Monthly Archives: December 2021

A slice of Goodbyes

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

I’m terrible at goodbyes.
I’ve cried
I moved away from a best friend,
a best friend moved away from me,
I just missed my cats’ last few breaths, twice
I drove away from my dying friend – every time I drove away.

I’ve even cried
my plays were over
I said goodbye to my first class of second graders
The custodians threw away my classroom couch
movies end
grandparents leave family gatherings in dramatic commercials

Of course I cried
I dropped off my daughter at college.

I’m terrible at goodbyes.
I don’t like them.
I guess I’m
stuck – in the past

Somehow when my soon to be ex-husband
Took a couch, a chair,
a toaster oven
over to his new house
I didn’t cry.

Maybe I’ve gotten all the tears out over the last year, and I’m done.

Who am I kidding?
I’m terrible at goodbyes.

A Slice of Heartbreak

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

These kids are breaking my heart.

It’s the way they call out my name “Hi Ms. Thought!” in the hallway.
Or pass me on the way to music and say, “Ms. Ona! I miss you sooooo much.”

Or, today when a class walked by me on their way to the library. They all waved and said hello. I told them I hoped library was super fun. The last boy passed me, waving. He said, “I don’t remember who you are. But, hi!”

It’s N, who comes in from book club, walks over to me, as I sit observing his class, and says “Can I draw? I want to draw a cherry.” I convince him to listen to the writing mini lesson instead, and he cartwheels over to his spot. When his teacher corrects his behavior, I think, “Oh no! He isn’t going to want to sit there now.” But instead he becomes engaged, helping with a shared writing. Later he is the very last to go to recess, because he wants to finish writing his book.

Last week I helped protect his toy all day in my office cabinet. He isn’t allowed to play with toys during class, but he really loved the one he snuck to school. He was hiding under the coats, and I coaxed him out, asking him what his toy did. He popped the toy out of the coats, pushed a button so the monster character started waving around. “Whomp, there it is!” he said. We walked the toy down to my office, and every time I saw him that day he asked me, “Are you still protecting my toy?” Every time, I explained that it was still in my cabinet, and that nobody would go in my cabinet, because everyone knows it’s mine.

“Is it locked?” he asked near the end of the day
When I told him that it wasn’t he looked at me and said, “I’m going to make you a key.”

It’s the way third graders get silent, revising playdoh builds of important, intriguing things they know and care about. Yesterday one boy worked so hard on making his cat, and said “she is important because she was my cat and now she died.” Yesterday he was so sad to squish his cat prototype back into the playdoh container.

“You’re going to make another one tomorrow!” I told him, “And you’ll remember how to do it, and it might even be better.”

He didn’t believe me.

Today, a few minutes into our playdoh revision, he said “Ms. Thought, you’re right! I do remember, and this time it is even better!”

It’s L, a first grader who I knew in remote kindergarten, who can’t seem to keep his mask over his nose for longer than a minute, but dutifully pulls it up every time he’s reminded. He’s working hard to learn his letters and sounds and last week he took me over to the word wall to point out the words he had made. “All the ones in black sharpie are mine!” he said with so much pride I almost started crying. Then he asked me if he could get the Woody toy again, to help him write his piece, “How to play with Woody from Toy Story.”

It’s fifth graders who joke with me, and get my sarcasm.

There’s the kindergartener I helped on the second day of school during the fire drill practice. He was scared, and I held his hand. Now every time I see him, he waves his hand intensely and calls “Hi! Ms. Ona!!!”

When I’m lucky, I get to see kids walk into school: Kindergarteners carrying huge backpacks, and paper trays overflowing with cafeteria breakfast, primary students waving goodbye to their siblings, fifth graders chatting with friends on the way upstairs.

I can’t tell if feeling this much heartbreak about kids that I’m lucky teachers share with me means that I’m in the right profession — or the wrong one.

Breaking up

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

When I was 18, or soon to be 18, I was at home with my young sister for a few days before Christmas.

The house must have already been decorated, my sister already asleep. (How did I get her to go to bed, but my own children never sleep?)

So, of course, I decided to make Chocolate Chip cookies.

I think cookies were a serious part of Christmas at that time in my family. We had an enclosed front porch that was freezing in the winter. That’s where we kept the Christmas cookies, frozen for weeks, ready to be made into platters to gift family, friends, neighbors, teachers…

I don’t remember much about decades ago, but I remember the house smelling like a chocolate chip cookie, my dining room table full of cookies. I was making so many cookies, they were spread like playing cards cooling on foil. For quite avwhile, baking chocolate chip cookies triggered sadness.

I don’t remember if Mr. Thought called, or came over.
He wasn’t Mr. Thought then, just a boyfriend.

Well, he was a boyfriend before I made the cookies, and maybe during a few batches.

But then — he wasn’t.

He wanted to see other people.
Explore. His. Options.

He was done with us.

I was devastated.
Christmas was ruined.
My parents came home the next day, we celebrated Christmas and my 18th birthday. They gave me a beautiful silver bracelet.
We went to my grandma’s, where I was a teenage zombie, with a broken heart.

I spent time with my blinds drawn, blasting PJ Harvey that winter break. “You’re not rid of me…”

Good grief
breakup grief
18-year old’s grief
Christmas grief
heartbreak grief

A slice of a bonus action

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

I’m listening to David Sedaris on my trips from school to school.

He is such an honest writer.

In D&D a month or so ago, our Dungeon Master said
“Talk is a bonus action.”

I mean, he also said “Roll for your crocodile.” But focus, please:
“Talk is a bonus action.”

I think maybe writing is too.

So I’m writing in little spaces
Bravely, I hope.

I don’t have any D&D dice to roll in my regular life
which is all for the best since I still ask
“A D20?” after a year of playing

So instead of rolling for insight or perception
I’m writing
sometimes in secret
little spaces

One day I’ll share
even though
Talk is a bonus action.