Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It is 10:30 at night and it's 80 degrees on my front porch.

Tomorrow the heat index is supposed to reach 100 degrees.

Welcome to summer in the South.

I absolutely hate, hate, hate, hate, heat and humidity. I grew up in the arid West, and although I now consider myself a Southerner (American by birth, Southern because I damn well chose to be), I have never, ever gotten used to the heat and humdity. It's been 15 years since I left the West and I'm still not used to the humdity. I seriously doubt I will ever get used to the humdity.

So, in order to get my walk in, I'm leaving at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning and it's already hot and muggy. My yard needs to be mowed and the crabgrass and weeds are taking over my flower beds. And it's too flipping hot to go out there and do anything about it, even at 10:30 at night.

I suppose this is why Southerners invented Sweet Tea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Father's Day was this past weekend, and hubby and I are driving home from our weekend, listening to talk radio and callers are calling in telling the hosts about the best advice their father ever gave them, and how it impacted their lives.

My father isn't one to give advice, but I certainly listened when he told me to get my oil changed every 3,000 miles.


So most of these stories are heartwarming tear-jerkers about how dad taught them integrity, the value of hard work, honesty, respect, love, and all that wonderful, necessary, character building stuff that parents, and especially Dad's need to teach their kids. And the host of the show makes a comment that anyone can father a child, but it takes a real man to be a dad.

And he's right.

I know this because I see every year dozens and dozens of kids who don't have a Dad. They have fathers, some of them, but they don't have a Dad.

Dads come home from work and instead of plopping down in from of the idiot tube with a beer, they spend time with their kids playing, reading, doing homework, just hanging out.

Dads realize that their kids come first. That you have to make sacrifices in life to be a Dad. That even if you're tired, you've had a bad day, and you just want some peace and quiet, that taking five minutes to watch your kid do a new trick on a skateboard is more important than anything else in life.

I worked with a gentleman once who never, ever, missed one of his boy's baseball games. Never. He got criticized for this up in the higher levels of the corporation we worked for because he wasn't "dedicated to the company", or "focused on results." Ironically, these same people who made the sneering nasty comments about his dedication to his family would bring their kids out on business trips (I was living in California at the time) and then have a company employee take their kids to Disneyland while their Father sat in business meetings all day. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who's going to have the good, well-adjusted kids and who's going to have the drug-adled serial killers.

Children are just starving for Dads in their lives. Mr. Bluebird made it a habit of coming down to my school and playing the game of Risk with the kids in our chess and boardgame club, and it was amazing how those kids just flocked around him. They all wanted to play with him, they all wanted to sit by him, they all wanted his attention and his approval. And when I looked at the kids who were hanging around him, I noticed that most of them didn't have Dads in their lives.

Our kids, and especially boys, need Dads. They need the guidance, attention, and love that a Dad can give. And it's tragic how many of our children are growing up without a Dad in their lives. My Dad was always, always, always there for me when I was growing up and even now that I'm older and married. I can't imagine how my life would be different if it wasn't for my Dad.

We need more Dads.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Walk Like an Egyptian

First off, isn't life boring when there's no kids to talk about?

However, it is much more relaxing. And it gives you a chance to do something I rarely get to do much during the school year.


So this past week Mrs. Eagle, myself, and Mr. Bluebird went up to Chicago for a quick visit. Our primary objective was to go to the Field Museum and see the traveling King Tut exhibit. Mrs. Eagle actually has seen it before, in Egypt, when she was stationed there courtesy of the U.S. Army. She's also a confirmed Egypt nut, so obviously a fun person to do something like this with. Then again, Hubby and I love museums and Chicago, so what more of an incentive do we need to go there.

We had a fantastic time. The Field Museum is just spectacular and there's no way you can see the whole thing in a day (they need to sell multi-day passes). We saw as much as we could until it closed and then we had to revive ourselves with good Italian food at a little restaurant that hubby and I have been patronizing for 20 years or so. It's one of those neighborhood places where everyone knows the owners, and they know everyone, and the food is fresh and good and wonderful and filling.

The next day we spent just knocking around book stores, a winery, and touring some historic sites in the outlying suburbs. And eating Italian food again.

Things to time we go, take a bigger vehicle. We took my Saturn because it gets fantastic gas mileage. However, by the time we finished with the museum shops, the bookstores, and the winery, we were wondering where we were going to put it all.

It was fun, and just what Mrs. Eagle and I needed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Stupid Pet Owners

Maybe I was naive in thinking that my two months away from school meant I was free from dealing with idiots. Only now, instead of idiot parents, I'm dealing with idiot pet owners.

This past Saturday was a gorgeous, cool, sunny day - just the right day to get the lawn mowed, and some mulch laid down and needed yard work done. So, hubby gets out the riding mower and starts working on the yard. After a bit, he notices a pair of big goofy dogs running around the neighborhood, which isn't good because we live right off a fairly busy street with a high speed limit. One misstep and these dogs are goners. Fortunately, the dogs were hot, saw our garage was open and came in and plopped down in the shade.

We gave them a big bowl of water, which they lapped up, and discovered they had collars and tags on them. Since the house they belonged to was down the block, hubby walked down to knock on the door to let the owners know we had their pets. No answer. Well, we didn't want them to continue running loose in the neighborhood, and we needed to work in the back yard, so we took them back there, put the bowl of water under a shady tree, and basically locked them in our yard so they would get loose.

These are two really nice, friendly dogs. They wrestled, played fetch with a ball and water bottle, ran around, and generally were a lot of fun. In other words, some pretty nice animals to have in your life.

Finally, about six hours later we see another vehicle at the house the dogs belong to and I go ring the doorbell. After about 5 minutes, a lady answers the door, looking beyond confused. She explains that she works nights and just got up (It is 4:30 in the afternoon, and when my dad worked nights, he was up by about 2:00). Honestly, I'm not sure if she just has trouble waking up or if she was stoned.

I introduced myself and told her that I had her dogs, Lucky and Star, in my yard.

She blinked.

I explained how they were running loose in the neighborhood and that we had given them water and put them in the backyard so they were safe and not dead on the street.

"Oh." she says.

I see that I'm not getting very far with this beacon of stupidity so I kind of decided to nudge her along and suggest that she get their leashes or something and come get her dogs since we had to go somewhere and they probably should be back in their yard.

"Oh," she says, finally perking up, "I don't touch animals."

What the ???? You have two dogs and you don't touch animals?

"They are your dogs, right?" I ask.

"Oh yeah, but I don't touch animals," she insists again.

"You do want them back, right?" I ask. At this time I'm beginning to think that these dogs would have been better off if I'd never found their idiot owner.

"Oh yeah, but I don't touch animals." Okay, I get it lady. You don't freaking touch animals, so what's your plan B?

Finally she mutters something about calling her husband and telling him to go get the dogs. Hubby is apparently not home at the time. I again tell her where I live, tell her we're leaving for a prior engagement, and it really would be a good idea to fetch her pets.

She closes the door.

We wait around for a while, hoping her husband (who I suspect had these dogs before he married Miss I Don't Touch Animals, in which case, he'd have been better off with the dogs, and ditching her). He doesn't show and we decided we have to get going.

When we return later that night, the dogs are gone and we assume (our gate wasn't locked) that the husband came and got them.

No note, no thank you, no nothing.

Idiots. Those dogs deserve better.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Saying Farewell

I said farewell to Philipp today.

I'm not going to be able to make the funeral due to a workshop I'm presenting at (that dratted in-service stuff), but I was able to swing by the funeral home for visitation today.

I'm really glad I did.

It was sad, true, but it gave me the opportunity to do something I really wanted to do.

That was to thank his mother for letting me borrow her son for a year or so.

Because, truth be told, that's what parents do. They let us borrow their most precious possession for seven hours a day, 180 days a year. And at times that just blows my mind. I remember once, when I was subbing, I was sitting there in a Kindergarten class (of all things) and it struck me that I was in there - all alone - with 22 five year olds and that people were trusting me to take care of them. Not only to take care of them, but to teach them. And that realization, when it hits you, is absolutely mind-blowing.

Philipp's mother and I had a nice chat and I told her some of my favorite things about Philipp and how I remembered exactly where he sat in my room, in my fourth period class, and what it was like walking to and from lunch every day and how he made me laugh. And how you never, ever could stay mad at him.

She seemed surprised, in some respect, that a teacher from a few years ago when come say goodbye, but I don't think parents sometimes realize how we fall in love with their children.

Every year during the first few weeks of school I have a student ask me how many kids I have. And every year my answer is along the lines of "Oh, about 125." And they laugh and say that's silly, but then towards the last week of school, and especially the last day when they're hugging and crying and saying goodbye, one of them will say, "I know what you mean about us being your kids," and I realize that they get it.

That we do more than teach them. We love them. And then we let them go become the people they're meant to be.

And every night I thank God that he told me to become a teacher.

Because it's the Philipps that you meet in your life that make it rich.