Monday, December 29, 2008

Days Gone By....

I play a game on another blog, apples to apples. This time the instruction was to write a short story on days gone by...thinking of new years reflections of yesterday. I'd like to post here what I wrote there...


sitting on the floor, criss cross applesauce, she gazed into the blinking lights of the christmas tree...

bright lights of red, yellow, green and blue, blinking in tune to "we wish you a merry christmas" drew her into a hypnotic gaze....

she looked down at the presents under the tree. The giant life size barbie smiled back at her surreally. There was a hess truck, ready to go, parked next to boxes wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons. The was another truck filled with chocolate candies...

and she remembered, a different christmas eve; a christmas that seemed so long ago.

with a tree that barely had any lights at all and a scattering of ornaments which had been hand made from paper.

with a Tonka dump truck also filled with chocolate candies. christmas ball candies wrapped in tinfoil colors of red, white and green...

gifts under the tree from Santa waiting for a two year old to pitter patter down the stairs...

she had laid on the sofa that night, wanting to fall asleep but couldn't. The anticipation of the baby's expression with all the gifts she managed to get for him was keeping her awake.

She had begged, borrowed and stoled as the saying goes to get all the dreams she had for this little one.

A single parent working part time at college barely managing to get the bills paid, never really having enough for the bills, the food and the bus fare to get around.

But she did it!

She got him a small table and chair set, had her father buy him some music sing a long videos, signed up for donations with the local red cross toy drive.

and christmas was here.

feet came piddle paddle down the stairs.
"ma ma?" she heard him ask.

"here I am baby, ma ma is down here on the couch. Santa Claus came!'

she was surprised to learn that the two year old didn't really seem to know what that meant.

He just wanted to climb in her lap and watch the christmas lights on the tree.

She got up and gave him a present, "open this one, open it quick, see what Santa brought!"

The little toddler climbed out of her lap and pushed the present away. His eyes were drawn to the dump truck with bright shiny balls in the back.

He toddled over to the truck, sat down in his clumsey, new at walking kind of way; and played with the chocolate candies as if they were the greatest little bright balls that ever existed.

The bag had cost 99 cents.

He kept playing with his new balls as she went from anxiously wanting him to rip open all his gifts to resigning that well, christmas if for him, and if those 99cent bag of chocolate balls brought him joy; she would let him have joy.

She got up and started her household chores. After dinner that night, she tucked a blanket over him as he slept next to the tree on the floor, beside all the presents that hadn't been opened.

She reached down to kiss him goodnight, as he stirred, she saw a ball held tight in each hand; smushing chocolate all over his fingers. Only in his sleep had the chocolate found it's freedom from the wrappers.

19 years later she sat here looking at the new dump truck filled with candies for the new toddler. A different baby, a different father, a different time.

Now there was money, now there would be enough food; enough for the 20 guests that had just joined them for christmas eve dinner. Tomorrow there would be siblings shouting with joy in the morning and a daddy lovingly watching.

This year there was a tree decorated with plenty of lights, plenty of beautiful ornaments...and yet still some hand made paper ones remained.

Those are my favorite ones, she thought.

and she laughed to herself as she looked at the mountains of gifts for the children. She had again spent way too much money, and wondered at the lesson lost from the toddler before.

She had again, not been able to stop shopping after purchasing a simple bag of shiny balls, perhaps saving the money for a later day.

Now, after all these years, after all these children, she knew that even though it was the simplest gifts that touched the hearts of children....

it was her heart she was touching to be a generous Santa Claus..

giving because she knew now, 19 years later, that those precious simple pitter patter days really do vanish much too quickly like the old people had told her.

Before falling asleep on the couch again, like she had for 20 years on christmas eve; she looked at a handmade paper christmas ornament swinging above the new dump truck with tinfoil wrapped chocolate candies...and lovingly remembered days gone by...

Merry christmas everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why I believe in Santa Claus

Brian over here:

reminded me of a different time in my life.

These days I haven't posted in a while because I am busy....

busy baking gingerbread houses, watching ballerinas dance to the nutcracker, wrapping presents, handing out gifts, lauging and taking pictures.

I'll post them soon.....

but Brian's post led me to remember,

it was a season of being poor. real poor. my state welfare check was 525. a month, the rent was 490. there were no extras. half the time, there was no basic needs.

i would take the dollar foodstamp, go to the grocery store, buy a pack of peanutbutter cheese crackers for .35- to get the change left over for the city bus. i would have to go back on line over and over again. i needed the cash to pay for my fare, to finish college, to climb out of this hellhole of poverty.

i would rotate paying the phone bills and electric bills every other month to avoid shut off. never paying the entire amount, just the basic bill to keep the utitlities on.

i had no money for toliet paper or sanitary napkins, that was my biggest ache.

i was never really good at keeping my house clean, those years it was worse. i suppose social services should have taken my child just because of the state of my home. i was running to transfer 4 buses each day, toddler in tow, to finish school to make a better life for me and him. running to class, running to daycare, running...and never really catching up with anything.

and christmas would come.

i would let him go to his father's for christmas because i had nothing much for the tree- and wanting him to experience "family" and christmas like every other child. so he would go to his grandmothers upper middle class home, with the trees, the christmas shows, and all the gifts....great big wonderful gifts....and food...and most of all; love of family surrounding him.

oh, i loved him. i loved him more than anyone. i would find a way to beg, borrow and sometimes steal to get those special little things he dreamed off...and we would go to christmas lights that were free....and sit under the tree gazing at the lights.

santa is real.

one year we moved three times from apartment to apartment. getting kicked out for having too messy of a house, getting kicked out because i had a male friend (not a boyfriend) sleep over that was black and my landlord almost died of a heart attack from his racist mind, and one because i just couldn't let the landlord grab my behind one more time...

so we moved, and we moved and we one point we were in a homeless shelter- the day after christmas. that was the racist landlord that kicked me out the week of christmas because he didn't want girls like me living in his homes; what would the neighbors think of him?

the following year, i moved to a little apartment above a deli that was on the cove of wethersfield. i took less transit busses to get to school at st. joseph's college. i started to take my son (4 now) to the congregational church after he had a bad reaction to his grandfather dying. (real bad, he thought when they buried him that he was in the sewers with the teenage mutant ninja turtles).

we lived in wethersfield Connecticut- one of the affluent towns in our state with old charming history. we walked to the First Church of Christ every Sunday, with our cat in tow like a puppy. i started to volunteer to teach Sunday school and meet other families. i left my paganism behind me and returned to the roots of my childhood in hopes of security for my son's life.

and then christmas came.

Wealthy families in church that wanted to share their love. one woman who worked at Aetna Insurance had their company adopt us.

i never told anyone about the toliet paper and sanitary napkin heartache of poverty.

santa knew.

that year i had presents galore, stacked up in my living room for myself and my son. i had food baskets, canned goods, toys, clothes...and little treats that make christmas special. i had a wall mountain of toliet paper, no lie. my kitchen wall had toliet paper stacked from floor to ceiling- because every gift giver had included a large package of it.

that year, i kept my son home and we walked to christmas eve service at that beautiful church; i cried and thanked God.

the poinsettas in the assembly, the beautiful hymns, the church bells ringing,
and the loving faces of my church family surrounding us.

I LOVE christmas, and Santa is really real.....

thanks for letting me share.
thanks to Brian, for helping me stop and remember what christmas is really about.


Monday, December 15, 2008

An Ode to my son's teacher

WHAT my son's teacher ode to Ms. Debbie.

My son's teacher wakes up each day to go to work, just like you and I.
my son's teacher gets her two children off to school, just like you and I.
like some of you, she is a single parent and does this on her own.

my son's teacher gets to school earlier than other teachers,
because my son and his friends have to get to school before the rest of the kids.
some of them can't handle big buses.
some of them can't handle lots of kids, bells, and teachers directions in the hall.
my son is one of them.

my son's teacher has a schedule to follow,
scratch that.
my son's teacher has 5 schedules to follow
because each child is in a different grade,
has a different IEP,
has a different set of educational needs.

my son's teacher has two paraprofessionals.
so she has to know their schedules,
lunch times, break times and needs.

my son's teacher has a lesson to teach.
scratch that.
my son's teacher has 5 lessons to teach.
because, well, you know, there are 5 different kids in her class.

my son's teacher has LEGAL, law binding, I E Ps to follow
5 of them.
and I can hardly understand the implementation expectations of 1.

my son's teacher has BOARD OF ED requirements to meet.
hey guess what, some of her kids aren't meeting state standards.
can you believe it?
a non verbal child with autism can't read at grade level,
and that is a bad thing according to statistics.

my son's teacher has parent teacher conferences.
scratch that.
she has conferences plus weekly meetings with parents,
plus support groups,
plus communication folders,
behavior phone calls,
PPTs, annual, bi annual and in between.

my son's teacher can plan during "specials"
scratch that.
each child goes to a special with their "regular grade"
so someone is always in class.

my son's teacher can plan during "lunch"
scratch that.
my son's teacher sits with a child or two who
can't eat in the cafetaria and teaches them
appropriate behavioral skills for dining.

my son's teacher loves to teach.
over and over and over and over.
much like groundhog day for the elmentary kid.
because kids like my son, have to learn things
over and over and over and over.

my son's teacher uses a behavior modification program.
scratch that.
yeah, she has 5 different ones.
scratch that,
the clinicians have just decided to change the program.
scratch that.
they've changed it again.
scratch that.
they gonna change it every month to keep it fresh.

my son's teacher loves the hugs she gets.
scratch that.
if she is giving a therapeutic hug it is because my son
is standing on a table
kicking her
or throwing chairs across the room

my son's teacher gets a break.
scratch that.
there is a time out room when my son needs a break.

my son's teacher gets out early because our children are on
modified programs.
scratch that.
she attends meetings all afternoon, every day, while my son is
riding the bus home.

my son's teacher loves to talk on the phone.
she must.
she has to call parents almost daily.

my son's teacher gets sworn at with no apparent
"antecendent"....yeah, that's the term for what
triggers a behavior.

My son's teacher deserves whatever the school district pays her.
whatever days off she can take to sleep.
whatever medical benefits her family can have.
whatever vacation days she needs.

because I need her.

and like my son will tell her, if he is having a good day,

"Miss Debbie, you are the Best teacher in the whole world"

and frankly, she is not the first one, nor the only one.


the mother of the most incredible and wonderful boy.