Monthly Archives: April 2014

Quotes from the Underbelly



Do you really want to know what teaching is like?  It’s me, on the floor, on all fours, searching for a lost tooth.  The carpet in my room is navy and tan speckled, and the tiny white tooth disappeared into the miniature hills and valleys of the material.  The students cleared a path for me but only for a moment before swallowing the space around me.  Then at least ten of us were looking for the tiny tooth.  It was a prize, this tooth.  The brave little girl had pulled it herself during lunch, wrapped it in a wrinkled and slightly bloodied napkin before stuffing it into her pocket.  When she pulled the tooth free to inspect her handiwork after lunch, it fell and quickly disappeared.  If only you could have seen her face when she believed it was lost.  This blonde hair, blue-eyed doll is the eldest student I have – eldest as in has enough common sense for most of the 150 first graders in our school.  But still, she was on the brink.  Her unflinching sense of self knew she wasn’t supposed to cry, but the little girl inside her was struggling.

After lots of searching, no tooth was to be found.  I told her I’d write her mother a note about the tooth, that I’d even write the tooth fairy if she wanted me to.  Her little head nodded and she walked away.  My heart broke.

Sixty seconds later, she bounded back to my desk, tooth in hand.  She’d found the hidden gem on top of her desk.  (So much for crawling around on the floor in navy pants, bad knees and all.)  But it was all worth it…her face made it all worth it.

I read a wonderful quote this week:  “The soul is healed by being with children.” 

In the midst of everything…extended school days, test prep, rigid rules, lengthy forms and evaluations, unhappiness and grumbles, there are the children.  I can’t tell you how many times in the past few years I’ve wanted to quit.  I hate getting up at 5:30 every morning.  I hate picking out clothes for work and wrestling with my hair.  I despise the rush of mornings.  And then I get to work…and it’s rushed there too.  I just want to scream, “I’m done!”

But somehow I don’t, and the quote above says it all.  My soul is healed by their smiles and their words and their needs.  They need me and I can’t leave them just yet.

More quotes from the underbelly:

*We’re looking at pictures of American symbols.  We turn to find the Statue of Liberty, and a little fellow blurts out, “Is that God?”

*During math time, we had the addition problem 35-3 = _.  (The students are supposed to stand the problem up vertically then subtract.)  A little girl comes to me and says, “How do I do this one?  It’s going to take up all my fingers.”  Somehow I bit my tongue and didn’t respond, “And your toes and several strands of hair.”

*My sweet student from Egypt is picking up more and more English.  Now instead of saying  please toilet he’s up to, “Mrs. Rackley, please toilet.  Okay?”  Precious.

*We’ve been watching Frozen during snack time over the past few weeks.  One day the song Let it Go came on.  The girls started belting out the song, and I mean word for word, singing in their best ready for Broadway voices.  Hearing them sing like that sent chills across my skin.  It was so moving I almost cried.  Then I scanned the boys and they’re looking at the girls like they’re aliens.  One boy even had his ears covered.  So instead of crying, I laughed.

These kids are a hoot.

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 and teachers and parents 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 schools 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.

Easter 2014


What a weekend…what a blessing.  This weekend has been busy but so very good.  It was a weekend full of family, Wicked (the play and it was awesome), and Easter.  There has been more food than any one person should ever eat (and I’m already feeling guilty for stuffing myself), a daughter home from college, and my sister’s birthday.

I was blessed with a baby sister when I was two-and-a-half.  Even though we look like polar opposites, we’re really two peas in a pod.  We favor in ways only blood relations can favor – moods, quirks, mannerisms.  We are so much alike even though we look like night and day.  We celebrated my sister’s birthday today, and during the celebrations, I couldn’t help but think of the life we’ve shared.  Life wasn’t always easy for us growing up, and it has had its share of ups and downs as adults, but still….no matter what, absolutely no matter how bad or good things are or have been, we’ve always had each other.

Thing 1 and Thing 2.  We're actually the same height, too.  I think I had on heels that night.

Thing 1 and Thing 2. We’re actually the same height, too. I think I had on heels that night.

I am thankful for many things on this beautiful Easter Sunday, and my sister is one of them.  I’m so very thankful for all my family.  They make each day of life easier, more colorful, cherished, and filled.  I am blessed indeed.

The family...

The family…Easter 2014.




“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ” I used everything you gave me.”

Erma Bombeck

That quote has pulsed through my mind for two weeks now.  I read it in the book One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook.  The words hit me so profoundly.  When my time comes, will I be able to say that I have used my talents, or have they been idling in the back of my mind untouched?  (This book is about way more than untouched talents and a very good read, by the way.)

I am blessed to attend a once a week gathering with a group of diverse women who aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions.  They talk about topics most casual acquaintances would never discuss.  Topics that make you ask yourself the hard questions.  What if I only had one month to live?  What if I’ve done nothing but squander time?

In our group, we have two wanna-be writers, a banker who runs marathons and has found a passion in teaching, a dental hygienist who realized her real passion isn’t cleaning teeth but engaging with her patients, a few retirees who have more spark and life than people half their ages, and mothers…lots of mothers.

We talk about our dreams, our fears, our struggles with raising actual people.  For some it’s very difficult to voice their dreams aloud.  And for one kind woman, she sheepishly admitted, “I must have missed the line for dreams.  I’ve never really had one.”  (But this woman has talents…talents she uses every day in the work force, talents she uses in the church and with people around her.  Maybe she’s just never thought of them as a passion…)

It’s no secret that I have two passions.  One passion is children, the other is writing.  The first passion is aging.  It has become a little tarnished with time, and definitely banged up over the years.  But even still, even as the powers that be are changing everything I once knew about teaching, I still love the children.  My other passion never stops whispering to me…even when I’m at work surrounded by twenty little bodies.

Writing was an urge given to me.  I did not earn it or bargain for it.  I did not expect it.  It showed up in my early thirties and since that time has devoured a large part of my soul.  Do I consider it a talent?  I don’t know.  But I know this…if and when the time comes for me to say that yes, I’ve used my talents, I want to be able to say it.  I’ve given 24 years of my life to teaching, and I want to be able to say that I gave writing my all as well.

So how do I do this?  Our group discusses this often.  How do we find the time to do it all?  I spend 40 hours a week at work then what feels like another 40 taking care of the house, food, etc.  What time does that leave for writing?  Sometimes, very little.

My challenge is to find the time to write more.  And that is my challenge to you.  What are your talents?  What are your dreams?  Is it finally being able to be a stay at home mom?  Is it a passion for cooking (and will you share just a smidgen of that with me)?  Is it a need to take care of others?  Whatever it is, I challenge you to embrace it as I do the same.  Maybe we can find our way there together.