Archive for the cosby show

“Excuse Me, I Have to Take This Call.”

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS, THE HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE CLASSROOM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by erikball123

One of the shows that I used to watch as a kid was The Cosby Show. I still value the wisdom and humor of Bill Cosby as one of the most influential forces in my life, personally. The show itself, which featured the life lessons of the loveable Huxtable family, lives in the annals of time as one of the most beloved television shows ever, and I can recite half of the episodes word for word. Sometimes I wish life was a little bit simpler, perhaps more “scripted” and decorated with life lessons, like that one episode where Theo was getting ready for college and he had to buy back is bedroom furniture…or the brilliant episode where the husbands of the Huxtable woman challenged each other to try and purchase the most romantic gift ever. It’s a half an hour of feel good moments that I cherish.

When I think about time, and how my time is spent…and this day and ages’ “normal day”…for some reason, I capture the image of Heathcliff Huxtable, the hard working obstetrician, trying with every fiber of his being to catch just a few winks on the family room sofa before having to go in for another shift at the hospital. This last round of unexpected call ins has kept him busy for hours…and at the height of the scene, Heathcliff rolls over and exclaims to little Rudy, who has interrupted his sleep, “Rudy, I just delivered over 100 babies…I need some sleep.”

I guess we all get to a point to where we feel like there is just no catching up on rest…and others’ perception of our plight is just simply not understood. (No matter how noble the cause.)

Now, I don’t deliver babies….ha! Yeah, God bless doctors…I can’t even stand the waiting rooms….I’m a simple High School Drama teacher…but I do feel sometimes that times are changing and expectations are extremely high with regards to how much time we are expected to spend in the efforts to be the greatest school on earth. Now, I promise this won’t turn into a sob-fest…but rather I’d like to take note that times they be a-changin’. Today, the parents of the students I teach are people my age, which means that I need to appreciate what these people are going through as they manage the trials of their children’s school careers. Yet, I don’t. I find myself frustrated…and pointing fingers.

You ever find yourself mad at someone, just because they’re going home at 3pm…and you have to stay for rehearsal…or an after-school activity. That’s all. They didn’t DO anything to you…there isn’t any REAL reason to be angry….but ooooo! They get to go home…and rest, and stuff. And I’ve gotta stay…and do stuff. Dang it! Shoot!

I have only to blame myself for being committed to many things…I like to stay active and involved…I love attention…I love working with the kids outside of class…and I bring it on myself. But, I get increasing annoyed with the 24/7, on-call status that I feel I sometimes am expected to maintain as a teacher. The emails I have to answer up to midnight from students and parents…phone calls I have to return…make-up test/assignment arrangements I have to make and attend…make-up auditions and “meetings” before an after class to “discuss” stuff. We’re on-call counselors, curriculum directors, tutors and mentors. On top of that…I work at the most wonderful high school in the country. A private school where I don’t have to worry about getting shot in the hallways…face drug deals in the bathrooms….and worry about gangs. And I sit here…annoyed and tired. Shame on me, right?

I guess I think about these sort of things because of the ways of the world that I recall when I was growing up. I recall my parents making me going to school no matter how sick I was. I would have to be puking or running a fever before I was allowed to stay home. Today…kids “don’t wanna” go to school…and they spend the day at home. (And I won’t get into the numerous unplanned vacations that are taken throughout the school year. That’s a subject for another blog.) I don’t understand the mind set of some parents. Perhaps they justify things because it’s a private school…and when you pay enrollment, there is a certain expectation. “I pay for this school…if I wanna pull my kid to take them to Hawaii…well, darn it, I’m gonna.”

I guess I’m not arguing about a lack of rest…or a desire to have a nightly vacation from school to recharge. I guess my concerns come from a lack of responsibility that we don’t enforce in today’s students. These are teenagers after all. The same ones that come up to me in class during group work and say, “Mr. Ball, where is some white paper.” “Um…right there.” “Oh, yeah.” Open your eyes…look around…and find the paper. If you cannot find it…after HUNTING for it….then ask. I’m afraid everything nowadays is being served up on a silver platter…and all our teenagers know how to do is ring the little bell and request another “thing.”

I guess what I’d like to see more of (because I always tell my students to stop complaining unless they have a solution!) is parents making their students more responsible for things. The text book stuff…it’s very important…but dude, even the smartest of smart people have to admit that some of the most important stuff you can take away from high school is the collaboration…the ensemble efforts…the trial and error of the everyday interactions. How can students learn how to identify a true success, if they don’t fail every now and then.

Hotlines are important. I think they are an integral part of society and should exist for many worthy causes. But have you ever noticed that hotlines exist primarily for urgent needs? I mean, rarely do you find a go-to source for mundane, everyday things? I feel like the age of technology and the turn of the decades (and this age of parents) expects teachers to drop everything for their students. I guarantee you….we do. (And for the most part, we WANT to.) But, when it’s after hours…or if it involves a hired worker to go above and beyond their expected punch out time…I beg of you to remain cognizant of the fact that this is not normal. If you get your hands on a teacher willing to spend time with your kid…this is a major good thing.

I can’t get mad at those people walking to their cars at 3:15pm. I can’t. God bless them. I don’t necessarily consider myself Heathcliff Huxtable either…trying to catch a few zzzs on the sofa before the next round. After all, I step into the classroom and take on these extra commitments myself, knowing full well what is expected of me. I just want the students and parents to know what is expected of them too. Perhaps that’s unreasonable. But, then again, I would settle for a half an hour of old-school life lessons from the Huxtable household. I guarantee you, unless little Rudy was puking or running a fever….girl would stay home.

My Favorite Things

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by erikball123

I find myself blogging when I’m blue. Perhaps it’s because I’m Mr. “No Confrontation” and when I’m blue I like to be alone. Perhaps it because I like to express myself and this is a solitary forum. Perhaps Word Press is just cheaper than a shrink. I don’t know.

We’re a mere week away from holding our doors back and sweeping in a new group of students who are currently wiping Chronic Taco from their chins and avoiding their summer work.  Just seven days until P.M. duties…staff meetings…progress reports…and that beast of a paper cutter in the photocopy room. The thing is my nemesis. I don’t like it for the same reason I don’t like horses….they try to bite me. I swear if they ever find my cold, dead body in the hallowed halls of Faith Lutheran….there will be a trail of blood leading back to that stinkin’ paper cutter. Rrrr.

Anyway…I suppose I’m a bit discourage at myself. You see last year, I got an administrative write-up. (Insert joke here…yes, things haven’t changed that much from when I was in high school!) But in all seriousness, I was quite taken aback by the whole matter. First and foremost…I deserve it. Let’s lay the cards on the table. I don’t mind that people know…partially, because it was for something unbelievably stupid: I didn’t routinely turn in my attendance…and I skipped out on a few lunch duties. That’s it. Some may argue…”what the heck….give me a break.” But, I accept my write-up….and while I blame my absent-mindedness I agree that if I prioritized things a bit better, life would have been fine. And the attendance thing….well, it was one of those things that fell to the side in the bustle of my day. (What’s sad…is that I always took attendance in my gradebook…just forgot to turn it in!) “Get your head in the game, Ball!”

So, at the end of last year I took my medicine…prayed a lot….and I’m looking forward to making some different priorities this year.  It’s okay to screw up, I think. Just so long as you learn from the mistakes, right? (I invested in a red pen and some Post-It notes…let’s DO THIS ATTENDANCE THING!) That’s all I can do, truthfully. But, on top of it all…I remain blue.

You know…I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I am. We have a 792-seat Chapel/Performing Arts Center here…we offer four full-length productions a year….I have a thriving International Thespian Society troupe…and I get to spread the word of God, openly and proudly every day with my students. (That, AND I’m a stone’s throw away from my wife every day!) My salary and benefits are great…I work with a faculty and administration that steadfastly redefines what it is to be a charitable Christian, and I have a pug. I should be pretty freakin’ satisfied.

Today, I worked with a student for an hour on acting technique. He called me out of the blue and said “can we just go over a few things? I wanna brush up.” What kinda student takes that sort of initiative? Other teachers have to worry about drugs and gangs…I have to worry about a senior who “might be getting dusty.” Sheesh. I’m on the Board of Directors for a brilliant family-centered theatre company in town and I’m currently assistant directing a classic musical with a brilliant cast and crew.

I have clothes on my back…food in my stomach…my hair needs a trim, but overall I’m extremely fortunate and taken care of. (That, AND I’m a stone’s throw away from my wife every day!)

Have you ever found yourself mad because you can’t seem to break out of your “blue-ness?” Which in turn frustrates you…which leaves you tired….which add to the blueness. It’s a never-ending cycle! No wonder I squeal with joy when I watch the Cosby Show and Cliff narrowly sneaks the hoagie sub past Claire. Sheesh.

But I’m not writing to vent. Nor am I dumping my issues into cyberspace in hopes for a little attention. (God knows my “audience” isn’t big…and Aunt Bailey, stop commenting that my posts are “cute.”) But, I was reminded today that the “big picture” world is in need of my contributions (and yours) more than I (you) think.

“The Sound of Music” is the show I’m assistant directing with Signature Productions…and the cast is amazing. (You should HEAR these kids….they have the voices of angels!) Anyway…one of my students chimed in on my Facebook post that read “Not sure what to think” by saying “think about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.”

VonTrapp children rehearsing for "THE SOUND OF MUSIC." Click here to visit the Signature Website: http://www.signatureproductions.net

I laughed it off and moved on…but then, as I hot-glued a poster to the wall, I thought about the vase of fresh flowers my wife always refreshes and keeps in the living room…and how much joy that simple pleasure brings her. I thought about my cat, Montgomery who currently has a nasty bacterial infection in his nose. Nothing too crazy or anything…but his sinues have given him a raspy purr and we’ve affectionately referred to him as Snarth Vader.

Snarth Vader

I recall a cookie-dough laced electric beater my wife swung around the corner of my office the other day like Excalibur. She said “take….eat.” And I did…and it was good. I had a mocha from Starbucks yesterday (even though I know I shouldn’t because it goes RIGHT to my hips!) But it was yummy. I’ve also had a very weird craving for Jell-o lately…and I’ve been slurping it down like crazy! I think about the fun I had with my friends watching Damn Yankees at Super Summer Theatre and literally breaking bread together…sharing stories…laughing…and huddling together when the sun went down. I don’t care what it is….Red Bull, Reeces Cups….whatever! What are your favorite things? What are the joys in your family/friend’s lives? How can you capitalize on those “rays of sunshine” to ensure that you are a positive part of their every day dynamic?

I think that my school year blues is a topical reaction to a disappointing end to last year…and a fear that the routine of the upcoming year, may overshadow the joy I find in electric beaters and Snarth Vader. I think I’m looming over the past….and while I’ve already accepted and “taken” my own personal attendance, I need to do my job and invest in the future.

So…now that I’ve analyzed the situation…what’s the prescription? I know for a fact there are family members of mine that need a ray of sunshine a HECK of a lot more than I do. I have friends who are saddened today as well. I hold a heavy heart for them all. So, in general…perhaps the answer is as topical as the would-be symptom: Find something that will affect you positively….and invest in that. There’s nothing you can do about the past. I can’t argue my way out of that write-up…I can’t change people’s approaches/attitudes/passions/investments….there will always be stuff you don’t wanna do and I will always find myself running away from the paper cutter…that’s not the point. Even on the best days we have a tendency to be critical and overshadow the positive with the simplest thing. The point is there is always a bigger picture…and if we can remove ourselves from the immediacy of the situation, if we can just remember our favorite things….then we won’t feel so bad.

Sounds stupid and “kindergarten,” right? Well…I just got a paper cut (really…I did, on a Post-it note…not the paper cutter!) And right now I’m going to go eat some Jell-o. (Really I will.) I assure you…life will get better soon.

Thank you my friends for reminding me of my favorite things.

%d bloggers like this: