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Archive for August, 2010

Have y’all seen the movie Orange County? Well, if not, it’s about a boy (Colin Hanks) who wants to get into Stanford and the hijinks that ensue when his high school guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) sends another boy’s transcript instead of his with his application.  She’s just the worst, but the movie is just the BEST and you should watch it because it also has John Lithgow in it, who is brilliance and the lady who used to host the Biggest Loser show but got fired because she was too fat or something is the drunk mom and I love her…and Jack Black.  It’s a fun little movie. Go queue it up in your Netflix.

Okay,  so I told you that to tell you this.  My high school guidance counselor was only slightly better than the one in Orange County.

There were 42 people in our graduating class and some of us were pretty smart cookies.  Well, book smart anyway. Or we thought we were smart anyway…I know I did.  I think I thought I was miss super smarty pants know it all.  I did well in school.  Not nearly as well as I could have done, but I was too busy concentrating on my boyfriend and how to get him to be my husband by doing his laundry and cleaning his trailer house and being at his beck and call just in case he wanted me around to really apply myself too much in high school.

I was, however, pretty smart, and at one point in time, before the boyfriend who I was trying to make a husband, I really, really wanted to go to college.  I wanted to go away to college and have a dorm room and take things that would let me grow up to be something…though at the moment, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I wanted to take or what I wanted to be.  My default answer is probably “teacher,” but it might have been “doctor,” but it wasn’t nurse…of that I’m sure.

Anyway, this one time I went to a UIL competition at this big faincy junior college down the road in Weatherford and while I was waiting for my Ready Writing event or my Spelling event (always in love with the words, I was) I remember walking around the solarium or “the commons” and picking up pamphlets and a course catalog and thinking to myself

I WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE AT THIS FINE ESTABLISHMENT OF HIGHER LEARNING, I DO I DO I DO

and I remember that we got back to Glen Rose and I walked into the house and told my mom my big plans about going to A BIG FAINCY JUNIOR COLLEGE, expecting encouragement, or something resembling it…

instead, she turned sort of grey.  and got mad.

I wouldn’t understand either of those things until much, much later in my life, when one of my children asked for something so completely out of the realm of possible for me to make happen that the only option in my mind was to be irritated that they’d even ask for something so preposterous in the first place…the nerve really, of asking for a new mustang for your 16th birthday…well, that was seriously preposterous, but she was serious when she asked and I was seriously not even remotely able to make that happen and I did get seriously irritated that she’d even ask…

anyway, the point is that I might as well have asked for a new mustang with a big red bow as to ask my poor mom, and I mean that literally, we were po po, to figure out a way for me to go away to faincy junior college…and hey, how about make me an astronaut and fly me to the moon while you’re at it.

not possible…and then we fast forward to senior year

Ms. McCarty, who always reeked of cigarette smoke, which didn’t really bother me much because my mother smoked like a freight train and I probably always smelled like the smokestack, called me into the office when it came to that time of this little girl’s life to have someone ask the big question.

Christine, she said, what are you going to do after high school?

Now, by that time I had the boyfriend who I was trying to get to be my husband and had pretty much let go of the whole college dream since we were poor and I was working at Linda’s Other Place flipping burgers and figured at best I’d just go to work at the nuclear power plant after high school and told her so…but I still sort of hoped for the college thing to work out.

But instead of telling me about how to do scholarships or student loans or student aid or whatever, she just pretty much agreed that as far as college funding, I was screwed, so good luck with that whole getting married thing…because really, by that time, mother had made it pretty clear that that was probably my best option and hey, the trailer had TWO BATHROOMS AND CENTRAL AIR UNITS, so I guess I was fine by that time with the whole letting go the dream thing.

After the boyfriend actually did become the husband, my friend Dana told me of this crazy thing she was doing…GOING TO COLLEGE over in Cleburne at Hill Junior College AND WHY DIDN’T I GO WITH HER AND WE COULD GO TOGETHER AND GO TO COLLEGE?!?!?!?!? wouldn’t it be fun!!!!

She was already married also and was also 18 years old, so us two old married gals rode over to Cleburne and signed ourselves up for some college classes.

Two things happened that first semester at Hill:

1. I found out a really, really loved college.

2. I found out being 18 and married in college is weird.

At any rate, I did really well, met some super people, forged some really awesome relationships with my professors…

and got pregnant.

I finished the semester after Casey was born, but then took a break til she was 2-ish, then went back, then got pregnant with Reagan, then realized pretty quick that I wasn’t going to be one of those folks who could successfully balance kids and home so decided to just make it a long break.

After all, my next move at that point was to transfer to UNT because they were the only college around at the time that offered a degree in Counseling and at that point, strangely enough, I wanted to be a high school guidance counselor, but when I pitched the idea to the then husband…the only thing he said was “well, how’re you gonna do that and have dinner ready when I get home.”

So, yeah…I’d hit the wall in my college career.

fast forward fast forward fast forward >>  >> >> >>

For the past several years, I’d started really thinking about going back to school. But whenever I would think about it, the thought of starting all over was just so daunting, plus I figured it would cut into our party time here at the fun fun Casa, so I didn’t think about it toooooooooo hard.

But when the party party stopped in 2008 and my body and brain finally recovered from the party party party time, I started thinking about it more seriously.  It had started to become painfully clear that my industry was going south quick and I needed to figure out something, ANYTHING else to do…

but what.

I KNOW, I’d proclaim, I WILL BE AN ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY TECHNICIAN.

but I never made it past looking at the degree plan.

I KNOW, I’d proclaim, I WILL BE A COURT REPORTER.

but I never made it past looking at the degree plan.

so, i was searching searching searching for that something…

Then…one sunday I got to teach sunday school with Mrs. Lanman, a retired 40-year educator, and I noticed she was watching me…it probably would have made me uncomfortable, but I was too busy trying to get Caroline to RAWWWWR like a lion.

Later that afternoon she sent me this facebook message:

I am so glad I got to be with you in SS yesterday. You are so great with those little ones…I think you need to consider a career in education. Be a teacher’s aide and work on getting a teaching certificate while working. The college in Keene has an adult program that you can pursue while working. Think about it!!

And I swear, y’all, it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone through and there was the answer to my question.

Anyway,  after that moment of clarity, everything fell directly into place. I found out all my old, old, old coursework was transferrable, I had some funding since I’d thought ahead enough to do a FAFSA for myself, and it was as if finally the plan was coming together.

I might be the oldest first year teacher ever, but by golly, a teacher I will be.

I am only lacking a lab science, Biology II, a computer science, and a fine arts class to be “core complete” and ready to transfer to a 4-year uni to finish up my Bachelor’s, so this semester I am knocking out the Biology II and BCIS or computer science.

After looking at that Biology II syllabus and lab book and study guide, I don’t know what I was thinking…

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I have always loved the first day of school.  I’ve come to realize that school was probably an escape of sorts for me, which is not to say that my home life was horrid, but it wasn’t filled with lounging about watching Project Runway marathons and eating Cheetos (which is pretty much my idea of Heaven).  Nope, mom was a firm believer in that most dreaded four-letter word:

W-O-R-K

In fact, if on the off chance she didn’t have any work for me to do (rare since she babysat and the house was always full of children who inevitably needed something), she would lend me out to her friends who DID.  I guess I was probably 10 or so when I got to go help Mrs. Robeson pick all her 20 acres of green beans (probably just a few rows but you know, i was 10 so it might as well have been 20 acres).   I remember going to this other lady’s house, I can’t remember her name just now, and I helped her shampoo her carpet…in her whole entire house…and this was before these newfangled carpet shampooers that don’t weigh as much as a Volkswagen (odd how what i remember almost as much as how much that shampooer weighed is the big-eye artwork in her teenager’s room…and not just big-eyed kids but big-eyed kitties, too. OMG I thought that was the most FAB ROOM EVERRRR and vowed one day to have one.

Which I never did since I was 13 before I had my own room and by that time I was over it and had moved on to Saturday Night Fever.

Anyway, I love back to school time YAY!

My girls are all older now…one is even married, which makes me a mother-in-law, which makes me officially OLD…one graduated from college in May, one is a Senior in college, and one is a sophomore in college (soooooooooo many girls)…and only the Boy remains to do the whole ‘BACK TO SCHOOL’ thing this year.

He is about to be 12 and is pretty much completely over me AND the whole BACK TO SCHOOL fun.  Not that he hates school, because he doesn’t. He loves it, though, he is 12 and is over saying he loves anything or showing any GLEE about anything because he is cool now and so over it.  You know, like, over.it.

So, yesterday was JACKET CAMP at his middle school and the cheerleaders were there to lead a completely silent cafeteria full of people in the traditional GO!!!! WHEAT!!! cheer…you know, the one where they yell GO!!!!!!!! and we yell WHEAT!!!!

only where we all don’t yell WHEAT at all and just sit there like a bunch of nonyelling WHEAT lumps of flesh.

Poor girls. Traumatized I’m sure.

In fact, after THAT, I’m sure a stadium full of rabid Cleburne football fans is going to seem like a WALK IN THE PARK. Easy peasy. NO NERVES AT ALL before the first game because GAH remember at JACKET CAMP WHEN NO ONE YELLED WHEAT!!!!!!!!

At Jacket Camp at Wheat, the students get to pick up their schedule and wander the 6th-grade hall, meet the teachers and act cool, like they already know where all their classes are DUH, and maybe see their friends from last year and compare schedules and act cool some more. (I don’t remember being this ‘cool’ in 6th grade…

but omg ya’ll, there was this one girl, Shelbie, and she was totally in full makeup and also very over.it., you could tell just looking at her and I asked Dane if she was a ‘mean girl’ and he said ‘yes, if you aren’t her friend.’  In other words, there is still totally that one girl who has hightlights and full makeup in 6th grade…that girl when I was in 6th grade was named Shannon Crabtree…she was everything I aspired to be and never was gonna be. She made people tie her shoes!!!)

So, he totally just didn’t need me to show him where his english class was or his math class was and that was fine.

Standing in the hall at Wheat Middle School yesterday about 9:30 a.m., it hit me that my baby child is almost 12 and I have been relegated as support staff.  Still there if he needs me but for the most part, he has this thing.

And that’s good, right?  Isn’t that the goal as a parent?  To raise your kids into self-assured people who can find their own classroom and introduce themselves to their teachers and give a good handshake?

So, rather than stand there and get all teary about it, what with this being my LAST Jacket Camp of 6th grade EVER, I sort of relished in it. YAY HE IS OVER ME AND I WON’T HAVE TO PUT ON MAKEUP AND SHOES TO WALK HIM IN ANYMORE HOLLA!!!!!!

(and for that, I am SERIOUSLY grateful…and have been since he informed me in 4th grade there would be no more walking in on the first day of school)

But what I loved the most about yesterday as I was strolling around, far enough away that I could watch my boy take ownership of the school that will be his stomping grounds for the next 3 years, but far enough back that he couldn’t see me, was that moment when he turned around and stopped, and was looking around (coolly so as not to look uncool, of course) and he found me and smiled, obviously glad to see I was still there, lurking just far enough back to allow him to continue to be cool, but there if he needed money.

Of note is the fact that I haven’t bought so much as 1 pencil for Monday, which means that this weekend I will be pressing the flesh with 1.5 billion other Texas parents who are taking advantage of the big NO TAX WEEKEND.  The good thing about doing such a thing with 1 boy instead of 4 girls and 1 little boy is that girls care what color folder, what color pencil, what color backpack, what brand of backpack, what brand of jeans, what brand of sneakers, what color sneakers and what color polo…

Mr. Cool over there could care less about any of it.  I will be able to go J.C. Penney and throw 5 pair of Arizona Loose Fit jeans in the basket, add 5 black polo shirts (not really, though he would love it, since black is cool…I’m getting him all pastels – he’ll be so thrilled), 1 package of socks, 1 package of drawers, then run by walmart and get 5 folders, 5 spirals, a pack of pens and a zipper binder, then come home and put it all in the backpack he never used from last year and call it done.  And if I didn’t require that he be there to try on jeans, he wouldn’t even want to come help pick any of it.

After having all those girls, it took me until he was in the 4th grade to really wrap my head around the fact that he didn’t care what color folder it was.

It helped when he looked right at me and said

“I don’t care what color the folders are.”

So this year all his folders will be pastel too, to match his polos.

Up next:  Mom Goes Back to College

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