I have had a busy week of learning, I think.
How meaningful was the learning? I guess that is a slightly subjective question. I mean, it was meaningful enough to make me stop and rethink my reality and world view, so – I guess that makes it meaningful.
On the other hand, how meaningful is it to you?
Lesson 1: My job sucks ass…sometimes in a “that is HORRIBLE” kind of way and sometimes in the “that is AMAZING!” kind of way. Not because I don’t like teaching and don’t do it well, but because my title and access to tools to actually competently complete my job don’t exist. Let’s deconstruct. First, I went back to work and was happy to be teaching. I am teaching new courses and actually am slightly looking forward to new curriculum although that means an ass-load of work. It was fun to teach again. AND, it was great because I have quite a few repeat students who enrolled in my classes because they “HAD” to take another class from me because the last one they took was so amazing. That is a pretty good compliment, if I may say so myself. I even had a girl stop by my classroom who I had about 3 years ago drop off a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies because, and I quote, “I know you have a sweet tooth, so when I saw you were teaching next store, I knew I had to bring some in for you.” LOVE it And they were delicious. On the other hand, the suck factor of my job kicked into place when I rolled into my classes with a different text book than the student. Thanks, Department. Way to support your faculty. Administrators and faculty wonder why my community college has such a shit reputation. Let me help you out. Dumb Fuck adjunct faculty like me who are given the WRONG MATERIALS (at the last minute, mind you) to teach a class. Nothing like a douche bag teacher who waltzes into a classroom with the wrong book to set the state of credibility. Sweet. So – this week I learned that I’m a good, sought after teacher in a shitty shitty place with some pretty amazing students.
Lesson 2: Take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, even if they make people talk. This week one of my kids had a pretty amazing birthday. He turned five and I surprised him with a ride in a helicopter. I know, pretty extravagant gift for a 5 year old kid whose mom is pretty fucking poor. And outside of stunning a kid into complete silent amazement for about 45 minutes of flight with the exception of calling himself the pilot because the pilot let him make direction commands, it made a LOT of people talk. As in, “Wow…what are you going to do to top that next year?” “Wow. You’re spoiling him” and “That is a lot of money for a 5 year old” and “Great gift, how could you afford that?” and the comments go on. First. It isn’t your money. None of your fucking business. Two. How I choose to plan my kids birthday is up to me…I might have no intentions of “beating” it next year…for all we know, next year, he might care less about helicopters and just want to go on a hike. Third, I had a really amazing opportunity to take my kid up on a dream trip because I have a pretty amazing network of friends, and I grabbed it. IN all honesty, had I had to pay out of pocket the $700 trip, I never could have rationally pulled it off. That is a lot of money for me right now. Was it worth $700. ABSOLUTELY. However, I was lucky enough to have a chain of friends who wanted to make a little boy’s dream come true because it was their dream as a little boy. Plus – he had the resources to make it happen…so, he did. I was lucky. My kid was lucky. It was an amazing experience and an amazing opportunity – so, I took it. It is a pretty over-the-top gift. But – my kid was worth it and the chain of people who made it happen thought my kid was worth it, too. THAT is pretty special, don’t you think? This week I learned that it is sometimes totally worth it to do things that make people gossip, especially if it makes my kids’ happy and it doesn’t hurt anyone. I might never be able to “top” this birthday. And really…I can say, I don’t care. It wasn’t my intention to have a birthday to oust the other birthday’s off the list of birthday amazingness. I did it because I could and I knew it would make a little blond kid happy. I also learned, in the making, that it is WORTH paying a babysitter to stay with the kids so I can appreciate and enjoy my kids one at a time. As a single mom of three little ones, one-on-one times is a rare luxury. The cost of the babysitter was my highest expense of the day. And I will TOTALLY do it again….I learned that I need more time with my kids alone. And I know that my kid appreciated the “special mommy all to myself” time, too. He talked about that almost as much as the helicopter ride. So, Lesson 2 is a double whammy: (1) do what makes you happy and (2) do what makes you happy with each kid…they all deserve and need their mommy one at a time…even if it is really expensive to make that happen.
Lesson 3: Deadbeat dads suck. Now I KNOW that there is going to be some opposing legal team and semi-illiterate non-native English speaker who are going to think that this is a rant against them. It’s not. Well. Entirely. This is the conversation I saw on Facebook today that made my coffee taste like shit (and we all know that coffee never takes liks shit when you are as exhausted and caffeine reliant as I am- especially after I was up most of last night and the one before working on a GI-nourmous project). Let’s read, shall we?
DUDE status update: “Im stuck at a dead end job child support bout to kick in im not gonna have no money to do any thing with really stating go get fucking pissed off about this shit need a better job that pays better then tis shit.“
Smart Girl: Coming from the perspective of someone who SHOULD be getting child support and was left hanging by a not-so-amazing father…the cost of support you will be asked to give (regardless of your earning) is WAY less money than the cost of raising the kid. So – in the end, you are still saving money.
Smart Man: where ever you go either with this company or the next,.child support will follow you! be happy you have job.Here’s the thing. Child support IS NOT A PUNISHMENT. Or, maybe it is because you, as a man, were out fucking around (literally) and the consequence is RESPONSIBILITY because you knocked someone up and made an AMAZING KID.The child support is how the kid survives. Raising a kid is expensive. If you didn’t want to have to pay child support, you shouldn’t have used your tiny-man penis for anything other than pissing.Now, I know the dude who posted this, and at the end of the day, he is a nice guy, he loves his daughter and in my useless opinion, he has made a RADICAL change for the better since becoming a dad. However, you still have to financially SUPPORT your kids and not just be a “Disneyland Dad” (which, again, this dude is). Daycare ALONE for a kid is about three times what this guys child support is going to be. LITERALLY. So – his drop in the bucket will help. Paying child support is LESS than the cost of raising the kid…Smart Girl was on to something. If, as single parents, we had to keep track, to the penny, of ALL the basic expenses of raising a kid (food, shelter, transport, water, electricity, daycare, clothes, etc.), the child- support paying parent would SHIT THEIR PANTS and learn how to be thankful they aren’t burdened with the true cost of raising their kid. Kids should not have to suffer a standard of living because their other parent is too greedy and wants to spend their surely hard-earned-cash on things like booze, car stereos, new shoes, name brand clothes and other “Stuff” that won’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference in the long run. So – the lesson here is that my “situation” is so fucking common it makes me sick. Why are so many men cop-outs? maybe the new “system” should be more along the lines of “hey…dad, you want to play Disneyland Dad? OK…you have to ‘rent’ your kid…you have to ‘pay to play.’ Within this framework, dad’s would have to PROVE they want to be dad’s and the ‘payment’ would replace traditional child support. This would show who the TRUE dads are. Who REALLY wants to see their kids. Don’t pay? Then you lose. We would quickly weed out the real dads from the pretend dads and dad’s would start to prioritize their spending habits. If seeing their kids was that important, they would figure out how to make it happen….less of the ‘fun’ stuff and more of the “necessities.”True, there is absolutely no solid moral/ethical support to this…I know kids need both parents and all that garbage. BUT, kids also need food, clothing and daycare. AND I KNOW that the idea of “pay to play” would make the activists come out raging. And admittedly, there are holes in the strategy (I need time to work them out in my head a bit more). BUt – the lesson learned is that guys can be total dicks when it comes to the line that falls between being a responsible parent and a greedy asshole.
Lesson 4: Separation is hard. My kids have been going through some crazy life changes. New preschool (long story there) for the big kids and a new babysitter for the baby (who, really isn’t a baby anymore…but nicknames die hard around this joint). Plus, the kids’ grandparents are out of town for a long time. The oldest woke up today asking, “Is Grandma coming back? She said she would come back after my birthday” and was pretty devastated when I said no and made him clean up the game he had set of to play with his grandpa. My middle daughter is a cries-a-lot-more-than-usual phase and her normally sassy mouth is on overdrive. I know she is sad. She cries than says someone hit her (not true) and that she just wants “my Gram.” Gram, I have been told several nights in a row now, is “SO. MUCH.BETTER!!!! taking me a BATH!!!” The baby keeps walking into the now empty rooms and shrugs her shoulders and as if asking “Where are they?!” and does it about a dozen times a day. I’ve learned over the years, I get “over” people pretty fast. I think that for years I have been very self-contained and although I have bouts of missing people, I detach myself pretty easy (yeah…that whole wall thing I’ve written about…totally keeps my emotions in check about people.) and can take or leave most people (wow, that sounds callus, right? Don’t mean to be callus, just good at ‘boxing’ up my people emotions, I guess). But – my kids are too little for that kind of stuff and just don’t understand why everything is changing. Kids thrive in consistency. My kids are VERY used to routines and do MUCH better with them. So – they are all working through the changes in their own way. Interestingly, my oldest has taken on this huge burden of being my helper ALL the time. I worry he is going to have the ‘oldest child’ syndrome, but, I also see joy in his eyes when he helps. The girls will figure it out, too. Plus, more change is eminent. Things aren’t meant to be consistent. But, I guess that is different from separation. So, the lesson I learned this week about separation is that people are important. They make a difference in our lives and leave gaping holes when they leave. Normally, I jump over the crevice and move on. Yet, living the loss of people through my kids’ eyes made me remember that people are more than fillers; they create the maze we explore and when we take them away, the adventure becomes a little bit less enticing. An important lesson to be learned? For me? Absolutely.
Lesson 5: Perhaps the last lesson today I learned had to do with love, which, even in my head, is totally cheesy. I think that I learned today that you know when someone loves you because they truly will walk over burning coals, part oceans and jump canyons just to spend 2 minutes with you. This one is a lesson that took me a bit to process, come to think of it, because it came to me in a way and a person, that I hadn’t really ever equated to love before. I mean, when we think of parents, and ourselves as parents, we do what we have to do protect and comfort and love the other person. But – coming from an outside person, it seems that most of the time, we do what we can accommodate. The intention, or belief of intention, exists – but the action is pushed to the back burner when other ‘things’ get in the way. This week, I guess the last few weeks, I’ve realized that there actually is someone who is dodging the proverbial bullet just to sneak in a “hello” – just because they want to, just because it makes me smile, and just because it makes hearts and spirits warm and fuzzy. It is kinda neat. And it does jump start the warm fuzzy effect. It’s good. I’m not sure that I can say that anyone has “loved” (however you want to define that) me in that way before. I’d like to say I have been conveniently loved. Now, perhaps, it is the blossoming of an inconvenient love. And maybe it is inconvenient love that I have been missing. Maybe it is good to be inconvenient. Inconvenient, in this case, is showing me how important I am.
I guess I can say I learned a lot of shit this week. All life lessons that somehow have changed the way I see the world and appreciate the way it works. I think that the lessons also have taught me to pay more attention to the details. I am an admitted “non-detail/big picture” person. Yet – I need the details….they bring perspective, joy, experience, knowledge, logic, support, people and love.
No wonder I’m exhausted.
It has been a busy week.