Monday, October 13, 2014

La Cucaracha or Confessions of a Killer

At last it was Friday night! My husband had an evening meeting, so after dinner the kids and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie. As we became more engrossed in the flick, I glimpsed motion out of the corner of my eye. "Wow, that is a pretty big gecko." These lovable little reptilian mosquito munchers are more than welcome in our apartment. They are shy and helpful, so no worries. However it took me a moment to register that this was no oversized gecko, but rather a bulky unwelcomed guest, "OH no, that is a COCKROACH!" No sooner had this phrase passed my lips than both of my children squealed like newborn piglets, and leapt on to the tops of our two couches. Within seconds they had formed pillow and blanket barricades for extra pest protection.

Our uninvited guest scuttled directly to the television and stopped. Perhaps he only desired a better view of "Jinxed" it was a pretty entertaining movie after all. My mind raced. What could I use to contain this cockroach? Having no spray on hand, I fled to the kitchen grabbing a plastic bag and a circular take out container. My initial, albeit faulty, plan was to gently drop the bag, causing the cockroach to crawl inside and then the Tupperware like container would be my back up.

I stealthily let the bag gently careen down towards the floor. The cockroach was on to my plan. He scurried away. "Nice going mom!" Came the criticism from my boy perched atop the couch. "Says the boy on the pillow pinnacle!" I retorted. I breathed a sigh of relief when I observed the cockroach had retreated to the 90 degree corner. I knew I only had one more chance to capture or kill it or no one would sleep in the apartment that night. I opted for the circular container this time. Ever so slowly I crept and little by little slunk the container in my hand lower and lower, then THUMP I swiftly slammed the container down. 

I felt like a modern day McGuyver. Yes! I have slain the cockroach with this lidless plastic container and my sheer wits! I glimpsed the carnage. The body inside the container, head outside. I waited. My full weight remaining on the container. I vaguely recalled a documentary that touted cockroaches as one organism that could survive a nuclear fallout. I racked my mind to recall what the stats were sans head. I was thinking three days to a week. I wiggled the container and sure enough the body kept walking about. I kept my hand on the container for the remainder of the movie. Would it run out of oxygen in a sealed spot perhaps? My son suggested throwing the evidence off our 18 story balcony. I mentally did the mathematical estimation 1 cockroach minus a head lives one week max...hmm but the variable of speed. With a head a cockroach travels like 80-100 cm per second, but without a head could he make it back up 18 floors to exact revenge? What type of revenge could I expect from a decapitated roach? So much to ponder. I don't recall McGuyver ever facing these types of mathematical conundrums. Finally I scooped the carcass up. Ah clean kill as I had extracted part of central nervous system. My kids descended from their perches, much to their chagrin as I made them take a closer look because, "How many kids can say they have seen part of a cockroach brain?" (The woes of having a science teacher mom). "Mom you are DISgustING!" My daughter safely huffs off after her peek. "Uh, you ARE going to dump that off the balcony, right mom?" My son hesitantly inquires after his peek. I may be partially responsible for nightmares.

After some research, I learned we had glimpsed mushroom bodies,which according to Discover Science allow the cockroach "salience." Hopefully I was quick enough to fall into the merciful category. Just in case I wasn't, I acquiesced to my son 's wishes and we released the body to the winds off the 18th floor balcony. Apologies to my ground floor neighbors if the survival stats are true. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Low Battery

"Oh Mrs. Wiiiiinterstein! Plug in! Plug in!" One of my very supportive 8th graders shouted out this message in the midst of our science lesson. She had noticed the warning window pop up as I, unaware, was continuing teaching. This was Monday. It only took me a few days to become oblivious once again.

Friday my laptop did indeed go to sleep. No charge in the reserve it had enough, and my display blacked out. No voice of  concern calling out, I pushed the device until it had nothing left to give. My device may very well be smarter than its owner. I am afraid my computer is not the only arena that I have allowed to dwindle to low or no reserves. 

Having recently flown, I was audience to the friendly airline attendant's schpiel about "Oxygen and air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of loss of pressure in the cabin, oxygen masks will automatically appear from the overhead compartment. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place the mask firmly over your nose and mouth and secure the elastic behind your head and breathe normally. Please secure your own mask before securing that of a child or someone who requires assistance with whom you may be traveling." At first blush this imperative seems like it may be ego-centric to serve oneself the oxygen cocktail first, but if one is passed out due to lack of oxygenation one cannot be of much service to anyone. Note to self: When the plane starts downward spiraling secure your life-sustaining measures first to better serve those around you.

I am prone to running far too deeply into my reserves. I justify my behavior because the people and tasks with whom I busy myself ARE so important to me. If I just hone this lesson a bit more, send these three important emails, and dig a bit deeper into this curricular text, it can only benefit my students more and me as their teacher, right? I sell myself out to the 24/7 mentality as it is demonstrates solid work ethic. Seems honorable, right? However, I neglect to remember that the Divine Creator Himself instituted a Sabbath. If God modeled it, who am I to think I can continuously deny myself that rest and recharge?

Many Augusts ago when my children were toddlers, and napping, I was on the phone with a teacher friend of mine. I was lamenting to her how I had looked forward to spending the summer with my own children, but now I was exhausted, and disappointed with myself for dragging. She laughed and replied, "Oh Teres, that is because being a mom and being a teacher are both all-consuming if you do them right, and you do." I took it as depressing compliment. Now as I reflect upon that I still believe in throwing myself whole-heartedly into being a mom and a teacher. However if "myself" has dwindled and diminished to a shadow of who I could be, of what good or service is that to my children or students? 

I have a feeling, that like my laptop,  I am running toward "sleep soon UNLESS [I am] plugged into a power outlet." What would my power source charge read right now? What would your charge currently read? My reading may be close to critical if I heed the warning signs. Friday evening I slept 11 hours. Woke to have breakfast and after breakfast took a 2.5 hour nap. It may be time to recharge. How do I do this without that pang of guilt that I should be more wisely spending my time? How do we view these times of re-charge as an investment opportunity instead of a waste of efficiency? What renews each of our sources of energy? How do we each carve out time to spend with those people or within those activities that reinvigorate us? How will we each plug in, so we do not fade out?