Monthly Archives: April 2017

Some Kids Don’t Smile

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This little fellow has come into my life. He’s thin with wary, pale blue eyes. The child’s a skeptic; a hard-earned, already knows the world can be brutal, skeptic. And he’s seven. Honestly, there are moments when he can push my buttons like a lightning strike…fast and powerful before I even know it’s coming. The heat flushes under my skin and I have to bite my tongue. And then there are moments when I find his smile and I know I won’t pinch his head off that day. (Just kidding, seriously.)

Those smiles of his are rare. We go for weeks without smiles. Pain lives inside his tiny body and a smile just seems ridiculous to him. Of course I only have him with me for forty-five minutes of the day…just a blip in his massive twenty-four hour a day span. But for those 45 minutes, he’s mine. And when I see him in the halls, he’s mine. Once a child comes into my room, I get a little possessive, and whether they know it or not, they become part of the slew of students I call my own.

This past week, something eased at this little fellow’s home. I’m not sure exactly what but I have my guesses. He’d never be able to describe what it is, but something lessened its grip just enough for his anger to weaken. And then, it came. A very awkward smile…he did not want it to come out, and he fought it as long as he could. And then before he knew it, another smile popped out. I just smiled back, thankful for any grin I could get.

To some, it may be hard to believe that children in this world don’t smile. It seems as natural as breathing to most kids, but there are so many who have no reason to smile. Their home lives are broken and painful. They come to school starving. They come in with dirty clothes and unkempt hair. A lot of students struggle to find any reason to smile at all.

The mother in me wants to squeeze them until they feel better. I want to make it easier for them even though I know I can’t fix what so many of our kids live through. I want to trim their jagged nails and take them for hair cuts. I want to buy them a pair of matching socks or a pair of shoes that fit. My heart aches to wash the smell of neglect out of their hair. The teacher in me knows many of those things are beyond my capacity to do. Not because I don’t want to, but because we all know I would get fired for bathing other people’s children at school.

BUT…what can I do? I can not lose my temper when my buttons are repeatedly pushed to the point of exhaustion. I can be kind even when I’m the grumpy one. I can do my best to make a child smile, even if it’s only for a minute.

I don’t think anyone besides educators (and the spouses of educators that have to hear this every night) fathom the condition of little people…not just their outwardly condition, but their hearts. Their souls are fragile, and many of them are living through things we think only adults go through.

Those needy babies keep me grounded, they keep me focused on something other than myself. I cherish the children who smile easily and say thankful prayers for their joy, and then I pray again for the little ones who don’t smile at all. I pray the happy giggles of other children will rub off on them. And honestly, most days I pray for the strength to handle their moods and the ability to remember why they’re moody in the first place.

He smiled at me this week…a smile, not a snarl (and yes, he’s snarled at me many times). It was a good smile and it made my week.

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19 Days

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I had a naughty dream. My dreams are often vivid, mostly strange, and then usually forgettable. But this one, oh, I’m still thinking about it. There was this cake, and it was dark chocolate with thick, creamy icing, and I was eating it…the whole cake, all by myself. And all I could keep thinking was, “I’m going to have to start over. I can’t start over!”

I’m 19 days into Whole 30, a program where you give up everything but meat, veggies, fruit, eggs, and nuts for 30 days. And if you slip and eat the cake, you’re supposed to start over from day 1. Of course, there’s much more to the program than the fear of ‘slipping up’. It’s truly about getting rid of all the crud in our diets and rebooting our systems. It’s about eating what’s real and natural and learning to avoid man-made junk.

Five years ago, I gave up wheat and sugar, but gradually over the years, it all seeped back into my life. Back then I followed a life-style program where you eat what is natural and/or has less than five ingredients that are pure, but you could still have dairy if your body could digest it. It was tough but this program…whew.

Whole 30 says no to dairy, even in its purest forms, no to corn and rice, no legumes, no to peanut butter, along with no sugar, alcohol, grains. And let me be the first to tell you, it’s hard! Like want to cry from cravings hard.

But I’m 19 days in, and I haven’t started over. Here’s what I know so far:

*Morning coffee sucks. It’s my favorite drink of the day because the rest of the time, I drink water. But with no cream or sugar, yuck. I tolerate it by using Nutpods creamer and just recently, cinnamon. (Thank you for telling me about those, guys!)

*I feel hollow. Where all the bloating and junk used to live in my gut, now it’s emptying out. Sometimes the hollowness feels as if I’m starving, but most times, it feels like I can breathe so much easier, as if I’ve dropped this rock in my body I didn’t know I was carrying around.

*I don’t love vegetables. I know I’m supposed to but I only truly love a few. The others I just sort of like. We’re getting to know each other and I’m trying to be their friend but it’s a work in progress. (I’m sorry, cauliflower, I just can’t. And brussel sprouts, never.)

*I’m NOT a fearless cook, and I find myself unsure about new recipes. They look hard and call for ingredients I don’t keep. (And have you ever noticed those pictures they post? I could never make my food look like that!) So my diet has been limited. On day 19, I’m restless for something different. I may try a few things this weekend but I’m afraid my dishes will look like Pinterest fails.

*With 11 days to go, I know I’m going to make it. I will not eat that cake! I’m hoping for some clarity on what keeps my stomach in a roll, and since it’s rarely rolling anymore, I have to believe it’s something I gave up. Right? Now just to figure out what.

*Pray for me as Easter falls on day 27. Let’s not even think about the Angel food cake we always have.

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If cauliflower tasted like this, maybe I could eat it!