Archive for October, 2009

I’m Too Old For This Shit

The children were certainly in high spirits today! And why not, today was a day of Halloween party festivities, cupcakes, ice cream, and candy sent in by adoring parents and indulgent teachers. Woohooo!

Oh, sure, we had a few behavioral problems…I was bitten, slapped, and kicked before breakfast, but it was a half-hearted attempt at best without any of my blood being spilled, and the student swiftly brought himself under control (this is a very good thing and a big developmental milestone for him if he continues to develop self control). No, I’m limping around the house tonight for an entirely different reason.

A child decided that he was not quite ready to leave the playground to go to lunch. Not a problem, I could wait. The child was at the top of the slide, and requested that I go up with him, so I did. Upon sliding down, the child decided to suddenly race off and leave the playground while I was at the top of the slide. I tried going down the slide, got my left foot painfully caught under my right ankle, attempted to wrench it free, and wrenched it so hard that I somehow knocked myself over the side of the slide and onto the ground about 6 feet below. Ouch. That left a mark! I immediately had to leap to my feet and chase said child instead of what I would have preferred to do, lying on the ground contemplating calling 9-1-1, but it was just as well. How in the world would I even explain the accident to the ambulance crew? I wasn’t even drinking and sliding! Faulty sliding genes, I suppose.

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2-Year-Old Grandson Showed Me His Halloween Costume

Dylan showed me his Halloween costume this evening by standing in front of his phone and talking to me so that I could see it through the telephone. Grin. I love little 2-year-old children! Meemaws can see through the telephone and look at Halloween costumes and kitties as well as magically come through the telephone if that little boy being bad for mommy doesn’t straighten up right now. Magic is real. Santa Claus’ reindeers can kick Nascar’s ass in racing.

Dylan went to a school days event in Jacksonville last weekend, and stuffed animals of different sorts were offered to children to choose their favorite. Jacob chose a stuffed Jaguar. Dylan, who marches to his own drummer, chose the only ostrich.

Mommy looked at the rather unattractive ostrich and asked “why”?

Dylan informed her it was not an ostrich, it was MeeMaw’s chicken duck. So if any of those eggs hatch out from the chicken/duck mating/pairing that go on at MeeMaw’s house were ever to hatch, I suppose the offspring would look like a stuffed toy ostrich.

We have a couple young female muscovy ducks that have chosen roosters as their significant others. They (ducks) roost beside the roosters at night. Ah, young love. Not only is their love blind to race, they aren’t too picky about species, either.

Dylan’s chicken duck is the favored night time stuffed animal sleeping companion that helps keep the imaginary bear at bay. (Apparently mommy has assured Dylan that the imaginary bear moved over to MeeMaw’s woods now. Great. He’ll never go to sleep at my house now!) I wonder if MeeMaw’s chicken duck is going trick or treating, too? Those witches and goblins handing out candy can be pretty dang scary, but free candy can overcome some major fears, especially when MeeMaw’s chicken duck is at hand to lend some intestinal fortitude.

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Obama Won’t Linger in Jacksonville

President Barack Obama is visiting Florida this week, making Jacksonville Naval Air Station his first stop today.

Air Force One is scheduled to land at the base at 2:45 p.m., with Obama addressing the troops at 3:15 p.m.

The event is not open to the public.

Immediately afterward, Obama will fly to Miami, where he is set to headline a fund-raiser for congressional Democrats. He’s expected to visit Tampa on Tuesday.

After all, it doesn’t take long to tell the troops “f**k you”! He could have sent an E-mail, though, and saved a lot of taxpayer dollars.

Text of Obama’s Speech

Update: I’ve talked to a sailor on duty at NAS during Obama’s visit. He and other members of the military were completely underwhelmed by the honor and join me in wishing he’d keep his sorry ass in the White House actually working on improving the country instead of flying around giving excuses.

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Texas Special Ed Teacher Stabbed to Death by Troubled Student

TYLER – Todd Henry’s phone call was chilling, Mitch Shamburger would later recall. His friend had an instinct for trouble.

A bear of a man, Henry had worked in prisons and now taught kids with behavioral issues at John Tyler High School. He was seldom rattled. Yet Shamburger, a Smith County justice of the peace, could hear the worry in his friend’s voice.

Henry described a student in his special-education class with a menacing vibe. The student was a “Katrina kid” – shorthand for New Orleans transplants blown into Tyler by Hurricane Katrina.

“This kid – he’s got serious problems,” Henry told Shamburger. “If somebody doesn’t do something, soon, this kid is going to kill somebody.”

The JP recalls advising his friend to document his concerns and alert his bosses. Henry said he already had.

Days later, on the morning of Sept. 23, Todd Henry, who was 50, lay bleeding to death in classroom A23 of John Tyler High. In the hallway outside, a wraith of a boy named Byron was hustled away to face charges of stabbing his teacher in the heart with a butcher knife. A Texas Education Agency spokesman says it is the first teacher slaying in a Texas classroom that anyone in the agency can recall.

Smith County prosecutors are considering whether to ask to try the 16-year-old as an adult. He’s being held as a juvenile, so his court files are sealed. The Dallas Morning News is not using Byron’s family name because the newspaper generally does not publish names of juvenile defendants.

Troubling descent

Records and information from Byron’s family and others familiar with him, from public sources and from people close to the ongoing murder investigation, offer a portrait of a long spiral into mental illness and violence. Byron’s lawyer and others say the case spotlights deficiencies in how Texas handles its most disturbed and violent juvenile offenders.

Byron’s mother says her youngest son was first diagnosed with problems in kindergarten. By 12, she says, Byron had been in mental hospitals in Texas and Louisiana. At 14, he was in a Smith County juvenile lockup and then in a Texas juvenile prison for stabbing his sister with a steak knife.

TYC often held him in isolation and at one point sent him to a state mental hospital. He was diagnosed schizophrenic and psychotic and transferred to the state’s most acute mental health facility for juvenile offenders. Last July, the agency declared Byron too disturbed for reform school. TYC sent Byron home to his mother without parole or treatment plans, according to records the family released to The News.

In mid-August, Byron was arrested again for marijuana possession and Tyler police tried to return him to jail. He was released to his mother because Smith County’s juvenile detention center refused to take him back, according to a police report.

Even Byron’s mother says he shouldn’t have been in Henry’s classroom. He sees and hears things other people don’t, she says, and he needs help. Henry was a caring teacher, she says, and Byron regrets “what all he did. He said, ‘Mom, just tell everybody that I’m sorry.’ ”

If you will read the complete story, you will see that the boy was deemed too disturbed for reform school, a place that can handle violent offenders a lot better than the public school system. The youth correction center refused to take him back when he was rearrested because he was too violent. His mother tried to get help through a mental health center, to no avail. Then he was sent to public school to a teacher that could get no information on his past record, but who feared that this was a very dangerous kid. One day he walked up to his teacher, who was speaking to another student, pulled out a concealed knife, and stabbed him in the heart in a completely unprovoked attack.

*sigh* A training class I attended last week pointed out that if a disturbed child pulls out a knife or gun, we try to get the other kids to safety and do not try to disarm the child. (I work with the same type of children, albeit smaller; this information was for the junior high and high school teachers.) The children will be happy, happy children who will suddenly head butt, bite, kick, strangle, hit with fists or with a chair or desk, and otherwise commit mayhem upon anybody that happens to be near them, whether adults or other students. Sometimes they will calmly traverse a room in order to engage in an unprovoked attack. Personnel in the room always have to be alert and on guard because dropping that situational awareness for just a few seconds will get themselves or others hurt. Since nobody can be on high alert all the time, we all have scars. Unfortunately, we don’t get combat pay. As you might expect, there’s a pretty big turnover in personnel.

We are going to have to return to placing very dangerous, disburbed individuals in mental hospitals for life for their own and public safety. Putting this very disturbed kid on trial as an adult with a possible death row appointment because the system put him into a place that he shouldn’t have been in to begin with doesn’t seem like a good solution to me. Putting the teacher in harm’s way like that was also completely wrong, and I hope his wife is able to sue the crap out of the state of Texas for killing her husband because that is exactly what they did. That student tried to kill his own sister. He was a walking bomb waiting to detonate.

Perhaps special education teachers should be given a stipend to buy body armor. It would have saved this teacher’s life.

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Halloween Costume Time!

And for mommy, too!

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Communication Disorder Fixes

My former daughter in law called me Friday evening, fuming. She babysits a little kindergarten boy before and after school whose speech is difficult to understand, but he can speak. He also has difficulty with hand control and cannot master the normal kindergarten skills of forming legible letters, numbers, coloring, or cutting with scissors. He is the youngest child in the family.

His mother is a divorced mother of three who works long hours to support the family. She has no idea about how to help the child speak more clearly. She barely has time to get home, fix dinner, and attend to evening chores.

FDIL was unhappy because the school solution to child’s difficulty speaking was that he should learn sign language.

“WHY DON’T THEY JUST TEACH HIM CHINESE? It would probably be more useful because BILLIONS of people speak Chinese. Unfortunately, none of them live here. So I’ll pick him up after school and ask him about his homework, and he’ll sign to me? How will I know what he’s saying? I don’t sign and neither does his family! Whatever happened to helping children learn to make sounds correctly like they did when I was in school?”

I feel her pain. I’m supposed to be teaching sign language to my little communication-impaired charges even though I am not adept in sign language. I’ve never been to a sign language class. Oh, sure, I know my letters but have to think about them (they do not come automatically). I know a few signs for things like play, stand up, sit down, look at me, I love you, bathroom, various food items, some animals, some colors, and some family members. I’m gradually trying to add words as I remember to look them up (and can remember them).

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Obama Will Be Screwing Up Traffic In Jacksonville Monday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — President Barack Obama will speak to sailors at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Monday afternoon on the first stop of a two-day trip to Florida.

The White House announced plants for the president’s Florida visit on Thursday, the day he signed a bill to help veterans get health care.

Obama is scheduled to speak to servicemen and women in a hanger on base at 3:15 p.m. Details of his arrival and departure were not to be made public. His remarks will be carried live on Channel 4 and News4Jax.com.

After the Jacksonville stop, Obama will head to Miami for a congressional fundraiser and spend the night. He scheduled to visit a solar energy center in Arcadia at midday on Tuesday.

Make your travel plans accordingly if you work in the area.

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