Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Good first--I went to an eighth-grade graduation today. It was good. I was invited by the mother of a former student who seems to think that I was a big source of help to her and her son. The mother is one of my heroes. I wish I had the strength she has. The son is sensational. He has been one of my favorite kids ever since the day he and another third-grade boy made a drawing of a space creature. When I asked him what the name of the creature was, he replied, "Poop." I asked him where it was from. His reply, "Uranus." I honestly believe the child had no idea what he had said. I still have Poop on my refrigerator, although he made it almost five years ago.

The mother gave me far more credit than I deserve for the way I had encouraged her son. Truthfully, all I did was love the boy. I recognized some of his potential and realized that some of the things "every third grader needs to know" were things he already knew or had no need for. One day while he was in my class, his mom had serious neck surgery. He was rightfully very worried about her. That day he spent the entire school day outside the open door to my classroom stretched out on the floor and reading a book. I knew there was no way he could attend to whatever lesson I was trying to teach. He seemed to appreciate the privilege, and I know I didn't have to discipline him at all. In the years after that, he often came to my room for a quick chat or a hug. I think he sensed that I genuinely liked him as a person. I did then, I do now, and I intend to like and support him in the future. I know God has great things in store for him.

Now the bad: I finally went back into the school this evening to get "my stuff". (Like all you are saying, all she needs is more stuff!) ((That is even more ridiculous in the light of the fact that I took a carload of stuff to Faye's house last week for her yard sale!)) A good friend convinced me that I should take my things before the scavengers got to them. That way I could be sure that they were where I wanted them to be, especially since I had paid for them with my own money. I didn't want to do that at first. I had bought almost all of that stuff for my little children at school, and I wanted them to be able to use it. However, when I got to the school, I saw that all the materials I had bought had been stored away in the closets or file cabinets and weren't being used. After seeing that, I had no qualms about getting them out of there. For one thing, Faye can use some of them for Amber and Gracie, and I can use others with Alex and Mapoopis. This was good material, folks, things carefully selected to appeal to special needs children (and most young children, for that matter). It was a draining experience.

And last (and least) the ugly. I am sitting here wrapped up in a blanket because I am exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I don't know why doing something like moving those things should be so exhausting, but it was. I guess it was just another realization that that door is closed and will never be open again. I looked at the names of the sweet, sweet children whom I would never teach again and had ugly thoughts about their future. The ugly thoughts have to go. I must realize that just because I wanted to work with the children differently does not mean that my way was the only way or the best way. I must realize that someone else can love them and guide them better than I could. I just don't want to let their sweet faces or sweet spirits go. I want them to be able to develop the same kind of friendship with their teacher that Poop's creator had with me, and I am afraid that might not happen. I want them to feel respected and loved, that they are worthwhile human beings. I must realize that there are other teachers who can love them and respect them, and I must be willing to let those teachers work with them. I have to get over this, people. Here I am, crying again, and it's been months since I left that classroom. I knew there was a reason I hadn't been there before now, and I probably should have stayed away.

Back to the good again: My great, great friend, who stayed after school to help me box up my teaching days. I will always love and respect that friend. Thank you is not enough. Friendship with that person is one thing I took away from school that I will always treasure. Good bye, and God bless.


Jenn Hacker said...

Mama Tooz, I'm so sorry you're so sad! I wish I was there to give you a hug. I know changes can be hard, especially when it means not seeing the people you love (boy, I really know about that kind of change!)

I was recently at Wal-Mart and got a book called "Touchpoints for Women". It's been really helpful to me. Seems like there's a category of scriptures for everything. One of the verses they have listed under the heading "farewells" is

"At last Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, for we have made a pact in the Lord's name. We have entrusted each other and each other's children into the Lord's hands forever.' Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the city."
1 Samuel 20:42

And under that, the editors wrote "Entrust the other person(s) into God's care while you are gone."

I was feeling really sad about all the people I've left behind in KY that I love, and I read this verse and it made me feel so much better. I hope it helps you, too, Momma Tooz!

Now I'll tell you something my mom used to tell me when I was far away at college and missing her:
"Put your right hand on your left shoulder. Now put your left hand on your right shoulder. Squeeze! That's me sending you a big hug."

Then it got to the point where she would just write "RHOLS, LHORS, S!" (Right Hand on Left Shoulder, Left Hand on Right Shoulder, Sqeeze!)on her letters to me. Now I'm telling YOU to do that, and that's me sending you a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGG HUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGG!

Lydia said...

I was scared at first when I read the title of your most recent post that it might be about your three kids. HA! HA!

I was just writing this morning in response to one of my Bible study questions about positive influences, what a positive influence you had on me by loving all those kids at Second Street. I am thankful for the times you took them to McDonalds for rewards that they might never get from home. I think I have inherited your passion for underpriviledged children. Thanks for that, Mom.

annalu alulu said...

me, too, now that you mention it. i do love underpriviledged (just copied lydia's spelling...her guess is better than mine) children, and adults, for that matter. i think it comes from second street for me, too. wow. that's really great, mom. anyway, which one would i be, lyd, the good, the bad, or the ugly? is that in birth order? in ways i can see you being the bad...

Jenn Hacker said...

NONE of you fit the "ugly" part, and none of you are bad, so you can rest assured there's no way that could ever be about the Meadors offspring!

Tooz said...

I told my babyies' daddy about Lyd's response to the blog title. He also wondered, like Ann, which child would be which. Maybe this is the way it works--think of all the kids as one person, Mama as one, and Daddy as one. Now ascribe the adjectives accordingly. (By the way, Daddy doesn't accept the adjective good.)

Tooz said...

Yes, I can spell babies. Beats me why I didn't spell it rite.

Lydia said...

I'm not going to get serious about my comment, Ann. After the "favorites", I've chosen to only joke about such things. I will say this "there is none good, no not one." The other two you have to decide for yourself.

Mouse Tayter said...

Good Morning, Susan!

For those that don't know me, my name is Julie. I'm the mother of the afore-mentioned former student, artist extrordinaire Alex.

For one of the first times in the nearly 20 years I've known you (yes, dear, it really HAS been THAT long), I disagree with you. I don't think I give you too much credit. When Alex was in 1st grade, he was assigned a teacher that would get upset because Alex would say her purple shirt was green. It made Alex feel stupid. As it turns out, Alex is color-blind. You remain the only teacher that took the time to find the best way for Alex to learn. And learn he did. In doing so, you gave him confidence. He became very comfortable in his own skin. You helped me keep others I have too much class to mention from pigeon-holing my little boy as a problem, and instead, made them work for their money because he was gifted. You never gave up. You've been a blessing. I count mine every day, and when I look at Alex sprawled out in the floor with a college textbook (again, for those that aren't aware, Alex is only 14)instead of some of the things I've had to do with his brothers, I find myself thinking you don't get ENOUGH credit. We all reflect those that played parts in our lives. Having said that, if Alex is sensational (and he is, yanno-just ask him), then he is at least partly sensational because of you.

I'm sorry things turned out like they did at SSS. But, that's just ONE place where children are supposed to be educated and loved. It is my firm belief that God gave you a gift. With the hundreds of kids you've helped educate over the years, I'm not sure it is the place you miss. Maybe its the teaching and loving of kids in general.Maybe God wants you to share the gift in a new place.

And, maybe I should shut up. There are many that pray for that every day (ha ha ha)

Jenn Hacker said...

I agree with Mouse Tayter. You are wonderful and spectacular. And you DEFINITELY don't give yourself enough credit for all the wonderful things you do.

You don't realize how much you and Clan Meadors means to me, and how sincerely I mean it when I call you my adopted Momma! When Mom got sick then died, I was numb. Then when it was all over and it had a chance to sink in, I felt like my world was over. And here I had this little one looking up at me with big blue eyes like I was everything in the world to me. I was terrified!

All the rest of my family moved away and went about their lives, and I felt so alone and scared, just me and Jamie. Then Ann and I got back in touch, then you and David just swooped in and took me in (again - you'd done it before, back before Ann and I lost touch for a while). I felt loved again, and here I had thought the only person who really loved me had died.

You showed me that Mom wasn't the only person who loved me and that I was a loveable person. I'm sitting here crying while I write this because I just love you so much. I don't know how to convey to you how much I love you, Tooz!