It Has to Stop

I am an ex teacher. I taught for a decade in Michigan public schools. There are so many reasons why I stopped teaching, some reasons more profound than others. But one of the issues that I always had as a teacher was having to train on active shooter drills.

When I was a child in school, I remember doing tornado drills and cold war drills. I remember doing fire drills. Active shooter? What is that? Fast forward a few decades and boom, now we worry about someone coming into a school and killing students and teachers.

I was teaching high school when Sandy Hook happened. I worked in a predominantly at risk school with many ESL learners and a large population of special education students. Sandy Hook tore me apart and I remember my kids wanting to talk about it. So we did. We talked about what we had to do when there was an active shooter drill. What my responsibility was to them. I told them that I was there to protect them at all cost. That if I had to I would take a bullet to protect them because they were my kids. Then one of my boys piped up. He said that they wouldn’t leave me behind. They would shove me out a window.

I shouldn’t have to talk to my kids about these things ever. I should be able to teach them Shakespeare and WWII and they can go home happy at the end of the day. Why am I talking about bullets and dying. This is not what I signed up for when I went to college. There was no college 101 on active shooters. It jarred my mind that there was something seriously wrong. Fast forward a few years…

I went to teach at another school, a larger one taking a position with more responsibility teaching middle school. I had a classroom that was not used for a long time and had a strange set up. It was a regular room but there were two singular bathrooms on one side of the room separated with a large wall, both with heavy locking doors. Now I had done active shooter drills before for years but this one hit different. When we did the drill, I locked and closed all my doors. Turned off the lights. What I did not know and came to find out was I was to lock my kids (I had about 10 in a class) in the two bathrooms and shut the doors. These were extremely tiny bathrooms that would make it difficult to fit in there. But we did it all while the admin and police department went through banging on doors. I realized I had no windows in my room, no way to escape if needed. No way to get my kids out. This was horrible. Why was this reality? Why are these a part of my school year?

I quit teaching in 2015. I have not been back. I homeschool my daughter who is neurodivergent. I think about how she would react in one of these drills. Scared of the dark and lack of security. Not knowing why or how to be completely quiet. I worry about other students that are special needs in these schools. Possibly being some of the easily targeted because of their special needs. It destroys me. Schools should be safe havens for students and teachers. A place of learning. Not if you are scared someone will walk in with a gun. Nope. Its torture. For every parent, not knowing if their child will come home that day. What in the actual hell?

Bottom line is that something has to change. These people that we elect and put in office need to do something for these children. It has to stop. I will be sending emails to my reps today reminding them that they need to do something. They need to be active about this. Or they will not be reelected. I’m not going to vote for someone that is going to stand by and watch all this shit happen and do nothing. I feel shame for my country and what we are.

So, take some time today. Call, write, picket. If you are an influencer on social media, make noise and a lot of it. And the huge one, when it is time to vote, vote the assholes out of office who are more worried about making a dollar then their responsibilities taking care of the people (children) in their communities.

It has to STOP…

Mama Knows Best

There are so many things that we as moms endure that are hard. So damn hard. And yet, we still show up every day doing the best we can for our kids.

When my kiddo was born, I knew right out the gate that something was different about her. I had her sent to nursery the first night so I could have some sleep after 27 hours of labor that ended up in a horrible c-section. In the morning when they brought her in they said all she did all night was cry. She never slept. I was perplexed at the idea that a just born baby didn’t sleep for 6 hours, yet there was nothing medically wrong. When we got home, it was very much the same. She never slept. And the advice started to come from all directions that maybe she had acid reflux, maybe it was a milk intolerance, maybe she had gas, and the list went on and on. I knew that those were not the issues.

From six months to a year she would not nap. She had to be in the car or you had to hold her the whole time. Even if it wasn’t nap time and you set her down she screamed murder. Now most people just said that I should snuggle her more or sleep train her. That wasn’t it, there was something more to it.

She was never happy, she was never content. I didn’t take her into a store until she was 18 months old because all she did was scream. She screamed constantly and never slept. She was up at 3 am every day and gave up naps completely so she was in bed by 6 pm. Most nights we were so exhausted after working all day we went to bed at 7 pm. People in our families and friends had a hard time understanding this; we valued sleep and this was the time that we needed to sleep so we went to bed when the sun was shining and woke up in the middle of the night.

Also she was very particular about toys. She was very repetitive with the same toys. Same activities over and over. She didn’t really start talking until she was 2 1/2 and at the same time also decided to potty train herself. She didn’t really follow directions well. She got easily confused She was very smart and academically had her colors and shapes all memorized. No form of consequence affected her when it came to discipline. She was always hitting and for a while biting. But she still didn’t sleep. We were managing well enough at home but our friends and families couldn’t understand that we were not going out or attending events because her bedtime was 6 pm and I wasn’t going to deal with the shit the next day after having to get up at 3 am. Nope.

Preschool age was a nightmare. She didn’t sleep for 8 months. I almost had a nervous breakdown. She never napped. She was volatile; hitting, slapping, biting, damaging objects. She was never happy. I took her to doctors and they just kept saying it was a phase. That there was nothing I could do all the while I knew that it was not a phase.

Now we are here today. After years of everything we have finally got an answer. She has autism.

We are seeing therapists, we are getting on the list for the best OT in our area, we are also going to do a school of choice for her to go to a school with teachers that are trained and educated more in the autism arena. But it took me 8 years for someone to listen to me and to be taken seriously that something was different. That she wasn’t like the rest. There are still many things that her and I have to work through, independently and together, but we have the resources to help us and for that I am thankful. Here is my take away and gift to speak: Mamas, always trust your instinct.

I had a friend (who is no longer a friend) who always told me that I should ignore my daughter. Let her cry it out. That she was manipulating me. That she was just being a kid and I needed to stop being so dramatic. Then one day, randomly, she told me that the reason that she couldn’t be my friend was because I didn’t give her time. I wouldn’t go out with her or come over because we went to bed too early. She then said that she couldn’t handle how out of it I was. I never realized it until now that I was so happy that I NEVER listened to her advice or anyone else’s. That I listened to what MY family needed. That I fought to find a way to help all of us to get through this journey. This “friend” doesn’t know that my kiddo was diagnosed with autism. But boy oh boy does she look like an ass for all that shit she said. Mamas, don’t ever let someone try to tell you that you are crazy or don’t know what you are talking about. Or that there is nothing wrong. You know those babies best. You know. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you don’t.

*April is autism awareness month

Vaccine Where?

My husband is considered an essential worker. He cannot get a covid vaccine unless his employer contacts a vaccine clinic that will allow him to get vaccinated. That phone call was made 11 days ago and we have heard nothing about him getting his appointment for his vaccination.

My doctor called me on Friday for some lab results. She asked me if I wanted a Covid vaccine. I said yes. I am not an essential worker and I have no health issues. (Mind you as of April 5th, Michigan was open to all people 16 and over to get vaccines.). I have an appointment this week. Monday I called the office to see if I could get my husband an appointment and they said no. That unless he has medical issues he cant have one. So I questioned the receptionist and asked her how come I was able to get one. She says I was lucky.

Here is what it coming down to. Michigan opened it up to all people over 16 to get a vaccine if they wanted one. The issue is they are not allowing those people to get them, only in designated clinics. So, one clinic will allow anyone to have a vaccine and the one 2 blocks down the road will not. So explain to my why we bothered opening the vaccines up to all people if it will be weeks or months before they will be allowed to get them because we are still vaccinating those who are more vulnerable? Just keep the vaccine eligibility closed until you can actually vaccinate those people. Because all it does is piss a bunch of people off.

As of this morning it seems as though all but three places in our area locally are vaccinating people over 16 with no medical conditions. The wait lists for these clinics are huge. And last week my county declared a state of emergency for covid cases. So, where are all the vaccines?? I’m going to stay hopeful that we will get a call for him sooner rather than later, and this applies for many of my family members as well. I also hope that others that are looking for vaccines also have good luck at getting their speedily without a hitch. We have got to get this pandemic under control, asap.

Is That How We Treat Our Elderly?

My grandmother is 85. She has her mind. On some days her body is failing her. Sometimes it works. She has been in and out of the hospital and 3 different nursing homes in the last 6 months all related to complications of medical issues that generally come with older age.

It’s been hard though. With the pandemic and the savagery that has torn through nursing homes, it hasn’t been easy to get in to see her. You can only call or peer through a window. It’s not just the same. She is vaccinated and for that I am happy.

The problem that has come up, something that I have never truly realized, is that nursing homes have gone somewhat rogue since they went into lockdown. It seems as though they are not following the rules and laws as they should, making sure that the residents are properly cared for. That they are treated with kindness and respected as individuals. Because families are not able to go in and visit, these nursing homes are getting way with things they shouldn’t.

I have talked with directors of nursing, charge nurses, and administrators to know avail. I have also been completely ignored. It’s been impossible at times to talk with my grandmother. The staff doesn’t communicate about her care. They don’t even read her chart to find out what she needs for medical or diet.

There has also been the awful side of it. Things I would rather not type. If any of you have dealt with nursing homes, you understand the ugly side. Bottom line is I got tired of no one listening. So I started speaking up. I’m tired of being quiet. I have been emailing senators. I have been putting things on social media. It’s disgusting how our elderly are treated.

Our elderly population regardless of their physical or mental condition should be treated with respect, kindness and compassion at the time of need whether in nursing homes, assisted living or in-home care. They have the right to be taken care of properly in a medical aspect, given hot, nutritious meals and allowed proper personal hygiene. Some of the facilities are asking for $5,000 a month and they give a wedge of cabbage for dinner. Or give you cold pancakes for breakfast. Sometimes they say mean, cruel or rude things to the elderly. They don’t give them water. The don’t toilet them in a proper and timely matter. They won’t give you pain management and they wont let you call your family for days on end. Is this really how we treat our elderly?

Most elderly that I know have worked and paid taxes. They have raised a family and paid their dues to the community. They have been law abiding citizen doing their due diligence in voting and stopping for school buses. And this is how we treat them. When they are tired and frail. When they feel hopeless and insecure. When they feel lonely and scared. This is how we treat them.

Nursing homes all over the country, not just in my home of Michigan, need to be more accountable. They need to work harder. States need to have agencies do more surprise check ins. They need to look at how residents are treated and have those conversations. Laws need to change about elder care. The elderly need to be given a list of their rights and ask questions if they don’t understand without fear of disapproval or dismissal from the staff. The list goes on and on. Something needs to be done. Our elder communities deserve better. They deserve more. A. Lot. More.

What Would You Do??

What would you do? There is a woman named Mary. Mary was physically assaulted by another woman named Jane. Mary pressed charges on Jane but Jane got a slap on the hand and cited with a misdemeanor. Mary has found out that Jane is an elementary teacher that is set to teach her child in the next school year. Mary does not want contact with Jane and does not want her child having contact with Jane. The issue was brought up to the school, principals and superintendent. They are refusing to do anything or help with the situation initially saying the assault was made up until a police report was brought forth. They are supporting Jane and saying she has gone through a lot but has made changes in her life. They said the only thing they can do is maybe stick Mary’s child in the office with the sick kids during the time she would be in Jane’s class. Make Mary’s child do computer work for an hour. Otherwise she HAS to be in Jane’s class because there is no where else for Mary’s child to go in a school of +500. So, should Mary fight for her child to attend her home school or find another school to go to? What should Mary do?

The Virtual Tidal Wave

This is the school year of all school years.  I am exhausted and we have not even started school.  Well we have but not really.  Confused?  Me too.

Our school district in Michigan had us set to begin on August 25th.  The district plans were to allow students and parents to decide if they wanted virtual school or F2F.  My family chose virtual as I am a certified teacher and have actually taught in the school district that my daughter attends.  We did not start school on the 25th because we didn’t have computers or teachers.  Now, as of today, we have a teacher (thankfully it is the same teacher that she had last year so the relationship is already there) and a computer, but we still have no classwork.

Apparently, the program that we are supposed to be using has become so overloaded that it is slow and is taking more time to import all of the student data in it to begin.  We were supposed to have logins for our classes today, which now they say will be Friday, and I think it will be next Tuesday.

I was also surprised to find out that our district has 41% of students doing virtual classes and some nearby districts, it is only 14%.  I wonder why there is such a large discrepancy?

I am not in a panic for my daughter to start because there are things that we can do at home or outside to bring the learning to her.  We work on telling time and reading.  We talk about plants and how they grow.  We do a little math while baking something.  There are always things that can be done that can allow the connections and build the knowledge.

All of this has been a huge learning curve.  Not only for teachers but for parents, grandparents, kids, bus drivers and more.  There are things that I am pleased about and some things not so much.  But this is the first time that virtual learning on such a massive scale has ever happened.

I wonder what it would look like if this was happening and there was no internet to do virtual school.  How would learning be handled?  What would be happening in the schools?  How would parents handle it?

Hmmm…

Well, Aren’t We Entitled

I was scrolling through the news, and I know it is something that I shouldn’t be doing but, ya know, you have to stay informed.  I came across an article on CNN explaining how there was a school in Indiana where parents KNOWINGLY sent their child to school with a pending Covid-19 test.  And guess what?  It came back positive!!!

I prayed a lot, talked to myself, wrote in my journal…you name it, I did it to figure out what to do with my daughter for this school year.  She loves her school, her teachers and her friends.  I am well acquainted with the school because I had taught in the district in the past.  I wanted her to go back to school. But I was extremely hesitant to say the least.

Our district released a plan that is offering face-to-face (F2F) school and virtual.  I have decided to take the virtual option.

Now here is the thing.

There are all different kinds of families with all different circumstances.  And they will have to choose the option that is best suited for them.  You do you. I get it.

What I am not okay with is this exorbitant level of entitlement.  It makes me gag quite frankly.

What in the name of _____ would make you think (as a parent) that it would be a good idea to send the kid to school with a pending Covid test?  Your entitlement?  Your need for wanting your individualism more than what is good for the whole?  Your a psycho?

This goes back to why I cannot send my daughter to school in good conscience.  I have no control over what other parents do.

Parents send kids to school sick all the time.  What is going to make this pandemic situation any different?  Just a roll of the dice on whether that cough Bobby has had for a week is Covid or a regular cold?  Just to see what happens.  Nah.

But this time its different.  Sending a child to school ill this time around could be potentially lethal not only for the peers but for those who staff the school.  If a teacher gets Covid, how is he/she going to get a sub?  Subs are hard to come by as it is.

I cannot send my daughter to school knowing that she could carry this illness to others.  I cannot send her knowing that there are parents out there that wont keep their sick kids home.  I cannot send my daughter because the school may get lax in their sanitation protocols and the cleanliness wont be effective in preventing the spread.  Kids wont keep masks on.  Kids will be too distracted.  Teachers will be overwhelmed.  Social distancing wont be maintained.

I cannot control what others do.  But I can control what goes on in my home.  Because I am looking out for the good of the whole.  Not just my family but other families, teachers and students.  I am making my choice for others too.  Because it seems to be the best thing to do.

Whatever you choose to do as a family, however your kids go back to school, make sure that you as a parent have a plan.  Have a plan how to handle illness, extra curricular activities, play dates (if you allow it).  Because of all these decision have an impact on the whole, not just you. And if we ever plan to get the heck out of this, we need to start looking at it as a whole and not just you vs me.

 

 

 

 

Who Dis

Honestly, I have no idea. I am a person who had one life then decided to have a baby. Now I am that person living with a child but really don’t have a clue who I am. What do I even like anymore? What makes me tick? What makes me happy? I am having to relearn all of this. I am sure every mom has gone through this to some extent, but it’s like I had amnesia and now have to relearn who I am all over again.

So with that, I do remember my name. I am Heather. I live in Michigan. I am married and have a 6 year old daughter. Beyond that I am trying to figure it out. Sometimes I think I know, sometimes not so much. But what I do know is life is short, and I want to do as much as I can in my limited time. So I am gonna do what I like. And I am going to do things and fail. I am going to succeed. And laugh so hard I pee my pants.

I plan on sharing a little of everything. This blog is not a one size fits all. Not just fashion or my kid. Not just food recipes or new restaurants. I want it to be all the things because life is all the things. Life is the hectic, the good and bad, with some ugly. Sometimes it’s sad or upsetting. And sometimes it’s a blast. I want to share it all.

So stay tuned. We have a wild ride ahead.