Hi everyone. We've had a very nice week with no trips or travels of any kind. ahh. But speaking of trips and travels we thought we' take this slow news week to tell you about some of our exciting summer plans! As of just recently, we have plane tickets to London! Barbara is going for a three week study abroad program with her school and I'm...also going. (mostly Babs felt bad that this will be her third time to the UK and I've never been. In fact other than my mission, I've never been out of the country.)
So I'll be joining her for the last week of her program. While she's doing very serious theatre work, I'll be galavanting around the city. Then, when her program finishes, we'll be taking the train to Germany! We have two couples of friends who both happen to be in living in Germany (opposite sides of Germany). Krista, Barbara's best friend since college, and her husband Chris are in Chemnitz; and Tyler and Sarah Meldrum, super cool friends of ours from The Berkeley Ward who we miss tremendously, are in Aachen. We're going to split the week between them, and then zoom back to London to catch our flight home. We're both very excited and only wish we could spend more time there. I'm so thrilled to finally get to the UK. I'm also especially interested to visit Germany since my family lived there before I was born, and my brother Aaron and his wife Marrisse both served church missions there. The fact that I don't speak a word of German is beside the point. This will be the end of May/beginning of June which means we'll be celebrating our second anniversary somewhere over there! We'll give you updates as we get closer, but in any case, woohoo!
Another thing to catch up on in a slow week. I don't know if I've told all of you what my job is while Barbara's going to school. In October I got a job at a local elementary school as a special education classroom aid. I'm in the "Self Contained, Multi-Categorical" room, which used to be known as EH for emotionally handicapped. Basically, we have the kids who have very serious behavioral issues. For those of you who know what this means, they remind me of young "Dad's people." I think I'm working with the younger versions of who he's worked with, and I think we may have kids grow up to be in Way Station type places, prison, and/or ASH. But then I think a few of them may even pull through and lead relatively normal lives. (one's already incarcerated, so that's a little discouraging) When I interviewed for the job they asked, "how do you feel about children screaming and cussing at you?" At the time I said, frankly I don't know. I do now. I don't care for it. I don't want to paint a completely bleak picture of it. I'm having a great time building relationships with the 8 boys in the class, and we even have a lot of fun (they like that I'm a man. The only one in some of their lives). But it can also be incredibly stressful and just, I don't know how to describe it, heavy sometimes. It would take too long to explain what the kids are like because it is truly multi-categorical. Each kid is different, but there are some common things. I don't know if you've ever heard of oppositional defiant disorder, but that's a big part of my day. There's also a lot of violence. Not toward me (usually) but there are sometimes explosions that can be breathtaking, not in the good sense. I went through training called Crisis Prevention Intervention which is basically how to protect yourself from a student who's lost control, as well as how to contain them physically in a way that will protect others and won't hurt them. It was incredibly useful. The day after the training I used it at least 4 times. I think if I described specific behaviors it would probably sound familiar to parents who've had two-year-olds in a bad mood. It's just that these kids are bigger and the language is more appalling.
I've gone through phases with this job. When I first started my immediate reaction was, I need to get out of here as fast as I can, this is just awful. Then I sort of settled in and got to know and like and care about the kids. That lead to both enjoying work because a lot of the time we can have fun together, but it also made it harder in some ways because I cared about them, and that can make it heartbreaking, while also being incredibly frustrating. Recently I think I'm starting to achieve a certain professional detachment, and I'm even able to see humor in it. I text some choice quotes to Barabara (one of the favorites: Me: "Good Morning Matthew." Matthew: "F*ck you Mr. Abbott." He's in third grade and is the subject of lots of texts.)
Anyway, that's my job. I don't know if I've done it justice. I feel like the best way would be to tell a bunch of stories, but if you're not there and if you don't really know the kids it's hard to capture. Like the quote from above could be horrible, but in this case it was hilarious, it's just hard to explain why. I know the other teachers I work with like me there and think I'm doing a good job, so it's nice to hear that (it doesn't always feel like it.) My plan is to finish out the year, but then look elsewhere for next year. The one year may be enough for me. I do really like the school where I work, so I may be able to transition into something else there. That might be ideal, but who knows.
Meanwhile, Barbara has been working very hard on Waiting For Lefty and all of her classes. She works incredibly hard. I take her dinner because otherwise we wouldn't see each other in the evenings. She gets home after I'm in bed and I think gets to bed in the wee hours of the morning. But then she's up when I get up to go attack it all over again. I'm pretty amazed.
Well, we hope you are all well. Sorry there are no pictures this week. We'll try to be more visually interesting next week!