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I should have stayed in bed today.

Today is day three of a migraine.  It’s too late to take drugs that would have any measurable effect on it.  I woke up Saturday, sure it was just a headache from crying my brains out after my “talk” with my mother.  I figured I could work through a regular headache, but by the time it had turned into a migraine, it was too late.  Too late, even, for my Tylenol + caffeine (Frappucino) trick, which I tried yesterday, to no effect.  I called the doctor’s office this morning, and left a message asking what I could take.  I waited all morning with bated breath, willing my phone to ring.  Ring it did, when I was with a student.  I finally listened to the voicemail, which said to take Tylenol.  Wonder drug of do-nothing.

I dropped my pizza in the dirt at lunch, and my yogurt sprung a leak (why did they ever do away with the plastic lids???) in my lunch bag.  Even though I tossed it in a plastic bag this morning (thus negating any environmental savings from eschewing a plastic lid), it oozed all over its containment sack, and I had to eat it using the Ziploc as a protective shield. I kept biting my cheek during lunch.  I bit it once this weekend, and it perpetuates as my teeth keep catching on the mess of my gums. 

I wish this school had a nice, soft, comfy couch in the faculty lounge.  Or a faculty lounge, for that matter.  We do, sure enough, have a door marked as such, but it’s the euphemistic “lounge” you find in department stores – a bathroom.  I used to love taking my break on that couch, blissfully unanxious about sleeping through the entire afternoon.  I would take my lunch with the kids, too hungry at that point to stand on formality of eating with grown-ups.  Then I’d have my entire 45-minute break to snooze, just as the kids were doing not too far away.  Even better, sometimes I’d lie down next to the kids, on the soft, carpeted floor, in the darkened room, while the soothing music played.  Ostensibly, I was providing the model of calmness, stillness, and enticement to nap.  In reality, I was resting.  On the few occasions I would fall asleep, the creaking open of the door when my lead teacher would return from her break would startle me enough to wake me, and I would check on my sleeping charges, then go take my own break.

Today is a day I could use a nap, and so I am longing for the comfort of that couch.  Grad school had such couches, and though they were by no means as comfortable, I still managed to catch up on a few minutes sleep now and then, during my 10-hour days. 

I couldn’t even muster up my usual level of patience for the fidgety kids.  I was not up for telling S. to put the marker away 6 times, to get out her planner 3 times, to just put down all the fidget toys (see: office supplies) on the desk.  I chose a passage for us to read about theGolden GateBridge, and it was too hard. 

I saved myJaffacakes — special little delicacies from my cousin inEngland– for my afternoon snack, but I’m biting my cheek even with them.  And of course, the migraine persists.  . I’ve been awake since 3:30, miserably tossing and turning and designing lesson plans in lieu of sleeping.  Put me to bed.  I want a do-over on this day.

I’ll take “Idioms” for $2000, Alex.

“Answer:  An example of the straw that broke the horse’s back”


“What is…the dog peeing on the bed as we were literally climbing in at 1:00am last night after a performance of Mr. Apron’s show for which ¾ of my family was in attendance?”

After a day in which my family arrived, and by ‘arrived,’ I mean ‘descended upon like a plague of entropy,’ and I realized any illusion of control I wield over my own life would soon end.  After a 2-hour search for a double-boiler at 6 stores, which finally did yield the correct pot, but which enabled a colossal failure in my quest to make custard to use up the 10 egg yolks  I had left over from making my sister-in-law’s angel food birthday cake.

I think that counts as the last straw.  I think my tantrum on the rug screaming, “I just can’t cope!” was completely justified.  We were out of blankets as my sister was dozing under one comforter, my parents under another, and I had just pulled out our delicious down quilt.  We had somehow fitted it into its duvet despite the dog’s leaping and bounding all over it, and she let out her piece de resistance – a splatter of pee as we were about to crawl under the covers.  “She’s peeing, she’s peeing!” I screamed as I saw her mount her typical pose, but it was too late.

And my well intentioned custard?  It turned into hot, sour smelling milk with chunks of egg encrusted on the bottom of the pan.  Stupid “Joy of Cooking:” “Scald milk” (huh?) “Slowly add egg yolks, sugar, and salt.  Heat over a double boiler, stirring constantly until thickened.”  I looked up “scald”.  I stirred constantly, and all I got was nasty smelling milk with bits of egg mung.  So now I’ve used up 4 of those yolks and wasted 2 cups of milk, with nothing to show for it but a disposal with bad breath. 

I told my father, as he prepared to walk the puppy this afternoon to allay my responsibilities as I wrestled with a migraine, that if he happened to lose her, not to give chase.  She did wriggle out of her harness and escape, but he went after her, eventually hauling her sorry blonde ass home for us to deal with.

Despite the excitement over the play, it was simply a crap weekend.  One for the books, and one to sort through on the couch. 

“That’s correct!  You have control of the board.”

Now that my family is gone, the duvet is drying on the line, and the play is mercifully over, I may just have regained control.  If only the dog could do the same with her bladder.

Due to some recent instability at work (insecurity as well) I’m in the process of “putting out feelers” in my field, seeing what’s open, who’s hiring, just in case I need to know. 

Mr. Apron found a terrific-sounding job.  It would be working in a classroom with a team of teachers to support kindergarteners who are at risk of learning disabilities.  Language enrichment all day long, not just during your 30 minute speech therapy session.  Sounds, great, doesn’t it?  So I applied.  And they asked to have a phone interview today!  Turns out it’s only a part-time job — 28 hours a week, and no health insurance.  I needn’t say that amounts to a pretty substantial pay cut, enough so that I can’t begin to entertain the idea of pursuing this any further. 

Then I went into the office after a morning of seeing kids who have June fever — they’re just about bursting to get out the doors and are making their teachers/therapists nuts.  I have scarcely enough time to do my regular paperwork, let alone the extra paperwork I’m doing for a colleague who’s out on sick leave, and we have a staff meeting, where we found out we’re doing our paperwork all wrong. 

And I longed for the other job.  This just about set me into a fit of depression already, but the meeting had started late.  We never finish on time anyway, so I dashed out the door already a half-hour late. 

Traffic, for those who don’t Commute, is determined by exponential factors.  Leave the office at 3:30pm precisely, the trip may take 42 minutes.  Leave at 3:45, it’s creeping up to 48 minutes.  Leave closer to 4:00, it’ll be an hour.  I resigned myself to my fate, and promptly sat on my ass for an hour, trying to decide not to kill the four youths who decided to thin the gene pool by crossing a highway at a leisurely pace nowhere near a light or a crosswalk. 

No one I wanted to complain to was able to talk on the phone.  My sister, a social worker, had to take someone grocery shopping.  My mom was in the basement of a fabric store.  My husband had an appointment.  Eventually, I reached Mom, whose solution was that Mr. Apron should go to bartending school.  As a teetotaler, and the wife of a teetotaler who has never anything beyond Manischewitz brush his lips, I could not begin to fathom where she had conceived such a ridiculous idea.  And told her so.  That always goes well.  As usual, she changed the subject, trying to distract me by telling me about some 3.5 year old client she has who gets speech therapy. 

I reached Mr. Apron, but there was nothing more to be said.  I’m sad about not being able to entertain the idea of the job.  They hurt my feelings at work by asking too much of me and not respecting my time.  And I was stuck in traffic, with two dogs at home fairly pissing themselves.

Finally walked the dogs, one at a time, for ease of perambulation.  The puppy seems to have forgotten how to sit on command, even with a treat dangled in front of her nose and few birds, squirrels, dogs, humans, and cats to distract her. 

Oh, and my wrist hurts — my tendonitis is acting up again.  Because that’s awesome when I’m trying to walk two dogs. 

So I sit down to be productive, to have a little success.  I pull out my brand-new box of invitation-sized envelopes so I can bundle up notecards Mr. Apron and I made for my upcoming craft fair, and start to stack 5 envelopes with 5 notecards.  Lo and behold — Staples’ definition of “invitation size” is different from Wal-Mart’s definition of “invitation size”.  Staples knows you want to chop up a piece of cardstock and slide it in the envelope; Wal-Mart assumes you want to mail 4″x6″ photos.  Since I had already started before I ran out of envelopes, I’m now faced with a dilemma: do I use all the Wal-Mart ones, which are absurdly oversized, but would all be uniform?  or do I dissolve, sobbing, in the dining room table, over the matter of a quarter inch of envelope?

I can’t possible recall the awfulness of this day in prose, so you’re getting bullet points.  Somehow the writing is easier, the expectations for coherence lower.

0) Woke up with a tickle in my throat.  Should have stayed in bed.

1) Parked my car at 7:49am.  Knew by 7:51 that the day was going to suck.  Ran into coworker having a smoke break on my way to the building.  Yes, I knew even before I put my key to the lock, that 2 teachers were out sick, a 3rd is on vacation all week, and our social worker is out due to family sickness.  Counting the other teacher who left us a few weeks ago, we were down fully half of our teaching staff.  Yes.  Four classrooms, four teachers, and all the temps we could handle. 

2) Musical teachers ensues.  We’re not “allowed” to have 2 temps in a classroom without a regular staff person, so this creating panic-stricken rearrangement.  One aide went downstairs to be the lead in one classroom.  Another class’s two teachers were split up to go to rooms without teachers.  So where did their class go, do you wonder?  Combined, my friends.  Somehow, the ratios (which are supposed to be 1:9 or 1:10 for typical kids, and 1:5 for kids with special needs) worked out with 3 teachers in one room with two classes’ worth of kids in a way that two classrooms would not have.  Usually, we have classrooms with special needs kids with a max of 10 or 11, with their regular, trained, experienced teachers who know the kids.  Now make that a room of 15 (or so, I couldn’t keep track) children ages 3-5, half of whom have never been in that classroom before, plus 3 teachers who don’t know half the kids and who don’t have any experience in this particular classroom nor with the kids’ adaptations (special chairs, spoons, etc.), and you have all hands on deck.  Manning battle stations.  Prepare for the worst.

3) In another classroom, an inclusive room with mostly typically developing kids and up to 5 kids with special needs, we had zero teachers familiar with the kids.  And only one teacher with a passing familiarity of the daily routine.  She was asking the kids if circle or story came first. 

4)I walked into a classroom as the kids were finishing up breakfast.  What is usually an intimate meal at one table with each child within reaching distance from a teacher now resembled a buffet table, with 3 teachers manically running in circles, not understanding why some kids were having trouble eating, or not  eating at all.  I quickly saw 2 kids in the wrong chairs altogether, another child seated a foot away from the table using the wrong bowl.  No wonder he coudn’t get any food to his mouth.  The girl who only eats bread at school was just stirring her rice krispies around aimlessly.  The teachers were trying, very hard.  It didn’t help that the kid with the most complex adaptations (chair, spoon, bowl, strap, and one-on-one support) hadn’t been in school  at all last week for the new teacher to learn his needs.  It also didn’t help that the labels with the kids’ initials on them weren’t up to date.

5) The afternoon class (combined, of course) contained 3 screamers.  One smallish boy, barely three, who is just getting used to being at school, but has trouble separating from his parents and still cries sometimes, and who can only be calmed by repetitive singing of the ABCs.  One boy who enjoys tearing around the room dumping everything out, and v0calizes at any attempt to redirect his plan.  And one enormous five-year-old who plays the exact same game with a baby doll, all the blankets/cloths, and a basket, all while twisting her nipple under her dress.  Screamer?  Yes, if you even attempt to interfere with this game by, say, hiding the dolls in the closet, asking her not to pull the fabric covers off the computer monitors, or trying to redirect her hands to do something more productive than self-stimulation.  So she screamed all afternoon.  Thankfully the other two were relatively quiet. 

6) The bus was late.  Did I mention the bus?  It’s been doing so much better lately!  Used to be that it dropped off kids at 9:15 for a 8:30am start, and picked up who-knows-when, but it’s been on time and the staffers have been competent.  Until today.  Sure enough, it dropped off at 8:40, which was not cause for alarm but should have been an omen.  The half-day kids get plucked at 11:30.  Usually.  Today that happened closer to 11:50, which meant we were all (15 kids, 4 adults) crammed into the staging area (corralled is more apt) for 25 minutes (having been ready early, in a optimistic effort to kick the morning class out) waiting for the bus.  It finally arrived, depositing 15 more small children for the afternoon session.  They were shepherded into the play yard to make room on the bus for the other crowd.  There are not enough humans on deck to triage this complex changing of the guard.  Finally the morning kids were gone, and it was time for the afternoon of screamers.  Ah, but I’ve nearly forgotten the best part.  After the bus finally picked up the afternoon kids at 2:50pm (dismissal is at 2:30, of course), our program director (“boss”) came up the stairs to the office, where I’d been fielding frantic phone calls about the bus’ not coming and buzzing in other parents, where he related the following tidbit.  Someone reported our bus driver (we contract this privilege) squatting to pee out in broad daylight while dropping off or picking  up kids.  The director dismissed it, telling the dispatcher the driver was male, why would he squat to pee? (in broad daylight, besides)  As he related this funny snippet to one of my coworkers, he was shocked to learn she’d seen the bus matron (decidedly female) squatting to pee right across the street from our center this morning.  His remark: “We have bathrooms!”

7) As I was checking out my hotness in our bathroom mirror, upon arriving home, I noticed a peach-colored splotch on my strawberry-colored shirt, an adorible dotted-swiss number Mr. Apron bought me from Anthropologie, and on which a coworker complimented me today.  It was not food.  It was not bodily fluid (ah, but this happens at work).  It was a bleach spot.  And there were others, little spots from the errant spray of the diluted bleach we use to sterilize the kids’ tables.  Soon they will be holes.  And I will be sad.  I can’t wear nice things to work. 

8) Or flip-flops.  In addition to banging my knee the requisite number of times on small tables and small children’s objects, I had my toes run over by tricycles, squashed by leg-braces, trodden on by lead-footed children, and eviscerated by wooden chairs. 

What’s the damage?  The program director says as long as the children were happy and safe, everything worked out alright.  I don’t blame him; it’s not his fault.  The children were mostly happy, and almost entirely safe (only one incident  report I’m aware of — for a bruised lip caused by a nun-chuk-like toy).  I never want to have another day at work like this.

But in the spirit of my post last week, I give you My One Good Thing: Since we all worked so valiantly as the ship was going down and the education was going to pot, we were allowed to leave early, as soon as the last kid was out the door.  I’ll have unwritten notes to attend to tomorrow, and piles of undeciprable observations on my desk, but I needed that gift.  My commute was shorter as a result, and my last ounce of sanity was saved.

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July 2020