I Love My Job … and I get SO sad.

My bosses had me in tears yesterday.

My heart is so sad for our kids. Divorce really hurts the children. So few of us divorce well. Being used as pawns to injure their other parent, being shuffled from one house to another and, often, coming home to an empty house. Parents who have “no time” and “have to work” and think nothing of telling this to their children. Every day there’s another story to listen to (and I know they’re one side of the whole story). Every day there’s another child to “worry” about.

We had a fourth or fifth grader this week who is behaving badly on the bus. His mom won’t get out of the car to talk to the bus driver because she “works” and “has meetings” … blah! blah! What this translates to, is that she doesn’t have time to help her child. She’s telling him that, at least. And he’s an angry boy. He “doesn’t care” but cries when confronted about his behavior. He’s just a little boy. He needs to know that he’s loved and valued. His parents are the most important people in his life.

I had a third-grade girl in the clinic for quite a while this week. She obviously didn’t feel well (kids get this look around their eyes) but she so wanted to talk. She and her classmate were chatting as I knitted. She said her mom is an alcoholic who isn’t working (sits on the couch all day but makes a killer lasagna) but stays out late with her motorcycle friends. They’ve moved in with her grandparents. Her aunt and cousins have, too. She’s often awakened in the middle of the night when they come in. When I called mom to see if she’d come pick her up, the angry, clipped response was, “tell her to stop faking and go back to class.” My boss said that mom was an active participant in her life three years ago but it seems that she’s just given up.

I know I can’t save the world but the boss saw me crying this week. I work every day to be a smile at the start and end of a child’s day. I hug them. I talk to them. I make eye contact. I find them food when they haven’t had breakfast and give them pep-talks. I give them permission to tell me what they would like to do – call home, rest for awhile. Most of them don’t have any idea what they want. I hope that I’m making a positive difference and teaching them that someone cares.

Sometimes it’s a heavy weight on my shoulders but I was “called” to be around young children. I missed having young children in my life. I love my job.

Gone knitting.

End of the Year. End of the Job.

It’s been a whirlwind 50 days as an ESE FCAT Tutor. When I applied, who knew what a wonderful experience it would be!? I’ve joined a wonderful family at Woodlands Elementary School and I’m so thrilled to have been able to work with the students, teachers and staff there. Even for only 50 days.

I have been thinking about whether and what to do about end of year gifts for “my kids” and I decided this weekend to make a few more of Rebecca Danger’s “Bunny Nuggets”. One for each of the kids (and one for my two teachers, too.) A little something to remember me by.

Body Parts

Body Parts

 

It all starts with knitting the body parts. Quick to knit and I used up a bunch of stash yarn in the process as well. The pattern, free on Ravelry, I’ve given you on my blog before. But they’re so cute, I’m providing the link for you again!

Add faces

Add faces

 

When the body parts are all knitted up, you can assemble them. Assembly is easy. Add a little face and sew on the ears. You also have to make a little pompom for the tail.

I don’t have a pompom maker, if you have one, use it. I use a scrap of cardboard around which I wrap the yarn (about 45 wraps per pompom) and then using my darning needle strung with yarn, I tie a tight knot around one end of the yarn. If you wrap the first half of the knot around twice instead of once, it holds more tightly and won’t loosen when you go to make the second part of the knot. Tight knots are imperative when you’re making pompoms.) Trimming the pompom is messy but I love a well-shaped pompom. I made some of mine cream-colored and some multi-colored. Just for fun! The third grade boys all got the same three-color pompom tail … because I wanted them to remember that they are in this world together. Friends should always remain friends.

Pompom Tails on the Nugget Butts

Pompom Tails on the Nugget Butts

 

Once the ears, faces and tails have been attached, you can stuff your nuggets. I have used scraps of yarn or quilt batting or cotton balls or fiber fill … whatever I have around the house. Now it’s time to sew up the bottom seam and they’re all done.

Eight little Bunny Nuggets will be packed up and handed off to my eight new family members. Who knew that in 50 days, I’d feel so close to these kids and their teachers. I think being an ESE FCAT tutor was one of the best jobs I could have had. I hope I’ll be able to find something that feeds my heart and soul in the fall!

Bunny Nuggets ... ready for the end of the year!

Bunny Nuggets … ready for the end of the year!

Gone knitting!

Not Blogging … Not Really Knitting

Gee, this working full-time sure does cut into my knitting time! It seems to affect my blogging time, too!

A Pretty Picture from Third Grade!

A Pretty Picture from Third Grade!

But the work is rewarding and fulfillng even at the (what did the Principal say at the time of my interview?) horribly low pay. Apparently my pay comes from the state which funds the special services program and it’s lower than what the school district would pay a temporary employee. The good news is that I chose well and I love the classroom that I’m working in and enjoy working with the other teachers and our students, too.

And today our teacher is proctoring the FCAT so it’ll be the Assistant and me in the classroom. She’s the sub and I’m the assistant and it’s “Fun Friday” so we’re going to be doing some Science and will be sprouting beans in our classroom and keeping watch over them and taking notes about what happens! Yesterday they were excited about it … and we hope they will be today!

But enough of that, I’ve go to run to get ready and out of the house …

Gone teaching!

On Being a Mentor

I’m a mentor at my local elementary school. I had been feeling like I was missing being around children. Mine a grown and have full lives of their own; boyfriends, girlfriend, jobs, social lives, homes to clean, dog to walk … all the things that they’re supposed to have as young adults. I did my job as a mother and as a result of having done it well, my kids have moved on and are building lives of their own. It’s a good thing. And I was still feeling like I had something to offer to children. So I signed up as a volunteer with our local school district not really knowing where it would lead.

A little over a year ago, I got a call from the counselor at my local elementary school. She was looking for a mentor for a student – a third grade foster child. While the “warming up” was slow, I know now that she was holding herself back because she’d been disappointed by adults who had been in her life and was hesitant to trust that  would stick with her. We had a great time visiting over lunch at school every week. I often brought a little craft project or a book to read together or a puzzle to solve and was there for her when she decided she wanted to talk. When I met her, her foster family was going to adopt her. This fall, she moved again to a former foster home two and a half hours away from me. Now, I choose to drive down to visit with her every other week – I started out visiting every week but she’s so well adjusted now, I know she’s OK when I’m not there every week. But at first, she was having a rough time.

Last night, her “foster mom” called me and we had a face time session. I love to see her snuggled up at home and smiling because her report card was a good one and she’d been to a fun Super Bowl party. Normalcy is a good thing for children. Especially those who’ve had a rough start.

Last week I got a call from my neighborhood school again. This time, there’s a little third grader who is in crisis. Grandmother takes care of her and her siblings and cousins. We’re going to meet again next week and I’ll help her get up to speed on her math and be there for her so she feels important to somebody. No strings. No manipulation. Just a grown-up who’s there for her. This one is adorable, too. And so needy.

I’m so lucky to be able to work with these two little girls. They help me as much as I help them. They give me purpose and allow me to give something back to the community that I live in. And they give me joy – a lot of good laughs despite their difficult circumstances and hugs. There’s nothing like the full-heart feeling that you get when you make a difference in the life of a child. And there are so many children today who need a solid adult presence in their lives.

All you have to have is an hour a week and a phone to call your local school … you won’t be sorry. I’m proof!