Sunday, May 25, 2008

Diversity In Action?

If I told you I'm running way behind on so many things right now, would you be surprised? Probably not, since lately that does seem to be the only way I operate -late!

Yesterday, was a long day. Starting with only about 2-3 hours sleep (and not because Kurtis kept me awake but simply because I have been having difficulty falling asleep almost all week) and Kurtis had a doctor's appointment at 10 a.m. yesterday. So, I had to get up and get ready to go with Mandy to take Kurtis in for this checkup, mainly so there was an extra set of arms available to hold him down when the doctor tried to check little things -like his ears, heartbeat, etc. No needles were involved in this visit at any time however he has already developed this innate fear of doctors, stethoscopes, little lights - you name it! Mandy held his upper body down; I held his legs and feet and the poor doctor fought tooth and nail to try to check him over, listen to those little sounds while he screamed, kicked and carried on like a little raving maniac through the entire procedure. I know, I know - he's just a baby and he's frightened but boy, doctors trying to check toddlers -whether it's a general check-up or because the child is ill, really deserve every penny they charge for those appointments!

After the appointment, we spent close to 45 minutes at the garage where my son-in-law used to work (my brother-in-law still works there but unfortunately, he had taken the day off yesterday) so the shop manager tried to figure out what my son-in-law had disconnected in my van the other night when he was trying to keep my van running until he could get the time to work on it and fix a problem that often makes some switch or other malfunction, thus keeping the dome light burning and running the battery down. Whatever it was -some fuse or something -that he disconnected kept the battery from running down but it also disconnected the power windows thing which meant we couldn't open any of the windows in the van! Very disconcerting to ride in a closed up van with the sun shining brightly on you and the heat building up, etc. The poor shop manager couldn't find whatever it was that Bill disconnected so we ended up leaving there with the windows still tightly closed.

From there, it was off to Wal-mart for a bit of a "stock-up" shopping deal and then home before Maya got home from school at 3 p.m. Needless to say, I was bushed and as soon as I got the groceries put away, supper fixed, I headed for the couch for a nap. I had to do that then because I needed to be awake enough sometime last night to bake a batch of Swedish rye bread for the bake sale our church youth group was having today to get funds for a trip they are planning this summer to assist people in some other community with clean-ups of the property and such. After about a three hour nap, I got up, got my bread baked and back to sleep then around 2:30 a.m.

Today, I had to make another trip back to Wal-mart to buy a new portable mixer because last night while I was mixing up my bread dough, wouldn't you just know it but the motor on the mixer I have had for almost two years now burned out on me! Fortunately, the bread dough was at the point where I didn't really need the mixer to finish up as it was where I needed to mix the last of the flour in by hand and knead the bread to blend it in completely. Too stiff a dough to even think of doing that with ANY mixer actually.

I took Maya with me while I found another mixer and picked up a couple small items I had overlooked getting yesterday. After leaving Wal-mart, we then stopped at a nursery about 3 miles from home to buy flowers to put on the graves. The couple who own this particular nursery are around my age (not quite as old, but close) and their oldest daughter is one of my older daughter's best friends. They know me and they also know Maya a little bit but even so, as I got her out of the van and led her into the greenhouse, I was lecturing her over and over to please "DO NOT TOUCH THE FLOWERS!" She promised me she would listen, be good, not take off from me, not get into anything -the whole nine yards. Needless to say, she's a bit of a story-teller though and was trying her best to select all kinds of flowers that she felt I should purchase. I wouldn't have minded had she merely pointed them out but it was the picking some up by the stems that kind of made my heart flip-flop a bit as I could just picture having to buy a dozen or so slightly mutilated flowers that would never even survive the ride home much less to the cemetery, being transplanted and live for an hour beyond that ordeal.

This evening then Mandy and both kids and I went up to the cemetery where my parents are buried and got several of these flowers planted there. Not the best transplant -or arranging - jobs but they should last at least through next week if I am lucky!

Back home and time to start trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tomorrow -and how much to prepare too considering I have no clue right now how many will be here! Typical! The older daughter and her fiance are supposed to be coming up "sometime tomorrow." That could mean they will be here as early as noon or maybe not till as late as 4 or 5 p.m. Then there is my son who should have arrived back home from his weekly trucker run around 9 p.m. tonight and would be at his girlfriends' house tonight and who doesn't know if she is planning a cookout at her place tomorrow or not. But, considering he has to put a new starter on his car tomorrow, he says even if she is going to have a cookout, he probably will be down to eat but he'll just have to "double dip" then tomorrow - meaning eat here, go do something and then go to her place to eat again - or maybe reverse the order of where he will eat first and last. Who knows!??? So, to be prepared, I made a big batch of macaroni salad (Bill's favorite dish,) fixed a bit batch of deviled eggs and then, got Mandy to give me a hand fixing a big container too of Broccoli/cauliflower salad. Tomorrow, after church, I just have to fix a pan of potatoes to bake some oven-fried potatoes and mix up a cake while someone checks out the grill and does some burgers and maybe some pork chops too!

If you are wondering why I am prattling on about all these little things I've done yesterday and today and what sense this stuff makes with the title of this blog, the answer is NONE! It's merely my way of trying to tone myself down from going off into a huge rant about something Mandy saw on some of the autism parenting sites she visits online which totally angered both of us. I just felt I had to write about something totally different in order to stay a little calm, not be using tons of the really bad language my mind had been wanting to say earlier when I learned about this.

Did you all hear - or read -about the kindergarten teacher in Florida who had her class vote on whether to allow a little five-year-old boy in the class remain with the group? What's that all about you ask? Well, it seems according to one report I read that she was trying to teach the children about voting and they voted 14 to 2 that this one little boy should be voted out of their class. The kicker here is the little guy who was ousted is in the process of being evaluated and diagnosed with autism. Ah, now you know why this article caught both Mandy's and my attention - and our anger and ire as well.

To put a child of that age - and with a learning disorder such as autism, regardless of whether he is severely autistic, in a medium range or high functioning - to both Mandy and to me -was outrageously wrong, wrong and wrong again!!!! One report I read about this deal was that the children were only voting him out of the class for the day but try explaining that to a child on the spectrum! Lack of sensibility, lack of empathy, pure lunacy or idiotic behavior on the part of the teacher is what comes to my mind in this case -regardless of whether it was a move for one day or for the rest of the school term.

Is this a way to teach a child -or a classroom -about diversity and acceptance? Children understand diversity and acceptance when the differences that exist are not pushed on them and choices forced on them but rather by learning in an open-minded fashion to accept those differences, whatever they may be then on their own terms.

This has been a week that somehow doesn't show me how our society has advanced so much over the years in the acceptance of others who are different. First, the case of the 12-year-old autistic boy in Minnesota whose parents received a letter and citation about bringing their son to church. Yes, the priest at their family church had papers sent to the parents telling them they were not to bring the boy to mass any more because of the disruptions and fears he caused the parishioners apparently. Then, to add insult to injury, this case with the five-year-old Florida child being "shunned" buy his classmates. How ludicrous do things have to get before people will realize this is all just effing ridiculous!

I know my grandchildren can be disruptive in a church setting but still, Mandy and I both believe that they need and deserve the opportunity to learn the proper behavior in church. However, if they get too restless, too loud, Mandy will take the offender - or both if necessary - out either to the narthex, try to quiet them, calm them and then, if possible, come back in a pick up with the rest of the service. We did go through a period of about 13 months from May of 2006 until June of 2007 though when we did not take Maya to church at all because of her behavior issues. We had taken her from the time she was two weeks old to church and prior to that May, she had been doing fine but all of a sudden, totally out of the blue, she began to go into meltdowns as soon as we walked in the door of the church and then, it was as soon as we pulled into the church parking lot. So, to save our own sanity and preserve the peacefulness of the church service, we elected to leave her at home with her Dad until she became more willing to go with us, unafraid of whatever it was that was so dreadful and fearful to her in her mind. Today, she does very well in church -but as I said above, that wasn't always the case.

I know I can't compare Maya's behavior to that of this young fellow in Minnesota as it appears he has many more issues than Maya has had but I can understand the parents wanting him to be able to worship freely or as much as is possible for him to cope with at any rate. If it were me and my child, to be honest, I wouldn't try to force the child to deal with more than he is able to at this point -but then, that's just me there. It may be frustrating to other parishioners when he acts up and such but the only way he is going to ever learn too is by being able to be part of society too. A little more understanding on the part of the priest, the other church members too might be better for all concerned there too.

But the kindergarten case just totally disgusts me. How cruel a method to try to teach something like "voting" to a class by encouraging them to discriminate then against another child and to also have each child in the class TELL him why they voted him out of the class too!

Makes me wonder if we really are the intelligent ones of our species after all. Makes me wonder about what is our society coming to when, after all these years of trying to learn acceptance and lose the discriminatory aspects, will we allow things like this to go on?


Sunshine said...

My grandma had a mixer that was absolutely prehistoric and worked like a charm. I don't know how many mixers I've gone thru...I think they're one of those items that definitely falls into the category "they don't make 'em like they used to".

Dianne said...

Wow Jeni! I heard about the boy being asked to stay away from church but I had not heard about the poor kid being voted out of his class.

What the hell is wrong with that teacher!? Does she have reality show sickness!?

"effing ridiculous" is putting it mildly.

when I was in grammar school one of my teachers took it upon herself to tell the entire class my life story. I had just come to the school and she told them my parents were 'disturbed' and that I had a 'curved spine' and that might make me 'slow'. I was out the day she did this and when I came back I was mortified and humiliated. Kids were snickering or being fake sympathetic. 40+ years later this still comes to my mind at times.

I just want to hug that little boy and smack the crap out of that teacher.

the mother of this lot said...

I'm shattered just reading about your day, disgusted at the kindergarten teacher and right with you on taking the kids to church.

magnetbabe said...

Unbelievable. I hope that teacher is not allowed to teach children anymore as her views on acceptance and understanding are deplorable. If there is any up side to this story, I hope it is that the child's community rallies around him and creates a loving and accepting environment.

Anonymous said...

That teacher should have her license revoked! Especially at that young age, kids are so impressionable. They don't question authority. They take what the teacher says at face value and don't even realize there's something wrong with what was done there!

As far as the little boy whose parents were asked not to bring him to church, I find that appalling as well. Most churches I've been to at least have a "crying" room with a speaker so the families there can still hear the mass. At the church I've been attending more recently, children are welcome in the service, but there are also soundproof rooms available if they have trouble keeping quieter. In addition, there are all kinds of classes and programs available to help teach kids how to worship in a setting that's easier for them to deal with. It seems to me the priest who banned that boy needs to make sure his church is more accomodating to the needs of ALL of its members.

dr sardonicus said...

But was the teacher actually picking on the autistic boy, or was she trying to point out to the class their attitudes about someone who was "different"? I think I need to know a little more before criticizing this teacher.

Travis said...

Regardless of the teacher's motives, I think that kindergarten is just a bit young to try and teach the tenets of democracy. I don't think kids have the mental acuity at that age to understand the implications of those choices.

How can you expect a child who has trouble selecting something to eat from more than 2 choices to understand the consequences of voting?

lattégirl said...

I have many memories from kindergarten, the main one being each kid standing in front of the class and reciting our street address and phone number. I remember I was embarrassed because I couldn't remember my street number.

So imagine, several decades later, that this memory is still there, and how that little boy in FLA will feel when he looks back on his pre-school days.

It makes me ill.

Minnesotablue said...

We have a case here that is similar. A young autistic boy has been banned from attending church by the local priest because of his behavior and size. This young man enjoys going to mass and although his parents were offered the crying room option they refused, prefering to sit with the rest of the congregation. It has been a big story here. When the parents tried to attend Mass the following Sunday, they were met by a sheriffs deputy and told they couldn't enter. They then went to another church a town or two away. So sad

Sandi McBride said...

Oh Jeni, I recommend you put your feet up with a nice cup of tea and kanoodle on how to vote that teacher out of class...then later on give me a call and we'll go to WalMart knowing we need absolutely nothing and finding just the right things to bring home! Have a cookie with that tea...put on the pot and I'll bring the cookies!

fermicat said...

Is this class like Elementary American Idol? Why are the students voting anyone out? That is not how it worked when I was in school.

Linda said...

Sounds like "Survivor: Schoolroom" or something - ridiculous!

Oh, and with all that you had going on I'm surprised you had any time to blog at all! I'm worn out just reading about your day - whew!