Monthly Archives: November 2022

Dr. Pepper & Life Lessons

Part of Slice of Life on Two Writing Teachers

After a doctor’s appointment, you stop for a little treat. A drink, lunch to bring back to school, something.

I don’t know if you have this tradition, or where this tradition started. I do know that when I was little, I’d always get grape gum after the doctor — the kind that has some sort of grape flavored juice that gushes out when you chew the gum.

So today after his appointment, I took my youngest to grab a snack. Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar was the choice drink. Now this makes so much more sense, I think. Doctor appointment equals Dr. Pepper!

Apparently, according to my almost 13-year-old, Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar is the best Dr. Pepper there is. I’m not sure John Green agrees, but I’ll let the opinion stand.

As we walked out of the store, I realized that we could have easily picked up a drink for my older son as well. I had told him we couldn’t when I dropped him off at school this morning, but why?

“I feel bad!” I said to E. “It would have been easy to grab an extra bottle of Dr. Pepper for your brother.”

E and I quickly discussed — the line was long now, and we really needed to get back to school.

“It’s okay,” we both said to each other as we crossed the parking lot. We reminded ourselves that it’s the person who has to go to the doctor’s appointment who gets the special treat. It was fine.

E said, “It’s just our empathy talking. It’s actually okay to not get him one.”

“Plus,” I added, “It’s not our job to make other people happy.”

E looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, “Well, you might have taken it a little too far there.”

I had to try to explain. “It’s true. It’s not our job to take care of other people. (Aside from how I take care of you and your brother and your sister. That actually is my job.)”

I think I got a sigh from him as we got into the car.

It’s hard to explain this concept to your child, who it actually is your job to take care of!

But, maybe teaching it to my kids will help me get it straight in my own empathetic soul.

It’s not my job to make you happy.
It’s not my job to take care of you.
My needs are just as important as yours.

Say it with me, friends.

It’s not my job to make you happy.
It’s not my job to take care of you.
My needs are just as important as yours.

Snow Poem

Part of Slice of Life on Two Writing Teachers

Snow falls
outside of classroom windows
Kids yell,
Teachers say, “Yep. It’s snowing.”
“Does snow have anything to do with math?”

My classroom didn’t have windows
Can you believe it?
Somehow we always knew when there was snow
Somehow kids still yelled, “Snow!”
Did they sense it through the tiny window in our door?
Did they hear the snow silence outside?

Now it must be that soft blanketing (definitely not just the forecasted dusting)
Or the sound of boots squeaking down the hall
That transports me to
All my classroom winters
The snows of classrooms’ past. . .
The good old days

For a minute I wonder
If I wander the halls
Could I find a class to interrupt?
We could write snow poems on paper snowflakes
as the snow falls
outside of classroom windows

You know when? A slice of feeling old. Or young. Or something.

Part of Slice of Life on Two Writing Teachers

You know when you go vote but since you lost your mail-in-ballot you need a provisional one?

No? Well, you definitely have your life more together than me.

The polling place was pretty slow when I went, which sucks — but also, it made it less embarrassing that I had to keep walking back and forth in front of all the poll-workers as they got me situated with the provisional ballot.

You know how you feel old when the poll worker says, “It’s been steady, but we need some young people to come in here.”

I said, “Wait. Don’t I count?” And I laughed at my own expense as she told me “If you’re under 35 you do!”

They really make you work for those provisional ballots. I feel like I wrote my address down like 16 times.

Fine, it was two. Two times.

As I finished voting the poll worker said, “Oh! Ona! I know your mom. I worked with her on campus years ago.”

Cool connection.

“Your mom is a very eclectic person,” she added. “And her sister! The artist. I bet you’re just like them.”

I mean she isn’t wrong.

You know how you feel young when poll worker says, “Actually, I babysat you once!”

I can’t remember the last time anyone babysat me. . . So I guess that actually also makes me feel old. But also young?

Voting is cool, and everyone should do it. But my favorite part of it all was when the poll worker looked at me and added, “you were a really cool kid to babysit.”

So there. You are hearing it here first. If nothing else, I was a really cool kid to babysit.

A surprising night

Part of Slice of Life on Two Writing Teachers

The boys are home early from their dad’s. Thats not the surprise. Neither is their wrestling that starts almost immediately.

It’s a little surprising that they stop when I ask them to, but they also start right up again in the kitchen this time.

I am a little startled to hear the shattering of a wine glass in the sink. But I do live with two teenage boys, and I do enjoy a glass of wine some nights.

Some nights.

We stare at each other for a bit. The silence a few beats longer than usual as I collect my thoughts, take deep breaths and implore them with my eyes to stop the fooling around. No, I’m not exactly sure what parenting technique this is. But it’s been a long week and it’s only Tuesday so it’s all I got, I guess.

“Your shenanigans has got to stop!” I say sternly as I pick up the shards of glass. I mean, what would you say? Plus, I love that word. Shenanigans. I keep going as I start to clean up the shards of glass. “Please unload the dishwasher.”

For some reason this daily request is always a surprise to them. A shock actually. They look at me with utter disappointment.

“I liked it better when you weren’t talking,” A teenager says.

Someone picks up a Halloween cup from the counter refill their water, and is about to take a drink when I realize I hear something in their glass.

“I thought that was ice,” he says. “I almost gulped down that broken glass.”

Suddenly I notice that our new faucet is leaking from right above the nozzle

So weird.

We try to tighten it, but we loosen it instead so the hose gets sucked all the way into the faucet and disappears.


E feels bad and wants to fix it. I want to call the plumber. Well, really I want to call my dad, but he’s out of town and very busy. I think briefly about how I’m supposed to YouTube things like this. That’s what strong single moms do these days, you know.

But in a rare moment of clarity, I realize that I don’t have the brain space to start plumbing projects.

I call the plumber and as it rings and rings, H comes in the kitchen, opens the cabinet under the sink.

“Please don’t mess with it,” I say, imagining two teenagers unscrewing pipes and water shooting out everywhere.

Of course, the plumber doesn’t pick up so I leave a voicemail, struggling to figure out how to explain the situation. What are the real words for this nozzle and this hose, and the long part of the fixture?

“So my faucet was leaking and I tried to tighten it but the hose just…” I get out. Then the hose is pushed up into the faucet, and it just hangs there.

“Actually, my son just got it while I was explaining this. So, um. . . If it doesn’t work, I’ll call you back! Goodbye!”

H looks at me and sighs. “That’s why you don’t call someone before you ask me to fix it, mom.”

And, he’s not wrong. Lessons learned, right?

Ask for the help around you, trust your kids, and always — I mean always make sure you have more than one wine glass.