Thursday, April 10, 2014

No easy answers

As of late, some troubling, disturbing, sad, tragic, and altogether unexplainable events have occurred in and around the Burgh. The reaction to these things has leaned more towards the vengeful side; there is a dearth of empathy, if hundreds of Facebook comments are any indication. And I, like so many others, want answers.

But I just don't think there are any easy ones.

Last week a seemingly "normal" mother drowned two of her kids. This mother lived on the same street as two families I know (one very well). A street I have been on numerous times. A street that has block parties and goes Christmas caroling. Although I did not know this woman, according to my friends, she seemed to be a typical, loving parent, who appeared to be that very way while they were waiting for the school bus the morning it happened. It can be really hard to reconcile what you know with what really is. And for someone like me, who is very non-judgmental and who hopes never to be on a jury, I struggle mightily with something like this. Yet unlike a lot of people, I don't believe in an eye for an eye. Yes, what she did is so wrong, but obviously something is so wrong with her. 

Then you have the 16-year-old kid, who could easily pass for 14, who stabbed over 20 people. Whether or not he was bullied does not excuse his actions, but if he was, a lot of people, children and adults, should really do some soul-searching. Yet I also don't feel he should be stabbed by each of those people, as some have suggested. (Note that as a parent, I do NOT fault any parents of the stabbing victims who feel this way. As non-violent and anti-revenge as I am, I am guessing that my forgiving nature would disappear.)

I think our mental health system is sorely lacking. But there are so many factors at play. There is the stigma. The cost. Access. Time. Pride. Lack of professionals. Fear of someone finding out. The unknowns about medication. People's unwillingness to open up. The complexity of the human brain. It is so easy to say that these people should have gotten get help, but did you read what I just wrote?!

People say that mental illness is an excuse, that the lawyers will use it to help their clients avoid jail time. But clearly something was not right in both of the above cases. What makes one mother with postpartum depression somehow cope, but another snap? What makes one kid who was bullied or ostracized live with it for years and eventually "move on" and another go on a rampage? If the extremely educated, well-studied people don't know, why does John Q. Public think he does?!

A friend's father has to be on medication for the rest of his life in order to stay "normal." Years ago the dad threatened to kill himself and his family; it was a nightmarish scene, though I don't know or remember all the details. I do know if you knew this guy, you would never believe that could happen. But I can guarantee that we all know someone who is on medication. But what works for one person does not work for another. And, well, see my above point about all the reasons why people don't just see a psychiatrist. Plus, just a hunch here, but I am pretty sure you don't just walk in one morning and then walk out sunshine and lollipops an hour later.

Just today at another local school, parents found a hit list in their kid's room, and they notified the school. Reaction to that was varied as well. Some praised the parents, whereas others thought it was no big deal. Me? I think parenting (or lack thereof) is a big factor in violence in younger people, so I applaud their taking it seriously. Yet how many times do people take it too far the other way? A six-year-old points his pencil at another student and says, "Bang," so we better suspend him. Sigh. Did that mother accidentally run over her kids a few years ago, or was that the first sign of a problem? I DON'T KNOW. And neither do you.

Clearly I am meandering in this post. But one thing I do know for sure: We can all stand to be a little kinder, more inclusive and sympathetic and a little less judgmental. Don't you think?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

I often "mark" or delineate my life by certain points. Moving to Pittsburgh 18 years ago next month is one. Getting married, having J, and my company (old job) moving locations were others. 

Five years ago last month, I was laid off. In several and great ways that marked the end of one life and the beginning of another. When I try to remember events, I often ask myself if they came before or after that. I had wanted to write a post to mark that five-year anniversary, but did not get around to it. I am quite certain I will remember that date for years to come, though that it was Friday the 13th is probably a bigger reason. Regardless, for several years, much of my blog was colored by that loss.

Just a few weeks after that gut-punching, life-changing event, I was affected more profoundly by the death of two children, Kate and Peter. I have written about that over the years as well. Today marks five years since their tragic passing. I never go more than a week or so without thinking of them or their mother Amy. For the first year or two, I thought of them daily.

Five years ago this month, another tragedy happened, the death of three Pittsburgh police officers. I can honestly say I don't think of that too much, but at the time, that weighed on me heavily, and made me view the work of officers in a different light. 

But even though I will remember 2009 for mostly sad things, I also have a handful of wonderful memories and events that also linger in my mind. That was the year both the Steelers and the Pens won their championships. When your two favorite teams do that within four months of each other, it is just amazingly wonderful. I remember the final moments of both games. I especially remember standing on a ladder to watch the SB parade. I also remember the palpable joy and excitement around town and the constant wearing of championship shirts.

Personally 2009 (and several years after) allowed me to spend time with my daughter. We lived at the park, worked on reading skills, and just were together. It was great. We even took a family vacation, which I uncharacteristically planned months ahead of time, before the job loss. If I could turn back time, I would definitely go to those moments. I want my little girl back sometimes!

Maybe years down the road, I will no longer think of things before and after that period in my life. In fact, now that I celebrated one year at the current job, a job I still really like and that in many ways I feel as if I have had for years, I find myself using that as a new "marking" point. I cannot say how long I will be there (due mostly to funding issues), but I am hopeful that having gone through 2009, I can get through a lot, and find the positive. 

I wish I had a profound quote to end on, but I got nothing. Have a good one!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Not exactly productive (but maybe it depends on the perspective/perception)

For about four years, J and I would visit my mom approximately every other week (not counting that bad/sad/dark period when my mom was ill and living many states away). Since I worked only sporadically and am close to my mom, it was pretty easy to have frequent visits. During that same four-year period, I would also go to multiple grocery stores most weeks, to get the best price on things. Particularly during the school year, when I had many hours most weekdays to myself, it just made sense. Plus, for some odd reason, I get a rush when I combine double coupons with a sale at one store and then price match with two or three different circulars at another store.

When I went back to work full time last April, I tried to continue to do those very things. But eventually I realized that I cannot live my life as if I am home many hours during the week when I am typically out of the house at just after 7:30 a.m. and I do not return until close to 6 p.m.

My mom has not taken my fewer visits (every three to four weeks) very well. And neither have I. Neither of us is getting any younger, so I appreciate our time together. As notable is that I appreciate the time away from home. I know that some people love to be with their spouses all the time. Me? I need space!

Saying good bye to the multiple grocery trips a week has been equally challenging, but that is more financial. I try to remind myself that when I worked five years ago, I did not do it, and I worked four days a week, not five as I do now. Yet I still feel bad, and it still bothers me, so I try to do it one or two weeks a month. Mostly the saving-money part outweighs the crankiness at giving up a couple of hours a weekend. Mostly.

This weekend was a weekend at home. Earlish Saturday morning, I grocery shopped at two different stores and managed to get stocked up on enough stuff that I should be able to skip the store next week, when we head back to my mom's. I also had a to-do list that involved some other errands (return things, gather up and drop off stuff at Goodwill, buy the Frozen DVD, visit Phipps, something else). But unfortunately, the kid's stomach had different plans, one that would involve her lying in bed the entire day and keeping nothing down. So there went my plans. I will spare you the details. But even when the sickness was gone by bedtime, I slept horribly because every time my kid moved (she slept with me just in case), I sat up in a panic. I don't think I slept more than an hour or so at a time.

Now it is after 5 p.m. on Sunday night, and the weekend is just about over. Although I am disappointed that I did not get too much accomplished, today I did manage to get three loads of laundry done, a bathroom cleaned, a book report typed, and my checkbook balanced (and by balanced, I mean I wrote in the amounts that were on my online banking statement). Friday night, before the sickness overtook our house, J and I watched The Princess Bride, which was every bit as good as I remember from many years ago. And I even managed to get to level 3 of French in Duolingo in about 1.5 hours after that (I started Spanish about two weeks ago, but it is not going well, so I needed to feel some sort of accomoplishment).

I am hopeful I can learn to balance things better, particularly since I lead such a boring life. And I am cautiously optimistic I can learn to forgive myself when I don't live up to my expectations as well as the expectations of others.But I am also realistic enough to know that within a few weeks I will probably be complaining about not having enough time to do X and disappointing Y.

But until then...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

"You've aged well."

Yesterday, I met with about 15 former coworkers from the job I was at the longest (almost 13 years). About once every year or two, someone sends out an email and tries to gather together as many people as possible for an afternoon or evening on the South Side of Pittsburgh. Although I could not tell you how many coworkers I had at that job (in 13 years, a lot of people come and go), I am lucky to say that I worked with a lot of great people over the years. And even though I keep in touch with a only a handful of them on a regular basis, it sure is nice to see some "old" faces every now and again.

And speaking of old...

I missed the gathering that was held in 2012. So the last time I saw most of these people was in the summer of 2011. And it could have even been 2010, as the years seem to run into each other. A few people I had not seen since I left that job (five years ago Thursday!), and one person I had not seen in probably several years before that.

Most everyone looked good. Some of us are a little grayer. Some of us are a little bigger. One person was considerable smaller (as in 200 pounds!). Me? Well, I am definitely grayer, though I try to get highlights to hide some of it. And although I weigh what I weighed when I left that job, I am about eight pounds heavier that I had been since the spring of 2009. Oddly, one of my former work boyfriends, whom I had not seen in probably two years, asked if I had lost weight. Being the forthright person I am, I told him that, no, I was, in fact, heavier. Maybe I just dress better now! :-)

And then one guy said to me, "You've aged well."

Was that supposed to be a compliment? I certainly don't think he was insulting me, but it just is not the same as saying, "You look great."

In fact, that sounds like something you would say to (or think about) someone who is in their 60s or 70s, in my opinion.

I am 42, people!

In any event, it was a great few hours. I only wish I had had more time to spend with many of the people. Time marches on, and too many of us get wrapped up into our own lives. It is good to try to reconnect with people when you have the chance and while you still can. And, let's face it: it is better to age then it is not to age.

So I will take aging well, thank you very much!

:-)


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Great Expectations (or Lowering the Bar)

Do you expect a lot from people? I do. Unfortunately I am let down a lot...

  1. I expect that when I buy donuts from Giant Eagle that turn out to be bad, that I will be offered a replacement in addition to my lousy $2.
  2. I expect that when I buy tires warranted for 60,000 miles, that I won't get fewer than 30,000 miles.
  3. I expect that when my child's school is delayed for cold when it is in the low teens, that it will also be delayed when it is in the single digits (or that if won't be delayed for either).
  4. I expect that when I call or email someone with a question or request, that that person won't wait weeks to get back to me.
  5. I expect that when the bus is supposed to arrive at a certain time in the morning, that if it gets there early, it won't leave until the designated time, particularly when the temps are in the single digits and the next bus is close to 10 minutes away.
  6. I expect people who use public transportation to bathe and use deodorant on a regular basis.
  7. I expect that when I spend $25 for a fog-free mirror, that the mirror will not fog in the shower within 60 seconds. 
  8. I expect when I am earning pretty much no interest in my savings accounts, that I won't be stuck paying $50 in interest on a truck payment every month.
  9. I expect that when I get a decent-sized tax refund when I did not pay any federal taxes in 2012 (the full-time-working husband did), that this year I won't get a refund that is about the same, considering I actually paid federal taxes.
  10. I expect the person who does my taxes not to lose the papers I include and to pay attention to my notes.
  11. I expect people to be willing to admit their mistakes and apologize for them.
  12. I expect when someone loses her phone, that the person who finds it won't keep it and/or sell it.
  13. I expect the weather people to be right more than they are wrong.

BUT...

  1. It is nice when you write a terse email to GE, to get a return phone call and email, and the promise of a gift card (have not seen it, but still)
  2. It is somewhat appreciated when you get a deep discount off your replacement tires and when Goodyear also steps up with a check.
  3. Perhaps the school administrators thinks the kids are heartier now in the cold temps!
  4. I have to understand that people are busy and forgetful; in other words, human, so they may not always remember or be able to get back to me (but if they never do, then it might be time to move on).
  5. I should probably accept the bus situation and be glad I can ride it for free.
  6. I need to remember that some people cannot smell themselves (I am immune to my bad coffee breath!) and maybe they have bigger things on their mind. But, still, being next to smelly people for even a minute is really an assault to my nose!
  7. They just don't make things like they used to. And there is not a lot of truth in advertising. What else can I say about that?
  8. I need to keep reminding myself that I do have money in savings, and, at least as of today, I can pay my bills. A lot of people cannot say that. 
  9. I need to be glad that I got a tax refund at all, and that I am able to put that refund, even if it is nowhere near what I had hoped, on that interest-sucking truck.
  10. Still not sure what to do about my tax people. But I suppose I should be glad they pick up my taxes and they are cheaper than going to one of those tax "stores." You get what you pay for!
  11. I guess some people just cannot admit when they are wrong. I know it is hard for me, but I am the kind of person who says, "I may have misunderstood you" or "Sorry, if I did this wrong" even though I am pretty sure I was not in the wrong. Oh, well.
  12. I am reminded that there is good in the world and am glad whoever found my mom's phone in a parking lot took it into the nearest store. 
  13. I pretty much need to give up on the weather people being right even half the time. Now if only they would stop hyping every single, potential occurrence of snow. And by occurrence, I sometimes mean a coating.
Stay tuned to see what the big snowstorms ends up being. My money is on 3". 

Friday, February 14, 2014

I am not sure if I should be annoyed or proud.

Ever since I have gone back work, I have gone a good job there, fortunately, but my parenting as far as what J needs for school has really been lacking. I often forget things that J needs to have or do, or I read about them too late. And my heart breaks a little each time (and, for the record, I remember to put most things on a calendar; I just forget to look at it daily).

On Sunday, it dawned on my that J had her school Valentine party on Friday. I asked her if she was supposed to bring something in, as no note came home. She said she was not sure. I asked her again a day or two later, and she said they could bring in something if they wanted to. I asked J if she wanted to. She said no.

I was mostly glad about that. Partly because it is difficult for me to stop anywhere after work during the week; my evenings are mostly shot, and I have been busy at work this week and staying late  as well as working from home in the evenings. But as important to me was I just don't think kids need another pencil/eraser which won't work or more sugar crap.

Regardless, this morning, I offered to stop at the store so we could buy a bag of candy, just so she would have something to give; I hated to think she would be one of only a couple of kids who brought nothing. But she said she did not care.

When I got home this week (on time for the very first day!), I asked her how many kids brought in stuff. Her reply? Everyone. But her, of course. I felt embarrassed right away, wondering if the teacher, some students, or the parents who were there for the party noticed that and thought ill of us. But when I asked J if it bothered her that she was the only kid who brought nothing, she said no. And, you know what, I am pretty sure she meant it.

That mostly made me glad. It is refreshing that she really does not care what the others think (and least about this!) and did not think it was important to have something/be like everyone else. But then there is that part of me that thinks maybe she is too apathetic. I mean she got something from all the other kids and yet she brought nothing. That seems kind of wrong.

I think this "holiday" is so silly anyway (though, for the record, I did wear red as well as heart sticker). But I hope I am not taking the love and giving out of the whole thing...

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's all about the money, money, money!

I spent bits and pieces of the past week gathering tax papers in "anticipation" of our accountant coming to get all our crap this weekend. On Saturday, the 1st, I could not understand why one of our banks had yet to send us an interest statement for our interest checking and money market accounts, when I had thought everything had to be in our possession by the 31st. Then an awful thought occurred to me, which I was certain could not be the case: What if we had not earned enough interest last year to actually get an interest statement from the bank? Nah, I was fairly certain you needed to earn at least $10 to get a statement, and surely we had earned that.

Spoiler alert: We did not!

This may not seem a like a big deal, but since we started saving money many years ago, we had typically earned a decent amount of interest. I know the interest rates have been quite low for the past few years, but I still thought we were making some money. So I logged into my account, and saw that for 2013, we had earned $7. What?! What the what, what?!

Just to make myself feel worse, I randomly looked at my tax return from 2007. We earned almost $500 in interest among our checking, savings, and a CD. And you know the sad thing, we actually have more money in checking and savings now (we no longer have the CD), even if it is just by a few thousand, because I had bought a car that year.

As I said to the hubby, I feel like an idiot paying interest on his (used) truck. We probably pay more in interest in a month or two on that truck (I would have to do the math, and I might cry if I do, even though our interest rate was pretty low) than what we earned in savings all of last year. Already I had been paying a payment and a half each month, sometimes more, but I am now planning to increase that amount.

But the reality is that we will need a lot of that money in savings. We really, really need to replace our roof. The hubby just this weekend informed me that our driveway is falling apart, so that needs to be black-topped. And if we expect to put our house on the market in the next few years, we have to replace our 25-year-old awful, stained carpet. And who knows how much longer our dishwasher, washer and dryer, and water heater will last. We cannot pay for those things without that money.

As bad as I feel for myself, because, as I have said many times, we live a mostly frugal life, I can't help but think of the people who pay hundreds of dollars in interest in credit card debt every month. It literally makes me twitch thinking about that. I would be pissed if I were paying $25 a month in credit card debt.

If nothing else, I actually feel better about getting a tax refund, which I am assuming we will get. People like Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey can say all they want that by getting a refund, the government is earning interest off your/my money. Well, I say good for them! Someone should be earning interest. As for me, if, fingers crossed, we get a decent return, a good part of it, maybe all of it, is going on the truck.

In the meantime, anyone have any recommendations for money market/savings accounts? Surely some bank somewhere has a better interest rate than the .01 I am earning...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

These stories really get to me.

If you live in or around the Pittsburgh area, you know right now there is a deadly batch of heroin going around western PA. People do a bag (I don't know if that is the right way to say it), and then they typically die. The more hardcore druggies might not die from that bag, but they will likely end up in the ER. In about about 10 days, 22 people have died from it. For the love of Pete, the story made the LA Times.

It sickens me, for many reasons.

First, I hate needles. I am very open about that. My fear of needles had kept me from getting a tetanus booster for 17 years. So I cannot even fathom wanting to do drugs via a needle.

Second, I have never gotten over the movie Transpotting. I watched that in 1996 or '97 at a theater in Oakland (the name escapes me, but it is no longer there). I to this day am still haunted by scenes from that movie, which chronicled the heroin use of a handful of young men in Scotland.

Third, like the vast majority of people, I know addicts. Some are recovering (I think that is the term) and have been clean for awhile. One person I know has been off and on drugs so many times I have lost count. I have pretty much given up hope for him. I just think it is too powerful, and he has fallen too many times.

About four years ago when I was at a park with Jordan, I was talking to some moms I had just met. During our time there, two older teens walked through the park on their way to/from someplace; one of them was the one of the mom's sons. I was pretty sure right away one of the kids was on drugs. I have seen that look. I cannot adequately describe it, other than to say their eyes have such darkness underneath them; imagine the worst dark circles you can and then multiple that. On top of the that, their eyes seem to be lifeless. Anyway, I wondered if I should say something to the mom, in case she had no clue. But I did not. It turns out that boy died before the end of last year. He apparently had been clean for a few years, but he relapsed recently.

Anytime I read about a young person dying, I assume it is drugs. Sadly most of the time it is.

J is at the age (10) where I have started to be more specific about drugs, more than just "Whitney Houston was on drugs and she died very young" and "That young guy from Glee took drugs and died." I have told her that chances are very good that when she is a teenager, someone will offer her drugs. And that she needs to understand that sometimes it takes only one time. And I said this before the deadly heroin came out. Fortunately, J leads a pretty sheltered life now and is not very social, so we probably have a few years of "safety" Many kids are not so lucky.

I have no idea what can be done. Lately there has been much talk about legalizing marijuana (which, I know is now legal in some states). I am mostly against that, only because every person I know who is or was an addict started with that. But at the same time, I know many people who have smoked weed (is that what the kids are calling it nowadays?) and have never done anything beyond that. So I am definitely not saying that just because you do dope, you will move on to harder things.

One thing I do know is no one deserves to die from a drug overdose. Too many people have been commenting on Facebook and on newspaper websites, saying things like these people deserve it and that there is one less person doing and selling drugs. Yes, I agree that each person chose to try drugs. But we don't know their circumstances. And, most meaningful and significant to me, are the loved ones who are left behind. The ones who may never get over that loss. The ones who have been probably suffering for years already.

What if the person who ODs is your child? Your sibling? Your significant other? Many, many lives are affected by drug use.

It is all so sad to me. And I just wish it would stop. :-(

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hypocritical?

Yesterday on Facebook, a former client from a previous job announced that her pre-teen daughter purged all of her Justin Bieber stuff, thanks to his latest round of idiotic and, more importantly, illegal behavior. It reminded of when people gave away their Ben Roethlisberger jerseys a few years back, though I must still note Big Ben was neither arrested for nor convicted of anything.

When I was in college, I was a fan of Milli Vanilli. I found their tunes to be catchy, and Rob Pilatus, a looker. But when the truth came out about their lip-synching, my roommate and I ripped the poster of the duo right off our dorm room wall. Not that same thing at all, but sort of, maybe?

I am not a regular concert goer. In fact, if I stopped and counted, I bet I could not come up with much more than a dozen concerts I have attended in my lifetime (if I count local bands/bars, the number is much, much higher). The reasons for the lack of concerts are varied, but money and convenience are big factors.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I think that Chris Brown is a total jerk. Having volunteered at a domestic violence shelter for almost two years, about 20 years ago, I see violence against women (and towards anyone, really), in a different light than many, I suppose (not that most people would ever condone it). Believe me, it is terribly unsettling to have to photograph women with bruises on their backs. And it is practically other worldly when you see someone you know come into the shelter.

But here is the thing: I like Chris Brown's music. I would never attend one of his concerts, even if I was a regular concert goer. And I never would have bought any of his albums. That is, until just a few weeks ago, I bought one of his singles, "Don't Wake Me Up," from iTunes, as it has been one of my favorite songs for awhile (I just recently starting buying music via iTunes). And I feel guilty about it. Though, to be fair (and I know I am also rationalizing), the woman he beat up, Rihanna, got back with him some time later. I don't think they are together anymore, but I don't really know.

But I think about these things, supporting people or companies that do immoral, illegal, or just things in general I don't agree with. I consider myself to be pretty principled, but sometimes I just want to eat food from a place that may have different values than I have. Sometimes I really enjoy a show or a band, even though the actors or singers are absolute a-holes. I almost feel complicit, and I am not sure if I should.

Sometimes I don't quite get the point people are trying to make when they boycott things. I love when I read a rant about a company that is anti-gay, immigrant, veteran, woman, something, and then that person still shops at or supports other companies that many be against one of those very things, but they just don't know it.

Recently, some students at CMU dumped out a bunch of cans/bottles of Cokes in protest of Coke's sponsorship of the Olympics, which will be in the anti-gay Russia. Some students said "corporations should use their power to make change in countries that need it" and that "We targeted Coca-Cola specifically because they are something that college students can make the decision not to drink every day."

How is it Coke's fault that Russia condemns gays? And by boycotting Coke (and keep in mind they had to go out and buy Coke to be able to dump it), couldn't they ultimately hurt all the athletes? To be fair, I don't know how these sponsorships work, but I have to think that the athletes are benefiting from the sponsorships at least indirectly.

How far do you take your beliefs and values?

Let's say that there are a few pizza places in your town. You find out the Pizza Place A openly condemns gays, which bothers you tremendously (or they are in full support of traditional marriage, which you appreciate as you are very conservative). Do you no longer buy pizza there because their values are different? Let's say you do, do that. What happens when you find out that Hamburger Place A feels the same way. To be consistent, do you now boycott that place? When does it end?

I am asking, because not only do I not want to feel like a hypocrite (and I think I am kind of one because I spent $1.99 or whatever it was on that Chris Brown song), but I want to understand what others do?

You?

Thoughts?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Believing is believing

Sometimes Person A will tell you something that happened, which happened to involve Person B. And then Person B has a slightly different take on it. Both believe their version is the truth. Whom do you believe?

There are people in life who lie. This happens pretty much every day, particularly with politicians. I am sorry to say, but at this point I almost refuse to believe anything that comes out of an elected official's mouth, regardless of political party. Sometimes they are just going with the whole CYA strategy. Other times they might actually be convincing themselves that they have it right. Maybe their fingers are crossed?

We also see this with (mostly college) coaches. How many of them say that this is their dream job and they are here for the kids. And then a few weeks or months, or maybe even a year, later they have found another "dream" job. (I do realize people can change their minds. And, yes, I am speaking about Penn State, now that the tables are turned on us.)

I have gone through things like this personally. With my kid, with friends, with relatives. Heck, even with things I said (and did not say). In some cases, it is clear that the people are lying. But at other times, it seems to me that people may think their version of the truth is, well, the truth. In their mind, that is how the event went down, or that is what they remembered saying.

Last year when I was subbing, apparently several children thought I had called them something which I absolutely did not. It was something I would never say to the kids, as I have always tried to build them up. Heck, I hated to even say to kids that they had a wrong answer and would often say things like (unless it was math), "Well, that is an interested perspective, but there is more to it."

This caused me great distress because at first blush, to me it meant one of the following situations had occurred: 1. These kids really had thought that is what I had said. 2. These kids just did not like me and wanted me to get in trouble. Neither scenario was appealing to me. And, in fact, when I had talked to some other parents who told me that their children had not heard me say that, that they did not believe for a second I would say that, it puzzled me even more. Fortunately, the principal knew me enough and believed I would never say that. Or so she said. :-)

Ultimately, I concluded that the kids took something I had said and turned it into something more. I can see where the comment I had said may have seemed negative, though I did not mean it that way. Instead, or maybe in addition, it was possible I had corrected a child who said something negative by repeating what that child said by saying "We don't say X"; and the children, who were loud at that point because we were doing a group activity, heard just the last part and thought I was saying that negative thing.

As I said to several parents at the time, I would never want the kids to think I had thought of them that way, because I did not. That made me sad as a teacher and as a parent. But the reality is that those parents believed their kids, and there is not much I can do about that. If my child came home and said that Mrs. X said "__" I would first grill her to see if her story stuck. But my child is pretty darn truthful, so I would probably believe her. But I also would probably do nothing about it, unless I thought it was completely egregious or heinous. I give people, especially teachers, multiple chances as well as the benefit of the doubt.

So what is my point of dredging this up, almost a year later? Well, it is sure not to stir the pot and have some parents who have read this blog in the past call me up and yell at me (as has happened to me before). If any of you are reading this, please just read my words, and choose to believe them or not. But please, please don't call me.

No, my point is that sometimes in life we really believe what others say and sometimes we ourselves perceive a situation in a certain way which may not be entirely accurate.

And I am afraid there is not much we can do about it. So we have to just agree to disagree and believe what we want.

Or not.