A Crossing Guard’s Wave

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

When I arrived at school today, the crossing guard waved me through the intersection and I waved. He waved back, just like he does every time I happen to see him. The crossing guard I see at the end of the day waves back too. When I see him, it’s usually between the elementary and middle school dismissals. He is sitting on his chair waiting for the next round of kids. He looks up, I wave, he waves back. I’m pretty sure these crossing guards don’t know who I am. I might wave to them with familiarity and a feeling of shared responsibility for these children on their way to school, but they have no idea that I’m a teacher. I guess crossing guards just always wave back?

Today after the intersection wave, I suddenly remembered my middle school crossing guard. My bus stop was oddly on an island in the middle of a Y in the road. This seems like a strange, maybe even dangerous place to wait for a bus, but that’s where I went each morning. I wish I remembered my crossing guard’s name. I remember shat I enjoyed seeing her at the bus stop. She was kind, I felt like she knew me. I have vague memories of her smile and her bouncy wavy hair, and did she have conversations with my mom sometimes? Did my mom walk me to the bus in middle school? Why am I so old now that middle school is a faded memory? Can I go back to middle school to assure myself that one day I will have forgotten most of that part of my life?

But today, before I grabbed my stuff and walked into school, I texted my mom to ask her if she remembered my middle school crossing guard’s name. A few minutes later I noticed her reply:

Are you kidding me?
No
I don’t
Sorry

(I mean, you think you can count on your mom in these situations. . .ūü§™ )

So in honor of my amazing and kind middle school crossing guard, I will continue to wave to all the crossing guards I see. I have a feeling they will wave back.

A Slice of Waiting

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

“Stories are all around us.”
That’s what I tell every class I write with —
And, friends, there are
many
stories
all
around me

But I need to watch what I write about
I hope you can see me tongue sticking out at myself in defiance
I need to watch myself
I might accidentally overshare
I wouldn’t want to overshare
I shouldn’t overshare
yet

I believe in the power of yet
Do you?

My stories all around me are swirling, suffocating, asking to be written.

The stories have to wait.
I have to write.

So
I’m going to tell you about the hot cocoa that my eleven year old just made me.
Homemade, stirred on the stove
I don’t even care that I have more dishes to do now

I’m going to tell you about the dining room table cleared for homework
Two boys, ready to work – and a cat,
Plus one hot cocoa

I’m going to tell you about a dog sitting under my desk as I work
pretending not to stare at the cat
as jealousy pours out of his half open side-eye

I’m going to tell you about the hot cocoa mug
empty on my desk and
The boys singing and whistling as they work

The stories have to wait.
I have to write.

wait
write
wait
write

It’s hard to wait
But, I can do hard things.

Just you wait
I will write those stories
because they are
all
around
me

A Slice of Adulting

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

Yesterday I was so proud of myself for getting all the way to school without spilling my coffee, which I had brought in a regular mug. Stupid, I know – but my travel mug wasn’t washed, and I didn’t want to be late, and I have a large cup holder. I pulled my Prius into the spot reserved for fuel-efficient cars, put on my sunglasses, got out of the car, put my backpack on before reaching for my mug. I was so careful. So proud. I thought to myself, “This is going to be a good day!”

A student and her mom walked by, headed towards the front door, and I said a friendly, “Good Morning!” as I grabbed my mug and it hit the radio dial and splashed all over the front seat.

At least I had a box of tissues, wedged conveniently under the driver’s seat. I’m not sure how it got there, or why I haven’t moved it yet. However, those tissues do come in handy.*

Last night I made sure to wash my travel mug.

Today I knew I had just enough time to finish something at school, drive to pick up my kids, take them home and get home by 4:00 for a phone meeting. I cut it close leaving school because I just wanted to finish the last tiny sticky note I was writing. But, I got to my kids’ school and they weren’t the last ones there and E said “You were only 5 minutes late, it’s okay,” when I apologized.

Somehow I didn’t get caught at the light I always get caught at, and I got home at 3:55! I ran inside, put my bag down, grabbed my laptop, and reached into my pocket to get my phone, which wasn’t there.

I retraced my steps, explained to my family that “yes, I know I didn’t leave it at school – I was playing music from it in the car!” We looked in the car, we called it 6 times.

I’ll spare you the suspense. H found it on the garage floor, where I guess it had fallen from my pocket, unnoticed. No, I don’t know why I didn’t hear it fall.

I was only 5 minutes late for my meeting, and my phone wasn’t broken. So there’s some good I guess.

Listen, Readers, I don’t have a call to action for you here. I’m sure you wash your travel mugs, clean your car, leave when you are supposed to leave, and don’t let your phone fall out of your pocket. But my adulting seems to be a little more whimsical.

*My computer keeps wanting me to correct “tissues” to “issues” and now I’m wondering if that is the heart of my slice, that “those issues do come in handy.”

A Slice of Soon to Be

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

STBXH” stands for “Soon To Be Ex-husband” in internet acronym language.

I’m thinking of that as I drive to my 9th grader’s choir concert.
The van is packed with my daughter’s college stuff.
Soon To Be, Soon To Be, Soon To Be . . .

Bins and boxes and bags are stuffed in the van.

We leave tomorrow.

But she was just a baby last week, I think.
And I was just in college, wasn’t I?


I’m Soon To Be Missing Her. STBMH

It’s a four hour drive
I bet it will go too fast though.

I’m Soon To Be Driving Home Alone. STBDHA

I’m feeling pretty dramatic about this.

Obviously.

I lock the van
packed with my daughter’s college stuff
and walk into the high school
for my middle son’s first high school concert
He was just a baby yesterday, I think.

I’m Soon To Be Watching Him Graduate. STBWHG

My youngest is in 6th grade.
I think you know how this goes.
He was just a baby this morning, I think.

I’m Soon To Be Watching His Freshman Concert. STBWHFC
Well, actually he doesn’t love to sing – But maybe he’ll change his mind

He’s Soon To Be More Confident. STBMC

I sit alone.
The concert is beautiful.
What is it about many voices singing?

Now I am Soon To Be Waking Up To Drive My Baby To College.
STBWUTDMBTC

Trigger at TJ Maxx: A Slice

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

L and I went to TJ Maxx this evening. She needs a few more things for college, and… it doesn’t take much to convince me to run to TJ Maxx.

“I’m going to invite you NOT to look at the clothes this time.” I said to her, remembering her stuffed closet and her current state of packing for college.

She agreed, and we started walking our usual route.

I ignored the fuzzy socks, laughed at the leather pants, and stopped at the mugs.

The mugs. I love mugs. You’d think I’d get tired of them, or that I have been gifted too many as a teacher.
But nope. I hardly ever get them as gifts, aside from the ones I buy myself at TJ Maxx. I am definitely not tired of mugs.

A year ago (or maybe a lifetime. . . ) the kids and I went to TJ Maxx to pick out a mug for someone who I thought was a friend. She was starting a new teaching job, and we got her a cute mug, some pens, a pencil case and some Mickey Mouse hand sanitizer. (2020: The year hand sanitizer became an official school supply.)

I delivered her gift to her house about a month before I found out she was no friend of mine. No. Friend. Of. Mine.

Nowadays, I stand at the mugs and I make what can only be called the cringe-laugh face of the betrayed. All these months later, when I pass the mugs on display, I stop and remember. I remember walking to her gate, congratulating her on her job, trying to be a good person. I remember all the lies that I didn’t know were lies.

Tonight after I made my cringe-laugh face of the betrayed, I looked at the mugs. I got momentarily distracted by one that felt perfect in my hands. It said “Hope.”

I wondered what mug I would get her now. I scanned the display, but unfortunately Rae Dunn doesn’t make enough snarky mugs.

This was the best I could do:

What? It’s Halloween season!

A Slice of Guilt

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

I’ve been feeling guilty lately.

In my sophomore year of college I asked my roommates if I could get a kitten. They said okay, and that weekend I went to philadelphia to pick a kitten from my boyfriend’s brother’s friend’s cat’s litter.

I named her Soma and I loved her so much.

When I got home from Philadelphia, I found out that one of my roommates had driven all the way to Iowa to get a cat.

It was strange – how she brought a farm cat home. I remember feeling startled by the Single White Female feeling, but just figuring it was one of those things.

But then for some reason she wouldn’t take the cat to the vet. And I was so upset. I was righteous. I was scared that Soma would get worms or fleas or some other disease. I did not want that cat near mine before I knew it was safe.

So while Soma took naps in tissue boxes, climbed up sliding glass door screens, sat next to me while I did my homework and ran around the house, the other cat lived in a room. Her cat cried sometimes, and my roommate started to not stay at our house anymore.

It was a strange time. No wonder my memory is so fuzzy.

I don’t know why I didn’t just take care of the vet stuff myself. I’m sure I didn’t have the money, but I’m more sure I was standing up for my righteous beliefs.

One day, my other roommate had enough, I guess. She let the cat out, brushed his fur, cleaned the whole house even! I remember coming home from class, and taking a deep breath, feeling like maybe it would be okay.

The next day the roommate who had moved out came and took the cat to the SPCA.

So now forever, I have imagined that that poor cat’s fate. She was taken from a lovely outside farm life, stuck in a college bedroom for a bit, then most likely, put down at the SPCA… all because I had the principled feeling that things had to be done a certain way. For an animal rights activist, this is a very wrong story.

I told that story to my therapist the other day to make the point that I have been trying to figure out how to know what the right thing is at any given point. How do you know if the thing you are feeling so sure about is the right thing?

I feel so guilty about that cat. What other decisions have I made, have I stuck by like that? What have the ramifications been?

My therapist paused after my story. She may have sighed, I don’t know.

“So let me get this right,” she said “You took care of your cat, which is what you are supposed to do. Your roommate did not take care of her cat, which is not okay.”

I nodded, and she continued. “I think maybe you should explore why you feel responsible for that cat.”

So, I guess I’m not done with therapy!

PS. My memory is hazzy. It may have been 2 cats from Iowa. I don’t know.

A slice of bus buddies

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

Have you seen Kindergarten/5th-grade bus buddies? The 5th graders are all proud and grown-up and heartbreakingly serious about their job. The kindergarteners look up at their buddies… literally.

Yesterday I stood in the kindergarten hallway at dismissal. I watched 5th graders escort their Kindergarten buddies to the bus, or pick up lines.

One duo – somehow with almost matching long blond curls was walking with determination. The fifth-grader had his arms spread out wide and was saying “I bet you’re wondering what is going on here, what is this huge thing I am carrying down the hall!”

The kindergartner said nothing.

The fifth-grader said, “It’s big because it’s made from my imagination!”

The kindergartner looked at his buddy, and then looked at the nurse’s office that they were passing.

He pointed at the nurse’s door and said, “I’ve been in there!”

And with that. . they went on their way!

A Slice of ice

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

My ice-maker — the one in the door of the freezer — It works now.
It makes ice.

We got the fridge a decade ago
Our old house didn’t have the hook-up for the ice
we were so excited when we moved
almost 6 years ago — to finally be able to have water and ice from door dispenser.
But the ice-maker wouldn’t make ice.
You could hear it try
And once, through some deceptive magic, one cube was born.
On that day we were so relieved! It was fixed!
But then water poured out
it wasn’t magic after all.

So we started filling the ice bin with ice from bags
at least we could dispense it
First World Problems
First World Solutions

Lately I’ve heard a whirling in the freezer
Sometimes a drop or a clink
And now the ice-maker works.
It
makes
ice.
The bin is full of ice
(for now, I guess. I won’t count my chickens, or rather my cubes, just yet…)

I don’t know if it was just the ice-maker’s time
Or maybe it just needed the mentor of the bagged ice
But whatever the reason,
If this sort of miracle is possible …
Doesn’t it just give you hope?

A slice of the last day of summer

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers Thanks for stopping by!

I fell asleep with my glasses on last night
Trying to read, I guess.

I woke before the sun and couldn’t find my glasses.
They were nowhere.
I can’t see without my glasses.
I got on the floor, aimed the light from my phone, tried to catch a glimmer of an edge or a lens-
Tried to ignore the dust under the bed.

Finally I gave up and just stayed there for a bit
On the floor, with my head on my hands.
Awhile later I got up and found them on the other edge of my bed, neatly folded, waiting.

But I had already wondered —

What does it
mean
to start the last real day of summer
blind
with your hands as pillows
on the floor
waiting in the dark?