Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Little Forgetful???

We are on vacation in the tiny hamlet of Desmond Beach.  Ninety three year old mom is with us.  She experienced a little tummy trouble early on, so she was being careful of what she ate.  Yesterday, everything seemed to have settled down so I offered her some food.  She said a half of a banana would do the trick.  I proceeded to mosey off to the kitchen, stopped at the couch, took a nap and totally forgot about the banana!

After my nap I was walking around oohing and aahing the waves, when I remembered the banana.  I went to mom and said,  " I forgot to give you the banana, and took a nap instead!"  Her reply, " oh, I thought I ate it! "

Talk about memory loss!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Juy 4th - a slice of Americana

I remember taking a class in "Principal School" called "School Climate".  I got it.  Essentially it was about supporting the culture of your school and it had nothing to do with race or ethnicity.  It had everything to do with HOW THINGS WERE DONE!!!!  Amazing, how differently things are done depending on where you live - in this country!

My first experience with people 'doing things differently' was when I attended a wake for the brother of the custodian of our school.  I walked into the funeral home to see most of the family dressed in jeans and jean jackets.  My little Irish Catholic heart shook.  Jeans at a wake?  The deceased was also dressed in jeans attire.  Wow, people really did that?  Our practice had always been church attire for wakes.  How presumptuous of me.

A different wedding consumed my attention on the 4th of July.  Now I am a woman who came of age during the 60s, so I should not have blinked, but, somehow I have returned to my more conservative roots . The pretty bride wore white.  The dress was cut short in front with a longer train in the back; she wore brown cowboy boots, and a red, white, and blue veil with silver, blue, and red stars on it.  I was so star struck, I missed the bouquet.

The groom's father roamed around during the brief ceremony, packing a weapon by the way, and laughingly saying  "I object" to the minister's query"....speak now or forever hold your peace."  No matchy, matchy for the wedding party.  Each girl wore whatever she wanted.  The first girl garnered some nervous attention.  I swear she was a 65DD, she had a strapless dress on and was continually placing her body parts back into the dress!  I saw probably $100,000.00 worth of tattoos, mostly large, some colorful- there was everything from religious symbols to words and everything in between.

Why am I telling the reader all of this?  I related my experience to my spouse when I arrived home.  His response - priceless and true-  "so you have just experienced a slice of Americana."

My observations:  everyone had a great time.  There were no long faces, there was a great deal of laughter.  The food - all home cooked- was delicious.  Kids ran around as kids do in a hall, families chatted.  The elderly mixed easily with the youth - and the school personnel? Well, we all looked like a table full of stiff necked teachers!!!  The stereotype lives!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Can you use some board games and toys for the kids? Good Doing III

This was a tough one.  A very kind parishioner said her grandkids had outgrown their board games, puzzles, and toys.  Could we make use of them?  Sure!

 I walked into the school the next day and walked through a wall of stale cigarette smell (like thick, awful, stale) and a dust ball.  The dust ball was similar to the one that followed Charles Shultz's Pigpen through his Charlie Brown Life!

No argument here - the "gift" went right back out the door to the trash.

Sometimes "givers" assume that it does not matter the condition or smell of a gift - a poor kid will like anything!

The "Good-doers" Part II

The next group to have our students as recipients of Christmas giving was the high school that was connected to our building (in name only).  They moved to the suburbs, and the elementary school took over the old high school building.

The high school had a Giving Tree.  Each of our student's first name, age, and sex was listed.  Then the H.S. students could choose the student for whom they would buy.  There was a service group that would coordinate everything with the help of advisors and the labor of the school secretary.  Thank you, Chris!  The service group would bake cookies to be brought to the school as a treat for the students on the day the gifts were delivered.

The challenge with this activity was keeping the kids in their skins when they knew the high schoolers were coming.  Talk about wild energy and electricity running through the building.  All in all this was a good experience.  Had one teacher meltdown when she refused to let the kids have their gifts because she wanted them to "settle down".  Not possible, believe me, when this giving gets rolling.

Occasionally, a child would throw a tantrum because they didn't get what someone else had.  One girl, and she was a girl with a girl's name, consistently received a boy gift every year for four years!  How does that happen?  The H.S. students did a splendid job, and as the practice occurred each year, it got better.  We tried to get the H.S. kids more involved with our student body, but distance between the two schools prevented any regular visits.  I suspect, too, that the powers that be at the H.S. were leary of the "neighborhood" in which we educated children.  (Didn't stop the alums from coming back to see their old stomping grounds and reminisce. )  Oh well.  This "good doing" created some very positive memories for our kids.  Good 'nuff!

The "Good-doers"

A car conversation brought to mind the "Season of the Good-Doers".  Please do not interpret this as a criticism of those who help others.  It's more a commentary on being a thoughtful giver.  The school secretary was a kind, happy person who was rather direct in speaking her thoughts.  She coined the phrase "the good-doers".

Our school consisted mainly of families who lived at or below the federal poverty level.  In many ways, the poverty was one of spirit as well as financial.  At Christmas, we would be flooded with calls from organizations that wanted to help by providing gifts for the kids.  I wasn't certain how to orchestrate the whole process, so group by group I will relate the story.

There was the wealthy suburban church that wanted to provide a gift for each child.  I asked them to purchase books for reading for the kids.  That went over like a lead balloon, but I persisted and won.  The teachers developed lists of fun books for the students to have in the classroom.  Of course, then I dealt with the few teachers who listed some book out of print that they loved as a kid and were certain that our urban kids would love.  I didn't learn to review the lists (in my spare time) until I would get phone calls saying the giver couldn't find the book.  Some people would give up and give gift cards, so the teachers would have to do the shopping (in their spare time!)

Of course, after the first year, I did ask the teachers to type the lists because I ended up retyping quickly scribbled lists that were rushed to make the deadline.  I am not in any way criticizing this giving practice.  We got some great books for the children and they were able to take them home at the end of the year.  But (and isn't there always one?) the church people required that we go out to their church and pick the gifts up.  It was probably a 50 minute drive from my home.  We did it - for the kids.