Friday, April 29, 2005

Other People's Kids part two

Yesterday, I read a very insightful article in the St. Petersburg Times regarding this sad story. It was most sensitive to the feelings of this obviously troubled child.

I hope I didn't appear to blame the child for this unfortunate situation. To the contrary, I put total blame squarely on the parents and family. According to the article, the teachers and police are all too familiar with this poor child and her problems. At some point in time during the little girl's 28 minute tantrum (clips show about 10 seconds of it) the mother was called... she couldn't pry herself away from work to come to the school. I understand it being difficult to leave when you really need to keep your job but, to then turn around and get an attorney after leaving your kid's bad behavior for the school to handle... well, I just don't understand that at all. This very unfortunate child is the one suffering. While the media circus unfolds turning this into a racial issue, she is learning new lessons on how not to behave. Once again, people who have no clue what's going on are here bellowing about what "should have been done." ::sigh::

I have an idea... how about every one of those "concerned citizens" who think the teachers, administrators, and police officers acted inappropriately volunteer at an elementary school for one month? One full grading period would be even better. Sit in every chair. Experience what happens daily in the classroom, the lunch room, the office, the cafeteria kitchen, the library, the playground, the gym, the bathrooms, the bus line. Organize enrollment, dismissal, and lunch. Answer the phones, make the announcements, clean up the aftermath of a sick child. Then take home homework to grade and lesson plans to prepare for the next day. Deal with students, teachers, administrators and parents. Stay with the crying child who's mother forgets to pick them up. Do it all. Teaching is a very difficult an under appreciated and underpaid profession. Working in a school in any capacity these days is a challenge at best. Sitting back and placing blame or passing judgment is unfair and ignorant. Walk a mile in those shoes THEN tell me what you think.

PS: To the jugglers and Jessie Jackson... please stay out of this one.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Road Rage

Just before noon Tuesday morning, a thirty three year old man was killed on the Courtney Campbell Causeway. That in itself, though sad, is not uncommon. A driver not wearing a seat belt, looses control of his Isuzu Rodeo. It flips over ejecting the unrestrained driver who later dies during surgery for his injuries. Just that quick a young life is gone. Cause of death, victim of road rage. Yes, road rage killed this man.

Witnesses say that Vincent Edward Tucker was driving his silver Rodeo west on the causeway when a shiny black SUV pulled up behind him honking at Mr. Tucker to move over. According to one witness the driver of the black SUV was relentless but Tucker didn't move. Gesturers and perhaps words were exchanged. The black SUV eventually got into the right lane and passed Mr. Tucker then veered back into the fast lane, cutting him off. Tucker tried to avoid hitting the SUV by slamming on his breaks and that's when he lost control. As the Rodeo flipped over, the black SUV drove away. Witnesses say he had to have know he caused the accident.

Yesterday I had occasion to be traveling on that same stretch of road. There was traffic in both lanes when I got onto the causeway. I was in the fast lane going 5 mph over the posted speed keeping with the flow of traffic. A white SUV pulled up behind me quite quickly and closely rode my bumper. If there had been a space in the right lane I would have moved over but I would have had to cut off another driver to do so. As the traffic began to spread out a bit I was surprised to see the white SUV cut off the car in the right lane then speed by me and cut in so closely that I had to break and pull a little left to keep him from clipping my finder. All the while the driver was flipping me off and flailing his arms. My heart paused then raced. The white SUV continued to weave and bob around other cars until he was out of sight.

Are we all crazy or what? Stupidity is running amok! Does anyone ever drive anywhere today without encountering someone being crazy or stupid? Sometimes ourselves! It's one thing to be angry with another driver... that happens to everyone. But, to risk life and limb to gain one position on the roadway? That's just nuts.

I hope they catch the driver of the black SUV. (He's wanted for hit and run.) To cause a serious accident then just drive off is unbelieveable. Maybe he panicked at the time, but the fact he hasn't come forward now that he knows a man is dead indicates he thinks he's gotten away with manslaughter. I hope he can't sleep because the nightmare plays over and over in his head and his heart jumps into his throat every time he sees a police car wondering if they know it's me? I hope he is so overcome with guilt he turns himself in. If not, that he confides in someone and that person turns him in. I hope he doesn't have kids he drives to school like that!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Other People's Kids

For some unexplained reason, I have a propensity for attracting much unwanted contact with "other people's kids." If there is a screaming baby or an unruly child in a restaurant, I am seated at the adjoining table. Blood curdling screams find me handily in grocery and department stores. The kid pushing it's own stroller always manages to maneuver it into my heels as if there's a GPS with me programed in. The unmistakable wail of a spoiled child makes my blood run cold no matter the situation. Having no grandchildren, I am intolerant in my old age. As a result, undisciplined children basically drive me crazy.

I probably disciplined my kids too harshly at times but they knew what was permissible in "polite society." We went to church weekly where "sit still and be quiet" meant just that. They both attended pre-school where they learned how to behave in a classroom setting including minding the teacher and sharing. As their education progressed, they learned to respect their educators and follow the rules that were set for EVERYONE. As a parent, I supported those rules. And, if I had a problem with them expressed my concerns in the voting booth, at parent/teacher conferences, or a PTA meeting. If a child had a problem with the teacher or school... I sided with the school until I had all the facts. I only remember two incidents where I disagreed. One was a bad grade Erin got in Middle School PE because she was unskilled at volleyball. The other was when Kim "couldn't understand" algebra... turned out the teacher spoke very broken English and it was the teacher she couldn't understand. (We got her tutor and made sure Erin didn't get the same teacher years later.)

Perhaps you've heard about the kindergartner who had to be handcuffed by the police here in Pinellas County Florida. It's all over the tabloid TV programs. (It's always something for us, isn't it?)

This child has a history of discipline problems. She is disruptive and difficult in school. There have been prior problems enough times that the police have been called before because of her behavior. Tantrum doesn't begin to describe this child's bad behavior. Just who is responsible for that? After a previous incident her mother specifically told the school staff they could not touch the child. Okay, so they are supposed to just stand there and let this child kick them and destroy the property? Knowing that, they finally called the police to take her out of the school. (The police being under no such restrictions.) This child is COMPLETELT OUT OF CONTROL and all the mother can think of to do about it is sue. I am outraged by the mother's attitude!

To compound this outrageous situation, Al Sharpton and A Current Affair are now involved and this woman is being paid for her story! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Nuf said for now, I need to check my blood pressure.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Family Ties

On the subject of relatives...

When I was in high school a beloved cousin and his partner came to visit. They arrived baring gifts. Mine was a ceramic piggy bank, a sculpture really, with a huge cork in it's face. I stored small treasurers in my unique pig... still do. It was a special gift because of who had given it more so than the gift itself. They brought my parents an antique coffee grinder, which lives with my sister now, and a wonderful antique candy jar which by rights should be mine one day.

I don't remember if there was a special reason for the visit or how long they stayed. What I do remember is how my self esteem was impacted by their visit. I hated Ohio and the arrogance of the people in the small village we'd moved to from rural Missouri. I was at least 16 because I remember driving them around. During our time together, they seemed truly interested in what was important to me then. Trivial and immature no doubt. Over burgers at the PDQ, they asked about me. Boyfriends, music, chit chat but not like other adults. REAL conversation. Not condescending. Not judging. Not scolding. They made me feel special and that just maybe they understood a very insecure teenager. I cherished that time and appreciated their caring and consideration.

Time passed.

He's back in my life after years with no contact. Picking up where we left off. I love that. I want to know everything I have missed in his life and for him to know how thrilled I am he's back and close by. He has an infectious laugh and is most insightful. I'm in awe of him still. Sensitive and caring. Wise and witty. He's seen so much though those eyes and yet they sparkle. Somehow, I feel I have a certain degree of tolerance and understanding because of him.

The grandmother we shared was a very special woman who had a tremendous influence on both our lives. She was the most loving person I have ever known and I probably loved her more that any other human being in my life. I have her hands but he has her heart.

He's my favorite cousin. I know, I shouldn't have favorites, but I do.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Well represented, indeed.

You'll be relieved to know that you are well represented for the new Pope's installation... if that's the correct term. "W" has seen fit to send his recently converted Catholic brother (who's NOT running for president -cough, cough) to represent "The People of the United States" at this religious function. As if being governor of the state most often mocked for it's stupidity wasn't enough!

Thank goodness Jeb was available to travel this weekend. Nothing to do around here after all. We've only had a couple of little girls molested and murdered this month. But, who's counting. There are also 21 members of congress attending as part of the delegation. The Senate chose not to send anyone. Wow, a moment of lucidity. Exactly what is Dick C. doing this weekend? He couldn't go? Alone? Why do we need to send a plane full of folks? Guess the embassy has plenty of guest rooms and we're paying for them anyway, full or empty. How I hope that TV coverage isn't dominated by this ceremony like it was for the funeral. Sorry, I'm over this one.

Wonder if the head of the Methodist Church dies it will garner as much attention? Never mind.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Our Reputation Precedes Us

I love living in Florida. There's something special about not owning a coat.

I wanted to move here in '76 but my first husband enjoyed living in BFE Missouri so I didn't get here until '82. Two kids, zero husband, some family close by. It was simpler then. We were just the Sunshine State. Home to clean sandy beaches, theme parks, senior citizens, NASA shuttle launches and wonderful weather. When someone asked where we lived we proudly announced Clearwater, Florida!

This past week we traveled to Las Vegas for some much needed R&R. While there we had occasion to attend a 50's themed banquet. The live music, food and decorations were fabulous. The three ladies who sat at our table were from California. "Where are you from", one asked? "Clearwater, Florida" I reply. "Oh." she says, not making eye contact. "I know", I reply... fully aware we Floridians are the butt of jokes all over the world... and deservedly so. What seemed to me to be awkward silence ensued for a minute. The lady then excused herself to go to the bar. On her way, she paused next to me and whispered.... "How close are you to that Judge Greer?" Gulp... "We're there" I said back, "Right there in his jurisdiction. Clearwater is where "it" all happened." Disgusted she asks firmly, "Do you think he will be re-elected?" How I wanted to scream, "I HOPE SO! I VOTED FOR HIM LAST ELECTION!!!" But, alas I did not. I chickened out and was polite and just as firmly said, "I'm sure he will, he's very popular." We were there on a much needed vacation, attending the banquet as participants in a slots tournament for crying out loud, no need to bring Terri into it. Let her rest in peace.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


I know about feuds with in-laws. My first husband's mother was a piece of work but couldn't hold a candle to my current version. OMG... the stories I could tell!!! Friends want me to write a book but it would be volumes. Not sure the time and drive are available to me at this age.

Feuding in-laws have been in the news lately. It's sad really that some things don't end with the death of a loved one. Moving on seems to be a problem for some. I can't imagine my mother interfering in my final arrangements should I proceed her. I can, however, imagine my current mother in law sticking her nose in if something should happen to my husband and she is still here. Too bad some parents can't let their children be adults to make their own choices - no matter the child's age. We have living wills, powers of attorney and our wishes in writing. Thank goodness. If something happen, I'll have proof for my MIL!

Loosing a child under any circumstances must be the worst possible thing that can happen to a parent. I know that's true, it's happened to some of our family members. Denying they were capable of making their own choices just adds to the misery.