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   Thursday, September 29, 2005  

In which I make myself a liar

Yesterday I said that I would post about secondary infertility, babies, etc.

And I intended to, I really did. Only one problem: THAT'S A DAMN HARD TOPIC!

I can't formulate a solid answer yet. I find myself vacillating between several opinions on much of that. I will write about that, but I don't think it will be today. Maybe it will be this weekend, maybe after Tuesday night's childbirth class. I just don't know yet. I don't want to post something like "Yes, but no, except when maybe and in that case then yes, but really mostly no because sometimes..." I want to actually have some form of an opinion and be able to word it in such a way that my opinion comes across without being hurtful or upsetting to those who are in a different point in this hellish journey. I won't write that post until I feel I can write it somewhat well.

Instead, today I will answer the questions of the lovely Jen.

First, the easy parts. Mr. W does all of our cooking now. And he's a brilliant cook. My only complaint is that he's so mesy in the kitchen and it drives me crazy seeing the mess as I walk by on my way to the bathroom. Still, he does get it cleaned up by bed time every night (or, you know, by the time he needs to cook dinner the next day). Thankfully we've had very little takeout food, but I won't deny the frequent frozen or hamburger helper (made with texturized vegetable protein as I am anti-real meats other than fish and the occasional uncontrollable chicken craving).

As to whether or not I will be a stay at home mom, I'm just not sure. I still have issues with picturing my lowercase coming home with us. Assuming that he does, I intend to stay home with him at least until he can verbalize well. Mr. W is adamantly opposed to sending a child to any form of child care before he can tell you if someone is doing something they shouldn't.

At one point, I thought I would wait to go back to work until after my children were in school. But I really miss teaching. A lot. So I might go back sooner.

Now for the fun part! The part where I go on and on about the wonders of public education!

I am an elementary teacher. I actually am certified in my home state in both general elementary and middle school science. I student taught third grade at an inner city public school (ranked lowest in my home state! In the worst neighborhood in the state capital! In a neighborhood where they filmed COPS! Where a woman was raped in the parking lot they pretend is a playground at the school! Where the boy scout troop leader was found to be a pedophile who preyed on little girls! And lived directly across the street from the parking lot/playground!). I fell in love. And then was placed in a private Christian middle school for the science portion of my student teaching. The inequalities sickened me. I couldn't get past it and it took me several weeks before I could start to see those kids for who they were and not see the $10,000 their parents paid to send them there.

When I moved to New York, I initially taught 7th grade life science. In the inner city. And I hated it more than I can express in words. So much so that I did not transfer my science certification over. I taught there only through December (leave replacement position) and decided I would go back to the elementary level. I subbed for quite a while and then took a maternity leave position teaching third grade (my favorite age!).

I think that's what I miss the most. I know, it sounds trite, but I really do miss the kids. They mean so much to me and are absolutely the reason for it all. In the inner city, it goes beyond just being their teacher. It's loving, mothering, protecting, and advocating. And then when they finally trust you to be there, it's the curriculum. They need so much more than just what is offered in the text books and I feel called by God to help give that to them. I spend (literally) 11 hours each day in the school when I'm working. I make visits to their homes if necessary. I plan walking field trips as often as possible to let them experience their own hometown in ways they would never have access to.

One trip was to the local newspaper about 10-12 blocks from the school. My parents were visiting me the week I took my kids there and I asked them to come along as chaperones. Maybe the conversations my parents had with those kids can show why I love these kids so much and how much they need.

My mom commented on how many of the kids were shocked to see people working as we walked by. "Hey, there's a mailman! Look at that guy -- he's working on that house! Check out those guys working on the telephone poles!" And then there were these comments.

"Miss W mom [yes, that is what they called my parents; Miss W mom and Miss W dad], did you know that used to be a crack house? They makin' it nice now so nobody gets drugs and dies there no more. I hope they get all the other ones gone too. Hey, you ever see a dead body? I saw one in that creek once."

But my favorite, little Tiffany had this conversation with my mom.

T: "Miss W mom, you know my mom lets me take a taxi by myself to school now. She said I'm old enough."

MWM: "I've never taken a taxi."

T: (laughing) "You serious? Mom says it cost too much, so sometimes I gotta take the bus. You take the bus? Cause the taxi's too expensive?"

MWM: "Um...I've never taken a bus that wasn't a school bus."

T: "Then how do you go somewhere?"

MWM: "I drive."

T: "What if your car gets broke?"

MWM: "Well, then I take the other car."

T: "You got more than one car??? Nobody got that."

MWM: "I have one that I drive, my husband has one that he drives."

T: "What if they both broken?"

MWM: "Well, they haven't both been broken at once, but if they were, I suppose we would ask someone to drive us or rent a car."

T: "Why not just call a taxi? Or take a bus?"

MWM: "There are no taxis in our town. Or buses. It's a small town. Either you drive or you can walk to something close by, but there aren't a lot of businesses in our town. Mostly just houses and churches."

T: "Walkin' can be scary though. With all the crack houses."

So...that's what I miss. Being able to expand what they know. I bring in pictures of other parts of the country. I talk about jobs with them. We talk about what it takes to get somewhere, ways that they can get through and get past where they are right now. And we talk about that regardless of how young the kids are because they need to know.

It breaks my heart that all they know are crack houses and dead bodies. Lockdowns at school that I can't give them an explanation for but really it's because of the gang members running through the neighborhood shooting at each other. Gang shootings at the park across the street from an apartment complex where many of my kids lived and finding out the next day that one of my most sensitive girls had watched it out her window and was still scared. A police standoff at a multi-family house directly across the street, officers in full riot gear with automatic weapons (and the school remained unlocked!) because bank robbers were holed up inside.

But then I get a picture of a former student with a note that says 'I love you and miss you so much, Miss W.'

And how can I walk away from that? So even though I'm in a new city now, I will teach in the inner city again. I can't do anything but that. Those kids need me...and I really need them.

   [ posted  @ 5:45 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (3) ]
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  Comments about my post, "In which I make myself a liar":
I assume you've read Educating Esme? If you haven't you should - but it also sounds like you've lived it. That book was breathtaking - and your post was very similar.

And they both make me feel like a schmuck for teaching in the privileged school in the privileged district that I do. But then I don't think I could do what either of you did.

Your kid is going to be very lucky and the kids you've taught and will teach are really lucky to have you. Maybe they don't have anything else going right in their lives, but they've got you.
Dang, you made me cry. You're such a caring woman. Teachers are special people.
Love your journal, I've been reading you for about a year or more now. I check in with you and the lowercase daily. Keep on keeping on. You're doing a great job.
Hi there. I've been reading your site for awhile now, but this is the first time I've *really* wanted to comment! Great, great post about public education. I'm in grad school right now to become a middle school language arts teacher. My husband is also a teacher and he has stories, but nothing compares to the inner city stories. He works in (and I'll probably work there too) a wealthy district. Of course, it has it's issues, but they are very different.
Every time I check your site I wait with my breath held...until I see a post that confirms you are doing okay. I have been so very fortunate in my pregnancy and motherhood and I sometimes feel guilty reading the blogs of women who struggle so much! But I decided to "delurk" to say that I'm happy you are doing so well and I know that your baby boy will come home with you healthy and happy.

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