The Setting: Summer School with eleven 2nd graders, 8:45am.
We do an ice breaker: How many of you have pets? I ask.
Sam* raises his hand.
“I have a little dog, he’s part…”
“Poodle?!” Adam* interrupts.
“No, he’s part…”
“No, he’s part hot dog dog and…”
“NO! He’s part hot dog dog and chi…”
“He’s a chihuahua!”
“NO! I HAVE A CHIWEENIE!”
I had my 5th graders list the most important characteristics in their friends – and to prioritize them. Here are two responses:
You’ve got to love how candid kids can be – “too talkative” – nobody likes that, right?
I noticed that out of 61 5th graders, “trust” and “kindness” were the top two answers.
The lunch ladies at our school want to drum up more business. They asked me to distribute surveys to see what kids want and what would impel them to purchase school lunch. Here are some of their responses:
What could be more pure – more potent – than a 10 year old professing love to another 10 year old?
Working with children fills my heart with joy every single day.
I was talking to a friend who is also a mom. She was concerned about her daughter and who she’s been hanging out with at school and on weekends. My friend is divorced, so half the time she has absolutely no control over her child’s social activities. (The father is much looser with supervision).
We discussed the challenges of parenthood in an age where our kids can maintain a full social calendar in virtual reality.
We discussed peer pressure. Cattiness. Meanness.
We discussed drug and alcohol abuse among 13 (yes, 13) year-olds.
We discussed how kids are sneaking out of the house at 1am and trespassing in other people’s yards and pools. Here in
Arizona America, where guns are ubiquitous, I can see someone shooting one of these kids in the dark. Absolutely. Unfortunately.
We discussed the very fine line between parenting and controlling.
I thought to myself, how lucky I am to have daughters who get excellent grades and work hard at everything. How lucky I am to have daughters who talk to me, show me silly Instagram posts and get along with each other so well.
And then I realized that I rarely tell them this. I think it a lot. I tell my friends and family. But I don’t tell my daughters to their face how I know it’s challenging to be them right now. I don’t acknowledge the dangers, pitfalls and temptations that they have in terms of technology, risky behavior and drugs. Instead, I tell them to not buy into society’s pressures to be “pretty” and primp in front of the mirror. I tell them that they need to learn how to manage money, or it will manage them. I tell them it’s important to get good grades and do well in music so that they can get college scholarships.
But today, I acknowledged them. I acknowledged the hard work, the struggle, the pain…and that I appreciate their fight. The 13-year-old looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I love you, mom.”
I laugh a lot all day while I work.
Kids say the funniest things. There are entire shows and books about the humor of children. As a teacher, I also get a lot of hugs. AND, I really like the other teachers, my co-workers. We laugh a lot together. This job is pretty awesome.
Many years ago, I had a position in a money management firm where the “COO” (Chief Operating Officer, or soft murmuring sound made by a pigeon – (you choose)) walked briskly from his office to my cubicle and told me, “You are laughing too much and too loudly.” And then he stomped back to his office with a grand view of the San Francisco Bay. He made a lot of money. He died a couple years ago. I hope he laughed before he went.
I’ve held other jobs where I didn’t laugh all day. Isn’t that sad? I mean, it would have been inappropriate – unprofessional – to do so. The guys in suits, taking themselves so seriously and looking down at you for being….happy you.
You know what? It’s them, not you. You’re not too loud, or too happy. You’re not unprofessional (unless you’re taking lots of cigarette breaks, or calling in sick all the time, or just not doing your job). You are fine just the way you are. If your boss doesn’t like you, or if you’re unhappy, you might consider changing your job.
a fleeting moment
hair whipped behind you
hands tightly gripping the rails
you are suspended in
It’s a thrill ride
and fascination flows from you
for all that’s ahead in your life
don’t ever lose the fresh
I’m asked how the girls are taking the impending surgery. Here are their words:
June 12, 2010
-My mom is having surgery on Tuesday. I’m a little bit frightend but mommy said she would be alright. So, Ava and I have made a little menu for my mom with all different food and drinks when she’s in her bed. Her friends and our relletivs are coming over and helping us. I’m going to miss mommy. But when she’s up and around were going to play lots of board games and do math puzzles .My mom has done so much for me in the past that I’m not going to realy be used to all these people being with me.
June 12, 2010
My mom is having surgery on Tuesday.
I gave her my zu zu pet so she could press the nose and it would make a noise so we could come running to her. We made a menu for her so she could pick what food she wanted. If needed anything more she would tell us. There was coffee on the menu. Diet coke, water, and many other things. I feel a little scared because my mom is having surgery. But my mom is always brave. I will have quit violin for a little while. But till my mom gets better we have to go back to violin.
I am grateful for the amazing outpouring of love, support and encouragement I am receiving from friends and family near and far, and from complete strangers I have met online via friends. It makes me want to be a better person.
I’m asked,”What do you think you are supposed to learn here?” Although I believe everything happens for a reason, I don’t think I have led a life of unhealthy habits I need to ameliorate, nor have I sustained any toxic relationships. I don’t think this is a wake up call, because there is no place in my life where I need to realign my actions to suit my goals. I do, however, feel a renewed sense of appreciation for people in general, for the importance of health and responsibility. I always considered myself to be a strong person, but I’m having my mom sew a giant “S” on a blue nylon shirt after my recovery. Willey is making the cape.
On Friday, I had a 9am appointment with my plastic surgeon and a “check engine” light came on in my car. My first thought was, “On top of everything….my classes, and my surgery … my car now?” I was in Scottsdale and wondered if it was safe to drive. I completed my appointment (they took the “before” pictures and had me sign papers acknowledging all the risks of surgery, including infection, asymmetry, the need for more surgery, etc.). Suddenly, I felt as if I was being challenged. Someone or something was testing me to see when I would break. I will not break!
So I go home, find a mechanic with great reviews online, pack Josie’s swimsuit and towel, go to the mechanic, learn I have to go to a different mechanic sometime next week (it’s probably the o2 sensor), pick up the girls from summer school, drop Josie off to her playdate, have a date with Ava at the mall, go home, make dinner, get ready to go out with some friends and chat with the husband before I leave. I had a wonderful evening talking and laughing with a group of strong, beautiful women.
“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon