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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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Six Weeks: The Longest Joke Man Ever Created

Posted 11-02-2013 at 07:29 PM by Speced9

Yep. It's been a while. No, I didn't suffer a nervous breakdown. No prison sentence either. Actually, something WONDERFUL happened- a real life changer- and believe it or not, it's more important than sarcastic blogging.

The last blog post I made was over a year ago. August 26, 2012 to be exact. I knew that my life would be changing in a couple of months then, but I didn't have any idea how much it would change. In October 2012, my step-son and his wife were due to have a baby girl, but I didn't think I'd figure so prominently in the child's life. I figured the wife and I would see the child during the usual times. You know, birthdays, holidays and the occasional overnight babysitting duties. Boy, was I wrong!

It all started around December of last year when the idea of daycare was being tossed around. Where would the child go? Who would watch her? My step-son's wife was lucky enough to be able to take 6 months off of work and would have to return towards the end of May.

The end of May…..the end of May….hmmmmm…..THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR…Who do we know who would be available at the end of May?

You got it…..ME!

When they asked me, I won't lie, it scared the hell out of me. I'd never taken care of a baby in my life. Never with a capital N. I had changed one diaper in my life and I swear that sucker fell off as soon as I picked the baby up.

Still, I thought to myself,
"Are you nuts? There's no way you can pass up a chance like this! Do you know how many grandparents would KILL for a chance like this? Here you are, the NONBIOLOGICAL grandpa and they're asking YOU to care for their bundle of joy for an entire summer! Do you not realize what an honor and golden opportunity this is? DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!"

So, I did it. I was scared. I was doubtful. I was certain that I was going to recreate the babysitting scene from Tootsie.

As luck would have it, my daughter-in-law had to start work earlier than expected which included Saturdays, so I had three of those to practice my baby skills. Men- you know how some household jobs mysteriously fall right into your hands? That chip bag you're throwing away officially overloads the garbage can so you have to take it out? You use the last square on the toilet paper roll so you have to change it? You pick up the grand baby and smell the poopy? That's how those Saturdays worked out for me. Let me tell you, when they say on those diaper packages 15-25 lbs. they're not talking about the baby. Those little critters save it all up for the grandpa.

So, with a dozen or so poopies, adequate experience getting that milk at the right temperature and the perfect lullaby committed to memory, I was ready when the final school bell rang at the end of May.

Long story short concerning my summer with the baby- I was watching her six days a week, five of those days for 10-12 hours (mommy goes to college in the morning and works until 7:00 pm). Let's just say there was some MAJOR BONDING. That was something I was totally unprepared for. Why? Because I had no idea it existed. Oh, I had heard of it , but I had had no experience with it before. Here I was, this late 40s guy taking care of a beautiful baby for the first time in my life and I'm experiencing feelings that I've never experienced, much less knew existed before. It was life changing. That wasn't the real epiphany though. That came to me when August reared its ugly head.

When August came, I started to feel sadness and dread. I started to think of ways I could retire early, injure my way into workman's comp, or even smuggle my granddaughter into school each day. I slowly began to realize what my female colleagues went through when they returned from maternity leave. Of course, by no means were my feelings in any way close to theirs, but I had a sense of what it was like. I just figured if I took what I was feeling and multiplied by 1,000,000 (maybe even more) I'd be at their level.

As hard as it was, I returned to school in August. The grandchild enrolled in daycare, but I knew I had more to do to get over my sadness. I had an apology to make. You see, as a male teacher, I never understood why my female colleagues left the profession for years at a time after having a child. I never understood why they could never really get down to business upon their return from maternity leave. Honestly, in my ignorance, it pissed me off and I've made a few remarks in the past that I am not proud of now which led me to my apology.

So, during that first faculty meeting on the first day back, I took the opportunity. I bypassed the "This summer I….." dribble to tell my colleagues how much I admired them. I told them how hard it was for me to be there that day and that I couldn't imagine doing it multiple times over the years. I told them that I was sorry about the terrible maternity leave laws they are forced to work under that were obviously enacted by men. Finally, I said that God willing, if I ever win the lotto, I would build and run a daycare at our school that would only be for the children of our teachers. I figure if God wants that one, he'll just give me the digits in a dream don't you think?

So, there's the story of my absence from blogging. I'm a grandpa and I still see my granddaughter's beautiful face almost every weekend. In the first part of the year, that didn't leave much time for blogging, or sarcasm for that matter. Now that she just turned one, and is becoming more independent, grandpa has a little more time to address other things like fear and loathing. There's always plenty of fear and loathing in special education. It didn't scare me before, and it certainly doesn't now. I've dealt with major poopy.
Posted in Teaching Related , Not Teaching Related , Life As I Know It
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