Just Another Day At The Office
As we were exiting a mall, a friend and I heard a voice calling, “Cupcake! Cupcake!” For a moment I thought someone was selling cupcakes. We looked in the direction of the voice. There was a young man with his parents. Suddenly I was jolted back in time. I had been a special education teacher at a school for developmentally challenged teens. One of my students always called me Cupcake. There at the mall nearly 20 years later was Joe. He recognized me as soon as he saw me. This heart-warming reunion brought back memories from my teaching days.
Part of our curriculum was going out into the community to work on life and social skills.
These outings were the catalyst for sometimes hair-raising, often hilarious, always unpredictable adventures. This was due to the range of behaviours the students might exhibit at any given moment. They could turn on a dime from sweet and socially appropriate to aggressive and needing some form of intervention. My educational assistant, B, and I knew to expect the unexpected. Thus, we were able to deal with any situation in a composed, calm manner. These outings were generally uneventful. Following is one of our more event filled escapades.
Before I get to the actual incident, you need to know about two of the students, in particular. There was L, 18 years old, attractive and pleasant. She frequently seizured both real and feigned. She was so good at faking seizures that it was sometimes difficult to discern which was which. We always treated the questionable times as real. We never took a chance on a student’s safety and well-being.
The other student was J. She, too, was 18 years old. She had Down’s syndrome, was high functioning and lived on the edge. Occasionally she slipped over that edge into the seamy side of life. J was light-fingered. Anything that wasn’t nailed down would end up in her purse or locker. Despite her feisty nature, J had a kind, caring heart.
The four other students were just as endearing as the aforementioned ladies. B and I were very grateful for their placid, compliant natures.
One time we were on our way to the Mall for the day. Upon our arrival at the subway station, things began to unravel. While waiting for the train, L slumped to the ground in a seizure. B and I explained the situation to the bystanders, assuring them we had everything under control. One freaked out person did not listen. To our chagrin, she phoned 911. Just then the train pulled into the station. The doors opened. J got on. The doors closed and off she went. The rest of us were still on the platform.
I dashed upstairs to find a TTC agent so J could be found and returned. Swirling around in my mind was that Kingston Trio song about Charlie on the MTA who never returned. Would J ride forever ‘neath the streets of Toronto? I rejoined the class just as the EMT’s arrived. In her ‘seizure state’ L sensed the presence of some handsome men and suddenly revived smiling. I thanked the fabulous firemen, apologizing for the obviously unnecessary call.
What about J? A concerned gentleman in the same subway car as J, who had witnessed her great escape, brought her back to us. With everyone intact, we continued on to the Mall.
The theatrics were not quite over. We were having our lunch in the food court. This well-populated area did not go unnoticed to L. She gave an encore performance by slumping down in her seat, conveniently ending up with her head on the shoulder of the student next to her. I announced that lunch was over. It was time for shopping. L could stay where she was. As we all got up to go, L miraculously recovered. Yup. Just another day at the office.
Back ToThe Farm
Here we are back again on the Breezy Hill farm. This time I thought I would share one of the many zany critter capers. We had the usual assortment of farm animals. There were some chickens, some ducks, a couple of pigs, four ill-tempered geese, more goats than you ever need to know the horrors of and, of course a dog and a cat. Believe me, there is a unique story for each animal group. For instance, there was The High Jinx of The Cat and The Chickens, The Great Escape of The Pig With The Genius IQ, The Dog With An Uncanny Sense of Humor, to name a few. You’ll note I have deliberately omitted the goats. That chapter involved a bathtub full of goat’s milk and the most unpalatable, odious goat cheese in the history of all cheese. It is never to be spoken of again.
Since this seems to be the year of the goose, I will share a snapshot of our majestic yet menacing quartet. Geese can be vicious and mean-spirited. Such was the case with these high-strung honkers. They hissed, honked and screeched at everything. Having this fearsome formidable foursome made a watch dog redundant. Periodically, they would get loose from their pen and go charging down the hill beside the road. They be screeching and cackling descending like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse upon the neighbors’ gardens as veritable harbingers of doom. I would make myself scarce during those freedom flights, so I never had to deal with them. To an observer this was quite humorous. To the neighbors whose gardens were being ravaged and plundered, it bordered on disasterous. If Mother Goose was around in modern times, these four feisty kinfolk of hers would have provided great fodder for New Age nursery rhymes. These birds could even have been the main characters in some cartoon series. The possibilities are endless; as are the alliterative adjectives to describe the four fowl (or foul four). I don’t remember what became of these frenetic, but endearing creatures. We may have given them to another farmer to live out their days. I will always look back lovingly at their goosey loosey antics. I will always be grateful to them for providing interludes of much needed comic relief during stressful times. Here’s to you – Ricky, Lucy, Fred and Ethel. I hope you are all honking happily in goose heaven.
Comments are always welcomed.
Well, folks. Here I sit at my computer still museless. I am asking myself why did I decide to write this blog in the first place? It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was even turning out to be surprisingly fun. Then my sources of inspiration abandoned me just like that! Full disclosure, I did a bit of the Woe Is Me Shuffle. Fortunately, I remembered Rule #6. I have definitely been taking this whole thing way too seriously. Thanks for your assistance, muses, it’s been a slice. Moving on.
Every moment is a gift. It is the gift of an opportunity, a choice. How will we choose to use each moment’s opportunity? The idea might be to stop, really notice and decide what we want the moment to become. One option might be to experience joyful, grateful, positive, productive moments. Sounds like a plan to me.
Speaking of choices… How fortunate we are to have the freedom to make choices. I do wonder if we are faced with too many. For example, we can go into a grocery and find about 100 types of salad dressings, cereals, canned goods, cleaning supplies, etc. There are countless styles of digital devices. Go into a clothing store to buy a pair of jeans. We are faced with straight leg, boot leg, stone washed, acid washed, boyfriend jeans, Mom jeans, skinny jeans. The lists go on and on.
Research has shown that trying to make the best choice may actually lead to disappointment rather than satisfaction. We make a choice we think is the right or best one, but then we start to wonder if one of the 200 other possibilities might be better. Maybe we didn’t go to all the stores that carry the product we want. Maybe we should go back and check out what we missed. And so it goes. With a bazillion possible selections, expectations of finding exactly what we want run high. However, when we second guess our decisions, we are likely to feel disappointment more than satisfaction.
Back in the day of very limited choices, when something was wrong we could blame the manufacturer, the store, the world. When the choices are innumerable and our purchase is not quite right, the onus tends to land on us. Ugh.
Note: When it comes to choosing chocolates, satisfaction is pretty much guaranteed.
FYI: Today is World Kindness Day. Let’s choose to do an act of kindness.
My plan was to stockpile a few posts to cover a stretch when my attention turns to a course I teach. Suddenly, I had nothing to say. Writer’s block? Couldn’t be since I don’t consider myself a writer. Surely, there must be something to comment on or have an opinion about. Life itself is a well-spring of material. Still, it felt like the well was dry.
After pondering the situation, it occurred to me that the problem was the muses. They were not around. Maybe they were playing a trick on me. I called to them, “Ok, Thalia. Calliope. This is not funny. You can come out now.” Nothing happened. “Listen, ladies. I get it if you want a break or have some important business to attend to. You could have left a note.” Still nothing. They wouldn’t just disappear without a head’s up, would they? They couldn’t. If they truly vacated the premises, what was I supposed to do? Don’t you just love it when you rely on someone, and he/she takes off without notice leaving you high and dry? Like it or not, I was stuck with myself to figure this thing out.
Numerous questions spun around in my mind. Was this really it? Were the muses gone forever? If so, what does that mean for me going forward? These questions were starting to give me a headache. Maybe this was a good time for chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate is a known mood enhancer and cheaper than therapy. Also, nature walks have been scientifically proven to boost overall health and well being. At least I had some options to get myself off the ledge. When sanity was restored (although some might disagree), this is what I realized.
All of us at one time or another have to rely on ourselves, either by design or circumstances beyond our control. Whatever the reason, we have a choice. We can acquiesce. That might even be okay for awhile. Maybe not so much for the long haul. Perhaps a better choice, which leads to resilience and possibility, is an active form of acceptance. It is about not putting all our energy into going up against that which we cannot control.
We are allotted a certain amount of energy each day. If we use it bucking the uncontrollable, we will deplete our energy supply and have little or nothing for anything else. On the other hand, if we accept what we cannot control or influence, we will have the requisite energy to take care of the other areas of our lives.
In terms of my dilemma, I have no control over those MIA muses (although I wish I did). Consequently, I’ll have to rely on my own resources and abilities. The truth of the matter is each of us has what it takes to do what is necessary at any given time.
Nevertheless, I will be peering into every nook and cranny and around every corner, just in case those illusive muses are lurking somewhere in the shadows. Will keep you posted.