On Failing to Choose Happiness

It’s the middle of May, and this week feels like it’s already two weeks long. Last week we finished our Common Core testing, and now we have seventeen  sixteen days of school left. Too many to do nothing and too few to do anything longterm. I think a little list is in order, because I like them so much. A good list keeps me organized. Honest. Okay, I don’t know what listing has to do with honesty and I could actually lie in a list as any other way, so forget the honest part. Here goes the list.

I’m thrilled to have such a beautiful piece of art in my garden. I smile every time I look at it!

1. Mothers’ Day: Look at the cool gift my daughters made for me! After that blog post about choosing happiness, they chose to make this for me. I could say maybe I’ve been too grouchy lately and they are giving me a hint, but I don’t think so. I think they just knew how much I’d love this. And I do. And actually, I have been a little grouchy and I’m thrilled to have this on my garden fence!

2. Food and eating: This week Avery and I started a Whole 30. This is a 30 day stretch of eating only meat, fruits and vegetables. It is not a weight-loss diet although that will probably be part of the outcome. It is a chance to reset my body after being sick and taking Prednisone and not exercising and eating sugar freely for a month.  I’ve done it once before and I felt great at the end of it.  Today is day 3 and the headache has subsided at night. Last night I slept pretty well and I have plenty of energy. Today I wasn’t grouchy like I was yesterday, so we’ll see how it goes. The hardest part for me is eating enough. I eat really well, but sometimes not enough. That’s weird, isn’t it? I’ll keep you posted on this. (P.S., in case you follow the link and decide to try this, last time I got the daily emails for $14.95 and they were sooo worth it!) Enough for now.

3. School: OMG. Those kids are crazy. The ones who are not passing and will not “Promote,” which means will not cross the stage, not that they will redo 8th grade (because really, they have to age out of middle school, and if it didn’t take the first two years, something else is needed). Those kids have quit. They (reasonably, sort of) say, “Why should I do this work? I’m not going to promote anyway.” While I get their viewpoint, the alternative, them sitting around like they’re at a social gathering, or taking little naps is already getting old after only about three days. They never choose to just stay home. They show up every day. Unless they get suspended for having a pot pipe in their backpack and get caught with it while they are loosening the handlebars on other kids’ bikes.Yesterday I called a kid’s mother about his lack of handing anything in that was finished She said to send it all home and he WOULD be bringing it back today. He did, but some of it was done in HER handwriting. I couldn’t give him points for that. When I called him on it, he said, “Well I was sitting right there beside her the whole time! I was double-tasking.” I pointed out that he can barely single task, so I knew that double tasking was not happening. I didn’t even try to teach him the word multi-task. He just shrugged. He’s joined the social gathering today. I’m working on what we’re going to do for the last sixteen days that’ll capture their interest, even if they don’t do the work.

I worry about these guys. They fail all their classes, so it isn’t like one F that could be at least partially due to a teacher not reaching his or her students. They are failing everything, and they are only in eighth grade. A “D” doesn’t faze them, and I just don’t understand why. I can kid myself and say that it’s all just middle school hormone sickness and it’ll all be okay when they get to high school, but I know that isn’t true. My former colleagues who teach high school tell me so. Last spring I went to the graduation of my first seventh grade class. We sent approximately 350 students there four years ago, and only 190 graduated. The rest? Some got so far behind in credits that they were sent to the continuation school. The others? I don’t know. Lost to “independent study” perhaps.Dropped out?  It makes me sad that so many are being lost. This doesn’t begin when they get to middle school, either. They are already accustomed to failing classes when they get here. I hope it isn’t like this everywhere. If it is, we’re in serious trouble.

4. News Flash about Starbucks: I just read that people are having their bank accounts drained by hackers who go into their accounts and just keep refilling their coffee card over and over again. Apparently you can allow Starbucks to automatically refill your card via PayPal and their security is lacking a layer of protection. So wow. Delete that app! I don’t have it. I just pay cash if I ever go in there .  But if you do have it and didn’t know about this, you might want to take action before you’re hacked!


Time to reconsider that Starbucks app? Or at least the connection of it to your bank account? Yikes!

5. Hm. It seems that there is no five. Three was so depressing, you’re undoubtedly over it by now. Have a good day and don’t let the bedbugs bite.


8 thoughts on “On Failing to Choose Happiness

  1. blkdrama says:

    You have a mixed bag here to share but thanks for the Starbucks info. I don’t like that coffee enough to invest but it makes you stop dead in your tracks. It could happen in another venture- Apple pay??
    School is very hard but for those kids who show up and know it doesn’t matter, that’s so hard. UGH!
    Love that your kids made you that cool sign. Something that should always make you smile.
    As for resets. I’m all for that. One year for me and I’ve never felt better. It took a long time to flush away the remnants of Prednisone, that’s for sure. Here’s to a healthy month- and then some.
    I just lost my writing retreat partner. Wish you lived closer, I was getting psyched for a road trip to Maine. Oh well… Tuvia’s happy.
    Miss you face to face,

  2. Lisa Weikel says:

    Yes, I have to say, #3 was pretty depressing.

    I wish we could find some way for teachers to be able to teach and inspire more, and be forced to “teach to the test” far, far less.

    Given the dramatically smaller chance anyone who is younger today has to achieve the “American Dream,” particularly anyone not born white and to parents who are already upper middle class, I can imagine it must be excruciatingly difficult to think there’s really any point to acquiring an education. What do these kids see on tv? Brown people being gunned down with impunity. What good does education do a kid if he knows in his heart he’ll be judged by the color of his skin and not the brains in his head (or even more important, the love in his heart)?

    Sure, I have the greatest respect for those outliers who can transcend all the cultural bias and bullshit that is rampant in our society and achieve amazing success. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I would not have the internal fortitude it must take to be one of those outliers. If I had to deal with that crap every day, I’d probably, sadly, give up too.

    The thing is, Lynn, you make a difference in the lives of the students you touch. Maybe not every one. But many. Just being around you, feeling your respect for them, experiencing your sense of humor and your love of learning…these things make a huge difference.

    We can make a difference as a society, too. But in order to do so, we need to cultivate empathy. And elect those who display it.

  3. lynnjake says:

    Hi Bonnie! I wish I was closer too. That would be so much fun to write together. Maybe sometime we’ll meet halfway and do our own little writing retreat! I agree this is a mixed bag. I just had a hard time settling on any one thing, although I did wax poetic about school. It’s times like this that make me want to throw in the towel. My attitude is probably partly due to my slow recovery from being sick. All I can say is I’d better really focus on staying healthy in the future because this is not what I’m looking for! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. lynnjake says:

    Lisa, I agree with you about having the personal fortitude to overcome what so many of my students have ahead of them. They face so many obstructions, both within themselves and from the outside world.Just when I was feeling so low and grumpy today, I got a thank you card from a former student who is now a Junior in high school. He thanked me for teaching him and said that thanks to me he is looking forward to a college education rather than just running wild like others he knows. This brightened my day considerably. We so need to know that we’ve impacted someone’s life in some small way. Without that encouragement, it’s hard to keep going. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I sure wish you were coming to Taos this summer.

  5. dkzody says:

    Imagine those 8th graders arriving at high school and then learning that they will not graduate unless they pass classes and to pass classes they must do the work. They will not shut down in the classrooms, they will leave the school, hanging out in neighborhoods, getting into trouble, eventually getting caught up in the justice system. I’ve been seeing this process for two decades now. It is very disheartening.

  6. lynnjake says:

    I do imagine exactly that. I see that, more now than in the past when I taught high school. This year our district is starting a new alternative school for just those kids. I hope they can somehow wake them up and get them ready, emotionally at least for the rigor that high school will present. Some study skills would be good too. It’s truly a sad thing. I don’t think the NCLB years helped them much at all. On the contrary.

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