Nine years. I dig slowly through the book bins, checking for beloved texts. Sometimes flipping through, sometimes putting them in my box, most times returning them to the bin. As the books tilt forward I see a sea of my name scrawled on the top of so many of them. Nine years left behind.
The boxes I pack are few. What good will these items be in a basement? I leave them behind as a mark, as something to say “I was here.” I taught in this room. I learned in this room. I laughed, and cried, and grew up in this room.
I’m left in the wood floor, the scratch behind the door. I’m still here in the book shelves, the left over chart paper, the closet of neatly organized book club books.
Like a siren fading away, loud at first, then slowly disappearing with echoes off the buildings. Silence.
I hope you had the time of your life.
Moving forward into the unknown. Hope for new learning, new energy, new connections, new inspirations, new idea, and new memories.
Like a Phoenix I’ve come to the end, burst into flames, now I sweep up the ashes of my own cycle, to be reborn again.
Things have been a bit crazy here lately. But I won’t give up on the challenge. So back to slicing it is. Here’s one reason why life has been getting a little nuts.
Gigi was playing with her baby doll, rocking it in the crib and feeding it a bottle. ”You’re so good at that!” I said. ”You know, you’re going to be a big sister soon.” She looked at me for a moment and then went back to playing. ”Gigi a baby is coming. We’re going to have a baby come live with us. Do you want to be a big sister?” She looked at me quizzically and said “baby?” then she looked around. In theory, Gigi really likes babies. She helps with all of the babies at daycare, feeding and rocking them just like she does with her dolls. But I’m not too sure how she will react to having to share her mommy. I guess only time will tell.
The first thing she goes for is the swings. Running past plastic towers of fun to creaky comets launching through the air. First the baby swing. “Up, up!”
push, swing, push, swing, push, swing. Over and over and over again. She never wants to stop.
You’ve never seen such joy in a child as when she’s flying though the air, shouting “Whooooaaaaa!”
Once she finishes with the baby swing she wants the big girl swing. I carefully wrap my hands around hers on the chains and tell her “hold on, hold tight.” Hoping she understands.
With each push my heart drops a little. “Faster! Higher!”
She yearns to swing, yearns to fly.
You sit stacked on my nightstand. Your pile somewhat disheveled, a never-ending revolving door of friends. Each one of you holds a story; waits patiently, hoping for your turn to be unfurled. Some of you are lucky. You barely sit at the top of the pile before I’ve snatched you up and devoured you, before passing you on. Others of you continually pushed to the bottom of the pile, gathering dust. You are good, I’m sure you are, it’s just that there others who stand out from the crowd begging. You sit stacked on my nightstand. Waiting for your day to shine.
Routines, routines. They guide our life. Sometimes I don’t even notice the routines in my day. Today I wrote a list about my morning routine.
30 Steps to my Morning
- Alarm goes off.
- Alarm goes off.
- Alarm goes off.
- Get dressed.
- Wake up toddler.
- Get toddler dressed.
- Argue with toddler about getting dressed.
- Attempt to get toddler dressed.
- Bribe toddler.
- Attempt to get toddler dressed.
- Fight toddler in epic battle.
- Take toddler to daycare.
- Drive to work.
- Stop at starbucks.
- Order largest coffee they make.
- Get to work.
- Trudge up stairs.
- Realize I forgot my key.
- Trudge downstairs saying bad words.
- Trudge back upstairs more slowly.
- Dump stuff in chair.
- Check email.
- Gaze at giant pile of papers to grade.
- Get distracted by interesting article I want to share with class.
- Bell rings.
- Get kids.
- Day begins.
The open windows let in the sound of
children set free
from the icy confines
buzzing back and forth.
Coats unzipped, hat tossed aside.
Feet sloshing in the still frozen ground
mixed with melted
bits of winter.
The open windows
reveal a taste of spring,
hope on a breeze
excitement on a ray of sunshine
and smiles all around.
Toddler clean, carseat clean.
Ahhhh the scent of Murphy’s wood soap.
Dishes clean, counter clean.
Pans scrubbed with elbow grease and love.
Toys put away, book on display.
I’m starting to feel right again.
Laundry done, folded and neat.
Bathroom sparkling white.
Thanks Mr. Clean.
The stenches of yesterday long gone.
What is the old chicken? The sick kid?
A winter too long?
Windows cracked, crisp fresh air in.
I think I can think again.
Do you know what you don’t want to hear? A sound that can really ruin your drive home on a Friday evening. You know what would just make your long tired day from dreams of flopping on the couch and catching up on DVR to minor emergency status? The sounds of your toddler barfing not once, not twice, but three times all over herself, her carseat, and your car.
<The rest of this slice has been censored due to disgustingness.>
I’ve been seeing a lot of former students lately. Occasionally where there’s something going on at the high school level groups of kids will return to school to come visit. They don’t know this, but I relish those moments. Seeing their teenage faces, hearing about their successes in high school, these things make me happy. It’s always so funny to watch my current class gasp in wonder when a group of teenagers walks in the door. Of course, they are overjoyed at the interruption in the middle of math class. But I wonder if they see themselves in those teenagers, it won’t be so many years before they grow up too. Their changes will by physical (getting taller, deeper voices, teenage acne) and emotional (first loves, the uncertainty of choosing a college, emerging into the job world).
Of course when I hear of students from my first class heading off to college I start to feel old. Which is no comparison to teachers I’ve worked with who have taught a student and then that student’s child! But still. However, even though I continue to age, I’m not growing up. You see I’m growing down. Working in the education field gives you the distinct pleasure of getting to stay connected to your inner child. For example, the other day I was testing out a robot and rolled it into a fellow teachers classroom in the middle of a lesson. It was childish. We all had a good laugh. Seeing life through each new generation’s eyes keeps us connected to some fundamental truths about life. Good instruction is important, but so is having fun and taking time to play.
My former students will have to grow up, face the harsh realities of adulthood some day. I’ve been there and done that. I may be getting older, but you can’t make me grow up.
I pulled into the parking lot this morning and happened to glance down at my dash. 38,000 miles and 10 degrees. That just about sums it up, right? It’s funny how numbers sum up our lives in the most mundane ways.
38 years old.
10 years teaching.
5 feet 6 inches tall.
They tell you both something and nothing at the same time.
This slice feels unfinished to me today. There is more to this idea that I want to share, but the thoughts won’t form in my mind.