Samantha after her nap

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Once Samantha got up from her nap, what is the first thing that comes out of her mouth after we changed her diaper?  “Buzz!”

We came downstairs; she spied Buzz where she had left him before her nap, in the baby stroller.  She grabbed him and sat down with him.

She is pushing his buttons and laughing aloud.  Life is good!

Samantha, her tasks, her safety measures

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Samantha arrived around 8:30 or so as her parents dropped her off and then went skiing with Mikey in southern Wisconsin.  Richie is plowing as we are getting more snow than they had promised.

Before we settled into some good “num nums,” Samantha and I had some tasks to do.  She is truly a wonderful helper. 

When I had done the previous wash, I noticed a small load that Mikey had left in the laundry room and decided to throw it in the washer.  So, especially since Samantha likes to be a little helper and clean and such, we went into the laundry room and Samantha helped unload the washer.  The next thing she wanted to do was to clean the filter of the dryer.  She is quite good at it.  It is so nice to see at an early age that she is responsible and safe in all that she does.

Now, to respond to several people who have commented that perhaps I am breaking child labor laws, I beg to differ.  Samantha not only does these tasks because she wants to, she looks forward to them and asks me to do them!

Florida, Texas, and thoughts of New Trier

Florida, last year when I was working for ASC

 

As I am sitting here in my sixty-eight degree surroundings and see the snow capped piles in the distance through my living room window, I ponder what today might have been like had I been still working for the language lab company.  This week the conference was in Florida, next week in Texas.

Most assuredly I would have donned a suit and spoken to hundreds of people  as I worked the conference in Orlando.  As nice as Orlando is, it is not my favorite Florida venue, and Florida, in fact, is not my favorite warm weather place.  I would have been nice seeing my ASC colleagues, especially George Washington.  I would then have gone this week to Texas, probably Austin, to work that crowd.  I truly enjoy travelling and working with educators so that would have been fun.  That was not meant to be and I do believe that something is around the corner for me, so we shall see.

Pretirement has been an interesting part of my life.  I miss teaching, I miss the camaraderie with the great students and my wonderful colleagues, but I do not miss the hassles.  I do not miss grading papers, although I could easily get back into that, it wasn’t my biggest issue.  I do not miss the bureaucracy and the myriad of add on jobs that occurred during my thirty plus years’ career.  People have absolutely no idea how much school functionaries are put upon by the changes in philosophies and progress in educational thinking.  What I really don’t miss is the politics and the silliness that it brought into our daily lives.  To me these things are totally unnecessary and only made our jobs harder.

Recently, on Facebook, a former student, or should I explain, a former acquaintance student of mine contacted me about this blog.  She told me she was remiss in not having contacted me sooner to tell me that she enjoyed the blog.  She said that she enjoyed the poignancy of my feelings in the entries I have posted so far.

She also mentioned that she would love to have my reaction to the atmosphere within the Modern and Classical Languages department that had pretty much adopted her, during her time at New Trier.  She was truly the departmental mascot.  That is one of the reasons why I knew her.  In my stay at New Trier I have gotten to know far more than my own personal students.  Alison was the “advisee” of my good friend and colleague, Adrienne.  She was a student of Japanese, not French.  I knew her because of her association with my good friend.  Alison, like many of our students and advisees, was omnipresent in the office, searching us out to talk, to discuss, to confide, to connect.  That is what so many of us as teachers and advisers were all about.  We did it because, frankly, we were on a mission.  We were not always sure whether we were born with that mission or turned to it from New Trier, but I am convinced that it was both of those reasons.  Not only was it our mission and our calling, but we reveled in the wonderful communications and experiences we had.

Adrienne is the consummate French teacher and also the consummate teacher as well.  She is very interested in her subject area and teaches it with the highest professionalism possible.  I say teaches, because she is still teaching although “retired.” I would say that she is truly “pretired” as I am.  She was all about the kids, she is all about the career that she took on and espoused; lives, eats, and still breathes to this day.  She is a hard worker, a motivator, and the most caring person you could ever meet.  The day she retired was a tough one for me since I could no longer count on seeing her on a daily basis for the moral sustenance that we all crave as we do our daily jobs.  That made my subsequent years at New Trier harder. 

Adrienne and I not only worked together on the Winnetka campus, she even accompanied me on trips to France as we “shepherded” kids through a Homestay/Exchange program.  She and I became “Mom and Dad” to so many kids as we studied, worked, and traveled together.  I could always count on Adrienne to work with anyone and everyone because no matter what, she cared.   I can also say, with total objectivity, that although she was revered in the halls of the Winnetka campus,  she deserved to be on a much higher pedestal than she was, for all the good she did.

Adrienne and I had been through some very tough times while at the school.  We had lived through and dealt with a Caligula-like department chairman who attempted to make our lives very difficult at times.  The office that Alison speaks of so fondly was not a pleasant place to be.  We were stressed, we were under the gun, we knew that the proverbial shoe could drop at any moment and we would be subjected to moods and reactions that we never deserved.  We lived through it and we pride ourselves on the fact that despite the enormity of the bad situation we endured, our students were never aware that it was occurring.  In fact, they are the ones I credit with our having gotten through the stress and trauma.  Having them as our focus allowed us to deal with the extremely unpleasant man who was our supposed superior, inflicting his mean-spirited whims on those of us in the office that he had singled out unjustly.  I remember oh so fondly the days that he wasn’t present in the office, for some reason, and how the curtain of unpleasantness was lifted.  I also remember the joy when we heard of his impending retirement and how he pretty much disappeared almost completely from view unlike others who had retired.  We had obviously been justified in our dislike for him and our lack of appreciation and understanding for the job he was doing.

Alison showed up during a time period of healing.  I remember talking to the person who became the new department chairman and saying to her that she mustn’t mistake our anxiety in being called into the office as being due to something she had done, but instead realize it was an almost Pavlovian response to what we had been through with her predecessor.

Things were never really the same after Cecil’s departure, but they did, most assuredly get better.  Alison saw the real “us” as we were able to freely go about our jobs and welcome all into the office.  The office had always appeared as a “haven” of sorts even during Cecil’s tenure, we had always had wonderful food and snacks to share.  Those of us who were “persecuted” never really allowed anyone else to suffer (except for, in my case, my poor family!) and the students were,  as I said, never aware.  Once Cecil was gone, we set about to “recover” and be our normal selves.  I recall so many students who made daily visits to us.  I so remember the wonderful, brilliant, young student who was having parental issues and how she would visit me daily and we would discuss rationally what needed to be done.  I remember telling her to get a calendar and set up to countdown the days until her graduation.  She did so, she graduated, she is well on the way to achieving so much and she is going into education.  She is one of many that we were able to reach and help.

The office that Alison came into was not a huge space but it contained well over thirty people.  I am not saying, in this entry, that all of my colleagues were on the same page as Adrienne and I were, but for the most part, they were very good people.  There always were a certain number of people who, since having been placed on the good list during the bad years, never really could understand the pain we were undergoing.  They were so happy at their situations that they almost refused to see what was really going on.

It hurts so much when people try to denigrate the job that teachers are doing.  I know that teaching, like any profession, is going to have some people who are not performing as they should.  I know as well, that so many of them are performing so far above and beyond what they are paid to do and just don’t get the recognition.  I know this personally from so many discussions I have had during the years and these discussions have been with acquaintances and family alike.  I know that some say that the tenure process and unions for teachers are a problem.  I know as well that had I not had tenure that I would have been in some hot water for a short time during my career since I had a supervisor who decided that he was going to try to make my life difficult.

So, in the end, I am so thankful to people like Alison and Adrienne because they are so representative of my experience in the teaching world which is so rewarding and oh so memorable.  It is so nice to be touched by having worked with people like these and receiving oh so much from them.  That was one heck of a career.  And hey, I am pretired, so on it goes!

Snowmageddon I

the current view at 8:00 AM on Groundhog Day, I guess he isn't going to see his shadow today!

I must admit that I did not make up that title. My oldest used it when talking to his mom yesterday. Looking at the picture, it is easy to see how he came up with such a title. It is eight o’clock and we are snowbound in our home. Mikey is using a snow blower (belonging to his older brother’s snowplowing business) to get us out before going to help clear others out. I have, as of yet, not ventured out. That is unusual. Both Mikey and Mary Kay have made me remain housebound. School, of course, is closed, and MK is at home. I shall venture out to at least do some damage against Mother Nature’s work, at least clearing the stoop and doing some cleanup. Mikey told me that he will get the rest later. Due to the nature of the snowfall and the reaction of the populace, the boys did not go out right away. Things were at a standstill as the major snowfall came and they were not even plowing the streets. So they waited and rested. Once sunrise opened up the day, Richie went out and started plowing.

We are unable to determine exactly how much snow we have received as of yet, due to the drifts. It looks like well over seventeen  inches and we are under a current snow alert that there will be more. The total accumulation could be up to two feet. I just read on my iPhone app that there is an alert in Lake County and all roads are officially closed as they try to deal with stranded motorists. They are asking people to stay in.  Needless to say, the drifts are tremendous, it kind of looks like a topographical map, the huge drift in the back yard looking much like the continental divide out west.

I remember bad snows but this one takes the cake. I wasn’t in Chicago for the famous 1967 snowfall, but we certainly had our share of them in Cleveland. I do remember a few bad ones here in the Chicago area, one actually where the mailman yelled at me for not cleaning my walk. That year was one in which all of us happened to be housebound with a nasty case of the flu and I was totally unable to find the physical strength to actually even clear a path. Those were also the years where the idea of even paying someone to do it was about as possible as finding the needle in the haystack, money being a bit hard to come by in the early teaching years.

I have to contact my tutee’s families that today is not a good day for tutoring. It is just not worth going out. They are frankly even asking us to stay in. I am not sure that that will be in effect later in the day, but I guess so.

Mikey is continuing to work his way through our driveway’s snow as he waits to be picked up by his brother to go out and clear out the clients’ driveways and paths. The sky is still very gray and heavy with a very traditional “snow cloud” look. The fire is crackling gently and both MK and I are fast away at our laptops, she is researching the weather and traditions and such surrounding the groundhog and his predictions. That is so “Mary Kay.”

One thing that comes to mind is my father’s birthday, which is today. He has been gone for so long I sometimes wonder if perhaps I just didn’t make him up as some sort of piece of my history to hang on to. He would have been ninety-two, very hard to believe.

Another funny bit of info is that surrounding the calling off of school. MK told me that the local superintendents were having what she called a “pissing match” with the weather and the school closures. It seemed that in some sort of machismo-like reactions to the meteorological events, they were each waiting for the other to call off school, not wanting to be the first to do so and admit weakness! Isn’t it funny how little the distance we have come from our origins? Even the highest professionals are affected by primitive instincts. I recall, during my teaching years, of always hearing of the same type thing.

Speaking of superintendents, there was a brouhaha in the local papers as some local retired superintendents are collecting money as if it were hanging from trees. As they retired and started collecting their pensions, they moved to another state and picked up another superintendency, thus receiving their nicely sized retirement monies along with a hefty new salary. Seems that I know several of them really well and this information doesn’t surprise me in the least. It always seemed so interesting to me that those of us in the trenches were so often skewered and the scads of administrators who were overpaid were so often overlooked. I am not saying that administrators don’t earn their pay, my biggest complaint is when an administration had far too many “administrators” and then didn’t care, for example, that my conversation class was over thirty students. Let’s think about what kind of conversation you can have in a class of thirty that only lasts forty minutes…

Here it is almost half an hour later, Mikey is still out there and I feel very lazy here in the house. The fire is nice, though. I wonder how long I can contain myself?

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Black bricks and fluffy snow

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I just took out the recycling after figuring out that my town does, in fact, not count Martin Luther King Day as an official holiday.  If they did, I wouldn’t have to take out the recycling, they would come tomorrow instead.  I was a bit surprised by that.  Mary Kay is home today, there is no school; during my school career it was an official holiday; oh well, but isn’t that discriminatory? It makes me think of the famous “Pulaski Day” we used to celebrate in Illinois with the day off, never being truly apprised as to why he was so important we would have a day off;  Dr. Martin Luther King day, that I can understand.

As I moved the recycling from the front to the back I slipped on some invisible ice on my driveway and almost pulled out my back.  That was a bit of a surprise. As I walked in the house, my crocs filled up with just enough snow to be annoying as I passed by several big black bricks of dirty snow from the car that I kicked aside.  The falling snow shall soon hide the ugliness of a winter thaw and traffic on the temporarily pristine surfaces.

Ali did get the paper and once again is snoozing in the same location she has been choosing the past few days near my feet.

I am not feeling overly great, having yesterday figured out why I was cleaning and straightening up like the mad man I am, I was getting Samantha’s cold.  It wasn’t the stress or worry coming out, it was a simple cold!  As the day progressed that feeling of weird pain in my sinuses progressed as it felt like they were twisting tightly and tightening.  The result was an intense unpleasantness of swallowing, growing stronger by the moment.  I almost feared going to bed thinking that I might have a bad night, but luckily that didn’t come true.

We shall be having Samantha over for a bit today as we jockey time so that everyone can have some free time. Yesterday at Ribfest she was a bit better mood wise than she had in previous days while her nose was running; yesterday the cold was  bit “stuffier” but still evident.  I must say that I have rarely seen a child do as well with a cold, even my own didn’t.  Her illness showed itself by a little less politeness, she almost always uses her “pleases and thankyous” in both French and English but was more inclined to be curt.  She was also more inclined to hang on to mommy and to a lesser extent daddy when the mood struck.

Ribfest went extremely well and seemed to help melt the tension we have been feeling in a sometimes heavy duty way since the day that Michael told us he was a drug user. Breaking bread together may just be symbolic but it is far deeper than that in meaning.  It must be almost primeval the actual sitting down with people and eating.  It seems to break down barriers and allows us to move on.  Since it is such a Koerner tradition anyway with European aspects added in, it is even more important that we actually take the time to spend with each other.

Talking about breaking bread, I remember that when I was an adviser at New Trier that I made a great effort to bring doughnuts and such even when I didn’t feel so inclined.  I was seemingly so often gifted with dysfunctional groups that had problems and eating together definitely didn’t ever hurt.

I pulled out the apéro (apéritif) when everyone arrived.  Everyone had their drink of choice (with Mikey teetotaling) as we snacked on peanuts, spiced pretzels, and cheese puffs.  Even Samantha enjoyed the experience as we sat together and talked about the week’s experiences and then had the birthday boy open up his gifts.  We are hoping that the family stress we have experienced continues to lessen as we all recover and heal.  There was talk of working out together, playing hockey, cross country skiing, and movies.  I just exchanged my cross country boots so I am hoping to get out in the stuff.  Might as well enjoy the snow we are gifted with.

The oldest and the youngest tended to the final step of cooking yesterday to get the ribs in order on the grill.  I had intended to take pictures of them but they were snarfed up before I could do anything about it.  I did get some pics of Michael in all his “barbecue” glory.  He was so funny because when we all sat down and had a toast, I followed it up with a question to the group asking if anyone needed anything.  I had noticed that there wasn’t any extra sauce around, but frankly after jumping up quite a few times (honestly, I really don’t need to work out!), I decided to sit down and “make do.”  Mikey asked the question as he apparently likes extra sauce as well.  I am not even sure how I responded, but the whole family went into its usual uproar saying that my “martyr” ways wouldn’t be accepted.  What they meant by that is something I learned from my mom growing up, when she would cook, for example, she would always take the slightly overcooked meat, the smaller piece, etc., gifting us with the better portion.  I have been known to follow this path and when it is noted, it is more often than not corrected.  Do I need professional help for this? 

The other aspects of the day, as I collected more Facebook friends from the past, were more than wonderful.  I have received messages from so many former students with little bits and pieces of kind words of things they remember from my classroom.  Yesterday, one of them who has self-admittedly sadly put aside her French as she majored in elementary education talked about how she mentioned my practices in education classes.  Another one spoke of using some of my practices while teaching English in France. Then there was the young man who spoke of reading this blog and saying that he was so happy to have had a teacher who cared as much about his students and that it made him feel so good about his education.  Teaching well is one heck of a hard career at times and drains the last bit of energy from you as if you were losing blood at times.  Moments like this are like transfusions and more than make up for the blood lost!

So, kind of a holiday here although unfortunately we won’t be thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King as much as we should.  The snow is starting to collect on the exterior surfaces and I am sure that I am going to have to do something about that. Meanwhile, I need to gather my forces and face another day and week.  This week shall be probably the last of my heavy tutoring for a while; it has been a great experience as the students have been so appreciative and receptive.

Ali is stirring, is Mikey up?  Gourmet breakfast perhaps?

Teaching and life

Teaching is a very rewardable profession despite its inherent downsides.  One would think from all of the publicity that it is an amazing profession to get into because of the supposed little work it entails. At least, that is what you often hear.  Then you hear, even from members of your own family that, “Those who cannot, teach.”  You hear about the summer vacations and the like.

I have always felt that perhaps, those who complain about it should try it for a week and see how they manage to deal with the numerous commitments and being pulled at every angle from someone with a need.  One of the reasons you hear so much about it is because of its visibility.  It is right there in the spotlight, day in day out.  It is amazing, though, that like so many other things, you don’t hear about the successes, you hear about its failings. 

There are many schools where success is dealt with on a daily basis.  This is not to say that it happens all the time, we are dealing with human beings who have issues and who are flawed, therefore failure and problems are going to occur.

I remember my sons taking a serious look at what I did for a living and seeing me spend so much time fixing and repairing things around the house.  Early on, the only way we got newer things was to resort to the DIY (do it yourself) route, otherwise that new kitchen, for example, would have been an impossibility.  Does anyone ever think about things like that?  My summers always had numerous jobs that I had to attack to make our habitation up to snuff and take care of its issues, be they peeling paint or the need for updated plumbing.  Yes, I was able to go with my sons to the pool every day in the summer but that was after teaching summer school (that my married, female colleagues refused to teach because they needed time off) and then attending to my job list.  My sons said, “Dad, you may have a great job, but I am not going to be a teacher because it is too much work!”  The good news is that although I was working around the house, I was there with them.

Nobody ever talks about the demands the regular “joe” teacher has.  Do they talk about responsibilities from the administration?  Do they ever mention the work it takes to keep up with one’s colleagues and having to collaborate (which isn’t always easy, as I found out) with colleagues, listen to and attend to students’ needs and dealing with the very bright all the way to those with learning issues?  How about the calls, e-mails, etc. from parents who need counsel, want to know how to help their children more, and then there were those who had the intense need to get involved in “micro-management” in an area where they thought they were experts but in fact had very little training?

My school day was always an early one, mostly by choice, but the school I taught in had unwritten rules about the work ethic.  We, as a staff, always wondered whether it was the institution which made us that way or if we were hired because of our work propensities.  I would leave for school very early, generally arriving before half past six, at the latest by a quarter to seven.  One of the reasons was that I had to park my less than beautiful car (in the early years) in a location that wasn’t tremendously far from the building.  Although I love walking, schlepping in vast amounts of materials and dealing with the elements was sometimes tough.  I remember as well students asking me if that was really me in the rust encumbered vehicle from a previous era as they drove up in their expensive cars.

My school day ended very late.  Most of the days ended around five in the afternoon, it was rare that I was lucky enough to leave by four or so.  I had so many nights where I either had to return or just stay there for meetings.  When my students were in plays and such, I would try and see them in their activities.  I was also involved in sponsoring clubs and in taking students to Europe. The latter was a yearlong activity of preparation and work.  It was all worth every second.

Teaching has changed and the financial tough times my family endured have changed a bit.  Starting salaries are better now and they are very much deserved.  I watch new teachers and I am continually amazed at the hoops they must jump throughout during their first years, meetings, evaluations, etc.  It is not easy.

What kept me going was the students.  They were, if I can stereotype them, amazing.  They made all of the downsides of the teaching situation so much easier. I am still in touch with so many of my former students and hearing from them always brings a smile to my face.  They always have something kind to say and thank me for what I did for them.  I recall oh so many students who, having difficulties at home or in some other area, would literally spend a good fifteen or twenty minutes with me so I could hear what was on their minds.  I remember the countless students who felt they were at the end of their tether.  We would always brainstorm ways of dealing with issues, find someone else to help, etc. 

I think I may have mentioned this before, but the hardest lesson I ever learned was when I realized that I was incapable of being able to help everyone.  Some students just don’t connect with you, some think you are unfair, some perceive that you don’t like them (that was a very hard one for me to take), perceptions are so interesting among individuals.  It is very hard not being able to reach someone, when that person’s eyes are determined not to see you as a help in solving problems.  I only wish someone in my classes had alerted me to this fact.  The other issue I found tough and still do when I tutor is dealing with individuals who don’t realize their intelligence and/or self worth.  They have no idea how much being like this is a hindrance.

During my career, I had oh so many good moments and I had a smattering of less than great moments that made me question what the heck I was doing trying to teach students, some of whom had no desire to learn anything.  I remember the time that my class was interrupted by a mom who demanded to talk to me about her daughter.  My first reaction was quite to the point, I thanked her for wanting to talk to me but reminded her that I was there first to do my job of teaching and that if she wanted to communicate with me, which was great, that we needed to at least wait until my free period.  She pointed out to me angrily that I was “discriminating against the Brits” in my having sent her daughter out of the classroom for having called me something inappropriate, something which had  a different meaning in American English vs. British English.  That was the card she was playing.  I remember that one of the administrators, who should have known me well, was actually questioning me about it.  It was so silly, it was such a waste of time, but these things can happen all the time and I found that no matter how careful you were, there were going to be touchy moments every now and then.

I remember another moment where I was seated with a celebrity dad who was trying to get me to change a grade on an exam that was affecting his son’s overall performance in the class and put him on the brink of failure.  This meeting was serious and with my department chairman who thankfully happened to see my point and the total picture.  The dad said that I “was destroying his son’s future.”  I reminded that dad that perhaps the son had some involvement in this and that he might just be making a point in pursuing failure when he was fully capable of success.  I also tried to make a point that failure is actually not always a bad thing, that we have to learn  from it.  Edison failed so many times before success.

Frankly, any one of the these tough situations would take that person trying to fill in a teacher’s shoes for a week would send them running.  It was and is not always easy.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat, for sure.  A good teacher has to be a smart teacher because there are so many hats to be worn and we are criticized so easily. 

Another really tough thing was the reaction to inappropriate gestures toward students.  Every now and then a student would need a pat on the back or a hug.  As a male teacher, I always felt very, very uncomfortable here.  When your natural inclination in a situation is to console and you cannot, it becomes a very awkward situation.  You must learn to deal with that, there is no choice, the ramifications are so clear.

This brings me to the question, what is making me think about my teaching career and provoking these thoughts into an appearance in my brain?  It actually is quite simple.  Recent events in my life with my talented, intelligent son coming home and informing us that he needed help and had to get his life back into gear made me think of this.  The other issue is that in coming home, he managed to literally re-open the family wound of the loss of the older boys’ business and its ramifications.  Am I upset that he brought this to the forefront with his appearance in our home?   Absolutely not!  It is far better to make sure to deal with the problems we are facing, problems that are very simply brought about by a bad economy.  My being upset at the present time is also simple, once again I am faced with one of the biggest regrets in my entire career, being unable to help someone I care about.  Helplessness in this area is absolute hell.  I felt that in the classroom and I feel that in my personal life.  I honestly think I am dealing well with it, I am taking that one day at a time, meditating, reflecting, praying, and I am convinced that by being there and listening that this too shall pass and that we shall move on to a better place where we can all be more of a family once again.

The perfect family, la famille parfaite, a bilingual entry

A bilingual effort, un effort bilingue; the perfect family, la famille parfaite

As I was swimming this morning, something made me think of the idea of the perfect family.  As far as I am concerned, it is a total oxymoron.  A family by its very nature is unable to be perfect because it is composed of flawed individuals. 

As I have lived my adult life I have seen many examples of family, some good and some bad.  I have actually visited close to three hundred families on the north shore of Chicago in my job as adviser (the spelling is correct, it is an in-house spelling) for New Trier High School.  In short, I have seen them all.

A family that tries to sell itself as perfect is an outright lie. Needless to say, there are many families that look the part.  We all know better.

The best way to describe a real family is as a roller coaster of sorts. When one decides to start a family, essentially one is getting on for the ride.  There will be low points, high points; there will be moments where things go quickly and others that go slowly.  There are unpredictable things that come along the way.

Dealing with human beings, due to their very nature, is never an easy thing.  We must always remember that when one speaks, one knows what one is saying; the problem is that we don’t know how the person who receives it is going to process it.  Perception is all important, all powerful. As is  said in Le Petit Prince, “Le langage est source de malentendus.”  Language is a source of misunderstanding.

There is no reason to feel bad about family strife; it is a normal part of life.  We are wrong when we expect otherwise.  What is important is communication.

What we are experiencing now in the Koerner household is normal.  We shall survive in some form or another.  We are sad to be experiencing it because we have always tried to be open and non-judgmental, and forgiving.  We shall continue to respect one another and attempt to do our best to understand each other and get along.

We are on that roller coaster and at a particular point in the ride, but this too shall change.

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Pendant l’heure que j’ai passée dans la piscine ce matin, je pensais à l’idée de la famille parfaite.  A mon avis, l’idée de la famille parfaite n’est qu’un oxymoron.  Une famille, dans la vie réelle, ne peut absolument pas être parfaite car elle est composée d’êtres humains qui ne sont pas du tout capables de la perfection.

Dans ma vie d’adulte j’ai vu beaucoup d’exemples de familles, il y en avait de bons et aussi de mauvais.  J’ai même rendu visite à presque trois cents familles dans le North Shore de Chicago quand j’étais « adviser » à New Trier High School.  En effet, j’ai tout vu en ce qui concerne les familles.

Une famille qui se prend comme l’exemple de perfection n’est qu’un mensonge total.  Je dois avouer, quand-même que je connais pas mal de familles qui essaient  de donner un air de perfection. Nous ne le croyons pas du tout.

Afin d’expliquer l’idée d’une famille réelle, l’idée qui me vient à l’esprit est celle d’une montagne russe. Quand on décide de créer, d’avoir une famille, c’est comme si on décide de faire un tour de montagne russe.  Il y a des moments où on monte très haut et il y en a d’autres où on descend très bas. Il ya  des moments où tout se passe très vite et d’autres où c’est le contraire. Pendant ce tour de montagne russe, il y a même des choses qu’on ne peut même pas prédire.

L’idée de pouvoir s’entendre avec les gens n’est pas toujours facile.  Il faut toujours se rendre compte, quand on parle, qu’on sait exactement ce qu’on veut dire, mais la personne qui entend nos paroles peut bien comprendre autre chose. La perception des gens est tellement importante.  On a dit dans Le Petit Prince, “Le langage est source de malentendus.”  

Il ne faut pas exagérer les problèmes familiaux.  C’est une partie de la vie normale, cela ne peut pas être autrement.  La communication est la chose la plus importante.

Ce qui arrive chez les Koerner est également normal.  Nous allons survivre les difficultés actuelles.  Les Koerner ont toujours essayé d’être des gens qui sont ouverts, qui ne jugent pas, et qui pardonnent facilement et nous sommes tristes de devoir passer de tels moments.  Nous allons continuer de garder le respect que nous avons les uns pour les autres et de nous entendre comme il faut.

Nous faisons un tour de montagne russe et nous sommes arrivés à un certain point du tour, mais étant un tour de montagne russe, cela va bientôt changer.