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Posts Tagged ‘school’

When I was growing up, there were no malls on every corner, or any corner.  Mom did not have a driver’s license and never did get one and shopping consisted of a payday (every other Friday) foray into the nearest little town, Griffith, Indiana.  Where I would return my arm-load of books to the library and pick out the next two weeks reading, while mom and dad started their grocery shopping.

Occasionally we would pick something up in the Ben Franklin dime store.  Prices were higher for clothing there, but you could get a tube of lipstick or a hanky to give a relative for Christmas.  Our main shopping was from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog.

1958 Sears Catalog

photo via http://www.wishbookweb.com/1958_SearsChristmasBook/index.htm

This was the Christmas catalog of 1958, and I remember that santa ornament hanging on our tree.  We poured over those Christmas catalogs for hours.  When the Sears driver delivered our order, my brother and I would have to leave the room while she opened those pages and checked the goods.  I don’t think they could do that now, in this day of GPS tracking and speedy delivery, but back in the 50s, service ruled.

I belive there was a fall catalog also that signalled the arrival of the school year.  Mom would haul out the catalog and mark the pages I could use to chose my school clothes.  There was a price point obviously.  Mom always ordered two pair of shoes for me, in different sizes, just to make sure.

The Sears truck driver was almost a friend to invite to dinner.  He came in with the order and waited while things were tried on.  So, when it was time to order school clothing,  I looked for my favorite pair of shoes.  Sears carried them for years.  They were flats with elastic cords that went from the front to the back and I thought they made my feet look awesomely small.  Mom would order two pair, in different sizes, and the Sears truck driver would wait, while I tried on my shoes, so he could take back the pair that did not fit.

Now, I drive fifty miles, to Shoe Circus in Indy/Greenwood, to get shoes that feel half way comfortable and pay a $100 for the privilege.  Do high heels make your feet look amazing?  Yes!  Do they feel like the inquisition has arrived?  Yes!

I HATE SHOES!

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Every time something bad would happen, when I was a girl and mostly in school, I would come home and complain to mom and she would tell me, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” 

Frankly, it did not make me feel one whit better.  Not one.  And, I mumbled all evening about a God who has nothing better to do than to screw up my life.  Couldn’t he feed one of those starving children that I was so diligently cleaning my plate for, to make sure they got enough to eat?

There was another premise that did not make a lot of sense to me.  It went right along with how much protection I thought I got hiding under my wooden desk from an atomic bomb attack. 

While attending Casper College, in Casper, Wyoming, I studied under and with Lynn Munns.  Lynn became a great friend and fantastic mentor and, excuse me if you have heard this before.  I used to just not “get” modern art but something made it all snap into place for me and Lynn made the statement about this phenomena, that you may see or hear something a thousand times but you need to be in just the right place for it to snap into place.  He was so right.

Which was just a huge, no humongous build up to a very small story.  I was reminded of it by scratches on a scrap of paper but I read Crazy Aunt Purl = via Crazy Aunt Purl,  titled: You Got My Attention with your Big Orange Sticker and finally remembered to blog the story.  Check it out.

The poor State of Indiana got my attention, but it was with a small paper orange sticker, stuck ceremoniously on top of a sign warning travelers, going probably 50 mph, of upcoming road construction.  Some states have huge bright lights that shine in your eyes.  Others flashing, spinning orange ones.  Indiana had taken three post-it notes and mounted them on a wire above the sign.  The orange notes spun around the wire and made a truly impressive warning sign.  NOT!

Guess, God and construction workers work in mysterious ways, or I just was not in the right place to see the brilliance of it all.

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We have taken on a roll that many adults now hold, and that is grandparents who become parents to their grandchildren, as well as taking care of their own parent.  It is one thing to raise a child from birth, or a young age, and it is another thing to take on a teenager.  I mean, come on guys, the world is WAY different now than it was when I was a teen. 

 

The deal with these guys is their previous upbringing, or lack thereof.  There was a big focus on being obedient and saying “Yes, Sir” and “No, Ma’am.”   While, we feel it is more important to have respect and give respect than it is to say meaningless words that you are beat for, if you do not say them. 

 

The boys did have varying degrees of influence from us.  They were with us, for their first: nine years, six years, and three years respectively.  The youngest does not remember living with us at all.  The oldest made a fluid transition to our home.  He did not make a fluid transition to school.  He once did a whole semester of homework, without ever turning it in to the teacher.  This is something only a homeschooled boy would do; or an idiot.  And, he is not an idiot.  We found out about it because we had four teachers tell us, at his first public school conference, that he was a genius.  I could only look down at the F’s across the page and ask “Why this, then?”  Not turning in homework will make even a genius fail. 

 

What worries me is the lack of “love of knowledge and education.”   It was more important in their stepfather’s home, to fear than to love.  Fear Stepfather’s belt and retribution, fear (for girls) of not wearing prairie dresses and head coverings.  Fear of the word “Foolishness.”  That last one is because it means the “rod of correction” is going to beat it out of you when your grandparent’s leave. 

 

These three are safe now and have varying degrees of success.  They do not know how to judge people, as their past experiences consisted only in friends like themselves.  Which consisted of other ultra conservative Christian home schooled children who are protected from the world out there by paranoid parents.  So, we are now locking our doors and covering our windows so the Bi-Polar ex-girlfriend of EMT will leave us alone, perhaps proving that it is not so bad to be paranoid.  But, it is not a good way to live.  He trusts everyone and is friends to everyone, even someone who is in need of commitment (even her mother says so at this point). 

 

I do not understand why these parents, who isolate their children from modern society, do not realize that their children must go out and live in the world we all live in and if you do not provide a child with the tools to recognize and understand that world, that they will have a hard time getting along in it.

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School can suck, and there is no two ways about it.  The only people who seem to truly relish school are the ones who were the high school cheerleaders, the prom queen or the jock.  Those people never want to leave school.  How many adult mothers do you still see with a “mall hairdo?”   Not to speak of my era students, who still dress in tie-dye and long hair.

 

Actually, school was going along quite well for me until I was put in experimental “advanced” classes, in sixth grade.  My previous A average dropped to C’s.  My previous best friend became a bit of a tormentor.  She found new friends and bragged that her grades were higher than mine.  As for me, I just did not feel I fit in with the kids in that class.  I also worked every night till midnight on homework to maintain my new “C” average.

 

After that, I was not so successful on the socializing side. I was a “band” kid and, when a new, and bad band director took over, I lost my love and any possibility of entry into a conservatory.  My grades plummeted and I withdrew into myself.

 

I have never attended a High School reunion or even given it a second thought.  I did reconnect with an old friend a couple of years ago and we eMail regularly, or did before Sarah Palin became the “other” woman.  So, it was a surprise, even to me, when I joined Classmates.com. 

 

This move has confirmed to me that, despite my long held belief that no one would remember me, that it is I who do not remember anyone else.  So, take heart students, This too shall pass.

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Younger boy lived with us from birth till he was three, then came to live with us again at age thirteen. At three he was a hand full and a half of charging bull. At sixteen, he’s Mr. Cool one day and Mr. Country Singer the next.

Younger boy turned sixteen today.  (Actually, it was yesterday. Imagine my surprise this morning, when I found out I had put up a different blog–oops!) His request was for steak, mashed potatoes and corn (those two go hand in hand at our house) and German Chocolate Cake, which is really quite easy to bake (from scratch) but taking a cake from a hot oven to an overly air conditioned counter causes it to burst like a punctured balloon. The boys have decided I should recreate this treat every time as then you get more of the goodie filling and less cake.

He had a lot of catching up to do, at thirteen, when he entered public school for the first time.  He was reading at a second grade level and did math at third grade level.  He had not been taught any history or geography and the only science he had was when he watched his younger brother being taught how to make Gak. Hence, my insistence, and I think it is a good idea even for good home educators (and I know quite a few good ones), that home schoolers should have legislated testing every two years. No child left behind folks, means all children.

Because of not being taught to write at the proper age, youngest boy has a writing disability and takes a laptop to school with him. He has a pass to go to the Learning Resource Center and get help with his tests, as he is slow at reading (He may have them fooled on that one. He can read Harry Potter just fine, even if it is slow.) Thank you, J. K. Rowling for interesting him in any reading at all.

He does write and every time, when I take the magnetic grocery list off the fridge to copy it into my laptop for a store list, I say, “What does this mean?”

He comes, looks and says, “I don’t know.”

I say, “Well you wrote it.” as I look at cat scratches that resembles skinny dictation marks.

He says, “Doesn’t mean I know what it says.”

When he was one and a half, someone looked out a window and saw a ceramic cat go flying across the yard. It’s the kind of thing where you sit there and say, “That’s strange.” Then, when the second one goes flying by, you run. Yup, there he was, standing at an open window and emptying his mother’s cabinet out the window. He had a nice little pile of broken knick knacks, outside.

By the age of two, he was missing one day, and found on top of the refrigerator, having eaten half a tray of brownies, which were hidden on the refrigerator for a reason (So he wouldn’t eat them.). No one is sure how he got up there. The chair to the counter was easy, but how did he get from the counter to the top of the fridge? It was quite a stretch. 

After the boys and their mother moved in with stepfather, things got hairy. His mother being terrified to be alone at night, kept a container of mace on the dresser; twice he sprayed himself in the face. He was playing “Toro, Toro”, as in bull fights with his two other “blanket holding” brothers, not airplane crash Toro, and, being the bull he was already, charged and knocked himself unconscious on the corner door frame. To the hospital again, we go. 

Then, Christmas arrived and youngest boy took to crunching Christmas tree lights. You could hear the glass crunching as he walked through a room and the nearest adult would run their finger through his mouth and remove the end of the bulb, and as much glass as possible, then feed him bread. The nurse hotline knew us by voice. When the lights were removed from the bottom half of the tree, he began taking apart flashlights and eating their bulbs.

He’s broken his ankle since he’s been living here and wrenched a shoulder but mostly he’s searching for his identity.  This week it is boots, ripped jeans, camouflage vest and Dundee hat, with a swagger. Some weeks, it’s pure cowboy. Other times it is the lamentable ripped off sleeves southern Indiana, hillbilly wannabe look. Those weeks, I nag.

Happy Birthday!

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