Half a Cup of Blues

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Bucket of Blues ...

I miss my sweetheart.

He's all the way over on the other coast and won't be home until Sunday evening. And I have to head out of town Sunday morning so we won't even pass on the highway. I'll already be working when his plane lands and he heads home. He'll be with the goobers until Wednesday morning which is when he has to head back out of town. I'll be heading home later that night. This is the longest that we will have been apart since we have been together. Days and days and days.

And nights.

I know that in the grand scheme of things (you know - life) that I really have nothing to complain about but (and I whine here) I MISS HIM!


I really do miss him.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things that make you go Hmmmm....

I spend a lot of time with emotionally disturbed kids.

Sometimes they seem way more mature than quite a few of the adults in the world.

What does that say about us all?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nerd Alert ...

If I admit that I listen to JPR every morning on the way to work - does that make me a Geekette?

Okay, sometimes I listen on the way home, too.

Perception ...

Seeing is believing, right?

Well, it doesn't work that way in special education. Especially not at our level. Our kids are what public schools refer to as the bottom of the barrel. The 1% of kids that nobody wants and that every school in the state of California has kicked to the curb. In this era of budget crunches can you imagine how bad a kid has to be for the schools to pay over 5x the daily rate to place a kid at our school? That is some serious money. And , trust me, they pay it willingly. You can almost see their eyes roll back in their heads with fear if we talk about sending a kid back to public school.

In fact, they tell us that they'll believe these kids are "fixed" when they see it. And they need to "see" it for up to 6 months just to be sure! Yeah, right. That's realistic (not).

Have you ever heard of self-fulfilling prophesy?

Basically, it means that you will find exactly what you expect to find.

If you expect a kid to be bad then you will find every single thing that could be even remotely interpreted as defiant and it will be a glaring example of how RIGHT you were to not trust these kids. You will see it BECAUSE you believe it.

I don't operate that way. I believe in the goodness that I will find. I believe that they will be successful. I can see it long before even the kid can. I can paint that picture with details so clear and real that the kid will see it, too. And they will BE that good kid. Oh, they'll make mistakes. We all do. But it is amazing how they will RISE to the highest levels of expectations when they know that you belive in them.

Unfortunately, they are fragile while they begin to blossom and it takes a lot of effort to protect them from the elements. One scornful person can take 10 minutes and undo what a team of people spent weeks building. We know that. We try to give them enough time to get stronger before we send them back into the scornful world that has already rejected them. Some of them will make it and some of them won't. It is a tough world out there.

Every now and then we hear back from the kids that have left us. And not just the successful ones. Some kids write to us from college and some write to us from prison. And some we read about in the obituaries.

When you see a kid out there in the world and they are struggling just try to remember that if just one person really believed in them maybe they'd be doing something different. A hand UP is not the same thing as a hand out. Be a mentor if you have the time. Spend more time with your own kids. Believe in them.

See the goodness in them until they believe it, too.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Have Been Vi-o-late-d ...

...and it was icky!

First of all, y'all just have to know that I am the HUG QUEEN at work. I will give any kid a hug. We have had some seriously gnarly kids whose bathing habits and hygiene left a whole lot to be desired but I have always thought that it was important to make every kid feel accepted and cared for. So I hug.

Yesterday a bunch of the kids had a scavenger hunt after school and were raiding the classrooms looking for goodies to add to their stash. One of the boys from the classroom next door came through and he usually asks for 2-3 hugs a day. He has very thick glasses and probably weighs under a 100 pounds so hugs are a bid deal for him. Anyways, he managed to scoop up several treasures from my room and while I was busy looking to see if I had a book that they needed he hugged me from behind.

Hmmm.... this has never happened before.

I turn sideways and give him a side hug as he says thank you and I turn back towards the bookshelf. That was a mistake. I was immediately wrapped up in another hug and this one I could feel from my shoulders down to my knees. He was WAY inside my comfort zone. I think I must have really barked out his name 'cuz he bolted out of my room like his feet were on fire.

I notified the school staff of what had happened and talked to the teacher next door. I explained that I wasn't comfortable giving this boy a hug for a while and that he would have to earn trust back. I'm pretty sure that he (the kid) knows that a "talk" is coming because he was avoiding me like I had the plague today. That suits me just fine. I was tired and achy all day so I really wasn't looking forward to talking to him.

As a matter of fact - I didn't hug very many kids at all today.

I have to wonder if it was because I was feeling kind of icky(sick) or if it was because I was feeling kind of
icky (violated)...


Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Cup Runneth Over ...

...with sadness.

I blog-hopped this evening.
I read about BHD's trip back east to be with family.
I felt sad.

Brian gave his father a beautiful eulogy at An Audience of One.
He misses his dad.
I cried.

I wanted to go somewhere I had never been.
I followed a link from Brian's page.

The name appealed to me.
It was The Narcissist's Secrets.
It has a new name now: The Next Chapter.
I read about the birth and death of the beautiful baby Oliver.
He was 12 days old.
I cried.

Oddly enough these last two connected for me.
The most important man of my childhood was my granddad.
He was the kindest, gentlest, most loving man - ever.
I was born on his 54th birthday.
I loved and respected him like Brian did his father.
I wanted to name my daughter (if I had one) after him.
His name was Oliver.

I'm turning the computer off for the rest of the night.
My heart hurts for people that I don't even know.

Tonight's Plan: Make a wish for peace and healing around the world.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Meme in Music ...

This was over on Ali's Blog and she snagged it from Ally Bean ...

Pick a band/artist. Then answer these questions using only titles from the band/artist’s songs.

1. Name of band/artist: The Eagles
2. Are you male or female?:
The Girl From Yesterday
3. Describe yourself: Witchy Woman

4. How do you feel about yourself?: Certain Kind of Fool
5. Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: Outlaw Man
6. Describe current girlfriend/boyfriend: My Man
7. Describe where you want to be: Seven Bridges Road
8. Describe how you live: Dirty Laundry
9. Describe how you love: Too Many Hands
10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish?: Peaceful Easy Feeling
11. Share a few words of wisdom: Learn to be Still
12. Now say goodbye: Already Gone

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We Do Our Best ...

And, yes, I know that we can't SAVE them all but we sure do give it our best shot.

I had to say goodbye this morning to the young man who tried to attack me this last December. One of the staff who was helping in the situation ended up with broken ribs. It was an incredibly UGLY day. This very angry young man (still a boy in many ways) wanted to seriously hurt me and he was determined to do just that. He hurt so bad himself that pain was about the only thing he really knew how to share.

It took a group of us working with this boy every single day to let him know that we were NOT giving up on him and that we knew he could and would do better if he started to believe in himself. He came from a nasty history of domestic violence in his personal family and the family has been so fractured by violence that they are saturated. They don't want this boy to ever come back home. That is a terrible thing to be told by your own family, especially when they were the original ones who modeled the assaultive behaviors to him as a child.

At any rate we really saw some potential and we made that clear every chance that we got. We offered him another classroom to be in but he wanted to stay in mine. I have to be really honest and admit that I had really mixed feelings about that. I did believe that he could be better but I also wanted to keep my bones all in original condition. The only thing that I could do at this point was just to become the "mom" type figure that had abandoned him and make sure that I was there every single time that he was upset and work through it with him. This was a very time consuming strategy but you know what? It worked! At least at school it did. He has had near perfect behavior at school for 6 weeks now. He was writing me letters at the rate of 2-3 per day to express his fears, frustrations, and hopes. He started and ended every single school day with a hug. He wanted so badly to be the guy that we all knew he had the potential to be and he was well on his way.

Last week he had a court date and was told by his social worker that the family that he had hoped and thought would adopt him were not going to pursue it and that he should just let go of that "fantasy" and move on. He was simply devastated. At his group home that evening he was moody and curt and he had asked the staff (all male) to leave him alone and not to get into his "space" while he was thinking. A power struggle ensued and he ended up pushing the staff away. He was physically contained. This happened twice. His residential agency (sister company to my school) terminated his placement and gave his county seven days to move him to a new facility.

Today was his last day. He'll be moving to the Sacramento area tomorrow morning. We gave him a beautiful leather journal so that he can continue to use writing to express his feelings in a positive way. I still think that he can turn his life around and put violence behind him. He was already making huge strides and, even though he has setbacks, he can do it!

Sometimes the results come long after the students have left us and we can only hope or imagine how their lives turn out. In this case, I'm hoping that he stays in touch, maybe through the Values Blog Question of the Day or by writing me a letter now and then so that we can hear how it all turns out. We do our best to give them the tools but it is up to them to actually use them. I hope that he builds a great life!

Today's Plan: Think positive!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

She's Safe...

I cannot tell you how relieved I am!

She was picked up by the police department in Santa Rosa.

Her "bed" has already been filled at the group home so I have no clue if they will allow her to take the next opening that comes or if they will just place her somewhere else.

On the flip side - bad news.

The young man who has struggled with his violent outbursts and aggression towards women was told yesterday that his placement here was closing after an altercation that he had with two male staff in his group home last week. Our Executive Director has said that his situation was "iatrogenic" in that our staff contributed to the escalation and that makes us, as a company, also partly responsible for his behavior. This boy will be interviewed by some placement here in the northstate this afternoon. I advocated that his school placement be kept here if the new place accepted him and was close enough to make it work. I wasn't told "No" but there are no guarantees so we may be saying goodbye to him this week. *sigh*

What a week of ups and downs and it is still ONLY Tuesday!

Today's Plan: Expect the best and deal with the rest...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

What's Cookin'...?

It is a rainy day here.

We've baked just over 4 dozen oatmeal cookies.
The first batch of peanut butter cookies are now baking.
Maybe chocolate chip cookies later?

There is just something about the smell of cookies baking on a winter day.
The woodstove is cranked up and the house is toasty warm.

What's cooking at your house?


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Monday, Monday ...

I will finally have two aides in my classroom on Monday!

We have shuffled some staff around the school and tried to redistribute the
areas of strengths and weaknesses so that each class has a better balance. I have always been the "strong" staff in whatever room I've been in (as an aide or a teacher) because I catch behaviors very EARLY and intervene in most cases BEFORE anything breaks out into violence. It takes a hyper-vigilance that can be exhausting but well worth it in the end.

Debbi has been my aide for over a year and she's awesome. She is the ultimate "Mom" and she nurtures the kids and always makes them feel special. I'll be getting Jerry and he's a very quiet and highly intelligent man. He'll be running a lot of our homework because he's very good at that.

My class size has fallen from the usual 12 down to 9. They hadn't wanted to give me too many new kids while I was already short-staffed and I have lost a couple of kids for various reasons. I may lose another one very soon. I can't say anything about it until all is said and done but it weighs heavy on my mind. There are some important things that I need to take care of in the meanwhile.

The next three months will be instrumental in determining whether or not I stay with the company. We've spent HOURS revamping our behavior management system in order to make it user friendly and it will implemented schoolwide so that we don't have different classes running their own programs anymore. That may go a long ways towards raising morale. I sure hope so! This could be a major turning point for several of us. Wish us luck!

Today's Plan: Order a pizza, watch a movie and RELAX.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

All Will Be Well

All Will Be Well

The new day dawns
And I am practicing my purpose once again
It is fresh and it is fruitful if I win
But if I lose
Ooh, I don't know.
I'll be tired but I will turn and I will go
Only guessing till I get there then I'll know
Oh, I will know

All the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you
And all the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

All will be well
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell

The winter's cold
But the snow still lightly settles on the trees
And a mess is still a moment I can seize until I know
That all will be well
Even though sometimes this is hard to tell
And the fight is just as frustrating as hell
All will be well

All the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you
And all the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

All will be well
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell

Keep it up and don't give up and chase your dreams
And you will find
All in time

All the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that's shining in my window as I write this song to you
And all the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel the love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

All will be well
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell
All will be well
Even after all the promises you've broken to yourself
All will be well

You can ask me how but only time will tell.
You can ask me how but only time will tell.

by The Gabe Dixon Band

FYI - my 14 year old student has not come back.
Her "placement" has been terminated with our agency.
Her sister graduated the program and moved on yesterday.
Before she left she told us that her little sister had planned to runaway.
She made her living selling herself on the streets when she was 12.
She has gone back to that life.
She gave up on herself.

I have to believe that she will make it some day.
I have to believe that all will be well - somehow.