.  H mumbled to the others “May need this also…”  He then went toward the bathroom.  His girlfriend (who was in the room) and I looked at each other.  We then looked some more.

I told the rest of the room “best we don’t think about it.”   Never was brave enough to ask H about that day.  Never was brave (or stupid) enough to ask for tissue or lotion to be returned.  I now keep lotion (for after labs) in the lab area FAR AWAY from the tissues.




Me and My Dues

I have parents that are litigious and combative in nature these days. Every other word is “I am going to the school board” or “I have a lawyer.”
Now you might wonder why this is occurring. I am teaching and working with students all day long. Some parents feel that I can just give their child a grade. I have to justify your child’s grade. I have to hope that their EOC in some way shows growth. I have to hope that the material I cover is what some entity that is unknown to me has chosen to test. I have to hope that your child can retain material longer than five minutes. I have to pray that they are having a good day on test day. I have to pray that someone realizes that constant testing is leading students to quit trying on the tests. Test exhaustion.
Since I cannot stop this process to run to the school board each and every time the same two or three people threaten to “have me fired” – I pay union dues. Why?
AWESOME benefit of malpractice insurance. A teacher needs malpractice insurance?
I wish I could say that teachers are not going to need insurance.
I know I am not going to do the wrong thing. I wish I could say that about today’s parents.


Good To Know

It is good to know certain truths in life:  1- don’t spit out the window forward in a moving car,  2- don’t lie to your children, and 3- don’t eat a bunch of fiber if you have crohn’s disease.  Which leads to how I know the third is true.

J (the eldest) made chocolate and pb haystacks (with lowfat pb and all-bran).  I have an uncontrollable urge to eat chocolate and peanut butter.  I am seven years in remission from Crohn’s.  I ate one and NOTHING happened.

Fast forward to the next day.  I am cooking chili at the other child’s (k) home.  I spy some of said haystack candy on counter.  I ate one thinking that if one was did no harm…      Later, I ate another.  J came in and I informed her that I may have eaten a piece of candy.

J:  “That’s is okay I made them five, that leaves four.”

Me:   “um…three.”

J:  “I can’t believe you.”

Me:  “Yes. Yes you can, I don’t lie to my kids.”

J:  “That is NOT what I meant.  I can’t believe you sat there and ate two things full of peanut butter and all bran.  What were you thinking?”

Me: “They were good?  Besides, I was standing.”

Later, I was not standing.  I can’t believe me either.




The Old Days

I teach all day long.  I teach and learn from the freshmen.  Today I learned a very valuable lesson: Freshmen Do Not Listen.  I guess they are listening to something, but that is not me.

I showed a clip about Lavoisier, then a clip about various elements.  I put them on the smartboard.  I moved elements, ions, and compounds around.  I talked about them.  I had the students to talk about chemical reactions.  I think maybe physical science is coming alive for them.

Then…one small voice and a hand in the air.  I worry.  It is a cheerleader, straight-A, type A and the question is never pretty.

“Um,  Ms. B…”

“Ah, yes?”

“So, like before people discovered Oxygen what did they breathe?”  There is not a smile or trace of a smile in her face, only worry.

“Rocks.  We breathed rocks.”

“Uh, ok.”

Thank God the rest of the squad was there to point out that I was just joking.  One even explained that you could use things you did not understand. (One presumes Science)

It was even explained by one of the squad that “the USA was here before Columbus  discovered America. ”   Don’t worry, I did not touch that ball of confusion.   Let the social studies people deal with that conundrum.

Rocks.  That’s right.  I was thinking rocks because of the perceived grey matter in certain heads.




I teach a dual-enrollment class in the middle of the day.  Seniors that come and go during the day.

One of my quietest, sweetest, best young men came in late today.   I did not really think too much about it.  Gonna live to regret not looking real soon though.  I am up trying to answer questions and explain a concept to the other 15 seniors in the room.

I see M’s hand go in the air.  Without pausing I motion him to ask his question.

M: “Ms. B? Is it okay if I drop my pants?”

I pause (I bet my face was a study in confusion, painted in shades of consternation)   I think everyone in the room inhaled at once.  I am frozen in place.

Me:  “Um… What?”

M:  “Is it okay if I drop my pants?” Good Lord, that is what he said.

Me: “Uh”  (entire room: uh?)

M:  “I have on athletic shorts.  I need to ice my knee.”

Me:  “I believe I would have led with that Mac.  You should have started the conversation with that.  Yes.”

That just happened…