Theme Thursday: Dear Self At Sixteen-Get A Life!

Theme ThursdayTheme Thursday is a time for people to rejoice.  It is that special time of the week where the heavens open up and angels sing because the most awesome writers in the world get together and write about a common theme.   Today’s topic is “Write a letter to your sixteen year old self.” 

Four out of five dentists recommend Theme Thursday.

Oops, wrong letter.

Oops, wrong letter.

Dear Self at Sixteen:

First of all, congratulations.  If you are reading this then you have survived to adulthood, and into your late 30s even.  I’m writing to offer you some advice.  Listen up, I’m not as nice now as I was when I was your age.  I mean I’m still pretty nice, I’m just a little wiser.  Someday you’ll have a blog with that word in the title.  Don’t get too excited, it’s not like it sounds.

So you’ve recently moved to Iowa.  You left the sunny coast of Florida, and you feel like you left your whole life behind.  Believe it or not your life is not over.  The weather (and maybe some of the people) may be much nicer down there but there are some things that are way better here.  For example, no hurricanes.  It’s all good.  You won’t realize how nice the Midwest is until you are much older, and then you’ll learn to appreciate it.

That hair.  My what big hair you have.  Big hair does not equate coolness.  Wait until the Twenty Teens, you’ll look back on that hair and wonder what the hell you were thinking.  Get some bangs cut, pull it back and get it out of your face.  Speaking of your appearance, you are not fat, and certainly not close to being fluffy (except maybe the hair).  The sad thing is that the ideal that our society idolizes is only going to get much more unrealistic.  Do what feels right-walk, do some exercise, but don’t take it to extremes.  You’re only setting yourself up-come to find out no matter how thin you get you won’t think it’s thin enough.  It’s called body dysmorphia, and guess what-you have it.

Oh my, what big hair you have.

They told me I’d have hair like Jon Bon Jovi.  Why did I listen????

While we’re on the subject of appearance, quit acting stupid.  Stop pretending to be normal.  You’re not, and that’s ok.  You can recite The Empire Strikes Back word for word, can read a whole book in one day, and have an undying love for all things geeky.  Don’t stop being yourself just because you’ve moved to corn country and feel you have to act a certain way to fit in.  The normal people are not the people you want to hang out with anyway.  You will find friends who appreciate the same kinds of things that you do, just give it time.

And speaking of being stupid, ditch the boyfriend.  Cultivate your friendships instead.  The friendships will last, the boyfriend will not.  There are far far worse things than being alone, and the friends will not go away.  Besides, the boyfriend is just a stupid guy who has a lot of growing up to do, as are all teenage guys.  Trust me on this one.  You’ll know love on down the road, this is not it.  You’ll have your heart broken more than once, and even when you find the one, it will not be perfect.

Almond kids

THIS is love.

Don’t listen to or waste time on toxic people.  They don’t know anything.  Don’t let others pee on your dreams.  Take some time to figure out what you want to do.  Don’t settle for anything less.  Do you want to write?  Then write.  Do you want to teach in early childhood?  Don’t let other people try to discourage you, especially those who tell you things like “You can’t ever teach kids, you don’t hold your pencil right.”  The last time I checked, holding your pencil one way or another does not dictate where you will go in life.  Do you want to take French AND Spanish your Senior year?  Don’t let that guidance counselor sell you short by telling you that you’ll get confused and get talked into taking Foods.  Do you want to go to the college that won’t offer huge scholarships and grants to you?  Figure out some way to get there.  Find ways to succeed.  Don’t let other people try to stop you.

Quit being afraid in general.  The world does not need more Camerons.  They need more Ferrises.  They also need more people that can tell you what the plural of Ferris actually is.  He’s right you know-Life does move pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.  When you are in your 30s and have kids, you’ll know what I’m referring to.  You’ll even write a blog post about it.

Life is not easy.  It’s also not fair.  There’s no perfect.  Even people who seem perfect or have the perfect relationship, trust me, it’s all a lie.  Things will be good and things will be bad.  Often there will not be an in between.  Life should resemble a roller coaster more than it should seem like a sidewalk.  And you know what?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Sincerely,

Your 38 and almost 11/12ths year old self

Not too shabby for approaching 40...

Not too shabby for approaching 40…

Don’t hesitate to take a look at what other people wrote to themselves.  Join us at the link up on Something Clever 2.0 for the other Theme Thursday posts. And don’t forget to brush your teeth (as recommended by those four dentists…duh).

The Getting To Know The Blogger Challenge: School

I’m doing the 15 Getting To Know The Blogger Challenge, started by A Little Unhinged.  Today I’m answering question 4 about school!

4)  What kind of student were you in school?

From braids to no braids.  First picture is from 2nd grade maybe? 4th grade and 5th grade. I believe all pictures until high school were burned.

I was an ok student in elementary school.  I was a daydreamer.  I had some issues with bringing my work back.  I understand that I hid my work under a rock or something even though it was completed.  I was an odd kid.  It might have had something to do with moving around so much?  In 3rd grade I was in Gifted and Talented but I didn’t like the extra work.  I’m not sure what happened after that.  This is when I lived in Connecticut.  Honestly the only thing I remember about this place was the following:  1)  There was a giant boulder behind our house 2) I got glasses in 4th grade 3) I started band in 4th grade and was told I had no musical talent 4) I started private lessons at a studio that smelled weird, 5)  There was a creek between home and my elementary school 6)  There was no hot lunch program, so I took PB&J every day for a year 7) We read Huck Finn in Gifted and Talented, and then visited Mark Twain’s house.

This must be 11th Grade.

Somehow I got it together and from then on I was a terrific student.  I graduated in the top of my class from high school, went on to Community College and then later a 4 year private school and STILL got good grades.  Unfortunately for me, this did not help in the long run.  I’m good at school, it’s the real world that has not been good for me!  HA HA!

Ah Senior Pictures. Big hair and big dreams.

I graduated with a BME-This is not a BM with Extra Power or something, it means Bachelor of Music Education.  I was persuaded to switch to this major.  I didn’t really know what I wanted to do then and I still don’t know what I want to do now.  I know I could teach preschool and be perfectly happy, but they are making it harder and harder to do that without an Early Childhood degree. For you who are not familiar with our educational system-you cannot simply use one education degree to do something else in education.  They make you do it all over again.  Is it really worth shelling out all of that money to go back to school to do something that pays so little?  I don’t know!

Me graduating from Lord Valdemort College (The College That Cannot Be Named). Quit smiling kid, it’s all downhill from here.

Previous Blogger Challenge Posts-  This Could Be Fun:  Doing The 15 Day Blogger Challenge, Where I Grew Up, Favorite Childhood Memories

Reality: Coming to Terms With That Sucky Dark Side of Life

The reality of it hit me today.  My son was going on and on and on about the different things he wanted to do when he grew up.  I nodded and gave a little feedback.  He was so excited about everything he was talking about.  And I was there still listening but the inner voice was pretty loud.  How can I encourage my children to be everything they want to be when I don’t believe in myself?

My son is a little odd.  Ok, he’s a lot odd.  He has a lot going on.  The Toddler years were rough.  Preschool started out rough but ended beautifully-he was in a situation where everything just clicked.  Then there was kindergarten.  It was hell, both for him and for me.  It was just like other children were not real to him.  Yes he would sometimes try to relate to them, but a lot of the time he was in trouble for hitting a friend or pushing a friend.  Sometimes it was an accident.  My son is ADD, and he flails his body around a lot.  But other times he said that the other child was “bothering” him.  Supposedly the child was just trying to talk to him.  He simply wanted nothing to do with the rules, would yell at the teacher, roll on the floor, be very disruptive.  It was awful.  He spend a good amount of time in the office that year in trouble.  I’m sure it didn’t help that I was working right across the hall in the other kindergarten room.  I witnessed a lot.  And I am not one of those parents who thinks their child can do no wrong.  There are many instances when he is at fault.

First grade has gone well.  At the end of his kindergarten year they put together an IEP for him.  He had different times of the day where he would meet with his special ed teacher to go over his schedule, etc.  His teacher was very no nonsense and just seemed to get him.  We’ve gotten all the way through first grade and we are now into summer.  I’m worried about 2nd grade because unlike first grade I don’t really know any of the teachers.  Summer has been rough.  I tried to put together a schedule for him every day.  So far it’s not gone very well.  We end up deviating from the original schedule on the refrigerator at lot and he can’t handle it.  He is so quick to anger when things don’t go his way!

The word Asperger’s came up frequently when we were trying to pin down what was going on with my son.  Very intelligent, curious, he speaks very formally, like a miniature adult.  He has great difficulty relating to other children who are around his age.  When other children are at the park playing, he’d rather find an adult and talk to them about some sports thing he had been reading.  Playing outside never happens for very long because he tires of it quickly.  At least we have convinced him to bring his books out.  At least he’ll be out instead of in.

He just doesn’t play.  Some of his little quirks remind me of me, but there is so much that is so different.  I played as a youngster.  MY mother says that I never really was bored because I would use my imagination and basically make things up.  Oh to be young again.  I just don’t see that in my son.  Even when he is given a character to pretend with, he has to find out what the story is and that exact story is what needs to be acted out.  He doesn’t like pretend all that much-he much prefers scientific and nonfiction stuff.

Today I approached him with the idea of having a notebook to turn into a “field guide”-he could write down all of his scientific hypotheses and theories as well as draw some of the critters outside.  He seemed to like that idea.  My husband I have talked about how the only way we are going to get this boy outdoors without the sprinkler being on is somehow making it science.

I am a mean mom.  I make my children go out.  We have a nice big fenced in back yard with a swing set and a tire swing.  We have bikes, riding tools, balls, tennis rackets, a batting tee.  You name it we have it.  BUt they don’t want to play.  I don’t turn the TV on and I have my reasons.  Get outside and experience nature!  Use your imagination!

I remember being around my son’s age and running around the yard in my swimsuit and my towel tied around me like a toga.  We were playing Gods and Goddesses.  Clash of the TItans was REALLY big that year!  And these were things we just thought up and did.  There were no rules.  We made it up as we went along.  We didn’t always GET along, but it was fun!

I don’t see my kids doing much of that.  My 4 year old does ok with some things.  She has parties for her ponies and takes care of the different characters in her room.  But she’s 4.  MY 7 year old really just needs to get out with a couple of boys his age and pretend and run around.  Somehow I don’t see that happening!

So here when he should be playing, my son comes and sits with me on the park bench while his sister is still running around on the climber.  He’s asking me all kinds of questions and then starts in about how he wants to be a firefighter, a professional football player, and a racecar driver when he grows up.,  I want to be supportive.  I also want to throw in the whole “You’ll still need to go to college” Schtick.  But I hesitated.  My kids have had the university here shoved down their throat since their dad went there.  And graduated.  And got a good job.  Now he has to pay the loans back.  Ouch.

Me?  I went to college and I think I’ve made it pretty clear how that’s worked out for me.  I went to school so that I didn’t have to have a job with a nametag.  Yet I just left a job that I had to wear a nametag for.  Sigh…

WHile I am sure that there is something out there that we are all meant to do, right now I think my thing is not there.  When they arranged the whole finding your way thing they didn’t put the answer for me.  Or something.  There are days when I feel like I need a shirt that says “I went to ____ college, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.  And debt,”

Today I was told (in an email of course) that no, there will be no more data entry after this week.  That I will officially be starting over in the unemployment department,  Saddening, and maddening.  Really-I think it’s the whole thing where a guy tells a girl he’ll call and doesn’t.  I’m sorry they were sad I would be leaving, but don’t tell me there’s a job possibility there!  The job where I could continue to do data entry from my home possibly 30 to 40 hours per week it sounded very promising.  It doesn’t exist.  It’s not there and not much I can do about it.

So I’m back in the job hunt.  I have very two cute things to take into consideration too.  My husband has been trying to put together some sort of budget for us now that we have a lot we have to pay out in loans.  Now he says that I HAVE to find something-we had discussed the possibility of me just staying home.  I thought we had agreed that full time wasn’t going to be something I was going to explore.  But the reality of it is that the areas I have looked in the past I would be working to basically pay the childcare that I have to arrange for my kids.  Doesn’t seem quite right.

And I’m not going to work at McDonalds.  There was a summer where I was trying to work just something for the summer so I could have flexibility with it when I had to go back to work at the school in the preschool.  That summer I applied for lots of jobs-Kum and Go, Caseys. Holubs, Lowes, etc. Noone called me or even tried to interview me.  Overqualified.

The thinking here is that I went to college so I wouldn’t have to have a job that I wear a nametag.  Yet I just left a job that I had to wear a nametag (because, I”m assuming, someone might try to be a Red Cross Imposter.  HA HA)

I’m skimming the jobs online after finishing my data entry-some interesting jobs out there.  Some are ones that I could do with no problem but pay nothing.  Some that are interesting but I don’t have the right qualifications for.  I just don’t even know where to start.  I owe it to myself to not go to work at McDonalds. After all I DID go to school. I DO have a bachelor’s degree.

None of this really registers with my husband.  He has been through several job losses with me, on each side, and he doesn’t really know what to do when I get so down on myself.  He feels a job is a job, and I get the impression that he feels that if I don’t find one quick there’s something wrong with me.  We are running headfirst into a money problem with his and my student loans eating up so much of our budget.  What do we do?  He’s set.  He has a fabulous job that he drives far away to every day.  He gets to go to a local gym for free-I just about cried when he told me that.  I just had to give up my membership and my body is paying the price.  I’m not jealous.  I just wish I could get some stuff to get going in the right direction for me.

But if you don’t know what you want to do it makes it difficult.  And SOMEONE has to be here for my kids.  I’m ok with working, but I can’t be in a town an hour away 8-5 every day. I passed on a job with the disorganization doing their scheduling.  Pretty sure you don’t even have to have a degree to do that job.  But too far away.  Am I selling myself short?

I feel like I have no skills to offer.  That makes it hard to present yourself to a potential employer.

Aren’t there still jobs out there that want you to have a 4 year degree but don’t really care what it’s in?  I wish the schools would do that with preschool.  I know that I WANT to teach preschool. I did it for many years at several different centers.  I was very good at it.  But having to go through the trainings to present that paper that says I am fit to teach those kids is pricey and ridiculous since childcare centers pay so low.  Going back to school for an early childhood degree probably isn’t the best idea.  More loans.  More student teaching.

I’ve finally managed to break away from the child care aspect and here I am not even sure what I want to do.  So I look at jobs and analyze them and then try to decide if I’m worthy of even applying for them.  And how am I going to work it if I get an interview?  Is someone going to watch my kids?

Now that I know that I am officially done I guess there are things for me to do.  1) Get unemployment called. Doubt I qualify, but might be able to get something.  2)  Call the student loan people.  Sorry, if I am not employed I don;t have $$ coming in!  3)  And this is the hard one-Call Iowa State, then go in and talk to somebody.  I can conceivably still go this fall if I can just figure it out.

Everyone deserves a chance to feel successful at something.  I don’t ask for much, I just want to be able to do something that makes me happy and brings in enough money to survive.  My lifestyle is not extravagant, and I shouldn’t be made to feel bad if I want to keep shopping for clothes at Goodwill .  I love my children, and I don’t want to be some career woman that never sees them, but I DO need to figure out what my next move is here.  A job, no job, school, a home business.  I don’t know.  Any suggestions are always welcome.