Sunday, October 29, 2006
"It Was Magical"Sometimes, we don't realize that we live in a world where magical things really are all around us if we just look for them.
Back in the middle school, I taught seven classes daily. Each class averaged 30 students or more. I had my share of students who chose not to do much, or even any, work, but for the most part, I really didn't have all that much trouble with discipline. I found that laughter really can be a miracle worker, and a little ignorning of minor things went a long way. For major things, I came down so hard that most kids didn't care for a repeat performance.
I was exhausted most of the time.
I found something to love in every class, but once in a while. . . . once in a while there was a class that I loved so much, I have after all these years not forgotten a single detail, or face, or name. For these wondrous groups of personalities, I can close my eyes and see each precious face, in his or her assigned seat, laughing or bent over writing, watching a video or taking notes or whispering to a neighbor (shhhh, other people are working, and it might be you next time. . . .) or even weeping in empathy when our lessons were heart-warming. For years, I thought that the students just took for granted that some classrooms were both cool and warm-hearted: a blend of temperatures that averaged into a comfort zone where each pre-teen could relax, knowing that for forty-five minutes a day, at least, everyone was 'safe.'
There are several of these 'special' years in my memory.
One such year was 1996. That year, period one was the 'memorable' class. They got off the bus and hurried to my room; they didn't want to miss a thing. (cue Steven Tyler. . . .) We started the very second the bell rang. We worked (even when the kids didn't realize they were working) right up until the next bell. Period Two was quite the opposite, and this probably made me appreciate Period One even more. I cried when the year was over and they all came to say 'goodbye.'
That next autumn, I saw one of those Period One students in WalMart. Some students are far too cool to come up to a teacher and start a conversation, but this was a Period One student, and his enthusiasm for life extended far beyond my classroom. He was just an outgoing, enthusiastic, well-mannered young man in all aspects of life. Tall, and funny, very good at writing and speaking, he had a sweetness about him that was hard to describe.
I asked him how he liked high school. His reply is something I will always remember.
"It's okay, but there will never be another class like our Period One class last year. "
"Why is that?" I asked him.
"It was magical. We all thought so." he replied.
I went home and cried some more.
I've been remembering Period One, and this student, all weekend.
His brakes failed, Friday night, and to avoid hitting someone else, he steered his car off the road. He hit a tree, and he was killed instantly. He was 22 years old.
And, as usual, I cried.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Friday, October 27, 2006
I Love You, Jamie Lee CurtisOn that sad, sad day when a woman discovers that absolutely nothing in Seventeen magazine has anything remotely to do with her life any more, what is she to do?
Come closer and I will tell you.
It's a magazine called More and it's absolutely fabulous.
"And what might this magazine have that I would be interested in reading?" you might well ask.
Articles like this, that's what.
I've been a Jamie Lee Curtis fan for many years, and I have always thought she was blazingly and uniquely beautiful. After reading this article, I think even more highly of her.
Of course, I've been crushing on her husband for years. The man is an absolute genius, and his brilliant mockumentaries deserve an Oscar category all their own. I think I know them all by heart, and I KNOW my Tumorless Sister does. (I'll link her if she gives me permission.) Our Learned Brother knows them all by heart, too. I'm hoping for some Amateurish Re-enactments at the Thanksgiving table this year. It's to be at my house so I'm the boss, right? Right? Would one of you please tell Mom?
And hey, fans, check out this video that was cut from A Mighty Wind. It's awesome.
I think that article about Jamie Lee Curtis should be required reading not only for us, but also for our daughters. I read somewhere that it was part of the inspiration for the wonderful Dove videos about what true beauty really is. (Please click them all. Allow your daughters to watch with you. Discuss.) (Actually, please encourage your sons to watch, too.)
And check out More magazine. You might not find page after page of possible prom dresses, but you'll find page after page of real-life women who, like us, have outgrown that nonsense and are looking for some pith.
I do love me some good pith.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Thank You, Al Gore, For Inventing The InternetsLast night, I was invited to dinner by a dear friend, a friend I met because of this blog. Actually, the two of us were trying to remember exactly how we did hook up, and I think we finally decided that we had a mutual friend (blog-friend on my part, although we did actually meet once, real-life friend on his part) who told him about me because we lived in the same town, and then he emailed me about perhaps meeting at some point, and so we did, or something like that, and we've met many times since. Whatever the middle details were, it was Robin who brought us together. Thank you, Robin. When are you coming back up?
Scott made his famous homemade chicken and dumplings for me, and the meal was delicious from start to finish. He had also invited another of his friends, and the evening was filled with fun and laughter and blogging tips and bits from Joel's indie movies and talk of mutual friends and experiences and how much we all had in common. (Joel, you will have to update now; people might coming clicking!!)
I know that the internet has its share of horror (oh, believe me, I know. . . .) but so does a bookstore or a video rental. It is up to each individual to know which door to open or which shelf to explore, and most of the time those doors and those shelves are plainly labeled. Life is full of choices.
Blogging has opened so many doors to me. I've met wonderful people, and they have become an important aspect of my life, and many of them have allowed me the privilege of becoming part of their lives. The heart has many rooms, and blogging has unlocked a little room in my heart that I didn't realize was even there: a room full of invisible people whom I love.
Blogging has also changed the meaning of the expression "real-life." Some of my blogfriends ARE part of my real life; they might be a thousand miles away or more, but they are just as much a part of my life as are the friends who are right here. The internet has made that possible, and I thank Al Gore with all my heart. (tee hee)
I think that I love my family even more, after reading about other families and their love for each other. I have learned more from blogging than I ever did in school. (How do I make my living again? Hmmmm. . . .)
Blogging has allowed me to peek through the windows of others and learn how people deal with the hand life dealt them.
I had read textbooks that told me what experts had to say on many topics. LOTS of textbooks, and LOTS of experts.
But blogging has taught me the truth about how people are dealing with these topics.
A textbook can tell me how certain circumstances should be dealt with. It can cite statistics, and give examples, and stir it all together in the final chapter and tell me what should be done and how to do it. Pomposity at best, clueless at worst.
Blogging has taught me how people who must deal with certain circumstances daily, actually do deal with them.
Blogs are a far better learning tool than are most textbooks. Who knows more about dealing with a particular special needs child: experts who write textbooks, or parents coping and caring for an actual child every minute of every day?
Where can we find answers to questions in areas that 'experts' don't even know exist? In a blog, that's where. Is there ever a chapter in a parenting textbook that talks about what to do when your child starts quoting Stewie from "Family Guy" to the minister, or how to clean smeared poop from the inside of an expensive toy? Does Chapter 14 in a textbook tell a worried parent where to buy pre-teen clothing that doesn't make her child look like a nickel hooker? Is there some kind of list in a textbook that tells a parent what movies, or what books, or what experiences, etc, OTHER parents have tried and found wanting, or tried and recommend to other parents?
Can a textbook show me what it's like when someone who is beloved goes through addiction, withdrawal, panic, fear, loss, death, divorce, remorse, fear, old age, devastation, bliss, love, ceremonies, childbirth, holidays, celebrations, handcuffs (either kind), betrayal, wondrous life-changing love, devastating life-changing abandonment, child-raising, disappointment in a spouse or child or self, or anything else that may or may not be found on a stress-computing test? I think not.
But a blog can.
Blogs allow people to share things. Blogs bring out the empathy in us, not merely the sympathy.
"Oh, my life is too boring; nobody would want to read about what I do all day. I think it's boring myself!!"
I bet you're wrong. Start a blog and find out. Sure, there are some boring ones out there; often, this blog is pretty boring. But keep writing and keep writing, and you might make some discoveries about both yourself and the world in general.
Anne Frank wasn't a good writer in school. She became a good writer by writing. That is how any writer becomes a better writer. Nobody sits down and produces a bestseller in one fell swoop. (some of those bestsellers are pretty poorly written, in fact.) You want to express yourself? You want to share some aspect of your life and your accumulated wisdom with the world at large? Write. And then, write some more.
Thank you, dear Scott and Joel, for inviting me into your home last night. Thank you most of all for inviting me into your lives via our blogs, first of all.
Thank you all, in fact, for doing the same. If you're ever in the area, I'll invite you into my home as well. In fact, I look forward to doing just that.
Please bring ice. I never have any.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Folger's Coffee Rocks!A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Folger's Coffee and asked to sample some of their new flavors and blog about it.
I was delighted.
Only a few days later, a large box arrived in the mail, and it smelled good even through the cardboard. I opened it, and Mmmmmmmm, lovely.
I do love to smell a good coffee.
The only thing is, I don't drink coffee. So, I arranged to have these new flavors sampled even more thoroughly than I ever could have done it alone.
I took them to class with me today, and let my students sample them.
Listen, Santa Claus himself wouldn't have been more welcome. The weather today was cold, and wet, and dark, and when I brought out these coffees, my students lit up like Christmas trees.
Folgers, I think you've got three hits.
We started with the Morning Cafe (Light Roast). It was, after all, morning when we started. The women absolutely loved it, and the men drank it and asked for more. The smell started wafting down the hall and attracted some attention from the classroom next door. We would have been glad to share, but there wasn't any left.
And for once, all of my students were AWAKE when we began our lesson!
At break, we began on the Lively Columbian (Medium Roast.) Here is where the male students found Nirvana, for the women barely had a chance to finish their first cup before the men had emptied the pot. The men were outnumbered by the women, too. All of the men wrote down the name of this one.
A few hours later, when the class was over, I asked if anyone was interested in staying late and sampling the third coffee, and every single student stayed! We ended our great-smelling day with Vanilla Biscotti, and they all agreed that it was just like dessert.
Folgers, I thank you for sending me these samples. (They weren't tiny little typical samples, either; they were 11 oz. bags! Three of them!) I'm not ashamed to admit that I held back some of it to serve to guests, later on.
My students thank you, too. Your three coffees were sampled by 23 adult students in a community college setting, and the overall consensus was: awesome.
If you ever want to send me anything else for free, in return for opinions, please do so. You'll get not only mine, but I'm a kind and generous woman who shares. Honest.
Ask anybody. And if they bring up those candy bars wrapped in foil and labeled 'chicken fat' that I used to keep in the freezer, don't believe it. Besides, it was a long time ago, and I got the idea from Erma Bombeck.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, not me.
Closer and closer, every day.
Scary, ain't it.
Yeah, well, all I can say is, NOT ME.
I won't, I won't, I won't, and you can't make me.
(Bonus points if you know where the title came from.)
That woman NEVER thought the thoughts I used to think and am still thinking. If I thought she thought the way I think, I'd be too scared to ever visit a nursing home again.
Because, you know, NO WAY!!!!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
In Case You Didn't Already Know. . . .I thought I might just give you all some
Goldie's back! Everybody rush over there and welcome her. Then add her to your blogroll and read her every day, because she's wonderful. WONDERFUL.
Then go over to Monty's and tell her how beautiful she is, even in that dress and with those scary, scary fingernails.
Get a drink of water.
When you come back, go to Guusje's blog and comment. It's unbelievable how some people can do the most terrible things while pretending to be on the side of the angels. Can you hear the angels weeping? I think I do. Besides, Guusje is a lovely person and a great read, any day.
Those of you who have lived through your children's teen years might then trot over to Pastor Jeff's blog, and tell him that this, too, shall pass. And while we're on the subject of those teen years, please go tell Scotty that he's doing the right thing, difficult as it is for him. The right thing is often the more difficult of two choices, and the most difficult of many choices.
Stand up and stretch. Now sit back down.
Go tell Phillip that his children are beautiful and that you hope he's feeling better.
I hope you visit the Three Good Doctors daily. Their blog will make you smarter, honest, it will.
So will Wes's blog. He's at the exact opposite side from me and from the three doctors in almost every issue, but I love him anyway. Besides, if we only listen carefully to the point of view we already hold, how can we learn anything?
One of the awesome things the blogosphere shows us is that even though opposite points of view are often held by people, most of us are kind and decent and intelligent and quite possibly have something to give each other that will enhance and enrich each other's lives. The blogosphere also proves to us that people whose lifestyles are different from ours, even to the extreme, are really people who have more in common with us than either of us thinks. By peeking through each other's windows, we see that we are all just nice people with much to offer each other, different though our personal viewpoints on certain issues might be. We make each other smarter people and better people and nicer people by reading what other people have to say. In our "real" lives, many of us don't have the opportunity to meet people who are 'different' from us. In the blogosphere, we are all sitting on each other's sofas and there is much we are all learning from each other. I think one of the main things we are all learning is that we really aren't THAT different from each other.
The only thing that makes me mad about MongaKim is that she is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. The fact that she's an excellent writer and story-teller is icing on the cake. Please go to Kim's blog and start reading. You'll want to crack into her archives, too, in more ways than one.
Please go to Muzik's blog and tell him you're needy and insecure and you desperately need him to post more regularly. Tell him your emotional health will improve if he does.
I hope you all read the Education Wonks every day. If you have children of any age, this blog is required reading. I mean it.
There are a lot of blogs on my blogroll. I read them all, and I read them regularly. I do have Bloglines, but I seldom remember it in time. I read over half my blogroll every day, and I read them ALL at least weekly.
I try to comment regularly, too, but lately I've not been very good at that. My apologies.
I do have a real life, in case you're wondering. It's just that I have this life, too. I love them both.
Many of my internet friends have also become real-life friends. Many people I've never actually met are as dear to me as are those I have met.
Bloggers really are twice blessed. We have two real lives.
Twelve-Step Program. Warning: Filth AlertHow to clean out the gutters on your MIL's rental house when it hasn't been done for several years and the mulch fills the entire length of the gutter clear up to the top and some of the weeds in there are a foot high and some of them are poison ivy and it's coming out in long lengths that look like huge snakes and it's been raining for over a week:
Step One: Take a shower and get all cleaned up before you start.
Step Two: Get a little tiny stepladder. Make sure it's so short that even standing on the top rung, very tall husband has to reach up really high to get to the gutters. The more awkward, the better.
Step Three: Place stepladder on sidewalk that goes around two of the four sides of the house.
Step Four: Watch very tall husband who is terrified of heights step up the ladder and start scooping out gutter-growth with your brand-new gardening trowel.
Step Five: Try to catch the long snaky mulchy ick in a wheelbarrow.
Step Six: Repeat steps two through five, until you get to a side of the house that doesn't have a sidewalk.
Step Seven: Place little tiny stepladder on bare ground.
Step Eight: Watch very tall husband try to climb it.
Step Nine: Dig bottom two rungs of stepladder out of soft wet ground.
Step Ten: Give up. It has to stop raining some time, and we'll try again when the ground dries out.
Step Eleven: Go back to our house and sweep filthy husband with broom before allowing him back inside. Advise same to undress in laundry room because those clothes are NOT coming up the stairs.
Step Twelve: Give filthy husband bar of lava soap in shower, because most of those plants were poison ivy.
Don't forget to say, several times, that he should have been using a taller ladder. He won't mind because he knows you're only trying to help.
I think some of those plants were oak trees and shagbark hickory. Some were blooming.
Maybe we should be doing this more regularly.
Friday, October 20, 2006
There Are Miracles Afoot
When my children were little, they called these 'heavenly rays,' and for heavenly rays to appear, it meant that there were miracles afoot.
I woke up this morning not feeling very well; my head was pounding, and the pain went down my neck and down my back and when I moved, I felt as though nails were being driven into my heart. Hub and I had planned a trip to Indianapolis with his mother, but they went without me. I knew if I tried to go, I'd be even more miserable and if one is going to be miserable, it's best to be miserable at home than in a car, and I didn't want my misery to spread to anyone else and mess up their pleasure trip. I tried to doze but I couldn't. I was just too stressed and in pain and did I mention stressed and in pain? And the phone kept ringing with recorded messages that I did not want to hear.
But when I went out on the deck to feed the cat, I looked up and I saw heavenly rays.
Sometimes hope will appear in the midst of mundane activity. I was feeding the cat, and I looked up and saw heavenly rays. There are miracles afoot.
We are, of course, not allowed to choose our miracles, but if I could, I know exactly what I would choose today.
My problems would not be any better, but right now, my problems are the least of my worries.
Look up, everyone. Look up. Look at the heavenly rays. There are miracles afoot.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Sometimes, We Just Can't Do It By OurselvesMake Me an Instrument of Your Peace
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.
- St. Francis of Assisi
Sinead O'Connor has a beautiful vocal rendition of this song, but I don't know how to put an MP3 on this blog.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I've felt better. I think it was in 1994.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Something Just Snapped Inside My HeadTonight's featured essay, paragraph one:
"Lincoln was a tall man, much in the way that Andre the Giant was also tall, and with the same sideways heart and thick bones that made Andre the Giant look so much like a giant, and made Lincoln look like a guy who shouldn't have been photographed wearing that tall hat which made him look even taller, kinda like a chef only the wrong color, which for the times of his life, were taller even than if he lived today, in which case the hat wouldn't be a problem because it wouldn't exist, and some think and I might agree that he grew that beard because a little girl told him to because the more of that face that was covered up, the better, and you know it's bad if a little kid can't stand it, and we all know which one was took out by a southerner with three names, just like the guy who blew Teddy Kennedy's brain to pieces in the middle of the parade, and which one was killed by a crazy actor leaping from the stage onto the balcony to climax the scene with something not exactly in the script but which would read DEATH all in red caps if it was, and Andre the Giant has a small and dainty wife which must have made their personal lifes interesting to say the least, and Lincoln's wife was a spendthrift nutter, but at least Andrew the Giant got to drop dead naturally instead of be took out by ham actors with guns or book salesmen, but the Morphine Syndrome which made them both so tall and thickboned also caused their death before their old age began, and pretty much ended both the Civil War and any chance of a Princess Bride sequel."
I don't know what to say.
Where's the firly brinkmire; I want to jump off!!!!!
Addendum: This is supposed to be a college-level comparison/contrast essay. I'll let you be the judges. My sensibilities hurt. Also, I believe the correct term is "Marfan's Syndrome."
Monday, October 16, 2006
I have always loved fairy tales. I do not mean the insipid heavily-edited baby-tales, the Disney-fied versions; I am speaking of the real thing: stories full of blood and guts and red-hot spikes and death and endings-that-are-not-always-happy and the accidental lunching on one's infant and the horrendous consequences of not following directions or keeping oneself moral.
Mom had a large thick book of fairy tales when we were kids. One of my favorites was a tale not as popular as Cinderella, or Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty, etc. One of my favorites was the story of Burd Ellen, and her brothers.
I loved this story on so many levels. . . . but one of those levels was the vocabulary. It was full of many-syllabic wonders: words that the second and third grade world would have shortened and made politically correct in a whipstitch.
My favorite word in this story was "widdershins."
Its meaning wasn't explained within the story, and I liked that, too. It meant that I got to pull down the absolutely immense dictionary and look it up. And while I had the dictionary down, I got to look at the shiny slick pages of world flags, and jewels, but I digress.
Widdershins. Burd Ellen was snatched up by evil elves and taken to fairyland because she went widdershins around the church. I was lost in fascination by this word and by this concept. She and her brothers were caught up in playing and forgot the warning and she went widdershins around the church, chasing the ball.
Please, take your children to the library and check out a big thick book of UNABRIDGED fairy tales. Don't waste your time with anything that's been edited; you want the real thing, the genuine unadulterated scary bloody real thing.
Some "experts" claim that scary stories traumatize children. I do not believe that. This is not to say that your five-year-old would do fine with Steven King, no, not at all. But a good satisfying scary fairy tale? Go for it. I can still remember sitting with that huge book, projecting myself into the illustrations, and grooving on the musicality of the language. I can remember coming to the end of a story and closing the book, thinking satisfactorily that since the wicked stepmother is dead, she's not OUT THERE any more, and not only is Cinderella safe from her grasping hands, but so am I!!!
Whereas the Disney stepmother was forgiven, which means she's still OUT THERE, and no little child is safe.
The little mermaid died, too, but it was the only honorable way out for her.
I love Disney animated movies, don't get me wrong, but those are not the real stories. I wish parents and teachers would expose children to the real thing, in print, and refuse to allow those sissy censored edited changed and WRONG WRONG WRONG booksof these stories to grace the bookshelves of our schools and homes. Let the kids experience the wonder and satisfactory retributions and blood and guts and weeping and punishments and VOCABULARY of these stories, exactly as the authors and re-tellers put them down in the first place. It creates opportunities for comparison/contrast, too. Run with it.
I can close my eyes and remember those illustrations. There weren't very many, because too many pictures in a good book is an unpleasant distraction, but those pictures that were there, were, to quote Spencer Tracy on Katherine Hepburn, "cherce."
Widdershins. Burd Ellen. I hadn't thought of this story in years, but I thought of it this afternoon whilst chatting (shhhhh) with a dear friend during MidTerms. I remembered how much I loved it.
What? You don't know the story of Burd Ellen and her brothers, and what happened to them all when she went widdershins around the church? Shame on you. Go HERE, and become enlightenened at once. Do not skip the big words. That is what your dictionary is for.
And contrary to what a select few elementary teachers (not the good ones) might think, small children LOVE big words. There is no need to dumb a story down for them. No need at all.
Condescension is never a good thing.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I Warshed Me Face and 'Ands Before I Come, I Did
I had a fabulous and hilarious conversation last night with someone who is fast becoming one of my bestest* friends. Yes, it is really possible to meet someone over the internet and then meet them for real, and find out they're not a psychotic ax murderer who stalks people for murderous purposes. (All the internet friends I've met in real life have been even more wonderful in person than they are on their blogs, and on their blogs they're fantastic!) (Oh golly, I can't WAIT for next July's BlogHer!!!!) In the course of the conversation, he mentioned that our local theatre is planning to do "Les Miserables" soon, and that the director mentioned that he had a part in mind for my friend, but he didn't know which part yet, only that it wasn't a leading role. I told him that if I were a man, and didn't want any of the main leads, I'd want to be the innkeeper, and that the innkeeper traditionally has a Cockney accent.
My friend didn't know what a Cockney accent was.
So I told him.
Yes, last night, I told a gay man what a Cockney was.
And I've been giggling all day.
Scotty, dear, here is this post, translated into Cockney, just for you.
I 'ad a fabulous and 'ilarious conversation last night wiv some bloke 'oo is fast becomin' one of me truly Mae West chinas. Cor blimey guv, would I lie to you? Yes, it is right possible ter meet some bloke over the internet and meet them and find out they're not a psychotic ax murderer 'oo stalks blokes for murderous purposes. Cor blimey guv! In the chuffin' course of the conversation, right, he mentioned that us local theatre is plannin' ter do "Les Miserables" soon, and 'e were 'opin' for a part. I discovered that 'e knew nuffink about "Les Miserables," and I were genuinely 'orrified. I told 'im that if I were a man, and didn't want any of the bleedin' main leads, I'd want ter be the chuffin' innkeeper, but the bloomin' innkeeper traditionally 'as a Cockney accent. Me china didn't know wot a Cockney accent were. So I told 'im.
Yes, last night, right, I told a gay man wot a Cockney were.
And I've been gigglin' all day.
*Superlative redundancy was deliberate. It's the weekend, but some standards do remain.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Bottom. Bare. Hole. Suck. Rubbers. Batteries. Long Hard Thing. Lots of Screws.
I made two pecan pies, and whenever I bake I get flour all over the kitchen floor.
Please note: there is flour all over the kitchen floor. See the flour? It's from pies.
I got out my trusty vacuum cleaner, turned the clicker thing from 'carpet' to 'bare floor' and whisked it over the mess.
Nothing but a stirring of the mess. No suckage. I thought maybe the hole thing was plugged. I stuck a butter knife down the hole. There was nothing plugged in there. It should have been sucking. I thought that maybe the plug had gone so far inside that fingers could not reach it.
So, I got out my Phillips screwdriver, removed about ten thousand small black screws from the plate thing on the bottom, and lifted it up.
A million more things fell out into my hand and onto the floor, among them the little black rubber thing that made the long round brushy thing go round and round to loosen the crud so the long pipe thing could suck it up. Some weird white things fell out, too. Also, a motorish-looking thing about the size of a D battery, attached to the innards somewhere up the pipe where even my flashlight couldn't see, fell out.
The motorish-looking thing looked scary and potentially shocking, which reminded me that the sweeper was still plugged into the socket. I think it still is, I don't know, because after the little white things fell out, I lost interest and came back here to read some blogs.
After while I'll go look for my broom and take care of the floury floor the old-fashioned way. Or maybe I'll just wait until we track it all over the house to the point that none of it can be seen any more because it's ground into the carpets. Remind me to keep an eye on the cat; he jumps to conclusions whenever he sees substances that can be dug into with a paw. And then I'd have to go look for my mop; I know there's one somewhere in this house.
I don't think very many people have been reading my blog lately. At least, few people are commenting. Maybe that title will bring 'em in. They'll be disappointed, but I will feel that my mechanical efforts were not in vain.
I'm sure all the strangers who find me on Google will understand.
P.S. All innuendoes were entirely innocent. I know nothing about such antics. I'm a sweet old lady who bakes pies.
I'm More Than Fair, But I Ain't Your MotherI have a lot of students who have missed classes. Some of them have only BEEN to class a few times, and the semester is half over. Item: we have a quiz every time we meet. It's on the syllabus. The semester is half over. That's a lot of quizzes so far. They were all on the syllabus.
You know, the syllabus? That big thick thing they got on the first day of class, with my name and home phone number and email address and website url and all the semester's doings on it?
That thang they don't remember ever getting, yes, that's the thing of which I speak. I can see it sticking out of their folder. Yes, that thing. If they had looked, they might have seen that tomorrow is the first day of MidTerm Exams.
Ah, yes, Midterms. All the students will take them. Yes, even those students who haven't shown up for so much as a quiz all semester. Those students might possibly find the big MidTerm Exam somewhat difficult, under the circumstances.
Ordinarily, I do not allow make-up work unless there is a really good reason for the absence. The good students e-mail or call me to tell me of various emergencies, and I allow make-ups for those people.
But some students just won't allow me to help them.
For the past ten days, ALL the quizzes we've had in class so far have been posted on the internet. TEN DAYS. FULL CREDIT. They all knew this.
And, of course, the ones who needed it most did not take advantage of it.
The good ones did. The good ones always do.
But the ones who will come to me at the end of the semester and ask for make-up work so they can pass the course and not have to pay back all that financial aid money that they've already spent, never do.
They didn't get it themselves this time. They won't get it from me at the end.
P.S. I'm not really sorry. Not for them, anyway.
P.P.S. I'm sorry for society as a whole because we have to put up with the likes of them, but that's as far as my sympathy stretches.
P.P.P.S. Because they are big losers.
P.P.P.P.S. I hope they don't bother asking anyone in the class for their stuff. I told them not to share with any of the slackers. They don't like them either. I also told the classes what all the bonus questions on the MidTerm would be, last week. Same slackers weren't there, so they wouldn't know that. Scheisskopfs.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I guess Halloween is near, but jeepers. . . .Blogrolling is being very ornery today. It isn't updating. My list has stayed exactly the same all day long and it's still the same.
Haloscan is being a bit off today as well. My comments are appearing and disappearing at random. Now you see them, now you don't.
Is my blog haunted or is anybody else having these problems?
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Me? I Studied For The Nunnery.
This is going to happen to you sooner than you think, young parents. Get your stories synchronized now. Your kids are going to ask you, and they deserve the truth. You should tell them the truth.
Just, um, maybe not all the details. . . .
Oh, and if they say something like "I'm not going to do anything YOU never did," that's a good time to have a panic attack.
Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
I see London, I see France. . . .We all have our off days.
But why were they always when the boss was there, taking notes?
Okay, this particular humiliation never happened to me, but I've known people who've experienced it or a similar thing.
For me, it was usually a student throwing up all over another student, or a wall, while the principal was in my room. I once had a diabetic student who went into a kind of sugar-shock seizure in my room; she fell to the floor and flailed about so violently that her head put a big dent in the front of my metal desk. The students had seen it happen before, and they calmly got up and cleared out a space for her to spin in safety.
You know, if I had been told she was prone to such behaviors, I might have been a little less shocked and a little more prepared to deal and help the other students deal, too.
But we were never told about things like that. It would have violated the privacy of the student and the family. I never knew, except by word of mouth (usually the kids spread the word or the child told me himself/herself) if a student was diabetic, or epileptic, or ADD or ADHD or or incontinent or anything. If it was bad enough to require an IEP, I was told that it existed, but usually I never saw the paperwork until it was conference time. It was then that I was informed whether or not I was following it. The paperwork involved in seeing a student's previous school records was so tedious that I never did it. Except for knowing about medical issues, I figured each kid had a right to a fresh start every year, anyway. Knowing too much about last year might make a teacher lower the expectations for this year. That wasn't for me.
But I really do think that a child's teacher needs to know about any medical issues that might present themselves in the classroom. Privacy be damned. Knowing might safe a life, and not knowing? I shudder to remember, and to think what might have happened.
Most of the time, after several weeks, a teacher knows, anyway, who requires a little extra time or attention or who needs to sit by the door nearest the restroom or who might need a piece of hard candy, etc.
I once taught for several sessions with the buttons on my back undone, but it was a testing day and nobody saw anything. I finally felt a breeze on my back and figured it out, but at least nobody got a glimpse of underpants. That would have traumatized my students; heck, after seeing that, they'd have nightmares for the rest of their lives. Half of them would never marry, and the other half would become addicted to Ex-lax lest they end up looking like me.
But it's sure funny when it happens to somebody who isn't me. Heh.
One Ringy-Dingy, Two Ringy-Dingys, Three Ringy-Dingys, and You're OUT, Old Man.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I Wanna Be The One To Walk In The Sun
The new Carnival of Education is up; please click HERE and read about the state of education in our nation. Remember, if you don't keep current, you forfeit your right to whine. Read, and comment. Let these educators know that you are listening. (Thank you.)
I have been soaking wet almost all day. It's been pouring rain, and as I do not believe in umbrellas (they simply do not exist!!) the trip from house to car and from car to school and from school to car, carrying a heavy briefcase and a big clunky ugly purse, drenched me.
I taught all day, shivering and wet.
Even so, it was better than dealing with an umbrella. I hate those things.
And when the working day was done, this girl, she wanna have fu-un. So I met some friends at Grecco's and we had such a good time, talking and laughing and snarfing down the five-buck all-you-can-eat pizza (each one freshly made and brought to your table!) that it wasn't until almost three hours later that we finally left. Thank you, dear Scott and Joel, for a lovely evening. I needed that. I hope you had as much fun as I did. Do you suppose there is anyone in this town we DIDN'T see in the restaurant tonight?
And now it is my favorite night of the week, and my favorite time of that night. I don't have to get up early in the morning, and here I sit with some time to think and write and talk to people.
I have two finals to write this weekend but it's not the weekend yet. I also have a stack of essays to grade but all my 'stuff' is out in the car and it's dark out there. If I go out there now, something might git me.
You know, a feral bunny or a rabid doggie or a desperate chipmunk or a frantic squirrel or maybe one of those big wolves that have been spotted in the area. Actually, I would LOVE to see one of those, but I'd rather see it in the daytime.
I'm taking no chances; the school stuff stays in the car till later.
Is there anything better than good friends? I really don't think there is.
I know I love mine. (that would be most of you, by the way.)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Then: All the responsibility and none of the authority. Now: Trusted with Both.Is anyone else out there lucky enough to have a job that makes you so happy that all you have to do is walk into the building and you feel the positive vibes? My days seem so short now; most days I feel as though I've just begun, and bingo, it's time to go to bed again.
I get tired, yes. I am exhausted, usually, by the end of the day. But even so, I love this teaching gig with a passion I didn't even know I was still capable of after enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous public school dealings for so long.
I think that after so long in the school systems of our country, the teachers who stay evolve a mindset that is almost enslavement. We endure schedules and treatment that no other professional would dream of enduring. We allow ourselves to be used and misused and overworked, all in the name of love for our students. What other professionals have a clientele that pretty much expects to be supported, fed, dressed, taught, and catered to in every possible way, without showing the least bit of gratitude?
We get so used to it, we don't even realize that there is another world out there, where people show each other respect.
We really do love the students, don't get me wrong. But year after year in a public school kind of makes a teacher numb to any other possibility that might be out there for a person with these talents. Every year it gets worse and worse, even while we are thinking and saying things like "Next year it will be better."
But it never is.
Next year, the classrooms are more overcrowded, there are less books, there are more dysfunctional families who seem to be in charge of the system, there are more duties, there are more responsibilities, there are more problems, there are more "incidents," and there is less and less support. There is no respite. There is no discipline. The teacher's union here stands idly by and allows a principal to schedule a teacher to the point that there isn't even time in the course of the day to blow her nose. I am not exaggerating, either. The contract guarantees some prep time daily? We'll count walking down the hall to fetch yet another class as break-time. We'll count your driving time, from building to building, as your lunch. Ask any music teacher if I'm stretching the truth.
Yes, every year it's worse. And a teacher doesn't really know how bad it is, until that teacher walks out and tries something new.
Me, for instance.
And now, I teach every day in a building full of wonderful hardworking students and smiling administrators and friendly janitors and awesome bosses who TALK TO US AS THOUGH WE WERE EQUALS (instead of slaves) and the building resounds with humor and happiness and dedication.
Heck, even the restrooms here are superior. And there is ALWAYS toilet paper!!!!! The halls and classrooms are clean and well-maintained. Everyone behaves properly.
The sad and odd thing is, I did not know how bad it actually was until I left the public schools. While I was there, I was the most loyal and hardworking and dedicated person in the building. Sure, the days seems awfully long, and sometimes the despair and frustration were so thick one could cut it with a knife, but it was my obsession, to somehow be a positive force in this not-very-positive place. I came to school at 7:00; I got home around 6:00. I was determined to make a difference, a positive difference.
But, but, there was no appreciation. There was only the expectation that if I could do that, I should be doing even more.
I couldn't keep on.
But now? I feel positive every day. I love coming to school. All I have to do is walk into this building and I am instantly wide-awake and happy.
Sure, there are some, um, "interesting" students here, but MOST of them are pure quality.
I still work the long hours. But I am appreciated, and treated like the professional I'd forgotten I was, all those years.
And now, I truly believe I am helping to make a positive difference. I can see it. I can hear it.
Scheisse, I love my job.
The really ironic thing is that in spite of all the negative things about the public schools, I still believe that this nation's schools are the hope of our future. There is such potential in every classroom, such stories to be told, such wondrous talent and creativity and sensitivity and music concealed behind the t-shirts and the grubby jeans and exposed underwear and defiant raising of the eyebrows and the punky hair and the chips-on-the-shoulders and the trendy slang and the stubborn glares. . . . there is poetry behind the obscenities, and magnificent scientific discoveries behind the unwillingness to conform.
It's too bad teachers are no longer allowed to cultivate it.
Why can't we be allowed to step back and bask in the glow of unbridled enthusiasm, and throw ourselves into helping students learn and discover and grow, grow, grow, both physically and mentally and socially and culturally and scientifically. . . . .
What happened to us as a people, as a culture, as a nation, that our idea of 'school' has sunk to the level of equating success with a number on a piece of paper?
I do tend to rant, don't I. My apologies.
I miss what my former job might have been, in a perfect world.
But oh golly, I do love my job now!!!!
Come Onna My House and Bring Your Kids
Won't somebody please indulge me here?
Monday, October 09, 2006
. . . yawn. . . .I left the house at six fifteen this morning and I got back home about an hour ago. That's a long day, and I'm really tired.
It's not even ten p.m. yet, but I think I'm going to go to bed. I feel like such a sissy caving in like this, but today, it's got the better of me.
It wasn't a difficult day; it was a very good day, in fact. It was just a long day.
BUT, the longest day at the college still beats the best day I ever had at the public school. I even had an hour for lunch with a friend! I never had that, before. For 26 years, I had 23 minutes for lunch, and by the time I ushered my students to the cafeteria and made sure they all had their lunches and/or money and/or knew to tell the cashier they were on free lunch, it was more like ten minutes. Deciding whether to sit with some adults for a few minutes, or go to the bathroom, was a hard choice to make every day. Usually I sat with the adults, since the nearest bathroom was a country mile away and it took longer to get there and get back than to visit with a peer for a minute. My next break was only four hours away; I could wait. Why could I wait? Because I had to. There was no alternative. Teachers who leave their classrooms for even a moment could find themselves liable if a student decided to behave like a jerk, and guess what; our schools allow jerks to sit right beside your well-behaved child and torment him/her all day long, and there's not a thing anyone can do about it because there are usually letters of the alphabet involved which render the jerk untouchable.
YOUR child, on the other hand, will be disciplined if he/she snaps and strikes back.
Bah. I can't think about that right now; I'm too tired.
There is something about some adult contact in between student contacts that refreshes and replenishes a teacher. It would have made all the difference in the world back in the middle school, but I guess that's too complicated a concept for most administrators to understand, sitting in the ad building with all the time they want for lunch most days as they do, and working so hard to see where more positions might be eliminated so they can double and triple the classroom load and duty load and before-school load and after-school load since the schools are now keeping many kids every minute of the day except the few hours at night when the parents reluctantly pick their kids up and take them home to sleep, the school having furnished all three meals and a cot for dozing, once again. . . . .
Ramble, ramble. . . . good thing I left my red pen in the car. I'd never let a student get by with that sentence.
I got an hour for lunch today. How much time did your child's teacher get? I bet it wasn't an hour.
Do you know what your child's teacher would like for Christmas? Not candles, or lotion, or picture frames, or ornaments that say "World's Best Teacher," lovely as these things truly are. Your child's teacher would really appreciate some gift cards for restaurants.
Most evenings, teachers are too exhausted to even think about dinner, but the teacher and his/her family have to eat, and the gratitude for a restaurant card would be genuine and enthusiastic. Go ahead and buy a scented candle and a tube of hand cream if you want; the teacher will use them and enjoy them, but for a really happy teacher who will remember you with positive vibes, put a restaurant gift card in an envelope with a little note thanking him/her for all the things he/she does for your child, and I'm betting your child's teacher will leave the building that evening a little less tired than usual. Your gift card and note might be the difference between the teacher leaving at the end of the year, and staying on to work a miracle the next year, maybe even with your child.
We don't praise each other enough. We're good at finding fault, but we're falling behind in the praise department.
This post makes no sense. I'm just too tired.
Good night, my dears. I love you all.
Don't let the bedbugs bite. Bedbugs have to eat, too, but I don't want them munching on any of you. You're all far too precious to end up as bugbait.
Okay, that's it. I'm going to bed before this post gets even stupider.
I mean it this time.
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Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly
Saturday, October 07, 2006
She's Feral and Incestuous and Very, Very FertileMy daughter and some of her friends are coming down today to try to find the latest batch of Stray Slutty FeralMomCat's kittens, which have been spotted behind almost every shrub around my house but which seem to be hiding really well indeed today. Actually, I haven't seen them for three days now. FeralMom is back, stealing Charley Gordon's food off the deck, but no kittens.
I got a good look at them only twice. Two silvery-gray, one black, and one calico like FeralMomCat. Her last batch had huge batlike ears but this batch has tiny ears. Long pointy kittenish tails. Huge loud kittenish voices.
FeralMomCat used to belong next door, even though they deny knowing her. Next door, they have kittens like gangbusters, litter after litter. They can't afford to have any of the cats 'fixed,' but I would think that feeding that many cats would be far more expensive. Besides, around here in RuralLand, you can take your cats and dogs to the local elementary schools once a month and stand in line for the eight dollar pet vaccinations, and get a coupon for a fifteen-dollar neuter.
FeralMomCat was part of the neighbors' first litter from THEIR semi-feral momcat. There are at least a dozen cats of various sizes at their house. They stay close to the house; I've never seen one here, and we are within spittin' distance. I think most of FeralMomCat's litters were the result of various incestuous encounters with her siblings, if appearance is any kind of clue.
Belle and her friends are going to try to catch FeralMom, as well as find the kittens.
The Humane Society shelter in this county charges a large (to me, anyway) fee if you want to drop off an animal. I can't afford that. The shelter in Belle's county doesn't, so she will take them there, if she can find them. Besides, her shelter will neuter the kittens, give them their shots, and then PetSmart will sell them, so the odds of baby animals finding a good home increase by crossing the county line.
The kids were supposed to be here at ten. It's now eleven, and their food is getting cold.
See that title? Go nuts, Google!
Update: They came, they found the kittens, they caged them, they ate, they packed up the leftovers, and they left. FeralMom eluded capture once again.
Charley Gordon wasn't sad to see those kittens go. Really, he's more like an Oedipal two-year-old than an elderly cat. I can't say for certain that he was taunting the kittens through the bars and meowing the equivalent of 'neener neener' at them, but if facial expressions could talk, he was giving them the feline finger and bragging that he was staying but they weren't. . . .
And when I put a little Cheap Chunk sliver on my finger and tried to pass it through the cage, Charley Gordon put a stop to that, too. Ouch.
MY mommy. MINE.
Now that the kittens are gone, Charley Gordon is doing the victory dance out on the deck.
"I'm a big tough, albeit neutered, Tom Cat, so to speak. Hssssst hsssst, purrrrrrrr, hssssst."
Thank you, Baby Belle and friends.
When FeralMom drops another litter behind the bushes in a few months, I'll let you know.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Another Post Where I Swear I'm Not A Political Blogger And Then I Say Something About PoliticsI am not a political blogger. I swear, I'm not. There isn't a political bone in my body. (Is there an echo in here?)
But I am a citizen, and a woman, and a registered voter (otherwise, no right to whine), and a mother, and a neighbor, and a bunch of other things, and I've tried all my life to be a kind and decent person.
(Those college years don't count, do they? Oops.)
I think it is the 'mother' part of me that is outraged here. I can feel myself morphing into a grizzly bear, standing tall and ready to rip to shreds anyone or anything that came near my children with perverse intent.
Ordinarily I don't mention political names on this blog because I AM NOT A POLITICAL BLOGGER. But I simply must put my two cents in about Mark Foley.
Wait. He's not worth two cents. Ach, where's a ha'penny when you really need one?
Mark Foley. Scum. Predator. Whiny excuse-maker.
His being gay doesn't bother me in the least. Many of my friends are gay. Many are not. That part of their lives is none of my business. I love them for being the people they are, not for what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. We are what we are.
What bothers me is that he made inappropriate advances towards children, and then tried to excuse his actions with sniveling statements about his personal addictions and his own teen trauma, all the while standing before us as a nation and vowing to bring down those who lay a violent hand on the bodies/minds/hearts/psyches of our children.
Can we spell "hypocrite?"
And now his own law is coming back to smack him in the arse, because if he goes to jail, it's because of his own work to get it passed.
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Way to go, Foley.
I waste no sympathy on him. He's a predator, and what he did was inexcusable.
I tend to be pretty tough on grown people who try to use their childhood traumas as excuses for behaving badly as an adult. No. Sorry. Won't work. Life is full of choices.
Mark Foley chose to be a dirty old man.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The Kitchen of Super-Heroes
Do I seem like the kind of old lady who has African violets, fake ivy, and antique spatterware in her kitchen?
Well, do I?
Darn right I'm not.
Monday, October 02, 2006
A Monday's Random Playlist
Once again, I've set my player to 'random,' and I'm just sitting here reading blogs and tapping my feet.
It's good to get home.
Here is this Monday's random playlist:
1. Here, There, and Everywhere - Beatles
2. I Need You - Dan Bern
3. Fade Away - Gomez
4. Amazing Grace - Three Irish Tenors
5. Famous Blue Raincoat - Leonard Cohen
6. Pavane for a Dead Princess - Ravel
7. Lukey Lukaloney - Great Big Sea and The Chieftains
8. At Last - Tilly Cryar
9. Hansel and Gretel and Ted and Alice - PDQ Bach
10. Grape Jelly - Adam Sandler
11. Life on a Chain - Pete Yorn
12. Blame It On The Bossa Nova - Eydie Gorme
13. Crown of Scars - Manic Street Preachers
14. Musette (Bach) - Yo Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin
15. Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
16. Miss Me Blind - Culture Club
17. Down the Old Plank Road - John Hiatt, The Chieftains, and Bela Fleck
18. World Inside the World - Rhett Miller
19. Maple Syrup Time - Moxy Fruvous
20. Blues in D - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Playing as I type: Three Little Words - DaVinci's Notebook
Even for me, that's a mix.
It was later than usual when I got home tonight, because I had supper with Frau after my class and before hers. Then when I took her back to the regional campus, I saw my boss's boss there, so of course I had to go
I'd planned to get out the weedeater but it's already too dark. I might have had time if I hadn't gone kitten-hunting in the shrubberies again.
Ah, Roger the Shrubber: your front-of-the-house outdoor feng shui is a promiscuous stray cat's idea of delivery-ward paradise.
Here we go again.
Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.
I'm not sure we can afford to feed another cat.
After poking about in the shrubberies looking for the source of the newbornish 'meows,' though, I can tell you for sure and certain that somebody has to get in there with some clippers and get rid of all that wild raspberry and those little stray trees. My arms are ripped to shreds.
Ah, now playing: Every Grain of Sand - Moxy Fruvous.
I'm going to the kitchen for a sammich now. Want one? Come along then.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Hear No Evil"The eye of the storm went deaf, and I tried to speak but found my voice had been deafened as well. But not for hearing my mother's voice in my brain, it might also have been deafened. However, it was not, and the good fortune of it all made me glad to be alive, in spite of all the others who were not alive and therefore unglad of it, if their senses had not been likewise deafened."
Yes, I've started reading the essays. I think I was better off before.
My mind's eye went blind about a half hour ago, and it helps a little.
In fact, I think most of my senses have been both blinded and deafened. This is by far the worst batch yet. The firly brinkmire is looking better and better.
These students are genuinely nice people. I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I am also obligated to tell it as it is.
And both "it" and the "telling" are painful.
Sigh. Red pen out, aimed, FIRE.
I Am Not A Political BloggerI am not a political blogger. I am NOT a political blogger. I AM NOT a political blogger. I am not a POLITICAL blogger.
But this video over at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's blog is perfection on a stick.
See for yourself. "Click."
It Sounds So Pretty In Another Language.
I am a far from perfect mother. But I am not unfit.
Don't ask. Yes, it upset me. (stupid forum)
I've been off for four days and I haven't touched my essays. I saved them all for a Sunday night treat. Add to that, a stack of quizzes, and you've got my typical Sunday all-nighter. I've done this for years; I vow I never will again every Sunday and every Sunday I do it again. File it under "Maybe If I Ignore It, It Will Go Away." That, and "Misc." are my largest files.
I learned the alphabet long before I ever started to Kindergarten, and yet my filing system is atrocious. I am always in such a hurry when I put things away; almost everything is filed under Misc. Last Sunday I went through all my Writing 024 quizzes and put them in order. Not an hour later, I had to find a certain quiz FAST, and in doing so all the quizzes got messed up again. I was in a hurry when I put that certain quiz back with the others, so I just tossed it on top. Then I put it all in a file folder labeled "Misc." because I was still in a hurry. I knew, I just KNEW, I would be able to find this one quickly because I used green marker, and all the other folders were labeled with black, red, and, oops, green. Multiply this by seven courses and you've got my filing system.
Take into account that my file cabinets are now residing downstairs in the laundry room instead of right by my side in a classroom, and that the dining room table upstairs is where I grade all my papers, and that is the explanation for the fact that I use the living room couch as a file cabinet.
Well, it makes sense to me. Just give me a few minutes warning before you stop by so I can clear off a spot for you to sit.
The dining room table is covered with stuff right now, so we are taking turns eating at the little round kitchen table. The dining room table is covered with old computers and parts on one end, and my school stuff on the other end.
The kitchen table is covered with apples, pears, grapes, and stacks of mail on one side, and enough space for a person to eat, on the other.
Clutter. I am buried in clutter.
I am not tidy. I am not typical. I am a firm believer in proper public behavior. My house, my rules. Your house, your rules. I know the alphabet even though I do not always use it.
But I am not an unfit mother.