Everything is (NOT) coming up Roses. (aka Life is keeping me humble.)

I have a great friend who once said to me, “You must have done something really good in a previous life.”

I asked her what she meant by that, and she replied, “Because, every time you land in a pile of $%#^, you come out smelling like a rose!” I laughed because I knew what she meant!  Life always has a way of throwing me lemon after lemon, but something always ends up making everything o.k.

I think about her comments now that I’m spending quite a bit of time here on the island of Grand Cayman.  As luck would have it, my prince (who is still amazing and loves me even though I'm ME) has a place here that I am lucky enough to visit with him when my teaching career allows me.  For the last three plus years I have been doing one of the things I love the most- snorkeling!  I adore the water, and feel such peace when I am snorkeling in this quiet underwater magnificence. 

From the beginning I was sorry that I didn’t have an underwater camera.  However, they are so expensive and I just didn’t think I should spend my money on one.  This Christmas while we were vacationing here, my prince gave me one as a present! I was OVER THE MOON thrilled, and used it every single day for the 10 days we were here. I was in heaven, absolute heaven.

They, when we arrived on Saturday, I immediately got ready for a quick snorkel. I charged the camera and prepped it for the snorkel.  Of course, one of the most IMPORTANT things about an underwater camera is that you secure the small door to the battery/charging compartment securely before entering the water.  YOU MUSTN’T ALOW WATER IN THE CAMERA.  I repeat, “NO WATER SHOULD GET INTO THE UNDERWATER CAMERA!”

I double checked everything, and quickly went for a snorkel.  When I went to turn on the camera, it blinked several times and wouldn’t come on.  I tried and tried- while UNDERWATER-and it blinked erratically and wouldn’t come on.  All the while this was happening, I was moving quickly, UNDERWATER, with the current.

Then, when I realized what must have happened, I panicked.

I swam back to shore as fast as I could and threw off my snorkel and flippers.  I checked the camera, turned it over and the door came open.  THE door, the one to the battery/charging area.  Apparently, I hadn’t been anal ENOUGH, and it wasn’t latched properly. IT WASN'T SHUT.  I AM A STUPID MORON. 

I %&#$-ED up my brand new awesome underwater camera.  This time, I had thrown myself into a DEEP pile of doo doo.

And now, 2 days, 24 hours of cold-air blow drying and one bag of rice later, I am NOT smelling like a rose. 

Not even close.   

The After Life. (The lockdown, part 2)

I received many emails from parents following the “lockdown” we had last Friday.  They were thankful and encouraging, and brought tears to my eyes.

We were all thankful that the person who tried to enter our building and who then was hallucinating in the parking lot was captured several blocks away. He proved to be someone who had overindulged in one too many of many things- and was most probably suffering from other mental issues.

On Monday morning I was working on prepping for the day when my student Eliza and her mother walked into the room.  They handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a card.  They also placed a bouquet and card at the table of my paraprofessional.  The mother hugged me and said, “Thank you.  For ALL you do- thank you.”  Eliza smiled very broadly, and hugged me as well. 

They walked out of the classroom so that I could finish prepping for the morning, and I opened the card.

Dear Ms. Smythe,

This is just a small thing to thank you for all of the big things that you do.  Thank you so much for turning what could have been a traumatic event, into something that Eliza thought was really fun!  She had no idea, because of how you handled it, what it really was.  But we as parents do. 

Thank you again.

I won’t lie…it brought a tear to my eye.  And while Eliza might have thought that the drill was a blast, I can tell you that I most certainly did not. 

Scariest twenty minutes of my life.


The lockdown. (This is NOT a drill)

Today in Kindergarten I sat huddled with 25 children who were hiding under tables and behind bookshelves in my classroom after we were suddenly placed in lockdown. 

We were working in morning centers when we saw the police cars outside the classroom window thinking it was a typical day, as we have seen police in and out of our school since the Florida shooting. However, this time the lights were flashing and it was a bit more obvious.  

Today was different.

Today, for a brief moment, I felt that we were about to become another statistic.  Today I felt the rush of fear – the moment of panic – as my paraprofessional and I shoved  25 souls placed in our charge under tables and out view from anyone outside the room.  We knew something about the room that the children didn't realize.

Our classroom is the first one past the office. 

As we sat huddled I looked at my partner in the classroom and knew she was someone I could count on.  We whispered together the plan, if this were indeed a situation, and how we would get the children out of the classroom alive. It took one minute.  

We looked at the kids and reminded them that this was a drill.  “That being said,” I whispered, “if this was NOT A DRILL and we have to leave … THIS is what we would do.”  They listened intently and nodded their heads.

We sat quietly for what seemed like an ETERNITY, and then heard the “all clear” from the office.  It was probably 10 or 15 minutes, but honestly I still can’t breathe.  (It was NOT a drill.)

We managed to make it through the day as if it HAD been a drill, and tried very hard to keep the children in their comfortable routine.  We laughed, we reprimanded, we did Show and Tell and Kid Writing.  But we knew things would never be the same.  

I took time to hug each child very hard. I laughed at their stories and I marveled at their writing, I let them play an extra 30 minutes and then watched them write in their journals. I looked at each of them as they worked and thought about how bright their futures would be.  I thought about my own children and how much I loved them.  I thanked God for the wonderful life I have now, and then thought about my own future.

We know life is fragile.  It just sucks that something like this has to happen to remind us of that.

Peace my friends.  And don’t forget to hug your kids.