I collect my weapons; coat, hat, socks, shoes. Toss them nonchalantly behind it so as not to draw notice. The dragon is snuffling by the table munching on the bones of its victims…Cheerios. I sneak behind it but the creak of a board draws its attention and it turns and flashes me its teeth. I freeze momentarily then play it off by handing the dragon its sippy cup. It reaches one talon covered hand out and devours the cup with its tiny dragon mouth. I inhale a deep breath and prepare for battle.
Finally I flop back, the battle is over, I am victorious! I glance up at the dragon one last time to see that she has pulled of her shoes and hat and is stuffing them under the couch.
The alarm jolts me from my slumber. It is 5:45 but it feel like 4:45. Not to mention, the baby didn’t sleep well last night. Midnight and her alarm cry sounds. I jolt awake and check the monitor torn between going to comfort her and letting her work it out. Thoughts rushing through my head. What could be wrong? A nightmare? A new tooth? She fusses for a bit then drifts off. This repeats and each time I tell myself I’ll wait just a few minutes then go in. But each time she drifts back off into a fitful sleep. Now I am awake and she is in dreamland.
I dip and wait the exact right amount of time
(eyes intent, stomach grumbling)
to just soften the cookie casing
not too hard, not to mushy.
One must not wait too long or risk losing a chunk
like an iceberg lost in a sea of milk.
I bite gently
savoring the flavor
as it explodes
in my mouth.
I always eat Oreos in halves.
Sometimes like this, together and dunked in milk.
Other times I carefully twist
eat one dry cookie
then savor the other
covered in dreamy frosting.
Wash it down with a swig
of thick cold milk.
I sneak back to the package.
gently peel back the top
extract a cookie from the middle.
Shake it a bit to disguise
the empty spot
and repeat my ritual.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I woke up early this morning. I was going to a conference that wasn’t a conference at all! I was going to my very first Playdate. The day would be filled with lots of teachers just sitting around playing and learning with each other. At that last minute I decided to attend the Makers session and it was my best moment of the day.
As I entered the room I could see a wide variety of boxed stacked on a table. Inside were circuits and wires, mysterious items, and lots of things that I just couldn’t name. This looks intimidating I thought. Thanks to a teacher named Bill Steinbach we had all of these great toys to play with. I surveyed them carefully and picked up a lone box that indicated I could build my own camera. Now that sounded cool.
My self doubt returned as I opened the box and looked at all of the parts. Just take it one step at a time I thought. Step by step, instruction by instruction, picture by picture I began to put it together. Slowly, slowly my camera started to grow. My train of thought was interrupted as a group of people started shouting. They had built some kind of human piano. But I continued on. Glancing at the clock the pressure of time bore down but I knew I had to be careful and precise. Afterall, this wasn’t even my camera! Piece by piece by piece. Finally it was done! I turned the crank to charge the battery rotated the dial to on and held my breath. The little screen lit up and there, in front of my stunned eyes, was a screen for a digital camera. I had done it. I seized the camera and leaped to my feet.
“I did it!” I screamed. “I built a camera!” I rushed over to snap some pictures of the human piano. It was a glorious glorious moment.
The very first picture I took with my camera!
The Human Piano
Joy and excitement. This was also supposed to be a 3D camera but I didn’t quite figure that part out.
A blurry selfie.
We’ve decided to do brackets. I barely even know what a bracket is or how it works, but I gained a new respect for the drama that they bring to Basketball in March. Once my students gathered their choices and voted I was tasked with the challenge of matching books up and putting together the bracket. It was heart-wrenching. Sure, there were a few books on there I felt lukewarm about. But most of them…well most of them are much loved favorites.
I arranged and rearranged the books over and over. I tried to match up books that were book club books, whole class read aloud, and independent reading books. But this gave me sad pairings. The one and only Ivan vs. Because of Mr. Terupt! I wrung my hands and fretted over the brackets again. No matter the outcome I will feel a sad little wrench in my heart. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library vs. Walk Two Moons? UGH! It’s all in good fun of course.
This month will bring some drama and a little good-natured competition between books, in the end we will crown a champion. But the real champions are my students. Students who have the richness of reading lives to nominate such wonderful, wonderful titles to compete.
I remembered hearing the near empty package of Oreos drop to the ground, but hadn’t given it much thought until Gigi seized it and began flinging it around the kitchen.
I had left the package on the counter last night. There were three cookies left. I ate two. That meant that there was a lone cookie in that package taking the full brunt of abuse that a 13 month old baby hopped on raspberries and milk could muster.
It will be crushed to bits!
I watched at she whipped the package across the floor, crawled over to grab it, and then flung it against the oven door only to grab it again and mash her full body weight onto it. She squeeled with glee at the crunchy noise the package made.
The sound of my cookie crunching!
I briefly entertained the thought of taking it away from her. But she was having so much fun with it I just couldn’t do it. Plus, I didn’t want to think about the crying that would follow. She took a fast crawling start and flopped her body on top of the package giving a war whoop as she did. Crumbs flew out from beneath her as the wrapper ripped and the container buckled.
Goodnight sweet cookie. Goodnight.
Eventually her attention turned elsewhere. Two dish towels to be exact. I tenderly retrieved the package from the floor and placed it lovingly on the counter. As I pulled the top part of the packaging back I braced myself for the gruesome scene of my pulverized cookie.
The package was empty.
Oh man. I was really looking forward to eating that cookie.
I cursed my choice of shoes all the way to the car. Instead of my warm winter boots I had slipped on my Merril clogs and was now navigating through a fresh three inch snow cover. This was not the first time I had tempted Winter. The day before I wore an unseasonably light shirt beneath my winter coat. The day before that I went out without a hat or gloves. As if my not wearing these items would somehow tell winter it was time to go. Depart. Leave. Shove of. Go away. Scram. Skeddadle. Enough already!
I finally reached my car and flopped into my seat kicking the snow from my shoes and pants. The roared to a start and cold air blasted from the vent. I rolled down the windows instead of getting out to brush this newest dusting of snow from the windows. The novelty having worn off at least five snowstorms ago. As I waited for the car to heat I thought of the lies we told ourselves.
“The snow is so pretty when it’s all fresh.”
“At least it’s cold enough to snow.”
“I can stand the cold, it’s just the wind.”
It’s a big joke in Chicago. The potholes. First we complain about how cold it is, then we argue over whether “dibs” is okay, then we start talking about potholes. Except they aren’t so funny and they really, really aren’t funny this year. In fact, they are the worst they have ever been. This was my drive to work this morning.
Vroom, vroom break
Vroom vroom break
vroom, swerve, vroom, swerve
swerve. swerve, swerve
This went on for awhile like a real life version of Mario Kart. At least I have the location of the more major ones down now.
Silent car killers lay waiting
to munch or crunch your tire.
lurking in the dark of night
beneath a muddy puddle
jaws stretched wide
hungry for a bite.
The baby was whining, again. (Getting teeth is nasty business.) I had to take a break. “I’m going to run to Harvest Time,” I shouted to my husband as I walked out the door. Even the Sunday afternoon crush of shoppers couldn’t dampen my mood. There’s something about stacks and rows and piles of fresh fruits and vegetables that just make the day seem brighter. I grabbed a plump looking orange and inhaled deeply. Citrus scents fill my nose and jolted my brain awake. I slowly made my way around the store, taking my time, meandering. As I reached the meat section I noticed something odd.
A little girl, probably not more than a few months older than Gigi, sat in a shopping cart. On her left foot she had a soft pink winter boot but her right foot was bare! I noticed the missing boot sitting on the bottom rack of the shopping cart and laughed silently to myself. I could envision the battle that must have taken place and the exasperated parent saying, “fine, don’t wear the boot.” Toddlers are like that.
As I combed through the meat cooler I realized that what I needed was just behind the little girls cart. I smiled at her and approached slowly, trying not to seem too creepy to her or her parent who was likely near by. She sucked on one finger and it reminded me of Gigi. As I moved on I couldn’t help but glance back at her. There was no adult in close proximity. A few more minutes confirmed that she was alone. A young boy rushed down the aisle towards her and then right past. The mom in me paused and as I lingered by the frozen foods section I kept half an eye on her. She did not seem worried. Suddenly a man rushed up to the cart and tossed a wrapped package in. Daddy. I breathed a sigh of relief and went on with my trip. So often I worry about my little girl and all of the dangers of the world. But it occurred to me in that moment that my instinct to watch after a child, any child, was not unique. You see I realized that there is a secret army of moms quietly watching, ready to help at a moments notice.
I thought of my own husband at home with a fussy teething baby, trying to make do, both of them waiting anxiously for mama to return. I moved quickly through the rest of the store grabbing what I needed, paid at the checkout, and headed through the door for home.
Mornings used to be quiet in my house. They sounded like the hum of the refrigerator, a clock ticking steadily, coffee brewing in a cup. If you listened closely you would here a mind slowly waking up, soft wind outside the window, the sun just peeking over horizon.
Mornings used to be quiet in my house. Now they sound like a small voice babbling, trying to find words to ask for breakfast, plastic toys calling to each other in song, coffee brewing in a cup, coffee brewing in a cup, coffee brewing in a cup! If you listen closely you will here a three hearts beating as one; Dada, Ama, and Gigi. Dada snoring softly under the covers. The clink of toys that Ama (that’s me) is throwing in the toy basket. Gigi plotting the many ways that she will destroy the living room today….
This morning is no different. Fingers click on computer keys. Gigi pulls up on the other end of the couch and spies the laptop open. Her mouth opens wide in an excited roar and she cruises with purpose towards me. Little feet thumping on the floor. Hot breath on my toe. She squeals with glee as she reaches me, her tiny fingers blindly flailing at the keys.
“No No No,” I say. Gigi shakes her head left to right in response, smiles, and keeps jabbing at the keyboard.
Mornings used to be quiet in my house. I like them better this way.
The annual March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted at Two Writing Teachers.