This is a commentary on being lucky. You might wonder why I feel that way, since I’m currently recovering from a major surgery that came upon me rather unexpectedly, and has pretty much ruined June. But I AM lucky. First, because the surgery went well, and I’ve had no complications. I came home right on schedule, and I’ve been able to recuperate in my own bed, surrounded by family and friends. However, because I can’t do much of anything, I’ve been watching a lot of TV and I’ve had a front row seat to all the horrible things that have happened in the last couple of weeks. The Orlando massacre, the shooting of a young singer, the assassination of a British MP, alligator and dog attacks, children being used as payment for debts—the list just keeps going. So I lie here and realize that, despite how lousy I feel, I have it pretty good.
First, in honour of Father’s Day, I’m married to a man who is not only a great dad but a wonderful husband. This last couple of weeks has been hard on him because he’s had to do EVERYTHING. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, gardening, waiting on me hand and foot, and a ton of other stuff, and he’s never once complained. I’ll admit I’ve been a baffling patient—I’ve had a couple of weird mood swings, most likely a combination of stress, hormones, and pain meds:
Me: When you come home from university on the weekends, I’ll make you lots of food to take back, Okay K?
K (rolls eyes): Sure, Mom.
Me: See, Ken? She’ll never come home. I’ll never see her again.
Ken: Don’t worry—you’ll still have me.
Me: SHUT UP, KEN!! (buries head in hands and sobs uncontrollably)
Ken: I was only joking…
And then on Friday:
Ken (on phone): What’s wrong? Why are you crying?!
Me: I asked my aunts to take me to the store so I could get you a Father’s Day present and there wasn’t ANYTHING! (Sobs) I have nothing to give y-y-you. I started crying in the store and had to leave.
Ken: God, don’t worry about it, honey. I didn’t expect you to go shopping for me.
Me: But you always get me such nice presents and I have nothing for YOU!! (Sobs uncontrollably)
Ken: Just tell me what you wanted to get me and I’ll buy it myself.
Me (wailing) Sandals!!
But then later that day, K went shopping for Father’s Day and she offered to get me something for Ken. After a lot texting back and forth, and sending pictures of things Ken might like, she bought Ken pants for me, even though I had specified shorts. I said to K, “It says ‘32 inch inseam’. How long did you think these shorts WERE?” and she responded in usual teen fashion with “How the hell do I know how long 32 inches is? They were on the shorts table.” But it’s all good, because Ken liked them anyway. And he’s still going to buy himself sandals. Why does he need sandals, you might ask? Because in the spring, I may or may not have thrown his old sandals away during a particularly enthusiastic closet-cleaning session. I admit to nothing but the possibility.
Aside from shopping for me, K has also been wonderful in her own teenaged way, watching TV with me and letting me make her afterschool snacks while she naps, just like old times. And sometimes she even answers my texts, which is really good of her.
I’m also lucky to have a really supportive family. Everyone has been checking in regularly, and my aunts have even been weeding my flower gardens. I never have to worry about discovering that my family members have been secretly plotting against ANYTHING, or are members of the Westboro Baptist Church (because then I would know they were truly stupid and evil and would definitely have to disown them). My parents are currently on a cruise they planned months ago, but they’ve been emailing whenever they have wifi access that doesn’t cost a fortune. And just to clarify, my dad is alive and well—I posted a Father’s Day message to Ken and Dad on Facebook in which I said my dad was a great father and that he was currently “wandering the fjords”. Then I got worried that people might think it was a euphemism for being dead, you know, like “Poor Dad—he’s finally able to wander the fjords in eternal peace.” But actually, he’s just in Norway, not beyond the veil eternal.
The next reason why I’m lucky is because I’m recuperating in my own town instead of the big city. I live in a great little place, population around 500 people, and it’s quiet and pretty. I have super neighbours who would help you out with anything; in fact, two of them messaged me to say that if I needed any help, to call them and they would come over. And they would bring wine, which officially makes them the best neighbours ever. My only concern right now is that the lady on the corner sold her house, and the new neighbours moved in. Only they moved in at night. And by morning, the moving truck was gone and we haven’t seen anyone there since. Now, it’s not like we ever saw the previous owner—she was elderly and ill, and the only reason we even knew the house was occupied was from the coming and going of home help nurses, and the occasional arrival of an ambulance. But still, it made me a little curious, and I made Ken watch from the window:
Me: Can you see anything?
Ken: A couch, I think.
Me: Do you see any hydroponic growing stations? Large quantities of antihistamines?
Ken: No, just regular furniture. I’m sure they’re normal people.
Me: I don’t think a grow-op or a meth lab would be good for property values. Keep watching.
Ken (rolls eyes): Right.
So, aside from a potential house of ill repute in my neighbourhood, and full-on sobby mood swings, I find myself in a small pocket of loveliness, protected from the horrors of the world around me by the amazing people in my life, decorated with flowers from my garden and flowers from my work colleagues. And that, my friends, makes me an extremely lucky woman.
And now, just to lighten the mood, I present Summer School Stories Round 2. If you’re not sure about the context, you can read the intro from last week. Hope you enjoy the shenanigans from 2013:
Summer School Day One: Let the Games Begin
After the 100s of kids who needed to register, the parents making demands, the buses that didn’t show up, and a grand mal seizure in the middle of the registration line, we made it through the day. Of all the reasons to switch classes (which we normally don’t allow), this was my favourite:
Student: I need to change my math class. I know you don’t usually allow it, but I really need to.
Student: The teacher I have today is the same one who failed me last week.
Me: So you think you’ll have a better chance with someone new?
Student: Yeah, I hope so!
Fun at Summer School Day Two: There Are No Secrets Anymore
After 20 minutes of parents tearing a strip off their daughter for lying to them in order to get a letter of permission to change classes so she could be with her boyfriend, this is what the mother and father finally said (both with lovely East Indian accents):
Mother: All right, I’m sick of this bullsh*t. I’ve been keeping your secret from Daddy, and now I’m going to tell him what you did. (To father) She didn’t get any of her credits last semester. She failed everything!!!
Me: OK, so I think we have a couple of different issues here…..
Fun at Summer School Day 3: Who’s On First? I Don’t Know…
Me: So, Ms. Le, our student Trang says she has to switch classes to make your “counselling” appointments. Where exactly are you located?
Young Girl: 26 B_____ Crescent.
Me: And where is that?
Young Girl: My house.
Me: Yes, but where do you live?
Young Girl: Toronto.
Me: She has to go to Toronto 3 days a week to see you for counselling?
Young Girl: No, she comes to my house.
Me: But where are you located?
Young Girl: 26 Br______ Crescent.
Me: Yes, but where is that?! What city?
Young Girl: In Kitchener, but I live in Toronto.
Me: OK, I’m going to say No to the switch and suggest that maybe you make the “counselling” sessions for later in the day. You’re not a real counselor, are you?
Young Girl: Not really, no.
Fun at Summer School Day 4: The Name Game
Me: So the bus driver tells me that on Friday, you were refusing to sit down while the bus was moving, and when he asked your name, you told him it was “Mohammed Mohammed”. I’m going to guess that’s not your name.
Short White Boy: (mumbles) No.
Me: What IS your name?
Short White Boy: (sheepishly) Kevin.
Me: OK Kevin, from now on you do as the bus driver tells you, or you won’t be riding the bus anymore.
Short White Boy: (mumbles) OK.
Fun at Summer School Day 4: Shots For Breakfast
Female Student: Why are you kicking me out? I wasn’t doing anything. It’s not fair!
Me: Look, you have two absences and two lates for a 9 day Careers program. You were sleeping in class and then you swore at the teacher. You’re being demitted.
Female Student: Why are you being so mean this year? Everybody thinks so–it’s not just me. Other people think you’re being mean too, you know.
Me: (sigh) If you keep refusing to leave the building, I’ll have to get the police to issue you a trespass notice.
Female Student: Blah, blah, blah….
When I looked at her Twitter feed later, the most notable entry for that morning was “Shots for breakfast!” Explains a lot.
Not So Fun at Summer School Day 5:
One of our day school students went to buy a new baseball bat, then came to the office to get his report card. When he left, he was accosted at the bus stop by a thug who tried to steal the bat, threatened him and then chased him–he ran through the parking lot and into the refuge of our building. Here’s part of the conversation, which reminds me why I love kids:
Student: He chased me from the bus stop to the parking lot. Thank god I did track for 4 years. I didn’t think he’d be able to catch me.
Me: Plus you had the baseball bat in case he did.
Student: Are you kidding?! I could never hit someone with a baseball bat!
Kudos to all the kids out there who could never conceive of harming another human being over a baseball bat, or for any other reason.
Fun at Summer School Day 6: Shots for Breakfast, Shots for Lunch
Me: So if you hadn’t been drinking, then why were you throwing up in the bathroom?
Drunk Girl (slurring): I have a cold.
Me: Right. The bathroom smelled like a bar.
Drunk Girl (excitedly): Which bar?
Me: All of them!!
Fun at Summer School Day 8: Pikachu Rules
After an exhausting morning with a couple of 15 year-old drug dealers, and the police, and their parents, and mental health workers, I had to deal with another couple of kids who had been reported as doing something suspicious on the school bus, maybe involving drugs.
Me: So what exactly were you and your friend doing on the bus that might have worried the bus driver?
Student: Well, we were playing Pokémon on my friend’s Nintendo DS…
Me: Were you passing it back and forth?
Me: What were you talking about?
Student: Just Pokémon stuff. I was thinking up a name for my friend’s avatar. I said he should call it Loveknobs. That’s British for…well…Am I in trouble for that?
Me: (trying not to laugh) No, you’re good. Go on back to class.
Fun at Summer School Day 9: Are You F*ing Kidding Me?
Me: So if your son wasn’t doing anything, can you explain why he carries rolling papers and a grinder in his school backpack?
Father of 15 Year-Old: Well, the boy smokes a little pot. I let him smoke sometimes at home with his friends. Better to do it at home than run wild on the streets…
Me: (looks to heaven for divine assistance–cannot find anything polite to say in response).
Fun at Summer School Day 11: What Not To Wear
Me: So I just wanted to have a word with you about your daughter and some dress code issues. Did she tell you why she came home yesterday?
Me: Well, she was wearing a tank top that said “Smoke Meth and Hail Satan. We asked her to cover up or turn it inside out, and she chose not to do that.
Mother: (exasperated) Oh my god! She’s going through a terrible phase right now. It’s been almost a year and we just keep praying it’ll be over soon.
Me: And today she’s wearing a bra. Just a bra. I’d appreciate it if you could talk to her about wardrobe choices. I know it’s hot outside, but our air conditioning works really well.
Mother: Yes, of course. Thanks for calling.
Fun at Summer School Day 12: Hindsight is 20/20
Me: So your daughter left her class, went out for a cigarette, and then was hostile and rude when we asked her where she’d been. I’m sending her home for the rest of the day.
Mother: If she apologizes, can she come back tomorrow? She’s actually passing and her attendance has been good. I know sometimes she needs to work on her attitude….
Me: I can accept that. Bring her in tomorrow. If she’s willing to apologize, she can continue in her course.
10 minutes later….
Teacher: That’s the girl who came into my class last week, and when I told her to go back to her own class, she called me a b*tch!!
Me: If I’d only known that 10 minutes ago. Sigh.
I guess this girl was going to be saying sorry to quite a few people tomorrow.
Fun at Summer School Day 13: Hindsight Might Be 20/20, But Payback Is Sweet
Our little charmer from yesterday returned this morning. After some sulky, half-hearted apologies, she went back to class on the understanding that she would be polite and punctual from now on. At the end of first break, she refused to go back to class when it was time, then launched a string of profanities at Donna, culminating in her exclaiming to me, “F*ck all this!” and storming out when I asked her to stay in the office. I called her mom and explained that I’d removed her permanently. 5 minutes later, the phone rang again:
Secretary: It’s that student you just demitted. She wants to know why she was kicked out.
I picked up the phone just in time to hear this:
Student: Answer the f*cking phone!!
Me: THAT’S why you were kicked out! Goodbye.
Fun at Summer School Day 13: Sorry Is The Hardest Word To Say
Me: I have no interest in interrupting Ms. ___ during class, so you can write her a letter of apology.
Student: (rolling eyes) What am I supposed to say?
Me: What would you normally say in this kind of circumstance?
Student: Um…’I’m sorry that I called you a b*tch’?
Me: (sigh) Think of a way to say it a little more politely.
Fun at Summer School Day 14: XXXShakepeareXXX
The 4UI English students were asked to write an original scene for King Lear. One student strayed from the provided scenarios and handed in a script, properly formatted, lines numbered, with asides, stage directions, and lovely Shakespearean diction. Unfortunately it was also Shakespearean porn. Here’s a sample:
France: Enough of this talk. Unsheath thy sword. Let my hands wield it. Nothing will come between us.
Burgundy: Nothing! [sex]…
France: Do you remember the beating we discussed?
Servant: I do, my Lord
France: Good, very good.
Cordelia: I knew it! How could anyone not see this? The rainbows, your low-calorie ale. It all points to this…
Seven pages of R-rated Shakespeare. Made my day.
Fun at Summer School Day 14: It’s Because He’s Invisible
Me: (to student) Your attendance is a bit of an issue. You have 3 absences now.
Secretary: I think Frank talked to her.
Me: (to student): Did you talk to the other supervisor about your attendance?
Me: (pointing) The man who sits over there.
Student: (looking completely confused) But there’s no one sitting there…
Me: (trying not to laugh) No, the man who usually sits there. He’s not here right now.
Student: Oh. Yeah, I don’t know.
Fun at Summer School Day 15: Part I
Me: So your son didn’t go to class this morning–he was seen with a group of people going downtown. Do you have any way to contact him and tell him he needs to come back to school?
Father: You’re kidding! I dropped him off myself. No, we’ve already taken away his cell phone, his Ipod, and a lot of other things.
Me: So, not a lot left for leverage, huh?
Father: No, not much. I’ll go drive around and see if I can find him.
Fun at Summer School Day 15: Part II – It Must Have Been Telepathy
Me: So, you went downtown this morning. Your father was pretty upset.
Student: No, it’s ok. I talked to him and he said to tell you it was ok.
Me: How exactly did you speak to him?
Student: On my cell phone.
Me: That’s interesting because your father said he’d taken away your cell phone.
Student: Oh. (quietly) Sh*t.
Fun at Summer School Day 16: Awkward Family Moments
After lunch had started, one of our students came into the office, literally being half-carried/half-dragged by her mother on one side and her sister on the other. She could barely walk, and had the pallor of something out of The Exorcist.
Mother: We’re trying to figure out how to get her up to her classroom.
Me: Absolutely not. Take her home now.
Mother: (blank stare)
Me: Seriously, your daughter is much too sick to be in class. She needs to go home.
At this point, they slowly turned around and left. One minute later the mother was back.
Mother: Is it OK if we use the elevator?
Me: Yes! Use the elevator! To take her down to the parking lot, right?! It’s fine!
Seriously, folks–it was the most bizarre thing I’d seen in ages.
Fun at Summer School Day 16: Baby? What Baby?
Me: So your son hasn’t been to school for the last two days…
Mother: I don’t understand–I gave him money to get there yesterday.
Me: I’m sorry but he hasn’t been here since Tuesday. He came in and said he had to go to the hospital right away because your other son’s girlfriend had gone into labour and was about to have a baby.
Mother: Pardon ME?! A baby?! Uh, no. I’ll make sure he’s there tomorrow to write his exam.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when that kid got home, lol.