Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Athletic Inability

Tonight, we had a "Getting to Know You" activity for Relief Society. Our stake recently realigned the ward boundaries, eliminating one ward entirely, and changing around a number of families to different wards. So, mine didn't lose any people, but we gained a group of families from a couple of different wards. Very confusing to all, especially since we now meet in a different building, too. Weird...

Well, they helped us make acquaintance with one another by asking a series of questions, and we had to move to a certain section in response. Then, with our new seatmates, we discussed what our answers to the questions were. Example: if you're a dog person more than a cat person, move. Then discuss with  your new neighbors your pets' names.

One of the questions was: Are you athletic?  So, I totally didn't even budge. Not only do I no longer have the feet for anything physical, I've never, ever been "athletic." I'm so NOT a sports player. In my teenage years, our church girls had a softball team. I was the catcher. But only because I had the legs for squatting for indefinite periods of time, and I could usually make a throw to at least first base. That cow milking helped me with the squats. But no one could help me with the throwing. Also, during basketball season...I never did learn how to dribble the ball, and walk or run down the court simultaneously.

Well, then, I went to BYU. My sister, four years older than me, was just finishing her student teaching, as a P.E. major there. She convinced me to take the officiating class from the P.E. department so I could be her partner. Back then, church ball for Young Women was a big deal. There was basketball season and then volleyball season. She and I could get hired to work their games and get paid, if I recall, $10 a night. It was a fantastic deal! That was a lot of money for a couple hours work. Beat the heck out of waitressing. So, I took the class.

I was very good on the written tests. However, we had to play games, like basketball, and volleyball, so our classmates could practice their officiating. The two teachers cut me slack as a freshman, and let me enroll in their class, which was actually for P.E. majors, because they knew and liked my sister. But after watching me for a few weeks, I think they were astonished that we were even related. I'm so bad at sports.

She, on the other hand, recently retired after teaching high school P.E. for at least 39 years. She was also once on a professional women's basketball team. She never met a sport she wasn't instantly good at. She went skiing the first time, and just did fine. I fell as I got off the chair lift, couldn't get up, and they had to stop the lift so I didn't get whacked in the head by the next chairs coming along, and they could drag me out of the way.

I got a mercy C in the officiating class, because I showed up every time, and I did really well on the written parts, and I had a commanding voice when I made my calls. My sister and I went on to have a fine season officiating stake ball games. She urged me to just act as confidently as possible, and make my calls without hesitation, and to blow my whistle with authority, then stop the sound sharply with my tongue. We had a lot of fun, and I really know all the rules for volleyball, and basketball. I still can't dribble and walk at the same time. But I'm pretty good at serving the volleyball. My best sports are still bicycling, and swimming. All hail the hot weather soon to heat up my pool.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Visiting the Chickens

We've had a hard group of students this year. Sigh....biggest understatement of the decade. I won't even begin to recount the adventures of the most challenging one. But, another fellow has been catching my affection, despite his on-going need to bump chests against a couple of other students. I'll call him "Manuel"...

So, "Manuel" has finally been identified as needing some extra services. It isn't a language issue, although he speaks a lot of Spanish at home. It really is a reading issue. He just doesn't get it. So, he struggles academically. He is well groomed, usually polite to adults, dressed in decent clothes every day. He does his homework, sort of. My point is that his family takes good care of him. (Unlike another student whose life you wouldn't want to have.) However, "Manuel" also has a heightened sense of machismo, partly because "I'm Mexican, and we hit people if we need to" [he told me that one day, quite seriously] and partly because he has a lot of personal pride and, realizing that he simply doesn't "get" so much of what is going on in the classroom, he resorts to bluster and misbehavior to deflect attention away from his inability.

We're working to get "Manuel" the help he needs, and I always include him in my groups so that I can give him a lot of support. In the course of a week, he can get many assignments done. They are often well below grade level in their content, but he gets the satisfaction of actually doing something.

In the course of our relationship this year, he told me about his chickens. I can't remember how it came up; maybe we were talking about pets. But his dad bought him a black chicken and then, in February, he got another chicken. So, one day, I said, "I'd like to come by and see your chickens some time, okay?"  He said that would be great. We had a little conversation about the chickens my mom had when I was a child, and how I used to have chickens when my children were little, too, for a short time.

Then, on Monday, "Manuel" had a really dreadful day. He was sassy, and rude, and wouldn't follow directions. It was a vivid change from the previous weeks, so I said that he and I would go out in the hall and call mom. Now, earlier in the year, say November, there had been some enormous brawl with several 4th graders, and we'd all met with mother over this. So I knew her, and she is very concerned that her son be respectful, and take advantage of school. She speaks English very well, and was unhappy that he was getting into trouble. Without a doubt, if we had fewer people in our classes this year that leaned toward rebellion, "Manuel" wouldn't have so many opportunities to be in conflicts. But...something about this particular combination of students...they were a handful in third grade, second grade, and all the way back to Kinder. Sigh.

So, I talked to mom; she talked to him. He told her something in Spanish, and didn't come away from the conversation with her in any way mollified or chastened. I got back on the phone and asked her what he'd said. Well, mom was coming over to the school, and she would meet with all the teachers after school, and we'd get this sorted out. Apparently, he'd blamed everything on one of our teacher's aides!! What a crock! I pointed out to mom that we wouldn't be able to talk until after 3:30. She showed up, with her two tiny ones at 3:00! They sat in the office, waiting for us.

It wasn't a very happy meeting. Mainly because second grade sister refuted his contention that this particular aide was extra mean to people. Also, because when asked to recount what, exactly, had happened, and what he'd told mom, "Manuel" just burst into tears....cause he couldn't remember the story...exactly...umm...

So, we soothed everything over. I think he reacts badly to my aide because she is Hispanic, and he doesn't like her telling him what to do. I'm a woman, and I tell him what to do, too, and he's not mad at me all the time...who knows?  But, after today, I'm golden. Why? Well, because I went to his house to visit the chickens.

I told him yesterday, that if it was okay, I'd like to come by on Thursday, and see his birds. He said he guessed it would be okay. So, apparently, it was meant to be. At the end of school, I tried to open my grade book to look up his address. It wasn't working!! Rats! But, I sort of knew the street he lived on, and since it was such a nice day, I thought maybe he'd be outside playing. I drove down toward his street. I turned this way, then that way, and as I turned onto a particular street that I knew would be nearby, lo and behold, who is standing on the sidewalk, baby in the stroller, talking to a neighbor?  "Manuel's" mother!  (Angels had been giving me directions I think...)

So, I pulled over, and parked, and as I got out of my truck, his little sister, the second grader, dashed over and threw her arms around me, shouting, "It's the teacher!!" She wouldn't let go! "Manuel" was looking at me, completely astonished, and I greeted mom, and said, "Well, I really wanted to come over and see his chickens that he's been telling me about." She was so delighted I was there. They were just getting ready to go for a walk she said, but she had him go to the house and bring out polloito, the little one, hatched in February. It had white feathers, and just starting to grow his comb and his wattles. They think it is a he. We laughed at how in the world can you tell if a baby chick is a male or female?? We talked about my mom's chickens, and how my sisters and I helped gather the eggs, and wash them, and sort them in to cartons to sell to ladies in town. We talked about how her husband grew up on a farm in Mexico, and so he wanted to have chickens here. After a few minutes of chatting, and the neighbors staring, I thanked him for letting me see his bird, and mom thanked me for coming by. She said, "We should invite you to our next party." I said that I'd be delighted to come. They went off on their walk, and I went off to the grocery store. I'm pretty sure that we'll have many more calm days at school from now on. I love my job.

 Here is a photo of the inside of my mother's chicken coop. 
All of these photos are probably in about 1973.

 This is my sister Trish, helping a chicken to stand on our nephew Cody's head.
I'm not sure why this is happening. They are in the chicken yard, outside the coop.
Here is little Cody with his stick, herding the chickens in their yard.