But THIS one is the one that STILL makes me laugh until I cry. And it feels so dang good.
But THIS one is the one that STILL makes me laugh until I cry. And it feels so dang good.
I want to take a minute to thank the incredible Nap Warden for her help.
When I went over to check on the report of his hoarding.....
“Mrs. Smythe, I'm managing the red crayons. If anyone wants one, all they have to do is see me and ask.”
I’ve decided to call him Luke Trump.
You just knew I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
I don’t often use this space to climb upon a soapbox. I’ve found that they are often weak and unsteady, and topple when a great gust of hot air blows by.
The events unfolding in Wisconsin have given me no choice but to speak. And you know why.
I’m a teacher.
I hear and read here and there, that people think that teacher’s have it easy. They spout about the three months off during the summer, and other various things that they think make our jobs easy.
We often smile at those who make those comments, because we know in our hearts that it comes from ignorance.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak to who I am.
I’m a teacher.
I spend each of my 180 days wrapping your children in love, hope, and great expectation. I offer them various ways to approach a problem, to solve a problem, and to avoid a problem. I strap them to my back and run a marathon for nine months, hoping and praying and making SURE than no one falls.
I show them ways to make a friend, to keep a friend and to be a friend.
I show them that if we make a mistake each and every day, then we are LEARNING each and every day.
I show that that even if they anger me or frustrate me, I will still smile and remind them that I love them very much while I am enforcing whatever punishment I feel is necessary. I force them to own their mistakes, to learn from them and to grow; all the while maintaining a great sense of humor and pride in whatever they accomplish. I show them how to turn their face toward the sun, even when the rain is pelting them on their backs.
And behind the scenes?
I am planning lessons each night that will motivate and inspire your children. I search through magazines for teaching aides, search websites for new activities, look through my resources for new ways to re-teach lessons that didn’t reach some kids, and ask for help when I need it.
I go to soccer games, dance recitals, karate lesson, hockey games, t-ball games, first holy communions and birthday parties. I spend my own money on stickers, snacks, things I need for science, cookie cutouts for centers, and things I know the kids will love to find in the prize box. I do this because my job is not somewhere I go five days a week, but because it’s my passion; and because I care about the souls in my classroom.
So, Governor Walker , are those teachers camped out in your front yard because they want to protect their BMW’s or their beach houses or their trips to Aspen or their billion dollar retirement funds?
No. They are there because they are showing all of the children that they have touched, that if you believe in who you are and what you do, then you take a stand. You fight for what you believe in your heart and soul is right and good and fair.
You show by your actions that WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU DO has value.
And I wonder, Governor Walker, what your kindergarten teacher is thinking right about now?
I’m thinking that perhaps she might need to go over that “Do unto others” lesson maybe one more time.
I've spent much of the year trying to convince Frank that telling tall tales all the time is not always the way to go.
I knew it would be hard.
I just didn’t realize how hard.
I prepared everyone for the move. It was to happen over the Thanksgiving break; the boys would be at hunting camp and the girls intended to be somewhere else. The whole idea of breaking up the family wasn’t one that any of the children were ready to accept, and they were quite vocal about it. I knew that in the long run, they would realize that it was the only thing I could do.
We agreed that I was only taking the furniture I had inherited from my parents; a few tables, some lamps, a lovely cabinet my mother had discovered at the Goodwill and an old secretary that my sister had given me many years earlier.
I decided to leave the bed.
Word spread like wildfire at work that I was searching for box springs, mattresses and other things I needed to make this house a home. Before I knew it I was deluged with offers from amazing friends who had “items” that they no longer needed. My brain was even more scattered than normal, and I wasn’t sure exactly what would be landing on my doorstep, but I was both thankful and hopeful.
My sister made the trip down the day after Thanksgiving. We spent all of Saturday packing anything and everything that I thought I would need, keeping in mind that the children had chosen to stay with their father. (That’s another post entirely.)
“Mom, we don’t know if you’ll be there for a month and have to move again, or not. We’ll be going back to school and won’t be spending much time here anyway. It’s best just to leave our stuff here. And you know Golden Boy won’t leave Dad.”
And so, in an effort to listen to my head instead of my heart, I concurred. It broke my heart, but I concurred.
My incredible sister and I packed boxes, loaded the cars, drove, carried them into the new house and went back for more. It continued like this for most of the day. When we thought we had the essentials, we were off to get a few bed frames, a rug, and food.
She had to leave the next morning, and wouldn’t be there for the official move. We did, however, accomplish more in one day than I ever imagined we would.
My best friend’s husband, a generous man and a great friend indeed, procured a truck from his business and they came to my house early that Sunday morning. Another strong fella from school showed up, along with one of our amazing secretaries. They loaded up the furniture in the truck, we threw the remaining boxes in various cars and were ready to leave.
I looked at the house and felt the pangs of my broken heart. I looked at the home that held my hopes and dreams for many years, and I cried.
I crawled into my car and followed the truck – for we had many other stops to make before reached the home that I was entrusting with my new hopes and dreams.
I wiped my eyes and took a deep breath as I pulled out of the driveway.
It was going to be a long day, indeed.
Many of us who teach in elementary school begin our day with something called a Morning Meeting. (As many of you already know.) This is a great way to build community in the classroom, and get to know the children better. We always begin Morning Meeting with a friendly greeting to one another, and then we do some telling sharing. This is the time we get a peek into what’s important to the children! Here is what happened today.
Jack: I slept in my own bed last night - all night long!
Frank: I have rabbits and I know how they make babies. You put the boy in the girl’s cage. He jumps on her back. They shake around. Then we have to take the boy out of the cage and they have babies.
Luke: That’s disgusting.
Okay class, I think that might be enough sharing for the day…
(This was one of my first columns about love. And may I say that I feel love for all of you on this very special day....)
When I was in kindergarten a little boy in my class brought me flowers for Valentines Day. Unfortunately I was a bit shy back then and I refused them. A bit later that day I was called into the principal’s office (The first of MANY visits.) and was asked very nicely by the principal why I wouldn’t accept her son’s flowers. I immediately started crying hysterically (Oh my gosh I still do that when I go the principal’s office- now I know why!) until she finally ushered me back to class. I have given and received many a Valentine’s Day gift since then. In fact, the truth of the matter is, I remember more Valentine’s Day gifts than I do birthday gifts.
I also vividly remember the first boy I ever loved. His name was Robbie Drisholl. He was in my third grade class, and just the cutest boy you’d ever, ever seen. I loved him, I really did! There was only one problem - my sister, who was in my class, loved him too. Kathy had long, brown hair that went to her waist, pretty blue eyes, and won our in-class “Simon Says” dance contest. (The Archies song, remember?) Unfortunately the dance contest was held on the same day I snuck to school wearing my mother’s garter belts and nylons that kept falling around my ankles. It was not a pretty sight and needless to say I had no chance with Robbie Drisholl, or making the Simon Says dance team. My heart was broken on Valentines Day, and I didn’t have the principal to help me out.
In each chapter of your life this particular day means many different things. When you are very young it is about giving valentines to your classmates, and how many valentines you receive in turn. It’s about decorating the Valentine’s Day bag, box or envelope. We’re immersed in glitter, glue, foil paper and doilies! (The bigger, the sparklier, the better!!!) The Valentine’s Day party in elementary school is the biggest and most anticipated party of the year. It’s even bigger than Halloween, believe it or not. At this age everyone receives a valentine, everyone! If only that would continue into middle school and high school- far few people would be in therapy, I’m sure.
When we began our discussion about Valentine’s Day this year, most of the kids decided that Valentine’s Day was about buying stuff for people. According to Kyle, our resident “Little Professor”, if you really, really, really love someone, you buy that person a card AND some candy. Most of the kids agreed that you buy people cards on Valentines Day. Our discussion then took many twists and turns, as by now you all know. We talked about love, candy, doll babies, Egypt (I don’t even know how that came up.), slavery, puppies, Cara’s sister Heather’s turtles, and someone’s transformer. There was a brief, somewhat hysterical discussion about the “love man” who the kids told me was pink, had an arrow “fing”, made people love each other, and wore a diaper. After I regained some control over the discussion (which is never easy) I decided to poll some other classes about what love means. I simply couldn’t hold the attention of these five-year old munchkins who wanted nothing to do with love, but desperately wanted to talk about transformers. Here are the sweet results.
Love looks like pink letters and doily’s; love looks like sweet things; love looks weird; love looks like a heart; love looks like cupid.
Love feels warm in your heart; love feels like my blanket; love feels like cupid hit you; love feels like a hug; and love feels like hot chocolate.
Love smells like vanilla; love smells like chocolate; love smells like flowers; love smells like roses; and love smells like boys and gentlemen.
Now that I am forty-something, I often look back and think about love, and the many times love has come along in my life. The most surprising love of all is the love you feel the moment you lay eyes on your precious child. It is honestly a feeling that is so very hard to describe. (Those of you fortunate enough to have children out there know what I am talking about.) This love grows and grows until you think that your heart will probably burst. (I will say, however, that during the years of 14 – 18, this love camouflages itself with another emotion entirely.)
When all is said and done, it really is all about love. As the years go by we come to know these truths: Love breaks our hearts, love lifts us up, love fills us, love heals us, and love saves us.
And, of course, we all know it’s true – and didn’t the Beatles say it so well - all you need is love.
I knew he wouldn’t leave.
He informed me many times over that he had no intention of leaving the “starter” house we had purchased what seems like a thousand years ago.
I knew in my heart that he wouldn’t. He wanted that house, and I never did.
I grabbed the overdue water bill off the counter and took a drive along the back way, through some farmland and down a lonely stretch of road. I hadn’t traveled this route recently, but was searching for some quiet time to collect my thoughts.
That’s when I spotted it.
It was nestled among some glorious pine trees, standing tall supported by its incredible stonework and lovely front porch. There was a “For Sale” sign in front of the house, and I was drawn to it.
It was next door to the water authority and after I paid the bill I turned the car around and drove by it again. I turned around at the end of the road, and went by it AGAIN. It was magnificent. But it was for sale, not for rent.
And so I went about the next two weeks looking at townhouses, condos, and various houses for rent. I was hopeful, but all the while that house was a nagging thought in my heart. It woke me up at night, and distracted me during the day.
I went to my computer one day and emailed the real estate agent who was being so patient. I mentioned the house, and asked if he would check with the owners to see if they would be interested in renting to me. For a certain price; perhaps allowing me to move asap.
He called me the next day and said, “Yes! They said they would definitely rent! They would, however, like to meet you this weekend. Can you make it Saturday? And perhaps we should actually take a look INSIDE the house, just to be sure.”
I laughed, and arranged to meet him at the house the next afternoon.
I arrived a bit early (not a surprise for anyone who remotely knows me) and sat on the wooden swing hanging on the front porch. My heart was all aquiver. I glanced across the street to the horses whinnying and prancing around their small enclosed pasture.
Jack arrived, opened the door and we entered the home.
I am not sure how to adequately explain the feelings I experienced as we walked from room to room in this quaint, old-fashioned home. The living room walls were expertly decorated with lovely wallpaper that reminded me of the mother’s talent for that same thing. I smiled as I noticed the tall pipes in the corner lined with the same wallpaper so expertly that if you weren’t looking closely you would never have known there were pipes there. My mother had done the exact same thing.
The radiators in each room clanked in an old familiar rhythm, and tears sprung to my eyes.
I felt as if I had come home; and I started to cry.
I have to give Jack credit for he laughed and smiled as I apologized profusely for blubbering like an idiot. And I’m not sure that I have yet to convince him that I’m not.
We walked room to room, and I fell in love. I had to live in this house. We parted ways, planning on a time and place to meet with the owners, and I returned home.
He called me that same night. “The owners spoke to someone who knows you very well. You received a glowing recommendation, and they don’t even need to meet you. They would like to know if you would consider a “rent to own” situation, and said you can move in at this end of this month. What do you think?”
And the nagging feeling in my heart telling me that this was the house for me suddenly turned into a glimmer, a pebble, a seed of hope.
And so I begin this journey toward self-respect, toward healing a broken heart, toward helping a family find it’s way through a sea of uncertainty. But I begin it in a home that has wrapped its arms around my heart.
I've decided that "keeping busy" has amazing healing power. However, it is certainly interfering with this little "writing" thing.
I laughed my *$$ off this morning when I went to the, uh, um, when I was drinking my coffee. (Girls don't read on the toilet, right ladies?)
Anyway, this is RIGHT from Reader's Digest. (My sister seems to think I need this little magazine. After this morning, I decided she was right.)
Under the heading Wild Kingdom:
"I was babysitting a three-year-old when the stench from the cat litter became so overbearing, I just had to clean it. As I began scooping it out, I asked the boy, "Does your mother do this?"
"No," he said, "It's for the cats."
Yeah. Methinks that was worth a repeat.
I’ve met many great people through this little blog of mine, and I’d like to introduce you to one of them today.
Her name is Sara J. Henry, and she is an AUTHOR: a real live, book coming in the blink of an eye, author!!
We met online decades ago, and then in real life last fall as she was driving through Oregon on her way to Vermont. (Her sense of direction is questionable.)
Now, as you all know I am very picky about what I read. I will not read ANYTHING that has won an award, or is written by someone who thinks too highly of himself. And if I even hear a whisper about the word Pulitzer, I run to the other side of the bookstore.
Sure, I stalk Stephen King, have every book he has ever WRITTEN, quote his “On Writing” so often people think I’m on his payroll; but he’s the exception to my “I only read crap” rule.
Sara sent me an advance copy of her novel “Learning to Swim.” I loved it.
Her writing flows in such a way that makes it a pleasure to read. I was hooked from the beginning, and loved it! And now I hope you will, as well.
I offer the hook, “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”
I am able to offer TWO signed copies of her book. In order to win, please do one of the following:
1. Send a card in the mail to someone who needs a lift. Snail mail, you remember that, don’t you?
2. Tweet about this giveaway. (And flap your wings like you’re flying when you do.)
3. Tell me a funny story about Valentine’s Day and kids. Or you. Hell, just make me laugh.
4. Leave a comment letting me know if you did any or all of the above for an entry.
You can enter as many times as humanly possible. I will have Munchie choose the winner sometime next week!
My very good friend (here in OREGON) works in a kindergarten classroom across town in the catholic school called “Our Lady of All That is Holy”.
We often swap stories, and I’m convinced that her little George is Frank’s doppelganger. (If they come within fifty feet of each other I’m pretty sure the world would explode.)
I offer George’s latest volley.
Sister Eileen: “Boys and girls, you are all perfect. God created you without any mistakes; everything is as it should be.”
George, “The butt is a mistake. It's not perfect at all. I can't wipe all the poop out where it is. It's on backwards!”
Alice, “George! I know how to help! Just use baby wipes!”
It’s comforting to know that even Sister Eileen had to step into the hall to compose herself.
And Frank? I believe the ball is in your court.
Last week I came home from school feeling as if I had been run over by a truck. Run over by a big truck full of five year-olds that backed up and ran over me again.
Twenty years of teaching reminded me that it was time to mix it up. If you aren’t able to keep up with the music, sometimes you need to change the way you’re dancing!
I spent most of Tuesday evening making a larger than life stoplight, labeling 21 clothespins, planning new games, structuring every single activity that we do and had high hopes that I could regain control over a class that I loved. (Well, I loved them for at least 75 days. Let’s just say that.)
On Wednesday morning we held a class meeting and discussed the stoplight, discussed the rules AGAIN, made and signed a new rules poster and together agreed on consequences for landing in the red light zone.
And you know what happened? Yep. An angel, well twenty-one angels to be exact, got their wings.
Oh sure, Frank moved his pin around and around the stop sign many times during the day for various infractions that I’m convinced he committed only so he could MOVE HIS PIN, but the good news is he served the punishment(s) that we had all agreed upon.
And the tiny little incident involving Suzy passing her Barbie doll around the room during Show and Tell so that everyone could smell the perfume on her “boobies”? Well, that was just a reminder that I need to pay closer attention during Show and Hell.
Cheese-us. (It couldn't ALL go well now, could it?)