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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Long week.



This past week felt terribly long. I'm so grateful the weekend is here.

First there was the shooting in Las Vegas, which I couldn't bear to follow on the news after the first day or two. I'm not normally one to get overly emotional about such things (other than being horrified and sickened by the frequency of deadly gun violence in this country) but for some reason every time I tried to watch or read about what happened I got choked up and had to fight back tears. So many lives lost, so many lives forever changed, so much heartache...for what? Nothing. Nothing but a mentally ill person with access to weapons made for mass killing, that no private citizen should be able to buy. I'm not anti-gun. My husband and I own a couple of handguns for personal protection, and although we don't hunt I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with hunting rifles used for sport. The kind of weapons I do have a problem with are military assault types that no one outside of the military have any business with. I also have a problem with how easy it is to buy guns (any kind of guns) in this country and how our culture glorifies violence.

On a related note, a student at the school where I work made a video of himself brandishing a pistol and sent it via social media to another student to threaten him. We have a school resource officer (an armed policeman) that is stationed at our school and he was involved in the conferences held with the administrators and the parents. The boy got suspended and will soon be on his way to alternative school, but that just goes to show how easily even middle school kids can get their hands on a gun. Which is why the middle schools and high schools around here have to have armed police officers on staff  these days. That would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. Also this week: in a primary school 10 miles down the road from us, a first grader (!) brought a loaded gun to school. It was all over the local news. The child was 6 years old!  Unbelievable.

Putting aside the crazy gun news, we had a sad event at my school this week. A little girl from the PMD (profoundly mentally disabled) class passed away Sunday night. Last Thursday she started running a high fever, no one knew why, and had to be admitted to the hospital. By Friday she was on life support, and her teacher and the principal went up to the hospital to see her and her mom. Sunday night she was gone. Monday morning the principal broke the news to the school in the morning announcements. It was a sad day. The class teacher is a sweet young woman just out of college who arrived exhausted at work Monday after being at the hospital most of the night. The kids in the other special needs classes took the news especially hard, as did their parents. My heart ached for everyone, and I was embarrassed to find myself brimming with tears more than once throughout the day.

I'm proud to say the entire school staff has rallied around this child's family. The teacher suggested that since the mom is a poor single mother barely getting by that we have a collection to buy her gift cards to a grocery store, Walmart, etc. A very generous sum of money was raised--pretty much all of the teachers, administrators, office staff, etc gave whatever they could afford. The little girl's mom called at some point and asked if it would be possible to hold the funeral service at the school. The principal got permission from the superintendent and was able to say yes. The custodians will go in early tomorrow and turn on the air conditioners, and set up chairs in the gym, and the band teacher has already set up a microphone and sound system.....it will be nice, and will also save the mom the expense of paying a funeral home to have it there. There have been sympathy cards signed, pictures of the child at school framed for presenting to the mother, and just so much care and concern for this lost student. It makes me happy and proud to work in a place where everyone, staff and students and parents alike, are treated like a big extended family.

Speaking of children and school, I met with Kay's guidance counselor Tuesday morning. She's doing well this year; I was pleasantly surprised to learn that her grades are decent (B's and C's), she's had zero behavior issues, and her attendance is good. The only complaint the counselor had was that the foster mother hasn't responded to requests to have career planning meetings for Kay. Since I'm her court-appointed guardian, I offered to step up and do it, and the counselor agreed.

Remember when I said I wasn't going to take a second GAL assignment right now? The program director emailed me yesterday to ask me to reconsider. There's a young girl living in a group home here in Florence that needs a guardian, and there's a court hearing coming up in early November for her. Suzanne, the director, said she'd totally understand if I turn it down...but my inclination is to say yes. (I told her I'd give her an answer Monday). Kay is turning out to be an easier case than I expected, and as long as she continues to do well I'm only expected to check in with her once or twice a month. There's time in my schedule, and Suzanne (who's becoming a personal friend of mine) wouldn't ask if she wasn't in real need of help. We'll see.

It's been a loooooong week, friends. I'm looking forward to spending some time today and tomorrow catching up with your blogs! It's a cool, foggy, and overcast October morning here...really nice. The heat has been slow to leave this year but today finally feels like fall. I'll wrap up this post with some photos of the full Harvest Moon I took last night while out walking the dogs.

Have a good weekend, everyone.





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34 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place your school is to be so inclusively caring and loving. I am so glad that this is where you are working now.
    And I had a feeling you would soon take on another child in the system.
    Holy work. Holy work.

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    1. Thank you for always being so kind and supportive!

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  2. Your school sounds a lovely place to work.
    Six year old with gun? Good grief - soon be babies in cradles given a gun to chew on when teething!!

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    1. That child's parents are in real trouble, as they should be.

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  3. I am amazed that unpaid workers do this GAL work in the US. Over here we have an organisation called CAFCASS for children and families who are facing family court hearings and they are not volunteers, they are paid professionals, and they are independent of the child's social worker. If I were you I would be enjoying my new job and sticking to one GAL child. I am also shocked that you have two handguns.

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    1. I live in a very conservative state, Rachel. Our state and local government won't provide the needed tax dollars to pay for the social services that are so desperately needed. Hence the need for volunteers.

      As to the guns, that's my (super liberal, peaceful, decidedly NON violent) husband's doing. There are plenty of criminals with guns around here, and he's frightened of us not having the means to protect ourselves in an emergency. We also take one with us if we're going camping, in case we encounter a dangerous animal. Both guns are properly registered and kept in a safe place in the house. No children have access to (or knowledge of) them. We're responsible gun owners. Neither of us is especially thrilled to have them or to feel the need to have them.

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  4. I thought I could get through this, but the funeral at the school did me. I hope this long week ends soon. Thanks for everything.

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    1. Sorry this post was so sad. I'll try to come up with something more lighthearted for my next one.

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  5. I think we all have to re group from bad news this week x

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    1. I've reached my personal limit, John.

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  6. No need to be embarrassed by your tears. They are the natural reaction of a caring person. The horrible event in Las Vegas was probably made worse for you and more personal because of the death of the child. It's enough to push anyone over an emotional edge. You are a dear to consider this second GAL assignment. When I was in high school I knew a girl who lived in a group home associated with a mental hospital. She was an alcoholic. I lost touch with her after high school. She died when she was in her early thirties, I think. The thought of all she had to deal with on her own--I don't know where her parents were--has always haunted me. God bless you, dear heart.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thank you, Janie. That's a sad story about the girl you knew in high school. Life can be so hard sometimes.

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  7. Sad about the disabled girl. Some people do it really hard in life. You have personal guns? Can you paint a picture for me as to under what circumstances you would use them? A black youth out of control jumps in your bedroom window. Would you shoot him?

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    1. Why does the youth have to be black ? anyone breaking and jumping in your bedroom window out of control means no good.

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    2. Quite true but you might find a black youth more frightening.

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    3. "You might find a black youth more frightening".....wtf? What are you implying here? And no, I won't "paint a picture" for you of a scenario where I would shoot someone. I don't have to justify myself to you or anyone else.

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    4. I think Andrew was just putting forward one of many various scenarios, nothing sinister. I am still totally shocked at you having guns. Many of the robberies in properties around here are by armed men with shotguns, gun crime is the crime of choice in all large cities in the UK and yet we do not feel the need to keep guns in the house. The US and all its citizens are truly different.

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    5. I'm sorry if I offended you. I've been reading your blog for quite some time now and everything I have learnt and know about you has been good. You are a kind and caring person. I was just so surprised and I don't understand.

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    6. I don't have guns, but I know plenty of people who do. Someone who works at a gun range lives in my neighborhood. A few years ago, two men kicked in his back door in the middle of the night (I don't know and don't care what color they were). He shot and killed one of them. I don't know what happened to the second. That man owned a gun, knew how to use it, and protected his family. I can't blame him for that.

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  8. We can't undo the cruelty and sadness that has happened this week, but, like you, we can lend a hand to others who are struggling. You are a good person, Jennifer, and I know you will make the right decision in taking on another girl to counsel.

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    1. Thank you. I'm trying to do what I can, which seems like almost nothing some days. I'm so sick of watching humans be cruel to each other.

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  9. The Las Vegas killings shocked everybody the world over. Not only the act of killing, but all those military weapons and ammo. Incomprehensible to those of us on this side of the pond.

    Good to hear that Kay is doing well. A bit of love and encouragement goes a very long way. Well done.

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    1. I'm very pleased with Kay. If we can keep her on the right path for the rest of this school year she's going to have a fair chance to succeed. More than anything she needs someone to believe in her and her potential.

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  10. I love your Harvest photos !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thanks Gayle! I've started decorating the house for Halloween, I'll post photos of that soon!

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  11. I'm so pleased the school is hosting the funeral. That is real community.
    As an Australian, I also find it hard to understand your guns. If they are properly stored you couldn't access them quickly, could you? And even if you can access them, wouldn't it be better not to be actively intending to kill or maim somebody?

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    1. As an Australian, you probably also don't understand living in a society where virtually every criminal you might encounter is going to be armed. My husband has been in two homes (before we met) that were broken in to by armed men. That was back before he owned any guns.

      We had several long serious discussions after we married about having guns in the house. I didn't like the idea. Neither does he, but he feels safer with them here. I respect his wish to have them, because his only intention is to be able to protect us should the need ever arise (God forbid).

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  12. Dear Jennifer, in spite of you week being very long and hard to bear, I think it would have been even harder if you were still on your old job with its crazy schedule and so on. The school sounds a place that really cares about its students AND their families. How good of all the staff to collect money for the poor child's mother!
    Schools that have armed officers as part of their staff - now that is something we simply can not imagine over here.

    By the way, I really don't think you need to feel embarrassed about brimming with tears after the death of the little girl. You are a human being, not a machine!

    Good to hear Kay is doing so well. Why her foster mother has not responded to the career planning meetings, I don't know - isn't that (also) the point of being a foster parent, to do such things for the child in your care?

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    1. Kay's foster mother is old and unwell, and quite honestly, I'm beginning to get the impression that the state check she gets for keeping a foster child is more important to her than the well being of the child. She was kind of rude to me last weekend when I went to see Kay. She implied that my visits are an inconvenience to her family. Too bad for her, though. I'm mandated by the court to visit regularly whether she likes it or not.

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  13. It would be wonderful if all schools were as supportive as your school, especially for the little girl who died. That is a very heart warming event coming out of a tragedy.

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    1. I work with a good group of people. I consider myself beyond fortunate to have found a job in such a place!

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  14. For what it's worth, I think last week was trying for everyone -- and you had some additional bad news on top of national events. I love those moon photos -- especially the one with the orangey road in the foreground. It's a neat effect!

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  15. Do you (or your husband) own a gun?

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  16. isn't that (also) the point of being a foster parent, to do such things for the child in your care?


    แตกใน xxx

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