Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Small town, enormous town

I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a grey, drizzly Saturday about 1984 or 85 in Goodman's Cafe on Main Street in Blountstown, FL.  I had a bowl of chili and a grilled cheese sandwich.  We only went to town once a month.We had to pay someone to take us to town grocery shopping when my Grandmother's social security and the teacher's retirement check came in.  We always had lunch at one of the few restaurants in town.  I always loved the Burger Shake.  The Green's then the Donaldson's ran a great place.  We lived out near Sam Adkins Park.  I remember when they built it.

We banked at Ellis Bank, later NCNB Bank, my Grandmother refused to call it anything but Ellis Bank.  Mrs. Peacock was my Grandmother's favorite teller at one point, I'm not sure if she moved to the credit union or not when that came to town.  Things got a bit hazy there for a while.  I know we used to shop at Hagler's IGA and Evelyn Donaldson was my Grandmother's favorite cashier.  Then they opened the Piggly Wiggly in the lot adjoining Corbin's hardware store.  We started shopping there because "Aunt Margie" worked in the deli.  They had amazing potato wedges.

One thing I was absolutely certain of was that I would live in Blountstown, FL.  I would teach in Blountstown when I grew up despite the fact the teachers seemed to think I wasn't very bright.  I knew I would graduate with the BHS class of 1988, I would go to FSU or Emmanuel College.  I just knew I would return to live the rest of my life near the family and friends I had in Blountstown.  I was not one of the popular kids, I didn't have a lot of family.  I had family by marriage and a few really good friends I wanted to be near always.

It's amazing what you can convince yourself of when you are too young and naive to see another way.  I didn't graduate with the class of 1988 in Blountstown, but with another class of 1988 in Chicago, IL.  I did not go to either FSU or Emmanuel.  I went to 3 different schools but finished exactly none of them because life kept getting in the way.  I never returned to Blountstown aside from 3-5 brief visits.

I did learn as I ventured away with my Mom in 1985, that strange November day that there was a huge world and I was on the edge of it.  I learned when I got to Chicago that I was far from stupid, or dimwitted, I was placed in honors classes and did fairly well in them.  I also learned that I had a very high level of social anxiety, I hid it behind a joker's mask of smiles and laughter.  My shell was beginning to crack.  I was emerging.  The person I tucked away in that shell all those years ago had continued to grow, she just looked very different  than the one I'd envisioned and the one I'd been forced to pretend to be.  In truth the cracks started appearing before I left Blountstown.  I was beginning to grow up and actually voice my opinion, no matter how ignorant it was perceived to be, how ill advised, unpopular, humorless or humorous.

As the years trod on, I went off to college, realized I hated theater and didn't want to do it anymore.  I came back to Chicago, was reconnected with a boy I knew from Blounstown.  A boy my Grandmother probably didn't like, but it was the closest thing to her blessing I could get.  I'd fallen for him hard in 5th grade and he never left my heart and mind.  We reconnected, fell in love, I moved to Pensacola,shacked up and married, went back to school but didn't know if I wanted to teach.  I started work in an elementary school as assistant director in after school care (was SURE I didn't want to teach) then had a baby. I went back to school yet again.  This time I discovered I was actually quite intelligent.  I had more fun tutoring various electronics courses, Physics, Calculus and honors English while working as a lab FA and lead FA in my department.

You guessed it...quit school again because it was my son's turn to go to Kindergarten.  I couldn't be an hour away when he got sick and needed me.  I threw myself into volunteer work in his school, then won the PTA presidency.  The school was barely integrated.  It was largely a hispanic community.  The PTA was run by two white women when I decided it was time for a change. I hadn't been as sneaky as I had the capacity to be yet, nor as naughtily good.  The constitution hadn't been touched in 4 years.  I rewrote the constitution and happily admit I forced my agenda for an integrated PTA.  I wrote into the constitution that there would be a President, and 2 vice president's one of whom was to be bilingual the other only Spanish speaking.  I incorporated 2 Hispanic teachers, meetings were conducted in English and Spanish at the same time.  I met with the parents of Hispanic children who were considering involvement in the PTA based on a male Hispanic teacher approaching the father's.  That was the best winter festival ever.  We had a full line kitchen making fresh Mexican food, fathers and mothers were both involved.

The years have moved on and so have I.  I am a housewife and a mother.  I am often exasperated or exasperating.  I am over worked and under appreciated or over appreciated and under worked.  I am not very good at Candy Crush.  I am a pretty lazy housekeeper, I wish I liked to clean, but sadly I like to connect with friends and family.  The mess and the souvenirs from years of travel and our life as a family will be here.  Life however, is short.  

In my childish insular world, I never imagined what my life would be like. Certainly not where life would take me.  I had planned on lesson plans, those same school walls I walked so many years before with the echos of classmates laughter falling like stones to the floor as new notes replaced them.  Homecoming parades and a never ending round of "Eye of the Tiger".  I had planned on finally not letting fear hold me back and becoming more out going.  I had planned on falling in love with and marrying a boy in that same small town.  I did do that.

As my perfect dream of sitting in Goodman's diner every Saturday afternoon in my adult life (until "the one" came along) ended in a nightmare one day.  I awoke new and reborn, being reborn daily.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random thoughts

I'm having some random thoughts and thought I should share my thoughts here.  See, I thought that out.

I think the school systems are really doing more harm to our children than good.  As long as a child follows along on a straight line, doesn't speak, colors within the lines, obeys without question....then they are considered good.

If a child is a free spirit, following his own path but getting to the music room on time, colors things the way they want them to be, questions the methods of doing something, is boisterous or chooses "the wrong friends"  Then they are bad.

My son is NOT bad.  Does he make stupid mistakes?  Absolutely.  Do many of us?  Absolutely.  Does he not do as well as he should in order to pursue a more fun distraction? Yes  Do many of us?  Of course...who the heck wants to do dishes when there is a child, a fireplace, a kitty and a TV?  Is this normal?  Yes, it is.

It seems that the majority of the kids today have aberrant behavior compared to the way I grew up.  I don't trust a kid who won't make eye contact or talk directly to an adult, especially as a teenager.  It's abnormal for boys and girls not to have been in at least one or two playground fights by the time they finish 6th grade.  It's not normal for kids not to learn that there are bigger, faster, stronger, more deserving, less deserving, wonderful people and downright horrible people in the world.

As much as I feel it's my job to make sure he has good food, clean clothes (all bets are off with his bathroom and bedroom) learns to organize and study, learn to balance a check book, do taxes...etc.  As much as all those are my job as a Mom, it is also my job to teach him the cruel realities of the world and help him learn to make good choices.

I feel my son is about 80-90% honest overall.  The homework and tooth brushing lies we won't even enter.  I am shocked that parents tell me their kids don't talk to them.  Mine talks constantly to me, about me, with me.  He hates me and he loves me just like a good teenager should....tonight he asked me how to figure out who he is.  This is what I see hiding inside his shell;

a boy who is

Indomitable (most of the time)
Strong sense of fairness
Loves his cat
Enjoy's bible devotion
Loves Halloween
Loves giving gifts to make people smile
Loves his cat
Has a good moral compass

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

International fun

We recently went to Toronto for a rugby match.  The Maori All Blacks vs Toronto.  Going in to Ontario we were asked

  1. how many are you
  2. why are you coming to canada
  3. where are you going
  4. where are you staying
  5. how long will you be here
  6. do you have any fire arms
I was sitting in the back seat and we were not asked to lower the window.  We were not asked if we had any food products. We were there for part of 4 days and 3 nights.  They rugby match was awesome, NZ won 40-15.

While there we purchased candy, milk in a bag, cheese, bran cereal, fibre bars, whipped honey, and maple syrup.
The guard asked us coming back to 
  1. lower the back window
  2. why were you in canada
  3. how long were you there
  4. what did you bring back
  5. what kind of snacks
  6. doesn't your son have a passport
  7. why didnt you just bring the expired passport for him it would have been easier to read than this birth certificate and student id
  8. what else did you bring back
  9. i can't understand the lady what is she saying
  10. what kind of groceries 
The guard's tone was totally rude and dismissive.  This happens EVERY single time we or anyone we know has crossed the border into Canada.  It's much more peaceful to enter Canada from the US.  The return trip is a nightmare because you never know what to expect as far as stupid questions.  

I find it a joke that so many people in Detroit are losing their pensions, they could hold those jobs and be pleasant doing it.  The ideal situation would be to have actual soldiers at the border.  There are so many returning vets or unemployed vets who would do a much more competent job at both the border and in airports as TSA officials.  I think the more that the US tries to crack down on all the "trafficking", "terrorism" and moronic rules about processed food, the worse the situation will get.  The easiest and most sure way to get a child to do the wrong thing is to tell it not to do that.  The child then wants to push the boundaries.  At least my inner child does.  

I'm probably not the best example of a Mom, my son pushes boundaries too, but darn it; we think for ourselves and draw our own conclusions.  

Please don't tell me I can't bring back milk in a bag....i will find a way.