Category Archives: Family

Fueled by Love

celebrate-image So happy to Celebrate with Ruth Ayres this weekend! 

I want to celebrate one of my kids today. One of my wonderful children is a little extra unique. He’s smart, creative, comical, helpful, talented, a struggling reader, fidgety, a nonconformist, sensitive and loud. If you haven’t met him, watching this will give you a good idea of him. (If you’re his parent, watching it might make you cry and hope.)

The other day I overheard someone else use the word tricky to describe him. They hadn’t met him yet, but it was my fault because sometimes I have labeled him “tricky” in order to try to describe him to others. But I think I’ve been using the wrong word. It’s not that he’s never mischievous… it’s just that that isn’t what I mean by tricky. The nuance of what I mean is lost in the translation from my brain to others’ ears. I mean unique. I mean not interested in the status quo. I mean challenges you to be a better person.  I mean sensitive but not quiet. 

The other day, Mr. Thought and I were talking about how to make sure our son starts off his new school on the right foot.

“He’s not tricky.” Mr. Thought said. “Well, sometimes he is, but that’s not the point.”

We both thought for a moment. “He’s just fueled by love.” My husband explained, “He needs to know he’s loved.”

I don’t usually speak in hashtags, but come on. This is #truth.

So, I have a new way to talk about my amazing kid. He is fueled by love. He deserves it.

And I think I have new way to talk about all kids, right? Who isn’t fueled by love? Who doesn’t deserve it? What does it mean? It means give every kid the benefit of the doubt, set kind limits, give second chances, again and again. Take a deep breath, let it go. Don’t make compliance your learning goal. Look around at your students and get to know them. Please. They are fueled by love.

 

 

A slice at the Grocery Store

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

There’s only one register open at Wegmans, and it’s a little bit slow. E and I can handle it though, and while we wait, a pregnant mother of 3 kids pulls her cart behind me. Her toddler keeps throwing things on the floor. So, when it’s my turn to put groceries on the belt, I ask her if she wants to go in front of me.

“No, that’s okay. They need to learn to be patient.”

“Are you sure?” I ask, “I only brought one of my kids with me today, so you are welcome to go first.”

“Nope, I’m kinda hoping they open another register. Usually they open registers when there are lines.”

The cashier rings up my groceries, and the woman has to start loading hers.

“Can you get those things on the bottom? No the bottom. The very bottom of the cart.” She explains to her kids. “Grab the milk from your sister before she drops it.”

I’m pulled out of my noticing by the cashier complaining about the line. She needs a price check for one of my items, so now she is the only cashier and her lamp is blinking. Another worker walks by, and my cashier yells after her.

“Is anyone going to help me?”

The woman walks away, saying “I’m going to accounting.”

“It would be great if you said something.” the cashier tells me. “That will make them listen. This is crazy. I’m all by myself.”

I nod. “It really puts the pressure on you.”

“That’s true.” she says to me, and then turns her head towards customer service, calling out the name of her manager. “I could use some help!”

Her voice is stressed, and snippy. The manager looks up, takes a deep breath and says “I’m with a customer. And then I can help you.”

The cashier grumbles to me some more, and I don’t really know what to say, so I just tell her that it must be so hard. The manager walks over, a smile on her face, asking what she can do to help me.

“I’m the only one on register.” the cashier says as the manager walks away, looking for the price we need. When she gets back, she asks the cashier if the item got on my order.

“I have no idea. I’m the only one on register. Can someone please come help over here?”

The manager checks that the item is now on my order, turns to the cashier and talks in a very patient voice, “More people are coming on. It will be okay.” She walks away.

“I hope your day gets better.” I tell the cashier as I walk away. E looks at me, eyes wide and rolling a little. It’s the look he gives me when we witness something a little odd. So, we talk a little about how hard it must be to be the only cashier, and how hard it must be to be the manager trying to get other people on the registers.  In my head I think about how patient the manager was, and how stressed out the cashier was. I wonder if this was supposed to teach me something. Is it ironic that the manager was all smiles to me, and on the patronizing side of patient with her employee? I don’t know. But, I noticed.

E reads this over my shoulder. “That’s sad” he says, and then, “Why are you writing about Wegmans? Write about something else.”

 

 

A slice of a summer night.

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

Summer nights come suddenly. I’m just relaxing into the evening with kids, and then BAM! It’s 10:00, and I’ve failed at bedtime — again.

A bad headache equaled a late dinner tonight which made a late bedtime inevitable, so I decided not to care. We sat on the deck, as the light faded, and I just chatted with the kids:  Chairs pulled close together, legs resting on laps.

I wanted to see the stars come out, but the clouds were in the way. One big cloud, actually. So, I closed my eyes,  pretended my headache was gone, and just listened. We talked about makeup that L wants to try, “just for fun,” and the sphynx documentary the boys had watched earlier, and the smoothie E had just made, “even better than my smoothie from yesterday because instead of two ice cubes, this time I added two extra pieces of frozen mango.”

While we chatted and the wind stirred up, the magic wasn’t lost on me. In the back of my head I was noticing that this… this is what they mean when people tell me I’ll miss these days.

 

A slice of swimming lessons

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

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Melancholy has taken over E, and I blame the steroids he’s on right now. This sadness can come to play all through the day, but for sure on the way to school, on the way to karate, and during swimming lessons.

Tip of the day. Don’t start your 7 year old in any fun extracurriculars at the same time he starts a 12 week course of prednisolone! 

Today as I walked E and H into the YMCA for their swimming lessons, the difference between how each boy viewed this activity was clear.

H: I don’t know if I should move up a level, or just stay in this. I mean, it’s easy, but it’s good practice. How many more classes do we have left?
Me: Well, this is your third class, and there are 8 total .
H: 5! We only have 5 left?
E: 5! We have 5 more?
Me: You can take another round of classes after this if you want —
H: Yes! Please? Please?
E: NO! Do we have to? I don’t want to!

Once in the building, we hurry into the pool lobby. H and E walk through the men’s locker room, and I meet them via the women’s. E looks worried and says, “What if they make me go under water? Last time they just expected everyone to go under, and I can’t!” Then he tells me that the other kids splash, and that really bothers him. “If I hold two fingers up like this, that means they are splashing! That’s what I was trying to tell you last time!”

“How about 1 finger up means ‘I love you?'” I ask him.

I’m so glad to make this signalling system, because the first time I took the boys to swimming lessons, E kept looking at me and mouthing whole sentences that I couldn’t understand. If you have ever been on the other side of windows looking into an indoor pool where your 7 year old is scared of swimming lessons and is dramatically mouthing his concerns about drowning, you know what I’m talking about.

The classes are called to the pool, and I walk to the plastic pool chairs that parents sit in to watch. I’m not going to lie. Trying to watch 2 kids in 2 pools…not my favorite thing.

E is getting splashed. 2 fingers up from him, and I mirror his signal while mouthing, “It’s okay. You’ll be okay.”

Every few minutes, E mouths, “How many minutes left?” and I flash the number on my fingers.

25 minutes left.

E is so mad about the kid next to him acting crazy. His 2 fingers are up, his eyes are rolling. I give what I hope is an empathetic and encouraging look.

“What if I drown?” he mouths.

“You’ll be okay.” I mouth back, gesturing to his 2 teachers and the lifeguards nearby.

“How many minutes left?”

I look over at H, who is diving for rings and swimming back and forth in his class’ lane.

E does a front float, and a  doggy paddle to his teacher who keeps moving farther away. He looks at me, and I give another encouraging smile, with 2 thumbs up.  His teacher pushes him away, off towards the side of the pool and he is doing great. Until he’s not. And I see the mini panic as he loses steam, and goes under. His teacher is there in a second, and helps him to the side, and he seems fine. But when I mouth, “Are you okay?” with questioning eyebrows, and one thumb up, he shakes his head no. He rests, arms on the side of the pool, looking sad.

He swims again, and this time mouths, “Was I good?”  Thumbs up buddy.

H is diving off the diving board.

“How many minutes left?”

The kids in E’s class are taking turns jumping into the water. Last time, E jumped into his teacher’s arms. But today, he jumps straight into the pool, submerging himself.

“Was I good?”

“So good, honey!”

“How many minutes left?”

One more jump, and then I am handing the boys towels, talking to H’s teacher about moving up a level, and reassuring E that he did indeed do a good job.

I meet them on the other side of the locker rooms, and we walk out…Swimming lessons are done…until Thursday.

 

#sol17 March 27 A slice of not making sense.

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

It doesn’t make sense. 

I’m not sure why I’m helping my daughter pick out classes for High School.

She was just a baby.  How could a baby be expected to take Geometry? How could a baby decide between English 9, and Advanced English?

I’m not sure why I’m helping my daughter pick out classes for High School.

It doesn’t make sense.

 

#sol17 March 17 A few slices of St. Patrick’s Day

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

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In the car on the way home from picking up the big kids from school, the conversation turns to St. Patrick’s Day and leprechaun traps.

“I know you’re the leprechaun, Mommy.” H says, and I laugh.

“I’m not a leprechaun! I’m not that short! I don’t have red hair! I have no magic!”

L and H roll their eyes at me. “You always say that. We know you aren’t a leprechaun, or Santa, but you always say, ‘How could I have time to give presents out all over the world?'” L complains.

“We just mean it’s you who takes the gold and leaves us green candy.” H explains.

I just laugh. Then I ask them, “What would you do if you came downstairs, opened your trap and there was a tiny little mean spirited elf screaming at you and throwing magic spells your way? ‘ARGH!!!!! ACHHH!!!!'”

They look surprised and laugh.

“I think you are all the things. Except for Christmas. Christmas is real. It has to be. Also, I think leprechauns are real. Teacher Mary said she saw one” H tells me. L agrees.

Teacher Mary has retired, but her magic lives on!

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Later, I drop L off at her play rehearsal and run to Target.

I am on the hunt for something small and green or shiny. Something to leave just for fun. I am late for this errand, I know. A woman walks up next to me looking at the same leftover St. Patrick’s Day tchotchkes.

“I think those 4 leaf clover necklaces are all broken.” I tell her. She stares at them a little bit.

“I’m actually Irish,” she says, and I nod. I’m about to explain that I am part Irish when she continues, “Like, actually born in Ireland…We don’t do this there… This leprechaun trap thing.” She laughed. “But, my daughter came home from school saying, ‘Mommy! We have to set a trap for the leprechaun and he will come and leave us something tricky!’ So, here I am.”

We stare at the green headbands and four leaf clover socks together for a moment, before she walks away, saying ironically, “Well, good luck!”

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The kids are finally all asleep. My sub plans are done for tomorrow. I look at the traps that the boys have set. One is a cardboard drink holder, decorated with puffy paint and plastic gold coins, set precariously on top of the puffy paint containers. That’s the one I made with E. Rushing him a bit because, you know… bedtime! The other is the one that H made on his own. He filled a pot with water, floating some gold coins and duct taping others to the bottom of the pot.A piece of chalk keeps the pot’s lid on, ready to close. Before he went to bed, he explained that he didn’t want the leprechaun to drown. So, he left a lifesaver (mint, but with sharpied on stripes) and a short note.

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Years ago, I found the leprechaun trap idea online. It looked like a fun thing to try with the kids. I didn’t really realize I was starting a tradition that would last for so long. I know this isn’t what St. Patrick’s Day is really about. I know it’s a silly pinterest fad gone crazy. But, I’m okay with the little bit of March Magic.

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We didn’t catch any leprechaun’s last night. (Thank goodness… can you even imagine how scary that would be?) But, the kids did enjoy a few window gel rainbows, and just a couple of green candies for breakfast.

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#sol17 March 16 A slice of silence

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

I’ve been reflecting lately about time. What do you do with the time you have? What do you do with the silence? What choices do you make? This poem feels unfinished, but for some reason I like the shape of it on the screen. I’m sure it will look different on a mobile version, but it swoops in a way here on my screen… so I’m calling it done. For now. 

It is silent in my house.
E is still sleeping upstairs,
Finn is sleeping on the couch,
Mr. Thought is working downstairs.

I have a pile of should do’s.
I got my grading out: I graded one paper.
I’m looking at the basket of laundry: I’ll fold it later.
The dishwasher needs to be emptied, and filled: You get the picture.

It is silent in my house.
E is still sleeping upstairs,
Finn is sleeping on the couch,
Mr. Thought is working downstairs.

 

 

 

 

#sol17 March 15 A slice of mama worry

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

All day a voice in the back of my head has told me that E is not feeling good enough to go to school tomorrow. Maybe it’s his puffy face, his slow walk, or his pink-is-it-a-rash? face. It could be how hard it has been to wake him up in the morning, how many times he stopped playing and just sat on the couch, almost napping. But, I think it’s mostly the way he has walked over to me more than a dozen times, put his head on my shoulder and said, “I  love you, Mama. I just want to snuggle you.” A few times he has been even more dramatic, mouthing “I love you, Mama” from across the room, or saying in a sweet voice, “I love you, Mama. I’ll love you until the day you die, and then even when you’re dead.” Seven year old boys, in my experience, are very specific and honest with their love.

So, after getting him to sleep, all cozy in my bed, I took another look at his sweet, puffy, red-cheeked face. I walked downstairs and I put in for a guest teacher tomorrow.

I feel guilty of course, another day of sub plans, another day away from my classroom… but sometimes a mama has to do what a mama has to do. And I think if you saw E today, you’d understand.

 

 

 

#sol17 March 14 A slice of a snow day: Dreams vs. Reality

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

Snow Day Dreams
Maybe you will read your book,
and snuggle in to watch a movie.
There could be fun crafts!
Everyone will work together to clear the driveway.
No worries, you’ll be home so the house will stay clean,
the dishes will be done!
You will get caught up on your work.
The dog will be chill and
you will read some more by the fire.

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Snow Day Reality
Have you ever tried to teach a 7 year old to swallow a pill?
Have you ever tried to crush prednisone into applesauce just like the doctor did at the hospital?
How many times does a kid need to throw up their medicine before you call the doctor?
Is the pharmacy open during this winter storm?
Is that rash related to the already known condition?
How much coffee is too much coffee?
Will anyone else play with the dog?
How many people will complain about the fireplace heat?
Is puffy paint a fun craft?
How much slime can 3 kids make?
How many slime batches can get messed up and thrown away?
Who will make dinner?
How much bickering can 3 kids do in one day?
When will you do your work?
Will you be able to read your book later?
Will tomorrow be a snow day?

#sol17 March 13 A grateful slice, a not great day.

Slice of LIfe

 

 I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for bloggingwithstudentsall of March.  You should do it too!  Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!

 

Not such a great day. Swollen son, rushed to ER, there so late, lots of praying. Diagnosis, we think. Off to drive to the specialist in the next 20 minutes. So a Grateful slice…

Thank goodness for…

Good doctors, nice nurses
Close hospitals,
Ultrasounds, IVs,
Quick thinking doctors.

Brave boys, cooperative kids, helpful grandpas,
E says, “Nice mammas too.”

Lots of snuggles, own bed,
helpful team at school.

Quick appointment making
working car, family to watch the dog and kids.