Archive for September, 2009

Not letting them down

Last year I let one group of kids get to me so much that I let them down.  There were bullies, eye-rollers and several nice co-operative children, and I let them all down.  I didn’t stop the bullies, the eye-rollers, the bad attitudes.  I would try for a while and then let it go.  I’d call a parent or two, but never really decided that teaching them how to act was more important than teaching them French.

Well, this year the groups have been scrambled, the most obvious mean-girl moved, and I get a second chance.  The smallest rude look, rude comment got squashed.  There were several quiet discussions about being polite to everyone.  I’ve worked on personalizing, but it’s an uphill battle with some of the quiet kids from the difficult class.  “What do you want, Betty Sue?” Shrug. “Do you want an iTouch?” Shrug. “A sports car?” Shrug.  “A lot of money?” Shrug. “Chocolate?” Shrug. Sometimes a quiet “I guess.”  Arrgh.

But Friday we had a breakthrough.  With the difficult class I’d stopped playing wild games and defaulted to Bingo.  They sit quiet, listen to French, get candy, no chance for eye-rolling or making fun of someone for taking a chance.  No chance for anyone to be labelled a pencil-head or a kiss-up.  This year I gave them a choice, Bingo or Bonk.  They picked Bonk!  So the class of quiet girls who don’t ever want anything or express opinions or react sat in a circle and whacked each other’s desks with a rolled up newspaper.  They giggled.  They made mistakes and laughed at themselves.  The children without facial expressions smiled.  A month of being consistent, and don’t letting anyone be mean finally worked.

I’m never giving up on a group again.  I won’t let them down.

Penrod Art Fair

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the annual Penrod Society Art Fair at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Because my husband had volunteered to man a booth for the Indianapolis Jazz Club, which entitled him to one free ticket and a parking pass, I bought a ticket and joined him.  It was the first time in many, many years I had gone their without children.  What a difference.

Since we had to be there early, I was able to stroll through the artists’ tents and talk with the artists a bit.  That was a real change for me.  Usually I try to be anonymous at any public gathering that is not my class.  Saturday I just enjoyed.  I strolled with my coffee, later with my beer.  I bought a hand-made jacket.  I stayed with my husband in the booth and talked to the people who came up.  I grabbed him away for a break and we had lunch, picnicking in the shade with the other 30,000 people.  When I got tired of walking, I found a shady spot in one of the beautiful gardens on the grounds of the Art Museum, and read for two hours.  It was so pleasant.

We’d tried to take the kids, but our oldest son is a person with epilepsy and a high-functionning autistic person, and so, with all three kids there, and especially with our oldest son, everywhere we went my husband and I would be on high alert.  No chatting with anyone–got to keep the oldest kid in sight all the time.  No shopping or buying–what’s he doing now?  Eating always was okay, but no two hours relaxing in a garden, no beer and no need for coffee.  High alert all the time.  I really don’t think I ever relaxed until these past few years when he was finally placed in a group home.  He really likes it there, and I get to relax.

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