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Zip Lines and Other Wild Rides

Today was “crazy hair” day at school for the kids.  I’ve been waiting for the school to do this!  For several years now I’ve seen examples of crazy hair days in my black hair groups, but our school never did anything like that.  As it turned out, it was scheduled for a day I needed to work which was going to make things a little more cramped, time wise.  I ended up getting up 40 min. early just to make sure that we had enough time.  It was worth it, though.  The girls told me they got plenty of compliments at school today and that their principle told them that “The Heywood girls took crazy hair day to a whole new level!”  They kind of had an advantage – a creative mom and thick, wiry hair that doesn’t ever fall down.  Although, to be honest, most of my creativity was Pinterest-inspired.  I had intended for Lizzie to have braids sticking out from the side of her head and I had really detangled and stretched out her hair last night in preparation for that.  But the second I got those stretchers off – whoomp.  It shrank and there just was not enough length for braids.  So I just did bubble braids and that worked well, too.  I was over at the middle school and one of the moms whose son I work with came in and told me she had just seen the girls and had even stopped them and taken a picture!  So, there was a little gratification for me involved in the whole process.

I’m working most of this week with one of my favorite students, an 8th grader who has autism.  He reminds me quite a bit of Ben.  But I have too much free time during my day because  he takes frequent breaks and at those times I’m reading my kindle or scrolling through my phone just for something to do.  But the last hour of today was study hall and the kids on plans (IEPs or the other one – it has 3 numbers in the name – can’t think of it right now – it’s for kids more abled, but needing some classroom modification) were in there.  I overheard one 8th grade boy complaining that he didn’t know how to make his assigned book report long enough.  So I immediately hopped up and went over to him and offered to help.  He didn’t seem too enthusiastic about my offer but the special ed teacher told me to go for it.  So I sat down with him and attempted to help him flesh out his report.  He just kept saying over and over, “I’m already getting an F, anyway” and was rather uncooperative.  Although, he did manage to crank out a short introductory paragraph.  While I was talking with him, trying to explain the necessity of a good introduction, I asked him to tell me about the latest book he had read, thinking I would use that as an example, how the author got him to continue reading by his introduction.  He just looked at me blankly and said, “I don’t read.”
“Ever” he replied firmly.
Hmmm…I figured he was exaggerating, but later, talking with the teachers, they told me that when they have quiet reading time in the room, he will sit there and refuse to read his book and just stares into space for the time he is supposed to be reading.  I did manage to eventually relate an introduction to the beginning of a movie.  He did allow that he has seen movies.  So, it was little frustrating, trying to help someone who obviously could do the work but didn’t want to.  After school was out, both teachers were thanking me for my help and I mentioned to them the fact that this child seems so defeated in his schoolwork.  They both laughed – and not a this-is-funny type of laugh – and said, “He’s not defeated.  He’s defiant.”  They related some other things about this boy and I just find it incredibly sad because I would not be surprised if he doesn’t graduate or if he eventually ends up behind bars.  The thing is – he’s not dumb.  He did manage to crank out a paragraph for me.  It was shorter than I would have preferred, but he did manage to include the major points I suggested.  So, he has the ability.  I can see why teachers get frustrated and quit. 
Just last weekend I was talking to a teacher friend who is seriously considering quitting – in her case, because of the disrespect of the students, lack of administration support, and having to deal with parents who believe their children can do no wrong.  I told her about Will’s recent decision to not go into teaching and she nodded and said, “That’s good.  Right now, I would discourage anybody who is thinking about teaching.” 
I hope I don’t get this burned out from substitute teaching.  Hopefully, not having to be there every day will make it more bearable.
Oh, and back to the no reading comment from this student today.  Lately, I’ve been having some serious thoughts about the kids’ upcoming summer and their use of electronics.  I’ve been reading some studies that indicate that real brain damage is occurring in children because of the overuse of tablets and such.  So, this summer will be different for my kids.  They will discover in about 5 weeks that their days are going to include mandatory reading – from actual books and that the time they expect to spend on their tablets is going to be greatly diminished than what they are accustomed to.  Yesterday, another associate and I were talking about this and then today she told me that just last night she had heard of a study that suggested that the reason kids are having such handwriting difficulties today (I didn’t realize they were, but I can believe it) is because their  fine motor skills are not developing.  All they have to do for gratification is swipe with a thumb.  I suppose it’s true, too, that kids are typing more than they write.  Although I would think that would be somewhat helpful for motor skill development and hand eye coordination.  But I can remember when I was a kid that one of the things I did for fun was to write by hand – not just stories, but lists of things, thoughts, etc.  
Oh, what else is happening in my world?  Younkers is closing.  At first, they were saying just two of the Des Moines stores, but the way I’m reading things now it appears they all are closing.  Maybe I’m misunderstanding.  Anyway – that saddens me because I love Younkers.  I always have, ever since I was a little girl and my grandma worked at one.  I remember going to see her at her work.  I have a memory of doing it at Christmas time and in my memory, right outside the Younkers store in the mall was this amazing Christmas display with elves and trees and I suppose, Santa, too.  I remember being so awestruck and I’ve always associated that feeling with Younkers.  Ellie heard the news and wanted to know why the closures were happening.  I explained that they just aren’t making enough money.  She was quiet for a moment and then exclaimed, “I know, Mom!  You can give them some of your money!”
Younkers is one of the anchor stores out at Jordan Creek.  I wonder if they would be able to bring in a retailer the metro doesn’t have, like Nordstroms or Macys.  That would make me happy.  But I don’t know.  The retail world is struggling with the continued rise in on-line shopping.  It’s hard to compete.  Malls in general aren’t doing too well, anymore.  My kids may never know the thrill of being dropped of at the mall and hanging out with friends for the afternoon.  Although, in this day of kidnapping and sex trafficking I’d probably be less inclined to let them do that, anyway, even when they are older.  Anyway, the times are changing, in more ways than one, I guess.
I’m finishing up a term this coming weekend.  Then, I start my senior seminar.  Hopefully, it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds!  Last week we had a discussion question on a short story by a man by the last name of Borowoski called, This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.  It’s a fiction piece, taking place at Auschwitz.  But the author was a concentration camp survivor himself.  After the war he and his sister were reunited, immigrated to the U.S. – and then he committed suicide sometime after that.  Anyway, WWII has been my “favorite” war for decades and I’ve done a lot of reading on the Holocaust.  So this was a discussion I thoroughly enjoyed.  I got 100% for it and my professor wrote, “Have I ever told you, Sarah, that you are a master student?  Wow…impressive work, once again.”  Aww, shucks…
Not all my professors are that nice.  In fact, I’m really struggling to like my Creative Writing one right now.  I’ll get an A in the class, but I don’t think she grades fairly and I have not enjoyed the class like I expected I would. 
Oh – I found out I am graduating with honors.  That was definitely not one of my goals when I set out to do this, but it’s kind of nice, just the same!
In early March the kids took their state assessments at school.  That’s another thing that bothers me about public education.  There is so much emphasis on testing and it happens frequently. I get the idea that teaching happens with the primary goal of having good test scores to give to the state just so the schools can make sure their continued funding is guaranteed.  When I was in school I remember taking the ITBS tests once a year and that was it.  But anyway, the kids got back their scores.  I can’t remember how Ellie did – maybe I have not gotten her scores back yet.  But Lizzie was thrilled to death that in in reading and social sciences she tested at a 6th grade level.  She made this huge deal out of it, probably because her teacher did.  But then Sam quietly brought home his scores last week and in all three of the tested areas he scored at mid-7th grade year.  And yet Lizzie is the one chosen for the TAG program!  I mean they’re both performing 3 years ahead, but Sam’s was more consistent than Lizzie.  She hates math, so her scores were not quite so high there.  But anyway – I do not care.  I really don’t.  As long as the kids are cooperative in class and  doing their best then I refuse to make a big deal out grades – it’s too much pressure on children and they have enough of that to deal with as it is.
I’m a member of a Facebook group called “Christian Adoption Support.”  Last week one member posed this question: “My boyfriend is really good with my adopted children and I’m wondering when would be a good time to have him move in?”  I just shook my head in disbelief.  This is a Christian group!  Have the tenets that comprise Christianity disappeared altogether?  At first  I ignored the question, but then, seeing that nobody else had responded, I finally did with a terse, “After the wedding…”  To which the original poster then responded, “LOL” 
I wasn’t making a joke...
Last weekend Lizzie and I went to a Mother/Daughter retreat up at camp.  She was so excited and I really did have a nice time with her.  It made suffering through the cold and going down the zipline (yes and never again) in the snow (they had just gotten 9” two days earlier) worthwhile.  She was very cuddly and sweet the entire time.  On the way home we stopped at an antique store in Story City that I haven’t been to since Paul was alive and anyway – it was a nice time and worth the cost and time to go.  And then we got home and the normal Lizzie was back – sassy, growly, hard.  Oh, my goodness.  It was like someone flipped a switch the moment she walked into the house. I was absolutely ready to slap her upside the head.  I didn't and I think I deserve some kind of reward for the admirable restraint I've had to show lately.   She did apologize later, but I had just had it by that point.  I hope it’s the hormones, but I don’t know.  She is scheduled for an MRI on the 7th and sometime after that (soon, I hope) she’ll be starting the Luperon.
I think Ellie must be going through some “stuff” lately in regards to Paul’s death.  They had the father/daughter dance again and she was very upset that she would not get to attend.  My heart just  went out to her, but there was nothing I could do, of course.  Then, last week she was the classroom “star” of the week where she filled out this big poster about herself and I brought in cupcakes one day  in honor of that (and for her summer b-day -  killed two birds with one stone).  One section read, “Three things about me” and she wrote, “I have four brothers, I have brown skin, and I don’t have a dad.”
Then, her teacher sent home some artwork that had been hanging on the school wall and it was a rainbow and every strip of colored paper was supposed to be a “wish” that the child has.  Ellie wished for things like a “limo ride” and “a puppy” – typical 6 year old dreams.  But the last one socked me in the gut: “I wish I had a dad.”
I can’t fix this!
This is probably in the same vein, but I thought this was actually funny.  The last two days, Ellie has been industriously typing something on the computer – a story about her family, it turned out. If any of her  siblings has ventured near the computer she's immediately gone into manic mode, screeching and hissing at them, positive that they are going to lose her story.  She finished when she got home from school today and she proudly asked me to read it (and then she insisted on texting Will and asking if she could bring him a copy). Part of it read, “But sadly, they didn’t have there dad for long.  He past away. In there bed.  He had a heart tac.”  Gently, I told her that well, Dad had actually died from a seizure, not a heart attack.
 Ellie shrugged and said, “I know.  But I couldn’t spell seizure!”


  1. Wow. There is so much packed into this update I don't even know what to say. Boyfriend moving in. No. You know, in most of my Christian groups women would say very firmly that wedding comes first. That is sad. Dad died of a heart tak is sad too, very sad. Sweet girls. You are right you can't fix this, and I admire you for seeking the Lord instead of trying to find a father for your children on your own. Laraba


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