Saturday on Repeat

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So summer’s here…as in school’s out.  And honestly, I can’t believe it.  It doesn’t feel like it to me at all!  Not sure why but regardless, it hasn’t been Saturday for the past two days – it’s actually a Thursday and I’m not at work.  I’m sure it won’t take me long to acclimate to being at home…it never does!

I had to leave you with one more funny from perhaps the funniest group of students I’ve ever had.  Actually two.

How to protect whales.  Public Service Announcement - please read and adhere to number three!

“How to Protect Whales.”  Public Service Announcement – please read and adhere to number three!  And if you see a whale in a lake, please tell the authorities ASAP!

And secondly (and my last, I promise):  What does the mother buffalo say to her son going off to college?  Bi-son!   Like I said, funniest class ever.  I will truly miss them.

Here’s my wish list for the best summer ever:

Go to Mackinac Island (check – going in July)

Write every day

Read every day

Soak up some sun

Sleep late on occasion

Be thankful every day that I have nine weeks to recharge my depleted battery

That’s not an unreasonable check-list and I plan to make sure each one is accomplished!  To all my teacher peeps, Happy Summer!  And yes, it’s really a Thursday, not Saturday set on repeat.

No Longer Little

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I was doing well…honestly, I was.  Then it happened.  Across the way, as I sat on the playground watching a group of four-year olds march in line, I saw him.  They’d almost made it to the equipment when a little fellow fell over his own feet.  Crashing hard, he bounced on his knees across the gravel.  Time stopped just for a second before he slowly stood up, brushing at his banged up knees and then hobbled on.  It hit me then, hard and fast.  My easiness with my son’s graduation was suddenly over.  In that moment, I lost it.  I couldn’t see the boy’s face, only his tiny body, and suddenly he was my little boy.  It’s what would have happened to my child…busted knees, dirty from head to toe, always needing a band-aid.  And just like that, it hit me that my boy was no longer little.  I couldn’t scoop him up and put him in my lap anymore, and that’s all I wanted to do in that moment.

I cried that afternoon.  Hard.  I cried again when my hubby got home and I told him about it.  I’ve cried a few more times since.  And no matter what I try, that child is still in my mind.

Kindergarten Graduation

Kindergarten Graduation

So, my youngest is graduating from high school, hence the hysteria over the unknown little fellow.  After thirteen years (12 years plus kindergarten), he’s done.  One part of me is ecstatic, relieved, thrilled, thankful.  The other part of me is losing it a little – maybe a lot.

Honestly, school has never been easy for my boy.  His happiest year of school was kindergarten when he was still allowed to be himself.  He had a teacher who let him be wild and free, let him still be a horse-loving, laughing little boy.  Then the real world set in, and he had to learn to read and sit and be a student.  (I train children to be students every year so I know how important it is.)  After that, some of the joy in his care-free, little boy eyes began to vanish.  School became work, even though he loved his teachers and friends.  School became something that was hard for him.

Outside of school, he was still funny and wild.  He loved easily and was honest to a fault.  He was loud and always needing to change out of filthy clothes into something clean (he still does that today).  With each year he became more and more dependable and steady.  The wildness slipped away to be replaced by a type of bravery I didn’t know existed.  He faced horrible circumstances along the way, and when a lot of children would have begged to never go back to school, he never asked to stay at home…not once.

As a teacher, God sent me a very important lesson.  He sent me a child that struggles so I would understand the struggling student.  He sent me a child that didn’t make straight A’s so I would appreciate each child for who they are and where they are. We are not all designed to be the smartest in the class, and truthfully, most of us are average…perfectly, wonderfully made just as we are.  The world is run by many, many average people who work hard to make up for perhaps a less than top-notch IQ.  (Sidebar to all the seniors – never let anyone rank you by a number on a paper.  Live by your heart.  Live what you love.  The box society puts you in only works if you allow it to hold you.  If you are strong enough to be yourself and love others, I’m convinced you can do anything in life.)  As for me, I’ll take kindness, strength and a giving heart any day of the week.

So why am I sad?  I guess because it’s another step on the journey of raising people.  Another step away from the best years of my life.  Part of me feels like I should be graduating too.  Part of me just knows that change is hard.

But why should I be happy?  Because so many prayers have been answered.  Because I’m proud of both my children just as they are.  Because I know with one ending there’s always another beginning.

Senior Year

Senior Year

Seniors...some here, some watching over us.

Seniors…some here, some watching over us.

Mother’s Day in Reverse

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Since I no longer have an earth-bound mother, Mother’s Day has become a (sometimes) forced holiday.  It isn’t easy losing a parent, and everyone who has lost one knows that.  Losing my mother at 35 forced me to, very suddenly, grow up.  Not that I hadn’t been doing that very thing, but I still had a momma that was there if I needed support or a hug or just her presence.  All at once, that very concrete tie to the earth was shattered.  All at once, it was just over and done.  And ever since, Mother’s Day has left me a little weepy and disconnected.

(Still, I wouldn’t wish for my mother to come back.  I haven’t wished it one time.  Sure, I sometimes long for her hugs and her smile, but would I truly ask her to give up her heavenly home for this world again?  Absolutely not.  She lives where I plan to be one day.  I’ll get her back then.)

So, this year I’m reversing things.  Instead of thinking about what is lost, I’m choosing to think about what is here. This year, I’m thinking of my children.  To my kids, this moment is to say thank you for being my children. No matter what, I’m your biggest cheerleader, your strongest advocate, and your toughest life-coach.  I truly would not change one hair on your head.  Your difficulties have made me a stronger person and a better teacher, and your glories have filled me with a giddy joy.

The only thing I would change if I could would be to take some of the pain you’ve had to bear and make it my own, and truly I’ve carried your pain with me every step of the way. As a momma, it’s hard to watch you kids suffer, but I know hard times are part of living, of growing. It takes the good with the bad to become a polished soul.

To my not-so-little babies, thank you for your laughter and silliness, your kindness and strength.  Keep striving for the good and the right in life.  I love you, Hunny and Little Buddy!

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You are Kind…You are Short…

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Nineteen days and counting…this school year is quickly coming to a close.  Unbelievable.  We were talking about the end of our time together today, the kids and I, and one little girl said, “You’re gonna make me cry.”  I quickly responded, “Don’t you dare. If you cry, I’ll cry!”  Another child chimed in, “I like to see grown-ups cry.  I think it’s funny.”  I laughed hard…not sure why…I think it was a stress-filled, give me a bag of chocolate, laugh.

(I stayed away from the chocolate somehow…until I got home.)

So what keeps me going besides chocolate?  Some days nothing but divine intervention, but other times reading a letter like this one:

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What a wonderful letter to her ‘grandma’ – read to the end! (Breto = burrito!)

Or this one from a little boy who hasn’t written anything on his own all year.  I told him he could write two sentences and that would be enough.  He didn’t stop until the end.  So, so proud of this child.

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His words warmed my tired heart.  Bless him.

We start tests next week…the lovely achievement tests.  Sigh.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years – it is what it is at this point.  I found a little something I wrote last year and it sums up my feelings about testing better than I could ever restate:

“Instead of having a nice, normal Monday of learning and fun with these kids (tomorrow),  we’re instead entering the torture chamber.  Achievement tests begin (tomorrow).  Government mandated, cluelessly approved, so not appropriate for six and seven-year old children, tests.  On my honor, I will strive to take as much of the stress from them as I can but no matter what I do…bribe them with mints, stand on my head, feed them cookies afterwards, they still have to do the work.  I can’t do it for them.  My kiddos will have to sit for two hours a day and fill in bubbles to questions that may or may not be on their level.  As a teacher and a parent, I despise these tests.  Have you ever seen a child cry over a test when the teacher isn’t allowed to tell them a word?  I have.  Have you ever seen the panic in a student’s eyes when they realize the powers that be are trying to trick them with the answer choices?  I see it every year.  It makes me wonder if the creators of tests for children have ever had their souls healed by a child before?  If they have, I can’t help but believe they would never succumb such small children to such inappropriate measures.

To all the children, teachers, parents and principals readying for the week ahead, my heart and head are with you.  We’re all in this together just in different rooms, in different counties, in different states.  I pray these children rise above the stress and blossom, and I pray for the leadership of our county, state and country.  I pray for awareness for what small children really are.  They are not robots or machines and they will not respond like one.  I pray that each unique child will be loved and appreciated for who they are…not for a number.  We are all different.  Not everyone will make a high score on their ACT.  Not everyone can be Valedictorian.  But I know this, everyone is here for a reason.  Everyone has a job to do somewhere on this earth.

For every child that has healed my soul, thank you.  Thank you for being you…just you.”

Riddle Time

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It started out innocently enough.  Riddles in our reading series…working with a partner to figure out the answer.  My class loves them and it has turned into riddles and jokes all the time.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  You just have to go with it and let the silliness take over.

Blondie, age 6 – “What do you call a test you can eat?”  (I shrug because I have no clue.)  “A piece of cake!”

Little fellow who barely spoke the first semester but has now ‘blossomed’, age 6 – “You wanna hear a ‘your momma’ joke?”  I naively said yes because like I said, he didn’t talk for months.  “Your mother is so stupid (he whispered this word), she tried to climb Mountain Dew!”

The same boy asked me a different day, “Wanna hear another one?”  “Sure,” I said.  “Your momma is so….” (I have to stop right here because this joke was a little bit dirty and definitely not appropriate for first grade!  I blushed!  His jokes now scare me.)

Hubby got in on the riddles yesterday.  “What is the first thing you know?”  This one stumped me all day long and he refused to tell me the answer until he got home.  You ready for this??  “The first thing you know ole Jed’s a millionaire!”

Just go with it people!

I took this joke to school and of course none of the kids knew Jed. I got very blank stares so I explained that it was an old show.  Sweetie pipes in, “I don’t watch those shows.  The only adult shows I watch are Dancing With the Stars, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and The Golden Girls.  That show’s a hoot!”

And so are these kids of mine.

Worry…

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Thank goodness I don’t have to be in charge.  Thank goodness I am not the boss and never, ever do I want to be the boss.  I learned the hard way that no matter how much I preach, nag, hover, worry, or beg, I can’t force things to be a certain way.  I can’t force things to be my way. It was hard letting go of the control, believe me.  As a teacher and a mom, I didn’t like it one bit.  But once I fully let go, it was a huge relief.

Still, I find myself worrying.  I ‘hand’ over my issues to God every day…and I mean every single day.  He probably gets tired of hearing it, honestly.  But still, the worry nags at times.  Still, I have to forcibly turn over my problems to someone who can handle them when I can’t.

Right now…I’m worried about my community.  I live in a small, rural town in the south.  There are approximately 7,500 city residents and 28,000 county residents.  We have a Wal-Mart and a Home Depot; we don’t have a Target or a Starbucks (and I would love to have both of these).  Our newspaper comes out once a week, Swap-n-Shop is on the radio every day for people to buy and sell their goods, and we have eight schools in the county.  People know each other.  People know you and your granny and your best friend from high school.

My community is struggling.  We battle with addiction and abuse and crime just like every other city.  We love sports and we support fund-raisers and little league teams.  We watch homecoming parades passing through the city square and fill churches on Sunday.  We gather to eat and share and love.

Still, my community is in trouble.  We are divided when it comes to leadership.  We let the past blur the future.  We forget others needs and focus only on our own.  We forget daily to love each other as God would do.  Daily, we forget to be kind.

I wish I had the answers for the pain.  I wish I had magic words to fix problems beyond my control.  But I don’t…and I have to remind myself that deep down, I truly don’t want to be in charge of fixing the woes of my town.  Just as I do every day, I’ll turn these issues over to God.  On this Easter Sunday, I pray for my divided community, for the leaders, for the workers, for the people.  I hope for resolution and fairness.  I pray for peace.

Dreams and Such

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**For those of you who don’t know (and may not even really care), here’s an addition to my last post:

Addendum!! My wonderful, brilliant, incredible, gifted, did I say wonderful, husband came home after a 12 hour day and found my lost pages!!! Even he doesn’t know how they ended up where they were but at this point, I’m too elated to care! I immediately took him to Sonic and bought him a sundae!!

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I had the best and strangest dream last night.  I was in town, I believe, and irritated.  Not sure by whom or what, but then I walked up on this man.  His hair was curly, his face weathered.  I gasped and the few people with me asked what was wrong.  I said, “Don’t you know who this is?  He’s Robert Plant!”  The man smiled at me, happy that I recognized him and he gripped my hand.  Then he began to sing “All of My Love” to me.  In my dream, the song was crystal clear, the warmth of his hand so very real, and the way he made me feel so much better was unbelievable.  I woke up smiling…his words slipping through my head.

Told you it was strange but it was so cool.  The Robert Plant sang to me.  The Robert Plant who is too cool for school…well, way too cool for me anyway.  (For you non-classic rock lovers, he was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin.)  In his honor, here’s a little video.

And for my very own love…the savior of missing documents, the house mechanic, accountant and electronic wizard, you’re way cooler than even Robert Plant, just so you know!

I’m screaming…just so you know!

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The unspeakable just happened…and I may throw up…across the room and all the way to town.  Somehow, in some completely foreign, unknown to me way, I just lost at least 2 chapters of my latest book and all the rewrites I did Saturday.  I don’t know what the heck just happened!  I opened it up to start anew and it’s just gone…like disappeared gone.  I always, always save my work…heck, my computer does it for me if I don’t do it often enough!  Where could it have gone?

Okay fellow writers, what do you do when this happens to you?  Do you cry, scream, run in circles?  Do you try to rewrite what you had or just start over?

I feel like I just lost a couple of toes…like they vanished without preamble off my foot.  I know it’s ridiculous, I know I’m freaking out over something not really worth freaking out over…but ugg….those were my thoughts, pages of my other life, my little word babies.

Help!

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What would you attempt…?

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What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? 

That’s the quote hanging in my husband’s new office.  He’s ventured into a new business, a step that took nerve and gumption. I thought the quote suited the moment perfectly.  How hard is it for us to try something new?  To quit being afraid?  To say I’m going to go for it no matter the risks?  My hubby made that step and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his drive.

That quote suits us all, doesn’t it?  How often would we try more, give more, if only we knew we would not fail in our attempts?  I think for most of us, that fear of failure keeps us glued to the ground below us.

For the past three weeks, we have had varied amounts of winter precipitation.  From snow to ice, we’ve missed 8.5 days out of the last 14.  Since we’ve got 13 built-in weather days, I’ve found these days a treat.  Honestly, like some gift from above.  The first week, I was a vegetable.  I ate, cleaned a little, vegged out.  The past two, something else has happened.  Something totally wonderful and unexpected considering the constant gray skies we’ve had.  I started writing again!  It actually started out as voracious reading…reading everything I could get my hands on, including some of my old stories.  Then boom, it turned into writing.  In the past few days alone, I’ve written for hours at a time, page after page that are effortlessly flowing out.

These are great moments for me…like indescribable, giddy moments where I become lost in a world in my head that flows out through my fingers.  Ah…heaven.

These three weeks of being able to go into my zone, to create often, to do something I love so much have been a reminder that someday, one day I want to write all the time.

But what if I fail?  What if I’m not good enough?  What if nobody likes what I write?

You know what?  Those are all real feelings and concerns but what if I never do it because I’m just afraid?  To me that’s worse.  To me, that’s scarier than the alternative.

Maybe I need a copy of hubby’s new quote tattooed to my wrist (just kidding), or somewhere up where I can see it every day.  Maybe we all need a reminder to live for more instead of dying in fear.  Maybe life shouldn’t be controlled by fear but led by gumption, and drive, and hope.  Maybe failure only truly occurs when we simply quit trying.

The Movie

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It brought in over 80 million dollars this past weekend. Throngs of movie goers, 60% women under the age of 30, filled the seats. Many went to see the movie.  You know, the one with the number 50 in the title.

Not me.  Not my daughter.

A little background:  My daughter is 21, she’s been in a relationship with the same guy for many years, and she’s head-strong (and beautiful, I might add).  This past weekend, she was with a group of movie-goers and when the others went to see it, she and her date chose to see something else. She told her daddy she didn’t see it “because momma didn’t want me to”.  Proud momma moment.  (I never told her not to see it.  I just told her my opinion.)

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I didn’t like the books. Read them because I wanted to see what the fuss was about, but wished I hadn’t because some images scar your brain for life!

Here’s the thing: I love romance novels!!  I adore love stories over and beyond anything else. My kindle is full of them, and when I write, I write about love and relationships.  To me, there’s nothing better than love healing a bruised soul or love mending a broken family.

To me…and I’m very, very aware I’m probably the only person on earth who feels this way…I couldn’t find the love in those books. Abuse, control, demeaning behavior, psychosis – found all that but not much love.

I’m 45, been married for 24.5 years, and I’ve been fortunate to experience real love. It has kindness and patience and most importantly, respect. My husband would never hit me (even if I asked him to) because he respects me. (And too, I think he knows that if he tried to do a smidgen of what that character did, I’d punch him right in the throat.)

I hear you saying ‘character’ – he’s just a fictional character. Yes, he’s just a character and I love a strong male character in the written word. Here’s my glitch. Will my children really get that these people are just characters?

So that’s what I told my girl. This movie is not real. It’s not what a real, healthy, stable marriage or a real life together is. A healthy relationship isn’t cruel and sadistic. It shouldn’t be, and this movie isn’t what young, impressionable minds should be comparing their relationships to.

Let me reiterate:  I Love Books.  Believe me, I’ll never ask anyone to put down a book, and I’m fully aware that not everybody likes the same type book. I just read this story from the perspective of a mother, a woman with a daughter, and a woman with an incredible husband.  And this woman couldn’t be more proud of her daughter right now.