Friday, April 28, 2006

What a relief!

Before you even ask, no -- I will not rant any further (this week) about fat. Well, maybe a little. But I swear that I'll stop soon!

In other news, I was reading Phantom Scribbler's lament about her son, LG, beginning kindergarten. That got me thinking about my own days in kindergarten. When I was in kindergarten, lo those many years ago, I think it was only a partial day program. I remember a lot of art projects made with popsicle sticks and Elmer's Glue. I remember getting cookies and milk. I remember a friend of mine who was the paste-eating kid. I remember naps. A lot of actual academics, I don't remember so much. I mean, I'm sure that we DID actually do academic-type stuff, but I don't have any clear memories of it.

The thing that really strikes me as the difference between then and now is that kids learn so much more now than we did back then. I remember kindergarten as being play time, not as learning time. I suppose that's a good memory to have of it -- sort of idyllic, and not so stressful. Kids today have a LOT of skills they have to master. Many children here have already had a year of PreK under their belts prior to entering kindergarten, and some even have preschool experience. A lot of them are old hands at this school thing. For others, this is their very first experience with school, and it's overwhelming for them.

Don't get me wrong -- a lot of kindergarten is social skills. How to interact with others. Common niceties, like washing your hands after using the restroom, and using a tissue when you sneeze. Saying please and thank you. And, because we, as Southerners, are raised to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am", we hear a lot of that, too. (We don't demand that they say it, but we do ask for more than just "Huh?" Or, "What?!") We model good behavior. We teach that looking on someone else's paper constitutes "cheating", and that's not good. We tell the kids that looking on someone else's paper doesn't tell me what YOU know, it tells me what the person you cheated off of knows.

Sometimes, we have to "unteach" years of children saying things the wrong way. I have a child in my class this year for whom it is my mission to teach how to correctly pronounce the word "yellow." Now, you wouldn't think that this is too big a deal, but it actually is. When she says "lellow", she's setting herself up for turning the "y" sound into a "l" sound. That plays havoc with her grasp of phonics, and she cannot learn to successfully learn to decode words that have a "y" in them. I'm not saying that every child who adorably says the word "lellow" is in danger of becoming speech-impaired -- not at all. But, for this child, it is impeding her learning. She often has diffuculty in pronouncing the "y" sound in other words, and she automatically has a handicap whenever she tries to pick up a book and sound words out. We have begun doing what we term "mirror" practice, where I model the correct shape of the sound with my teeth, tongue, and lips, and she copies. Then, I have her stand in front of the mirror, and try to make her mouth make the same shape. That way, she can see the difference. If she sees the difference, maybe she'll begin to hear the difference.

We have to unteach the pronunciation of the letter "r" as "ar-uh." I don't know if this is a uniquely Southern colloquial pronunciation, but every year, I have several children that have to unlearn this bad habit, and for the same reason as "lellow." It messes with their grasp of the phonics. Ditto for the pronunciation of the word "ask" as "ax." Lazy speech begets problems down the road for little learners.

My kids are learing about sea life right now. We have learned about invertebrates, and had a field trip to the aquarium this week. We got to hold horseshoe crabs, whelks, spider crabs, and hermit crabs. We learned a lot about blue crabs -- they have 10 legs; the male crabs have blue claws, while the females have red ones; you can also tell the sex of the crab from the shape on the underside of the shell; and a blue crab has eyes like kaleidescopes.

Kindergarten sure has come a long way from when I was a child.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Coworkers....Again

Most of you had the same reaction that I did to the "fat dyke" comment related below. Thanks to all who sent in supportive messages. I appreciate all of the disbelief exhibited on my behalf.

Sadly, I have to relate that the fun didn't stop there. No, apparently, I work in Bigot Central with people who SERIOUSLY need a sensitivity training course.

I mentioned in the comments in the previous post that the same day I got the lovely "fat dyke" crack, I started walking around the track at my school during my lunch hour. I've still been losing weight, but I don't get much exercise. I decided to start walking, not only to help with the weight loss, but also to get ready for our annual trip to Disney World. (We walk about 7 miles a day at Disney, and I am *so* out of shape every year.) It was just bad timing that I had decided to start walking the day that I heard these two jewels of carbon-based excrement discussing me. I didn't want them to think that what they had said had hurt me enough that I would take their comments to heart.

At any rate, I walked a mile during the early morning, while it was still cool. Later in the day, I was passing through the hallway when another co-worker stopped me. (This one was someone I rarely run across during the normal course of events, and who has spoken about ten sentences to me in total in three years. And about six of those sentences were in a training class.) The following conversation happened:

Co-worker: "I saw you out there walking earlier. I wanted to say that I'm so proud of you for finally doing something about your weight! You keep it up, okay?"

KLee: "Uh.....thanks?"

Now, this woman was trying, in her rather self-absorbed way, to let me know that she was glad that I was trying something to better myself, but the way she expressed it was...shall we say... unfortunate. It was a back-handed compliment, to say the least. Do I have a sign on my forehead that tells people that it's okay to verbally torpedo me? No, I don't, but I'm fat, therefore I'm fair game.

It's okay for the fat to be the object of ridicule. At least, that's the perception I pick up from society at large. It's okay for the overweight to have to endure the barbs and cutting comments from people they don't know. After all, we did this to ourselves, didn't we? We must be weak willed. We must be lazy, or stupid, or have no other redeeming qualities.

One day, maybe thoughtless people will think before they speak. Maybe one day, being fat won't be such a stigma. I can only hope.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Culture of Fat, Part Deux

Pardon me whilst I drag out my soapbox again. I'm once again perparing to gear up on behalf of fat people everywhere. Or, at least, the ones like me who are tired of being made fun of and derided.

For those of you out there who know someone fat -- thank you for all the times that you didn't remind us how fat we are. Thank you for the times when you complimented us on our clothes, or our work, or a recent accomplishment without tying into it that we are overweight. Thank you. Thank you for being supportive and non-discriminatory.

It astounds me that we live in a world where the following conversation could take place, and no one thinks there was too much "wrong" with what was said. That there are people who are still this judgemental and bigoted:

Two of my colleagues were in the main hallway today. I said good morning, and passed on by. After I was a short distance away, the two have the following conversation:

Woman 1: "Hm. I see KLee got her hair cut over the break."
Woman 2: "Yeah....and with those shoes and that haircut, she looks more like a fat dyke than usual."

Wow! Two subgroups insulted in one! It's a Bigot Two-fer!

Friday, April 14, 2006

How About a Meme?

It's been so long since I've done a meme, so I think I'll follow Halloweenlover's suggestion and do this meme, which made the rounds a while back. Some of my categories are different from hers, though.

The Seven Things Meme

Seven Things I Want to Do Before I Die:
1) Visit Europe again.
2) See my daughter grown up.
3) Hold my grandchild in my arms. Kiss his or her soft, silky head, and fall in love with him or her.
4) Wear a size 12.
5) Take a cruise.
6) Go back to school.
7) Go parachuting.

Seven Things That I Can Do:
1) Textile/Sewing Arts. I love 'em all, from cross-stitch to quilting.
2) Make handmade paper items, from cards to quilled sculpture. People at work are starting to commission cards and paper art from me. It's really very flattering.
3) Sing. I've done musical theater for years (though not recently.) I'm way out of practice, though.
4) Put my right foot in my right hand and extend my right leg upward in a sort of "ballet" stretch pose. Pretty limber for a fat chick!
5) Do Elizabethan Blackwork embroidery. (It's a long story. I'll explain one day.)
6) Make my own soap and candles. (That goes with the blackwork story.)
7) Read everything I can get my hands on!

Seven Things I Cannot Do:
1) Eat seafood. Allergic.
2) Wear or own anything orange. It's just plain WRONG!
3) Read music. I sing by ear.
4) Play an instrument, though I dearly wish I could.
5) Ride as a passenger in any moving vehicle without massive doses of anti-nausea meds. I get queasy watching my daughter play video games.
6) Stop compulsively buying books.
7) Do that thing with my tongue where you roll it into a U shape. (Both JF and Offspring can do it, and they tease me endlessly about it. Meanies.)

Seven Things I Say Most Often:
1) "I love you!" (To JF, Offspring, and my family)
2) "That's not how you get my attention!" (at school)
3) "Zip lips, or move clips!" (Also a school thing!)
4) "What should I make for dinner?" (Usually followed by: "No! Not spaghetti again!" to my daughter.)
5) "Sit on your bottoms, and tummies to the tables!"
6) "What time is it?" (for when my family has to roust me out of bed on the weekends.)
7) "The first thing on your paper is your name!"

My Seven Favorite Books: (or book series)
1) The Lord Meren Mysteries by Lynda S. Robinson
2) Anything about the Tudor Dynasty
3) Aaron Elkins' 'Gideon Oliver/Skeleton Detective' books
4) Sue Grafton's Alphabet series
5) The Harry Potter series
6) Kathy Reichs' novels
7) virtually anything about archaeology, crime, or mystery. Or, all three!

Seven People I Would Most Like to Meet: (living or dead)
1) Elizabeth Tudor
2) King Henry the Eighth
3) Hildegard of Bingen
4) any of my favorite authors
5) Sean Connery! (oooohhh! I *drool* over this man!)
6) George Washington (who would pass up a chance to talk with our first President?)
7) Benjamin Franklin (he seems like he would have been a lot of fun.)

Seven DVDs or Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
1) "Blackadder" (preferably the Elizabethan years, if I had to pick one incarnation)
2) "Better Off Dead." (Gee, Ricky. I'm sorry your mom blew up." "Do you have Christmas in France?" Love it.)
3) "Highlander" (with the utterly scrummy Sean Connery and a KILLER soundtrack by Queen.)
4) "A Fish Called Wanda" (or, really anything by the Pythons)
5) "Yellowbeard" (has the double whammy of being a movie both with Pythons *AND* pirates!)
6) "Love Actually." (have TiVoed this several times, and I STILL cry, every freaking time.)
7) "The Private Eyes" (an older comedy with Don Knotts and Tim Conway, and is hilarious with every viewing.)

So. That's a little more about me. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And the Band Played On

So, a lot of you have been very supportive (both here and elswhere) on my Parent Problem. I wanted to let you know what I've done about it.

I had several options: a) quit, b) get mad and let them know it, or c) be mad but continue to take it, just like I have been doing for the past four years. Now, I didn't want to quit. It's not the girls who are the problem, and they don't deserve to have me skip out on them. I didn't want to continue in the same old way by letting them walk all over me, so my choice -- really, my only choice -- was b).

After the whole ambush happened, I called up my mentor, who suggested that I write the parents a letter. It would outline how hurt and upset I was, while still suggesting a way in which we could come to a compromise. I wrote such a letter, pouring my heart and my anger into it. Even angry, I chose not to call names, not to make specific comments, and generally try not to make the issue into a one-on-one. Even angry, I was still trying to keep the peace.

When the letter was finished, I let my mentor read it, and she "approved" it. My co-leader thought that mailing that letter would REALLY anger the parents, and that I would alienate them even further. She may be right. It's out of my hands, though. I mailed the letters today, and I think I'm giving myself an ulcer in the process.

At this point, I'd rather risk making a few of them angry than to keep on as we are. I will no longer be a doormat. I can't force them to appreciate me, but I will no longer allow them to browbeat me.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

When It Rains, It Freakin' Pours

Okay, so I'm not having the best week of my life. I had no sooner posted a really whiny whine to Phantom Scribbler's Wednesday Whine thread when the proverbial scat struck the oscillating temperature-control device.

Firstly, my whine was that some of my Girl Scout parents ambushed me, and really said some hurtful things. It made me very upset, and now I question why I've devoted four years of my life and almost ALL of my free time to people who clearly don't care what they say to me, or who are even taking in the tenets of the program to start with. It left me feeling very discouraged, and wanting to quit, which is a major step for me. And, then my mother called.

Now, my mother has the habit of having one tee many martoonies and calling me up to serenade me with her karaoke favorites. When I heard her voice on the phone on Wednesday night at ten-thirty in the evening, I assumed that she'd been doing her Patsy Cline impersonation again. BBzzzzt! Wrong answer, but thank you for playing. Her appendix had burst, and she was being rushed (well...*rushed* isn't exactly the term, since she'd been in the ER for about 12 hours at that point) to have an emergency appendectomy. Now, apparently my Mom is going for some sort of frequent-flier award at El Local-o Hospital-o. Around five or six years ago, she rolled her motorcycle, injuring her knee. She had to have, for all intents and purposes, a knee replacement after that little escapade. About a year and a half after the knee, she had to fly to the Midwest for a conference for work, and the doctors think the long flight loosened a clot from the knee, and she had a pulmonary embolism. Thank God it wasn't fatal, and was caught in time. Now the appendix. It's not that she doesn't take care of herself -- she does, a lot more than many "grandmas" her age. (She'll be 60 this fall, and is more active and vital than many people 25 years younger. Me included.)

When she was wheeled into her room after the surgery (at about two in the morning), the first thing she noticed was a metallic gold paper star above her hospital room door. She said, still loopy from the anesthesia, "I musta been a good girl, 'cause I got a gold star!"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Return of the Puzzle Pirates!

In furtherance of my pirate obsession, on our recent trip to St. Augustine, I purchased this t-shirt. It's all part of my plan to rule the seas by kickin' butt and takin' names.

We had a great time in St. Augustine -- visiting the oldest wooden schoolhouse, the Castillo de San Marcos, the Fountain of Youth (where the world's most tame squirrels reside), and generally wandering around the historic district. We stayed at a pirate-themed Hostel (Hi, Conrad and Elaine!) which was a lot of fun.

It was a nice break for us. Plus, there were pirates, so we were happy all the way round!