A librarian IS a teacher!

I have been teaching for twelve years.  Five of those years were spent teaching Kindergarten, establishing the very foundation of education for little minds.  It was thrilling to be the first teacher in their lives, and I loved seeing them grow so much during their first year in formal school.  During that time I completed my first advanced degree (a Master of Arts in Education Administration).  I will admit, I only got that degree for the pay raise.  I have never had aspirations of becoming a principal.  As I finished my coursework, the tiny school where I taught lost the “travelling librarian” we shared with three other rural schools in the district.  It was a classic case of “Country Mouse, City Mouse”.  The school board moved him to a town school, and he was thrilled to be in one place every day.  There was no one in the district with the qualifications to fill the position.  I was determined that our students would not be denied access to a school library.  So I did what any perfectly normal person would do.  I began working toward another degree!  For one entire school year, the doors of four elementary school libraries were closed while I worked to get the degree.  No books, no library lessons, no book fairs, nothing.

I completely my Masters plus 30 in school library media science in May and began my new job as traveling rural schools librarian in August.  It was an amazing experience.  I woke up many mornings unable to tell you where I was going that day.  My beat up Volvo went through two sets of tires.  It was thrilling and heartbreaking.  Word came down that the small schools were going to be consolidated in the next few years, closing the community schools and in effect killing the communities.  I could not bear to be a part of it, and I was going through a painful divorce. (Yes, that’s a story for another time.)  I packed up my bags and my considerable amount of student loan debt and moved to my current city.  A forward thinking, progressive school system in the fifth largest city in the state, our district feeds from the Army installation and the ever growing population.  I am so blessed to be a part of this elite group of educators.  I spent the next four years at one of the many elementary schools, being a teaching librarian.  I had library classes and open checkout all day, every day.  I began to see that some teachers think that librarians (and music teachers, art teachers, PE teachers, Guidance counselors, and computer teachers) are only there to provide them with planning time.  How many times has someone said to me “I didn’t know you had to have a college degree to be a librarian!”.  I always want to say “Yes, idiot- in my case it takes THREE and I have more student loan debt than you make in a year thankyouverymuch!”.  I don’t say it though.  I was raised in the South.  I just smile and say “Bless your heart”.

This year I made a change.  I’ve spent my entire career in an elementary school setting.  It’s safe there among the little chairs, kidney bean tables, crayons, and picture books. Besides, the librarian is a rock star in the elementary school.  I likes walking through the cafeteria or down the hall and hearing screams of “Hi Mrs. Library Lady”, or “Hey I love that book you gave me”. Rock star status, people.  For real. Yet…for some reason I glanced at the open positions sheet posted in the school office last spring, and there I saw an open library job at the high school about ten minutes from my home.  High school.  BIG kids.  BIG books.  BIG building.  But I felt led.  I loved my faculty, my school, my principal, but something was pushing me toward THIS job.  I applied, interviewed, and got it.  I just finished my first year as a high school librarian.  It’s been a challenge.  I haven’t taught lessons about how to cite reference materials since library school.  I haven’t been “in the know” about the latest young adult fiction, except to know that vampires are hot commodities and that manga/anime books have to be read backwards.  Slowly but surely I have become acclimated to my new surroundings.  I’m getting used to more mature subject matter in the fiction, and reaching into the far corners of my brain to remember biology terms when students come in asking for help with research. I’m even getting comfortable patroling the stacks in the mornings before the bell rings, watching for young lovebirds who like to hide among the shelves and steal kisses.  I’ve even heard a fellow librarian tell those lovebirds they shouldn’t try to make a baby in the library, because that won’t make the baby smart!

I love my new school.  I love my job.  I love my students, even though instead of 500 I now have 1500 and there are so many I haven’t gotten to know personally.  I feel like an equal, a part of the faculty, and a part of the school community.  I’m getting used to seeing my students at the salon instead of Toys R Us.  It’s nice for them to be able to introduce me to their parents, if they don’t hide from embarassment because they don’t want to admit they know the librarian.

So I told you all that to tell you this.  Sunday afternoon I was standing in line with my Handsome Husband and Little A at Publix, playing my usual game of “guess the grocery total” and losing miserably.  Someone at the next register tapped me on the back.  I turned to see the rosy cheeks, acne scars, and gelled hair of a student, wearing the green apron that proudly proclaimed he has gotten a summer job bagging groceries.  I smiled in recognition because he is what we call a “frequent flyer” in the library, not so much for the books but to use our computers and iPads.  He opened his mouth just as I was about to ask about his summer, and I know my face fell.  He said “Ma’am, do you work at RHS?”.  I smiled and replied, “Why yes, yes I do.  I recognize you, John.” A grin as wide as the Mississippi spread across his face and then he said it.  It sliced like a knife, and set a fire in my throat.  He said “I thought so!  But I know you’re not a teacher.  What are you, a lunch lady?”  Handsome Husband drew close to my side, I’m sure he could tell it felt like a slap in the face.  I felt as far from being a rock star as I could, but I smiled and said “Yes, John.  I’m your librarian.”  I know he was oblivious to what he had just said- that I am not a teacher.  I am somehow less than a teacher.  Despite the fact that I have three degrees, twelve years of teaching experience, and countless hours of inservice and professional development. All I could do was gather myself, give him my most sparkling smile and wish him the best in his new job, hope he enjoys the summer, can’t wait to see him in August, etc.

Walking to the car Handsome Husband put his hand on mine, pushing the shimmying cart across the blisteringly hot parking lot. I knew he was treading lightly, looking for signs that I was not about to start screeching about my education, the lack of respect, lack of acknowledgement for what I do, and more.  All I could do was take a deep breath, smile at my beautiful family and say in my sweetest voice….”Bless His Heart”.


SCORE- Parents: 1 Three year old: 4,987

My daughter is three years old.  Three years and four months old to be exact.  She is a joy, a delight, and makes my life meaningful.  Every single say she says and does thing that make me laugh, make me cry, and make me think “Awwwww……where did she learn THAT?”.  Then there are the times when her mood flips in 0.2 seconds.  Seriously, is this like early signs of biploar disorder?  Multiple personalities?

First an example of the good moments.  On Mother’s Day weekend as I was putting her to bed, Little A reached up and put her tiny hands on my face. Holding my face close to hers she began to sing the song from the children’s book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  If you don’t know the book you can learn about it HERE. I was completely shocked, touched, and overwhelmed.  I have never read that book to her, mainly because I learned years ago when I was teaching Kindergarten that I can’t read it at all without sobbing- much less read it ALOUD.  Here was my sweet baby, singing that song to me and looking soulfully into my eyes.  When she finished she smiled and said “I love you Mommy”.  I asked where she learned that and her response was that her preschool teacher had read them the story.  Well played, Mrs. Caitlyn.  Well played.  Really good teacher appreciation week gifts are coming your way. (And thank you again! sob sob, sniff sniff)

Fast forward to last night- an example of a WTH just happened moment.  The same sweet child, this angelic little creature had enjoyed our family evening, been sweet as sugar during dinner, and played happily through bath and storytime.  As we walked down the hallway toward her room she suddenly was struck by what I can only assume was the realization that it had been a few hours since reminded us that she is three years old.  Suddenly her Bitty baby doll was simply too heavy for her to carry another step farther.  (Keep in mind that she carries her for hours on end and had carried her halfway to our destination at this point.)  She collapsed into hysteria on the floor, screeching that I simply must carry Bitty into her room for her.  Surely if I did not comply with this request the world would end immediately and all gummy bears and princess movies would cease to exist- such with the tantrum she threw!  Thinking fast on our feet while still stunned at the speed this meltdown began, my Handsome Husband and I sprung into action.  Simultaneously we tried to calm her sobbing while reminding her that if she wanted Bitty to sleep with her, she must carry her the last ten steps into the bedroom herself.  Twenty minutes later with red ringed eyes and a runny nose, she begrudgingly carried the doll over the threshold.  SCORE one for Team Parents!  We continued our routine, discussing first bad things that happened during the day followed by good things.  (It is worth noting that when Handsome Hubby asked Little A what bad things happened during the day, she said “I frew a fit at night-night time”. ) We ended our discussion time with the usual round of hugs, kisses, proclamations of love and devotion, and the customary tickle monster sighting.  Little A happily carried Bitty to her bed and stopped to look back over her shoulder as she climbed into her bed and smile happily at us, her loving parents who had just overcome a mega-tantrum with calm, steady discipline and understanding. All was right with the world.

Until she collapsed on the floor screaming that she couldn’t get into bed by herself.

A very good place to start…. (cue Julie Andrews singing)

I have done it now.  I have really done it.  After months of a bordering on ridiculous obsession with the Google Reader I have done it.   I have laughed until I cried at some of the blogs I follow.  I have cried until I laughed at others.  I have marveled at these wonderful moms who share their lives on these magical mystery things called blogs on the “intranets” (as my sweet Granny refers to it).  I have been inspired by their parenting techniques, awed by their sense of self, and emboldened by their willingness to share.

So I have done it.  I want to join the club.  I want to be a part of this wonderful Mommy blog movement that is making headlines.  Since when is it bad to be a mommy and blog about it?  Since when is it acceptable to discount someone’s opinions simply because they are a mother?  Why isn’t Strollerderby the primary news source in more American households than Fox News? I won’t stand for it!  (Well, actually I will sit on the couch and complain loudly- so loudly that my keyboard squeaks as a type really really hard.) I want in.  I want to be a part of this.  Mommies rock, and we rule the world, people!

I’m in.  I’m going to start a mommy blog.  I want to be among this fellowship of mothers.  I just have to go to the gym first.

She really gets it!

Lies I have believed Part III.

Please click on the link above.  Read her words carefully.  Now read them again. I cannot express how much I love this woman’s point of view.  She hits the nail on the head so clearly and concisely.  I wish I had a billboard to put this on, or could somehow manage to get her on the morning show rounds to preach this message to the masses!


Please don’t let this be our recital!

Dance recital fight

This weekend will be our first foray into the marathon of strength and endurance better known as dance recital.  Three nights, three performances, total show length of 4 hours, plus one night of rehearsals.  Four days, four hours, and only the strongest survive.  At least that’s what I hear.  Little A has only been taking dance for two years, and I decided not to participate last year (she was only 2!).  This year she asked, begged, pleaded, and cried.  I relented.  I paid large sums of money for recital costumes, more large sums of money for the new shoes and tights required, and even more large sums of money for tickets for all the grandparents (plus my ever patient husband) to attend the performances. (That’s right- we pay for lessons, and we get to pay for tickets to see the recital as well!)

I have been in the bunker with the other mothers planning our strategy.  We will be armed with portable DVD players, toys, stickers, coloring books, an assortment of juice boxes and snacks (only the type that won’t stain those high dollar costumes please) and more.  All of this in an effort to entertain our wiggling giggling gaggle of three year olds backstage.  Best I can figure they have two dances of approximately 1.5 minutes each.  That leaves us with 237 minutes to try and keep them quiet and occupied while they are not onstage.

I am willing to do all this, and suffer through this travesty because my daughter loves to dance.  She loves the costume, and she is giddy at the mere mention of recital. Of course that might be because she hasn’t done it yet.  But if we are going to go through this, we are going to do it all the way.  That’s why when I saw this post on Strollerderby today I got shivers up my spine.  Toddlers on stage dancing and then BOOM- two of them lose all track of what is going on and get into a fight.  No punches thrown of course, but certainly not the choreographed dance that the other kids are doing.  I feel badly for the ones on stage who were trying to do the actual dance.  I feel badly for the kids who got into the fight. And I feel badly for me because I am terrified that the same thing might happen onstage at Little A’s recital this weekend.  Check it out at the link, do you think my fears are justified?

Lord give us strength!

The meaning of Memorial Day for a mother

Best laid plans of mice, men and mommies.  I had planned to drop off Little A at preschool this morning and go to the gym, but wound up having to come home to wait for the air conditioner workmen.  They just left and the gym is closed until this afternoon now, so I am stuck here with my own thoughts and a mountain of laundry.  A dangerous combination.

Since my plans were foiled, I am ruminating on the fact we just had Memorial Day.  Living here in the shadow of the  home of the “Screaming Eagles”, the Army is so entrenched in our daily lives that we hardly notice it anymore.  A large percentage of my students at school are military dependents.  Many co-workers are military spouses.  My in laws are retired military, and my husband (former military himself) works on the post.  It permeates the entire city, and we embrace it.  We were even in the running for “Most Patriotic City in the US” a few years ago.

Yet the constant ebb and flow of soldiers in and out of the post and the daily lives of their families goes largely unnoticed by the general public.  Yes there are the news stories that “such and such division, such and such infantry” had a coming home ceremony where families were reunited, babies were kissed, and happy photos are on the front page of the paper.  But is it all lip service?

Do we fully appreciate the dedication that these brave soldiers and their families display every day?  When a friend confides that they have gotten word of another deployment (the 8th of their marriage and career), do we think of more than the inconvenience she will face?  Do we think of more than the missed birthdays, holidays, special parenting moments? I doubt we fully appreciate the fact that every moment of every day they are in silent prayer, that they are steeling themselves and using all their reserves to maintain composure while knowing that their loved one is in danger.  A dear sweet friend is about to see her only son leave for his first deployment.  Her firstborn, he is a fine young man and is at the point in life where she can finally see all her hard parenting work coming to fruition.  He is well trained and prepared to serve.  He calmly told his parents where and how he wants to be laid to rest if he should die.  As familiar as deployments are among my circle, I had still never considered that they must have that conversation.  They must address what should be done if they don’t come home.  She will pray every second he is away, never ceasing and never breathing deeply- knowing that her 19 year old child has willingly and gratefully planned his own funeral because he is willing to die for what he believes in.

It is this fact that has made me reconsider Memorial Day.  It’s not about hot dogs and trips to the lake, or even putting up the flag on your porch.

It’s about the ones who never made it home, the ones who are prepared to not make it home, and the ones left here- holding it all together.  It shouldn’t be lip service.

May their service never be forgotten.