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March 2009 entries

Maybe Having an Anxiety is a Good Thing

I've been struggling with a (probably) common anxiety -- I worry about dying . . . a lot.  There are predictable answers for this -- I am a young mother who wants to care for her children as long as possible; I am nearing my 30s and thinking about aging in general; I contemplate the complexities of my religious faith  . . . the list could go on and on, I suppose.

This fear is to the point that occasionally I have anxiety attacks, usually at night, in which I feel short of breath and like I can't calm down.  I haven't been sleeping too well as a result and some nights, I will get up and read something light or watch a comedy on Netflix. 

While all of this is down-right sympathy-inducing, that is not why I am telling ya'll out there in cyber land about this.  What I've started to notice is the pleasant side effects this anxiety has on my life during the day.  I spend a lot of time in prayer and meditation at night -- I think about my life, the decisions I make, my family, my students, and ultimately, about how I can be a better person.  It is a truth universally known that us carbon-based lifeforms die.  Well, then, I suppose we ought to do something meaningful with the time we're given, right?

I also embrace the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" mentality.  When the kids are particularly demanding or a student is irking me, I think, "Will this matter when my life is over?"  And heck, we could even say, "Will this matter tomorrow? Next week?"  We all need a little perspective, and we lead such busy lives that it is easy to get caught up in ourselves and forget that we do have a purpose here on this planet, that we do have an opportunity to be the very best version of ourselves that we can be.

So, I may have found part of the solution to my anxiety issue -- making sure I'm satisfied with how I ran my days helps me face the night -- literally and metaphorically speaking.

Phew -- We Survived

Today was our first day of soccer.  Before we left for the day, we told Aidan that he needed to be on the green light all day at school if he wanted to go see the new movie Monsters vs. Aliens tonight after soccer.  When he came home from school today, he triumphantly announced: "MOM!  I was on the green light all day!"

High Fives All Around.

Then -- all hell broke loose.  I said, "Aidan, let's get dressed for soccer."   I think he may have thought he heard me say, "Aidan, let's pull out one of your fingernails" for the boy threw himself on the floor, screaming, "NOOOOO!  I don't WANT to go soccer!!!!"  (ad nauseum).

Things escalated -- he hit me, he refused to get dressed, he told me to go away, etc. etc.  Anyone with kids knows/remembers how this goes.  It's one of the times I'm really tempted to get out the video camera and tape him throwing a fit and show it to my high school students -- I think it would be pretty good for encouraging abstinence.  :)

After a time out and many tears, we finally headed toward Indian Park.  We arrived a little early, so we fed the ducks (thanks to a kind stranger with a bag of bread to share!). 

As 5:30 neared, we headed over to Trolley Field; Aidan was still insisting that he did not want to play soccer.  As we entered the area, Aidan spotted 2 or 3 friends from Bostley's and ran off with them -- within seconds, literally, he was kicking a soccer ball all around the field. 


He is smaller than most of the other kids, and he is umm...a bit rambunctous ("Understatement for $500, Alex.") but he did really well and had a great time.  Because Friday night is one of the few nights that we Connors actually have free, Aidan's soccer practice was what I like to call (and I don't really know why . . . .) A Family Fun Extravaganza.  Mike is excited about being a Soccer Dad.  He even purchased "gear" for his little Y chromosome. 


Gabrielle was excited to watch Aidan play "baseball" too.


(Gotta love the self-portrait!)

The "he or she" Debate

I was astounded to find out that some teachers still require use of the generic "he" in formal writing.  I have a suspicion some people have never heard of gender equality.  The argument is that "he or she" gets a little wordy and awkward-looking in writing.  There is a solution to this wordiness, and it's really not that difficult.  There are two commonly used alternatives: (s)he and s/he. 

Is it really that difficult to allow for 2 or 3 extra characters for the cause of acknowledging over 50% of the popuation?

Meanwhile, the evolution of the English language is increasingly supporting the shift to "they", despite the fact that it is technically it is incorrect when used with a singular subject.  Oh, what will come of us if this becomes acceptable?  Will English teachers be completely out of work???  Alas!

Church Sign Strikes Again

And this time, in my opinion, it isn't a humorous play on words.  This week the church near my house has this posted on their sign: "A broken home is the world's greatest wreck."

Well, gee.  I know if I were a divorced mom, looking for a parish family, I'd cruise right over there for church . . . wouldn't you?  I mean really, what's better than being told that you are involved in the "world's greatest wreck"?  As if people involved in a divorce don't already feel like their hopes have been broken.  And what about situations where one person wants a divorce and the other wants to keep trying to make it work?  Is the dedicated person part of the "world's greatest wreck"?  How about the woman married to the abusive alcoholic?  Should she stay with him so as to avoid the "world's greatest wreck"?

Believe me, I don't think divorce should be entered into lightly; I think that marriage should be taken more seriously than it is by some.  But I do not judge -- lest I be judged.  Even Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners -- He showed them love when no one else would.  And God's love is exactly what a church should be showing people in so-called "broken" homes. 

Church Sign = Fail.

Just Another Reason to Teach Gender Studies

I assigned journals to my Gender Studies class and I've really enjoyed reading them over the past few days.  Sure, they are time consuming, especially when you consider that I have 50 kids in the two classes and they were asked to write 10 one-page entries -- that's just a lot of paper.  BUT it is one of the best ways for me to interact with my students on a one-on-one basis.  It's just me and their thoughts on a page.  And often, I am met with insightful observations about themselves and the world around them.  Truly, journals make me glad to be a teacher.

An example from a journal I read today recounted a teen's search for the perfect prom dress.  I don't know how it was (is?) for you other women out there, but there is something psychological about the number on the size tag.  Single digits are better than double digits, unless of course you wear a double zero -- at least that is what society tells us.  This particular student became very frustrated that the dress she wanted didn't come in her size; she "left the store in tears", telling her mother how much she hated her body.  Then, she says, "It occurred to me: there is nothing wrong with my body.  I am a real woman, and I have real curves."  She realized that she didn't need to fit into a certain size to be beautiful -- and then guess what she did:  she talked about it to her mom, who "whole-heartedly agreed".  Isn't that awesome?  What a great opportunity for two women to connect over what is something that plagues nearly all women, despite our desire to shield our daughters from it.

This student went on to say, "If I hadn't taken Gender Studies, I probably wouldn't have had my epiphany, and would sulked about the dress I couldn't have." 

Sweet success, in my book.

In another journal, a student provided a copy of a magazine advertisement:


Dolce Gabbana is, of course, notorious for ads like this one, so I can't say I was entirely shocked.  It is actually one of their tamer advertisements.  What was really awesome, however, was the fact that this student noticed how it is an example of "pornographic images that filter down into our mainstream culture".  Before our advertising unit, this student admits, she didn't notice how many subliminal demeaning and offensive images were present in her everyday life.  Now she finds herself analyzing TV and ads all the time. 

Another student also commented on pornography and pornographic images:  "Every one has a sister.  What would happen if people would stop and think about the girl in the ad or video and ask, 'What if that were my sister?'?" 

So is it worth it to read 500+ pages of journals in a few days' time?  Heck, yeah!

From the Sunday Paper . . .

"Free Inside:  World's Worst Dictators PLUS Up to $90.30 in coupons!"

And in a moment of irony, as I was scanning the sports section, our dog Duke started barking about something he thought he saw outside.  We were expecting Miss Hopkins, but not for another 30 minutes or so.  I looked down at the paper and read, "Duke Avoids Early Upset". 

What is she saying??

Gabrielle tried for about 5 straight minutes to tell me something about her foot today.  I thought she said she wanted medicine for her foot, but when I asked her if that is what she said, she giggled and said, "Funny Mommy."  I promise you, the child repeated her sentence to me and Michael and even Aidan (who is usually pretty good at Gabriellese) and none of us could understand any of it except "my foot" at the end.

We asked her to show us, but again, we were met with a giggle and an accusation of being "funny". 

I just hope whatever it was, it wasn't crucially important . . . "I think I broke my foot" or "There's a rusty nail in my foot" or "They want to amputate my foot". . .