Posted in Anxiety, Family, Teaching, Teenagers

Getting Sent to the Office – A Mother and Teacher’s Tale

Disclaimer – I know my reaction to the following scene was an overreaction, and that is an understatement. Although I am a part-time sunshine who tries to keep a positive outlook, I am also a full-time nut job who can fall into a vat of emotional turmoil in a single breath. Come hold my hand and breathe with me…

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The loudspeaker blared throughout my school interrupting first period.  “Mrs. Lucas, please come to the office. Paging Mrs. Lucas.” In case you didn’t know, I am Mrs. Lucas, high school English teacher.  image

I pushed my classroom call button connecting me to the office and said, “I’m in the middle of class.  Do you need me right now?”

The secretary replied, “Yes. Your daughter’s school is on the phone for you.  Mr. Jones can cover your class.”  

Whoa!  The secretary already called for classroom coverage. This didn’t sound good. And why did she page the whole building instead of just my classroom?  I felt like a kid getting sent to the principal’s office.  It is alarming to get jolted out of class for a surprise phone call, especially one about your own child. Since students can’t be left unattended, teachers realize whoever wants to speak to us has an immediate, important concern.  

Mr. Jones quickly arrived, and I raced down the steps as fast as I could in my new navy high heels. Clip-clop, clip-clop. Who called, I wondered? The high school or middle school?  Which daughter was this about: Cara or Elena?  Was she sick or hurt?  Was she in trouble?  Oh my my!  Did she cause trouble?  My concern from the loudspeaker, turned to anxiety as I hurried to the unknown caller.

I sped down the deserted halls to the office which seemed further away today, like it relocated to the moon. Finally, I pushed through the teachers-only door where a substitute-secretary warmly greeted me. It was as if she had been waiting for me the whole four minutes since she paged me, eons ago.  “Mrs. Lucas, I’m sorry I used the school intercom, but I was confused on how to page your room for you.  Here, you can sit at the desk to talk.” As a fill-in, maybe she was afraid to lose my call.  Or maybe she was just polite and letting me use her chair while she stretched her legs. Or maybe this was a huge emergency. 

I accepted the seat and pushed the red blinking answer button.  My caller spoke with a friendly, high-pitched voice and chirped, “Mrs. Lucas?”  

“Yes, this is she?” What were the chances the secretary got confused again and my caller was actually an extra-appreciative parent who wanted to tell me, voice-to-voice, how thrilled she was with the lessons I taught her teen?  

“This is the school nurse at Cara’s high school.”

Dang it! It wasn’t a thankful parent.  “Hi. What’s wrong?” I asked.  

“Cara had an accident in gym class and hurt her finger. She was doing box jumps and somehow slammed her hand into the box.”

“Oh, nuts and bolts!  Will she be able to throw the javelin and discus tomorrow for her first track meet?”

“I don’t think so. Her finger is a little crooked.”

“Crooked?” I asked looking at my own shaky, sweaty, but not crooked, fingers. “Can I talk to her?”  

“Yes, she is sitting right here with an ice pack.”

Cara chuckled,  “Hey, Mom!”

“Cara, why are you laughing?  Are you delirious?”

Still giggling. “I don’t know what that means, but it was so funny. Bella and I were doing box jumps, and then I accidentally hit my hand off the box and now it looks like a hook finger. It was so random.  We were cracking up!”

“Are you messing with me?  Are you seriously hurt?”  Cara is a prankster who celebrates every  April Fools’ Day and obnoxiously loves joking around about things mothers don’t find funny.  

Cara, quick to profess her discomfort, said “Uh, my fingers look like the letter ‘W’ and the bent one is throbbing.”

“Oh, I bet it hurts.  What’s your pain on a scale of one to ten?”

“I’m going with W!”

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“Why are you being so silly, Cara?”

“Lighten up, Mom.  I’m the one with a bent finger. When you come get me can we stop for some chicken nugs? The nurse wants to talk to you again.  Bye!”

The nurse got back on the phone and convinced me that the finger was a serious injury and probably broken. “I recommend you take her to the emergency room and get it checked out. She can’t straighten it.”

“Oh boy!  I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I uttered. The anxiety that started with the intercom got worse, and that crooked finger was enough to push my panic button. My heart beat out of my chest and my stomach swarmed with butterflies.  We aren’t a bone breaking family.  We have our share of accidents but nothing that cracks our skeletons.  From my chest up, my flesh burned with nervous electricity, and my ears rang with piercing dog whistles that muffled the school bell.  My nerves zoomed from zero to ten to ‘W.’

“Okay. See you when you get here. Drive carefully,” the nurse advised.  

“Umm. Who am I coming to get again?  Cara or Elena?”  Add short-term memory loss to my list of worrywart ailments.  

To be continued with “Reconnecting with my Teenage Daughter in the Emergency Room.”

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Posted in Education, Family, Social Media, Teenagers

13 Reasons Why: Adults Need to Talk About it.

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I plan to write an exploratory blog a post on why parents and teachers should watch 13 Reasons Why and talk about it with their teenage viewers. Most kids are binging it and having their own conversations. I think adult input is beneficial. If you watched this series, please share your input as an adult viewer and why you think it can help generate a conversation about the issues depicted: suicide, bullying, underage drinking, rape, violence, dishonesty, neglectful parenting, bystander (blind-eye) teaching, premarital sex, homosexuality, depression, social media, and more.

If you aren’t aware, this is a Netflix series based on the book of the same title. The Protagonist, Hannah makes cassette tapes to be distributed to those who she felt influenced her suicide. There is a lot of hurt, pain, blame, and shame revealed. I do NOT agree with how Hannah handled/mishandled her issues, but I think it merits a mature conversation that could help other distressed adolescents.

SPOILER ALERT — When you comment, act as if all readers of the post have viewed the show. If you have not, you may want to refrain from reading comments until you finished the series.  I recommend watching the 30-minute documentary following it on Netflix: 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons.

Comments — I hope to generate a good, adult conversation. Anything you add can find it’s way in my next blog, unless you state otherwise.

Posted in Family, Forgiveness, Running

Forget and Forgive: Leaving Behind iPhone Chargers

imageThis is a little story about leaving behind phone chargers.  How many of you have done this?  I bet if I could magically retrieve every forgotten charger, I could stretch out the cords to lasso the moon.

Last weekend my husband, two teenage daughters and several family friends traveled to Hershey to watch our Meadville Boys’ Basketball Team compete in the state championship game.  Neither Harry nor I are big basketball fans, but we wanted our kids to get to experience this event with friends and support their team.  It was a quick, pricey trip, and even though Meadville lost, we had a great weekend away together.

Moments after our five hour drive back home, Cara realized that both she and her sister, Elena, left their chargers at our hotel. My husband’s charger broke, so among the four of us, we only had one to share, mine.  

Who can count how many times my kids and their friends leave chargers places?  I can’t really scold my girls though, since my husband and I both leave a trail of various other things behind us.  It’s very frustrating to be a forgetful family, but we’re all working on it. The biggest consequence is losing an item and having to waste time searching for it or paying to replace it, which my girls did and will continue to do.

Since Elena’s phone was at 23% battery power, and she was leaving the house soon, she recharged first.  Cara was at 9% and wanted it before her phone died.  An outrageous battle initiated by Cara over the coveted charger broke out, so I confiscated her phone.  

Cara is typically calm, especially over something as trivial as battery percentage, but she couldn’t control her mood.  After all, she is merely the full-time daughter of a part-time sunshine who is prone to heated temperaments.  I’m sure being up all night hanging with friends during our getaway was the cause of some of her irritability, so I’m certain she suffered what I call: SLEEPOVER-HANGOVER.  Crashing after too much fun is no excuse to mistreat our household though.  

After a busy, exhausting trip, running was not on my agenda, but that’s what I did shortly after unpacking all of our stuff.  I was angry over the petty sibling rivalry especially after treating them to a good time that was all about them.  Ungrateful, I thought, as I laced up a new pair of running shoes and ran six miles away from our bad moods.  

It was one of my fastest and strongest 10ks, and I chalk it up to my adrenal gland anger more than the new Asics.  Exercise is the best way to exorcise my own unquiet spirits.  Thank God I can recharge by plugging into an endorphin outlet (More about this in a future blog.)  

I raced back home and entered a serene scene.  My girls befriended each other again, our dog snored on Harry’s lap, and the drained phone rested on the counter along with the silly yet sincere notes from Cara.  The source of her apologetic inspiration came from this recent meltdown over a forgotten phone charger.  

“I’m sorry for being a butthead, fam.  I love you all.  I don’t even have an excuse today since it’s Saturday, and I am only a walrus on Tuesday, Friday, and sometimes Monday.  But on Saturdays, I am a jar of peanut butter, so this one was all my fault.  I made multiple mistakes, and I apologize for them.  I hope you can forgive me and like your gifts!    —Love Cara”

In our house, arguments and outbursts happen.  Thankfully, remorse and apologies do too. These notes and re-gifts (i.e. batteries, candle, and lotion from our kitchen junk drawer) were a funny, endearing way for our teen to end the quarrel and recharge our home with peace and forgiveness.