Posts from 2017
Christmas brings the best, and the worst, out of people. I believe that there is far more good that comes out of the season, but let’s face it, that’s not nearly as much fun to write about. I am still wondering what it was that I did to this guy in the fast food drive thru, but I figure he needs to be wished Merry Christmas.
I innocently pulled into the drive through behind an older, slightly beat up car in my local Wendy’s drive through. I noticed that there was a car behind me, and not wanting to leave her hanging out in the parking lot, I pulled a little closer to that car in front of me. All of a sudden, these two very large paws raised and seemingly hit the roof of his car. The man vehemently stared at me in his rear view mirror. His perfectly round face was bright red, and he was yelling. It didn’t take much lip reading ability to know what he was calling me. Then he noticed that I saw him and started to wave backwards as if he was swatting away flies.
I understood that he believed I had pulled too close, which I didn’t know was a thing in a drive thru. I realized that although I couldn’t see the bottoms of his tires, but I could still see the top. I didn’t think that my white, mom-car Kia Sorento could be intimidating, so I was really confused as to why this was a thing. I checked my own rear view mirror to see if I could make this not-so-jolly man in front of me happy and back up a bit. The woman behind me was right on my bumper. So there I was.
Luckily, the car in front of him finished his order, and pulled forward. I believed the incident was over. Not so much. The mad man did not pull to the microphone to order. He pulled up to the picture of a burger and stopped. Now mind you, this was not a menu he stopped at. It was just a picture of a burger, and no matter how good that burger looked, it did not deserve the time that this man spent stopped there. I didn’t know what to do. I waited a very respectful amount of time before I tapped my horn.
The man’s car started to bounce. His arms flailed, his face went from red to maroon, and I swear I could see the saliva flying out of his filthy mouth. Then he reached for his door, and I thought, “God help me, he’s coming to get me!” Then, I have to admit, there was that part of me, the part that was sick of Christmas shopping, and tired of my sixth graders excited for break. It thought, “Bring it on, fat man!”
I will never know which part would have prevailed because instead of the door handle, he was reaching to roll his window down. I think he lost a lot of angry momentum because it didn’t seem like his window wanted to roll very well. When he finally got it down, he stuck his arm out, gave a couple fly shooing waves, flipped me off, then rolled forward to order his lunch. I stayed where I was until he ordered and pulled around to gather his lunch.
You would think this was enough, but not quite. At the light near Wendy’s, a clunker pulled up beside me. Yes, it was my friend from the drive thru. We made eye contact. He began yelling at me again. I simply waved, smiled my biggest smile, and said, “Merry Christmas,” nice and slow so he could read my lips. The light turned and, like Santa, I drove out sight.
Christmas brings the best, and the worst, out of people. I believe that there is far more good that comes out of the season, but let’s face it, that’s not nearly as much fun to write about. Tempers are sometimes short during this most festive of seasons, and I witnessed this during holiday shopping at Costco. There were two ladies who definitely needed some Christmas cheer.
My daughter and I finished our shopping, and joined the line in the center isle where we would be herded toward the check stands. We didn’t see the initial incident, but we heard the aftermath. A high maintenance, big bootied blonde woman in front of us stopped her cart, put her hands topped with long, manicured claws on her ample hips, and glared at a Latina mom next her. I knew she was a mom because she wore a flannel shirt, unpainted short nails, and her cart was full of kid food.
Anyway, blondie kept the glare on the mom while saying to her friend, “Let that bitch pass. She just cut me off. She almost hit me with her cart.”
I was thankful the herd began to move and the Latina mom took her place in front to lead us to the checkstands. I believed it was over. Not so much. When we reached the point where we would split up and go to a checkstand, the mom decided that she wasn’t going to let Blondie best her. She left her cart and strode, with as much stride as a five foot nothin’ woman can, over to her antagonizer. She tapped her on the shoulder, and when Blondy turned around, the mom said something to her.
I wished I could have heard what that was because it must have been good. The blond woman raised her hand and pointed. “Oh, don’t do it,” I muttered. But the woman did it. She put her blood red fingernail to the Latina mom’s chest. The mom brushed it away and stepped forward so she and Blondie were toe to toe, nose to nose.
I really hate it when my teacher instincts take over. Instead of standing back and watching the Latina mom pulverize the booty girl (because you know she would have), the teacher part of me took over. Before I even knew what I was doing, I wedged myself in between them just like I would do with sixth graders on the playground. I said in my most cheerful, but stern, teacher voice, “Ladies, Merry Christmas!” I placed a hand on each of their shoulders and gave a gentle shove as I said, “Now, you go this way, and you go this way.”
I don’t know if it was the teacher voice, that I reminded them it was Christmas, or the fact that I was a good ten inches taller than either one of them, but they obeyed and went to their assigned check stands. I guided my embarrassed teen daughter to a checkstand of our own. I took a deep, cleansing breath and wished I had put just one more bottle of Christmas cheer into my cart.
I am, like most of you, thinking of all the things I am truly thankful for. At the top of that list is family, time with family, friends, my home, and my jobs. But, I have also thought about those unnecessary luxuries that I feel should also get some love. They are those things, that while unnecessary, make my life easier, richer, and more fun. I am first world thankful for the following:
Online shopping. If you love the mall, the big sale, more power to you. For me, however, going to the mall or to a busy department store is what I would imagine schlepping through hell would be like. Online shopping is my idea of retail heaven. I can sit in my favorite recliner, drink a frothy beverage, and get Christmas done.
The remote start and heated seats in my car. I run cold so these things make my day. No longer do I shake and shiver all the way to work. Once there, it would take my body, and my personality, an hour to unthaw. I’m sure they don’t know it, but my 6th graders are thankful I have them too.
College football. Never, in the history of mankind, has there been a better use of a Saturday than college football. I love screaming at the TV, or high fiving, waving, and whistling in a stadium with thousands of other like minded fans. It is the day that I get to exorcise all the stress and annoyances from the week. The worst day of the year is when the national championship is played and I have to remove my butt from the couch and find another outlet that will never work as well.
Variety. I wanted to write variety of beer, but then I realized that I like variety in a lot of things. I know I am extremely spoiled with the amount of choices I have in all of my favorite things including beer, food, shoes, TV shows, music, and movies. When I walk into my local pub, it almost brings me tears looking at that long row of taps that change monthly. I grew up with three TV stations, four on a clear day, and a place to rent movies that carried maybe twenty five VHS tapes to rent. Gram and I watched the same movies over and over. If Gram were alive today, she would simply shake her head as I scrolled through the choices displayed on my humongous flat screen TV and mutter, “Hell’s Friday!” Variety really is the spice of life!
As long as we remember the real stuff we are thankful for, I think it’s OK to thank the universe for those first world items as well. What are you first world thankful for on this fine Thanksgiving day?
“For Hell’s sake, grow some balls and go after what you want!” So telling my daughter to grow balls may not be my best mom moment, and I really wish my rant wasn’t so Freudian, but I stand by the sentiment. Jumping out of an airplane takes little courage compared to the courage required to pursue happiness.
Misery is easy, drama is easy, remaining static is easy, being a pleaser is easy, letting things happen is easy. Easy does not equate to happiness. No matter how many times you use a smiley face emoji or post to social media and tell your friends how joyful you are, it just won’t happen until you have the courage to put in the work to obtain it.
So back to my kid. The thing they don’t tell you when you have a baby is that you can’t make them do anything, much less be happy. You can model the tools and gently, or sometimes not so gently, guide them, but in the end they have to choose to have the courage to work for their own happiness. As a parent, I really hope my kids grow those metaphorical cojones and get the job done because I love them. And honestly, I really don’t want them living with me forever.
If your teen is perfectly capable, and you would like them or need them to find employment, but they are uninterested, there are some effective options besides demonstrating your frustration and anger.
- Stop paying for their stuff. Teens love their cell phones, computers, video games, driving the car, and looking cool. These things may be called essentials by your teen, but in reality, they are not. If your teen refuses to look for a job, stop paying for their stuff. It's amazing how motivating taking away their luxuries can be.
- Make their life at home more work. If your teen refuses to help you out financially, then perhaps they could help you out manually. Give them some added chores. Perhaps if they clean out the garage they can take the car Saturday night, or being in charge of garbage and recycling may earn them a month's worth of texting privileges. Allowing your teen to do nothing is not only unfair to you and your family, it is unhealthy for them. How can a teen learn to be a contributor to society when they haven't learned how to pull their weight within their own family?
- Show them the harsh realities. Talk to your teen about the realities of having no money. Share your paycheck, bills and your budget with them. Find the costs of attending college at their dream school. Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter or food bank. In other words, it's time to let them in on what all adults know, money is important and it takes hard work to get it, and even harder work to keep it.
- Find out if they're lazy or scared. Teens love to play it tough and act as though they're rebelling when in reality they may be apprehensive. Finding a job for some teens is a scary thing because they realize they have to grow up, talk to adults, take responsibility for themselves, and generally leave their comfort zones. I had really great students in my classes who completely shut down when the topic of jobs comes up. Discuss with your teen why they don't want a job. Let them know you are there to offer suggestions, find resources, research possibilities, and help them through the process of getting a grown up job.
Most teens I've taught can't wait until they're old enough to get a job. But for those few who seem uninterested despite the pushing and prodding from their parents, there is hope. Parents can't make their teens get a job, but they can employ strategies to motivate employment aspirations.
During the process of researching and teaching teens about how to get and keep a job, I learned three things which drove me to write Hey, Get a Job!
- There are not many resources out there for teens seeking their first work experience. You can find tons of stuff on employment for college graduates, adults seeking career changes, and even senior citizens wishing to return to the workforce. But teens? Not so much.
- Kids like to say they know everything about getting and keeping a job, but in actuality, they don’t know anything. The first time I assigned students to fill out a job application I received grumbles and those often-heard words, “This is stupid, I already know how to do this.” I did not teach the application, I didn’t even provide tips, hints, or don’ts. What I got was a mass of applications that were unacceptable. Teens didn’t know how to properly write their address, education history became yes or no questions (YES, I want to attend college), strengths and skills prodded lists of things like the amount of weight one could bench press or the grade on an exam, and my personal favorite, the references they listed were their best friends. Do teens know how to get and keep a job like they say they do? Nope.
- Adults often mistake a teen’s reluctance to get a job as laziness when it is actually that they are scared. All kids like money, and believe it or not, the vast majority of my students wanted to earn their own money. The problem for many of them, however, was that they were intimidated by the adult world of work. We treat them like kids, we feed them, clothe them, make them do a few chores around the house, and then it seems to them that one day we say, “It’s time to grow up, find a job opening, apply, interview, act mature enough not to get fired, and manage the money you make.” It’s a change that many teens don’t believe they’re ready for and therefore resist.
My hope with Hey, Get a Job! is that it gives kids the comprehensive information they need to have the confidence to make a smooth transition from kids to young adults. In our society, one of the most important rites of passage from child to adult is the first job. How can we expect teens to successfully navigate growing up if we don’t provide the necessary tools? Hey, Get a Job! is, in my biased opinion, a great tool for teens and their parents.
I was a kid in the late 70’s and 80’s so political correctness was not a thing. Gram was as compassionate and open minded as anybody, but there was something about Halloween that brought out her crazy. Gram was in charge of my costumes, and although original, I have more than a few that as an adult I find cringe worthy.
Gram took a burlap sack and cut holes for my head and arms. Then she cut slits in the bottom to create fringe at the bottom. She took a western belt, added Grandpa’s turquoise belt buckle and a butcher knife. I wore moccasins purchased at Fort Hall, and a patterned headband with feathers and two black yarn braids sewn onto it. There was one last problem that Gram felt needed to be solved before I was the perfect Indian Squaw. I was the whitest white girl there was. Gram found the darkest foundation she could and caked it onto my face. I hated that costume because it was top to bottom itchy. The burlap seemed to make its way through my undershirt, and the cheap, waxy foundation was unbearable. In fact, I have not worn either one since.
Gram believed that the search for the perfect costume should begin at a thrift store called Deseret Industries, D.I. for short. It was there that she found a passion purple taffeta prom dress. The skirt and bodice were accented with a hot pink net-like stuff. Gram believed that reuse of the moccasins and the addition of blue eye shadow, fake eyelashes, bright red lipstick, and an impressive amount of costume jewelry would make me the perfect Gypsy. I didn’t even know what that was, but it was my ticket to go trick or treating. I did get tired of telling people what I was supposed to be.
One year one of my dad’s high school students (he was a science teacher) gave him a sombrero. The second I saw it, I knew if gram found out about it I would have to be a sombrero wearing Mexican for Halloween. Sure enough, Gram found me a poncho at D.I. This time, however, I did refuse to wear the foundation.
For this costume, Gram didn’t have to make a trip to D.I., she simply raided my grandpa’s closet for a threadbare flannel shirt, a pair of holy jeans, and one of the red bandanas he used as hankies. She filled the hanky with cotton and tied it to a stick. She tied the pants up with a piece of rope and removed the laces from my boots. It was the most comfortable costume I had gotten to wear thus far. Until she decided that I was a male hobo and needed stubble. She spread honey on my face then made me lean over the sink as she put coffee grounds over the honey like one put sprinkles on cookies. It was uncomfortable and it stunk.
Maybe in her own way, Gram was trying to introduce me to other cultures, maybe we are too sensitive in this day and age. I don’t know what the answer is. I did have some normal costumes. I was a vampire one year. Gram gave me a cape and some teeth, which I really hope did not come from D.I. I used the cape again, carried around an antenna broken off a CB radio and called myself a magician. Ok, maybe that one isn’t so normal. I broke away from Gram’s costumes in seventh grade. I went to my mom to help transform me into Boy George from his “Karma Chameleon” video. Even as creative as she was, I didn’t think Gram could pull off that one. At least my costumes were never store bought, and they were always memorable!
For those of you who are a little older, what were some of your cringe worthy costumes?
There are many obvious ways you know it’s fall. The leaves are turning and falling onto my lawn, the wind is blowing the neighbor’s leaves onto my lawn, my teenage driver is complaining about having to scrape her windows, and many more. But there are also the more personal reasons that indicate the change of season. For example:
On the weekends, I feel like the Dunkin’ Donuts guy who meets himself at the door. One self is just coming from making the donuts, while the other is going to make the donuts. Mine, however, is not donuts. It’s canning. Every year I ask myself why in the hell I grow so many tomatoes.
There are many reasons to love fall, but one of the greatest is college football. Fall is absolutely for shouting at my TV, beer in hand. Go Broncos, and any team from the west, and any team playing Alabama!
In my classroom I’m breaking out the Febreze far less often. I love teaching sixth grade English, but man, those guys smell funky. They would smell funky in a freezer, but at least the cooler weather makes it a little better, which means fewer trips to Costco for me.
Also an indicator for me as a teacher is when I am motivated to look up what day of the week Halloween falls on so I can mentally prepare for the sugar highs, and the sugar hangovers headed my way. By the way, damn it, it’s on a Wednesday.
Me, my girls, and the dog are shedding. Liquid Plummer anyone?
I am no longer merely dusting the bathtub. It has to be cleaned.
My razor is new, the shaving cream can is full, and the socks that I’ve started to wear to work no longer fall down. Leg hair is one of the many perks of fall.
I have casually started to look for the remote start fob for my car. I know I put it somewhere I would totally remember come fall, so where the hell is it?
My latest Amazon purchases include snow boots and a roof rake. I’ll be damned if I let winter kick my ass this year like it did last.
These are the things that truly let me know that fall is here. What is it that lets you know this beautiful season has arrived?
Hell’s Friday may be an odd name for a blog. Particularly a blog that I intend to be not at all hellish. "Hell’s Friday" is actually a catch phrase my grandmother used often. As a kid growing up in a very small, very Mormon, very conservative Idaho town, I liked when Gram said "Hell’s Friday" because it felt rebellious, perhaps even a bit dangerous. And, there’s nothing quite like a good "Hell’s Friday" to express an emotion that’s somewhere between a "damn" and a real get-your- mouth-washed-out-with-soap cuss word.
Hell’s Fridays are those instances that leave us frustrated, irritated, and surprised. It’s also the Hell’s Fridays that make life interesting, and often funny. And, of course, it is through those Hell’s Fridays that we learn those lessons we need to make it through this thing called life.
I Googled "Hell’s Friday" once. After spending way too much time digging into some obscure scholarly work on the history of England, and watching clips from Monty Python movies, I found the meaning was not quite as optimistic as my own. Hell’s Friday, according to one scholar, was the day during the plague that the cart came through to pick up the dead. Like “Ring Around the Rosie”, I think the meaning probably evolved as time went on. At least I hope so because I want this blog to be helpful and humorous for the reader.
Hell’s Friday, let’s do this thing!
Watch the “Bring Out Your Dead” clip from Monty Python:
The 5 Real Reasons Your Kids Want Fidget Spinners
As a sixth grade English teacher, I absolutely became an expert on the fidget spinner. After much experience and hands on research, I will say upfront that I am not a fan. At first, I was open to them because they promised student focus in my classroom. Like many things, however, the agenda for fidget spinner owners became much different than advertised. Kids really want them for the following reasons:
- Hypnosis by fidget spinner. Many a student became stupefied by the blur of spinning color, the soft whirring, and the gentle breeze kissing their faces. Perhaps if I’d studied the ways of hypnotists I would have known how to manipulate my students. As it was, I couldn’t bring them back from wherever they had gone.
- Temperature control. Spin them fast enough and a fidget spinner becomes a personal fan. A room full of sixth graders this spring looked more like a room full of menopausal women experiencing hot flashes.
- An experience in capitalism and criminal activity. Students bought, sold, and traded fidget spinners. Sounds innocent enough, but middle school brains took over. For some, stealing was the easiest way to get the coolest spinners. Others formed a spinner cartel to restrict competition and keep their profits high. And, perhaps most shocking of all, the time-honored middle school rule of no tradebacks was eliminated.
- To throw. Even with the risk of losing your fidget spinner forever, the urge to throw a spinner like a Ninja star, or to see if it could fly like a helicopter, became too strong. We all found out, a multitude of times, that a spinning plastic object does hurt if it hits you, and fidget spinners do not make good propellers.
- Make a monotonous noise. If thirty spinners spin in unison, it creates a sound that reminds one of being in a beehive. For the adult ear, this leads to massive headaches and facial tics. The advanced fidget spinners figured out that for a more robust, dentist drill like sound, you can place your fidget spinner under the hand dryer in the bathroom.
I gave fidget spinners my best shot, but in the end, I, like many other teachers, banned them from the classroom. I emailed my parents to let them know of my decision, but also said that if they felt like their student needed the spinner to focus, they could contact me. I got zero replies which tells me that parents knew what their kids were up to. Even the “experts” found that fidget spinners don’t help focus, unless you’re talking about focus on the fidget spinner itself. Click here for an article on the subject. Fidget spinners had a good run, but I’m really hoping that by the time the new school year rolls around they will have lost their appeal. Well, fidget spinners, here’s to the biggest Hell’s Friday of the 2016-2017 school year!