Monday, June 24, 2013

So Close to Happy

    Her mother and father were taking them on an adventure again. Somewhere. They never told her brothers and sister where to.  "If we did, well, it wouldn't be an adventure, would it." These adventures always started out the same way.  Her mother and father would buy a loaf of bread, a package of bologna, and a six pack of Pepsi.  Enough, for everyone in the car if anyone got hungry  Her father would take them to the local liquor store and there they would fill their small brown paper baggies with candy for the long trip.  That was always a perk to these adventures.
  That evening, each child would bathe and get to bed as early as possible; a hard thing for an excited adventure seeker to do and especially difficult for her.  In the middle of the night, her dad would quietly go around and lift each little slumbering body into his arms, carry it out to the car, and then gingerly place it into a car seat.  Each body except for hers.  When he approached her bed she would poke her head up and she would scamper to the car.  She was always already awake and would stay that way the entire length of the trip.  It didn't matter how hard she tried, she could never fall asleep.  The whirring of the tires and the hushed conversation between her mother and father lulled the others to sleep, but for her? It only helped to keep her awake.  
     Night driving, her mother and father called it.  Once she overheard them talking to friends about the benefits to driving at night with kids. "They sleep the entire time and we beat the heat."  They slept and as for beating the heat-that really didn't make sense to her either while she became glued to the plastic seats of their car.  It was always miserable for her.  She envied how her siblings could doze and wake up refreshed.  She guessed the one benefit she did have over them was that she got to see beautiful sunrises. She had seen many a sunrise in her few years on earth.  She loved staring at the sun peeking out over the horizon; keeping her eyes fixed on it until she could see spots beneath her closed lids, she swore sometimes she could hear the earth sizzle as it poked its head out.
      The sweat from her neck trickled down her chest and formed a V on the front of her favorite sundress.  She raised her chin and pulled on the little cap sleeves using them to wipe the stickiness from around her neck. This would help keep her cool for a split second until the perspiration inevitably formed again.  She ripped one leg off the plastic seat, held it up for a few seconds fanning the underside of her leg, then repeated the same motion with the other leg.
       As she pulled the skirt of her dress further underneath her legs, she let out a long sigh and tossed her brother's foot off of her.  Then she did it again.  She had been repeating this same routine for what seemed a million and a half hours.  It was only about an hour really, but to a hot, miserable, sleep deprived 8 year old girl it was a million and half hours.  And to make matters worse, she had to pee...again.
      She counted passing headlights to keep her mind off of her bursting bladder but it wasn't helping.  She had to go.  Real bad.  "Dad," she whined from the backseat, "I gotta go."  She heard the grumble from the front seat and felt the car veer to the right.  The roadside dirt and rocks crackled beneath the rolling tires as the brakes squealed to a stop.  "Come on," her mother whispered to her over the idle of the engine.  As she opened the car door, the popping of the hinges echoed the popping of her father's bones as he stretched and yawned.  This made her mom giggle.  She climbed over two sleeping boys, over her sister in the front seat and stepped out barefooted into the total blackness.  "Hurry, we need to make time," her father growled from inside the car.  Make time.  He always said that.  She never understood what that meant.  It was the middle of the night.  What kind of time were they supposed to be making?
     Her mother took her hand and ushered her behind the car; away from the headlights and turned her back to give her a sense of privacy.  As they walked further out into the darkness, she was intrigued with the immense quietness and solitude.  This darkness didn't scare her.  Out here, in the middle of nowhere, the desert night was surprisingly cool and peaceful.  She caught her breath as a gentle breeze blew across her face, like a tender kiss from the night air it sent a tingle of comfort all over her body as she closed her eyes and held her face up to the sky.  When she opened them what she saw always took her breath away.  Above her lay an ebony blanket encrusted with millions of tiny twinkling diamonds.  She stood there mesmerized until the horn from the car jerked her out of her tranquility and on to her business.  "Let's go," her mother giggled, "before your father loses it."
     Into the car and onward to their destination.  "Where are we going this time?" she asked.  Maybe this time they would let her in on the secret.  She waited.  "Close you eyes and when you see it you'll know," said her mother.  She tried.  She squeezed her eyes shut.  She listened to the whirring of the tires.  She placed her head on her pillow and felt the cool sheet against her cheek.
     "Look, can't you see it?" The squeals from her little brother catapulted her out of her slumber.  "Wha, wha, what. See what?" "There can't you see it? There, peeking out."  She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and tried to focus in the the direction her whole family was looking.  It took her a few seconds and then it came into clear focus.  A peak.  A turret.  A castle!  She couldn't contain her excitement.  She had to get out of the car.  She had to run to it.  "Don't worry we'll get there.  Calm down everybody.  Let me park the car!"
     As they all clambered out of the car, she could hear her mother and father yelling after them. "Where are you guys going?  You can't get in without a ticket and you need shoes!"  But they didn't hear them.  They couldn't contain their excitement.  They were 20 yards from the ultimate in happiness.  Nothing was stopping them from going in and meeting their friends.  Nothing.  As they ran to the front gates they were met by a wall of people all waiting to go in too.  The gates were locked.  They would not be opened for another thirty minutes. What? They had to wait? What? Couldn't these people understand that waiting was torture?  So close.  So tired and yet she still had to wait.  "Ah rats! I got woken up for this?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homework for the Teacher: Trapped!

     So, if you've read any of my "stuff" you know that I'm not the type of teacher who believes in giving homework during the summer. Really, what's that all about?? Yuck! I believe summer for kiddos is for doing their real job...being kiddos!  However, since taking the A-Z Challenge I've found that it's true what "they" say about it taking 21 days to create a habit.  The Challenge helped me create a good one!  I've learned that I need to write.  It comes naturally.  Even if no one else ever reads it, it's something I need to do for me.
(But to all of you who do stop by and take a peek...thanky, thanky, thanky!!)
      At the same time, since it does come naturally, I've taken it for granted.  I've learned writing doesn't come easy to everyone.  So this God given talent?  I need to practice and perfect it.
(Ugh! it sounds like homework, doesn't it!)
     But, you want to know something else?  I've learned that if you love to do something, it's not tedious, cumbersome, or something you really want your dog to eat! So, on that note...may I present my first homework assignment for Short Story Ideas...
(feel free to tell me what you think, but please be kind, I like gold stars too, 'ya know)
 The Writing Prompt
The realization of what he had done suddenly struck him.  There was no turning back.

     His hand shot up and he waved frantically. The lunch he had eaten was talking to him and it was telling him it needed out! What was he going to do?  She kept turning her back to him.  He willed her to turn his way.  She didn't.  He started to panic.  She had warned them all to use the restroom before they came back in, but he didn't heed her advice and he forgot to...again.  He would have to pay the consequences for not following the rule, but that was a chance he was willing to take at that moment.  He needed to go!              
     Just as he was contemplating throwing all caution to the wind and running out the door.  She turned. Through squinched eyes she pointed to the door and mouthed. "GO!" 
     But when he got there, the two stalls were occupied.  He had to think fast.  So he did what no 11 year old boy on the face of this earth would do.  Desperation and need some times take over and he ran out of there and danced his way to the next door; the girls restroom.  He took quick inventory of the hall.  Nobody.  He opened the door and bent over.  No feet!  He ran the three steps it takes to get into the stall and locked it securely.  He made it!  Without being noticed!  He was so proud of himself and bid good-bye to his lunch.  
     Then as he flushed the evidence of his visit down the toilet, the worst thing in the world happened.  He heard a shuffle of foot steps.  The jiggle of the door.  Then someone's loud sigh.  She was waiting.  "Go away," he thought.  But she didn't.  She waited.  "Are you okay in there?" Oh no.  It was her.  The one girl in school he did not want seeing him walk out of there.  What should he do?  Everyone would know then.  He had to stall.  But how? Quick thinking again, he did the only thing he could do in there.  Flush. Again, and again, and again, until she got the hint and went away.  She didn't.  "Hey, I really need to go, can you hurry it up in there? The restroom downstairs is locked." 
     More toilet paper.  More flushing and then it happened.  The inevitable.  It started with a gurgle.  It looked like it was going down.  And then it didn't.  It came up.  Oh boy, did it come up!  It oozed out.  It spilled over.  Over onto the floor, onto his shoes and under the stall. 
      He heard her gasp and let out a scream.  And as he heard the pitter patter of her feet running down the hall and back into their class, he also heard her screaming out, "Mrs. Ray, the toilet in the girls' restroom is gushing all over the place and there's someone trapped in there!"
     And, the realization of what he had done suddenly struck him.  There was no turning back.  And as he heard the mad footsteps rushing in his direction, he thought, "Yep! I'm trapped alright!" 


Friday, June 7, 2013

...And the teacher cried help!

     I've written about my student's buddies and the bond they've created throughout the year, but this week two completely unrelated events solidified the importance of creating mentors out of the kiddos at any school.

Well, Get Up...

     He was rolling on the ground.  Kicking up the dirt with one foot and making sure I didn't make eye contact but at the same time making sure I knew he was there.  He was angry because I didn't let him organize some books for me and instead wanted him to, no, no, do some work.  He was going to punish me for not letting him have his way and well, on this 100+ degree day, I was not going to stay outside and suffer with him.   He is an expert in passive aggressiveness.  He could give classes.  I think he may have.  Now that I think of it, all those trips to the restroom...dang-it! He was holding class in there! Now, I get it.  
(I'm quick like that)
      So, I lined up all the sweaty little sweeties actually listening to me (that minute) and proceeded to march them in.  " Are you coming with me or do you want me to have Mr. R come out and getcha?"  He pouted and gave me the stink-eye and spun on his bottom. "Hrumph!"  He was going to make me pay!.
(two years of that look, and it still makes me giggle...he hasn't figured that out)
     As he was giving me the death-ray look, not two inches from him I noticed yet another little darlin' stretched out on his back making cement angels.  He too was  angry at his teacher for something or the other.
     So here it is 100,000 degrees out, my other cherubs are contemplating mutiny to get into the air-conditioned building, and I'm stuck with these two lovelies.  What do I do?  Well, what any seasoned professional educator would do...I called The First Knight, Eagle Scout #1, The Man Who Makes the Big Bucks, The Human Fire Extinguisher, The Running Man, The...VP!!!
( More names for our Admin team? I got a million of 'em!) 
     And there he was to save the daaaaay! Poor man was actually doing something we rarely see him do...Eat!  I felt horrible disturbing him, but someone had to go out and get those kiddos in!!! 
 "Hey Mr. R. One of my little friends and another little friend are outside and they don't want to come in."
Fast forward about 15 minutes...
     In trots in my little friend followed by my VP still doing that rare activity and he shared that he asked my little friend to ask the cement angel why he was mad.
     "Hey, I need you to help me over here."  Mr. Pouty Lips got up and bent over Mr. Cement Angel.
"Why you mad?"  "I want a drink of water!" "Well get up and get a drink of water." "Okay."
And that was it!  Conflict resolved.  No time-outs.  No more crying and Mr. R was able to eat his salad!



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wisdom from the Backseat

It's the season for changes.
      Although challenging and often-times bittersweet, these changes need to continue in order for life to be lived to the fullest.  Without change, well, life isn't worth living.  I'm amazed at how little people can explain things so simply and profoundly.
 Let me 'splain...
     While driving home Glitterific Girl, B'Girl and I talked about the huge possibility of our moving.
( Really, we need to.  GWH and I are running out of room and these two girls are spilling out into our space...excuse me while I move some stuff!)
      Glitterific piped up and said, to my surprise, "Mom, I don't want to move unless Dad digs up Hunny and Bucky, puts them in the car and we take them with us."
     Well, after 32 seconds of imagining GWH exhuming the remains of our dearly departed, I hear a giggle from the back seat and a, "Eeeeyew, Hunny would be stinky!" from B'Girl.
(It's amazing how she read my mind!)
     Then, being the sensitive person that she is, Glitterific responded with, "Well, I'm not moving because they would be lonely."  My mind went..............blank!  What would I say to this girl?
     So, we got into a little discussion about how our doggies souls are forever with us and their bodies are mere coverings.  I thought my explanation was sufficient until Glitterific added this...

The Lesson
 When someone we love dies it's like they are a clam. We eat what is inside the shell and it goes inside us and it stays with us. That's their soul.  What's left is the covering that held the good stuff!

Here's to the good stuff!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

End of Year Jitters

For me, and I do think many teachers out there will agree, there are three points in the school year that are the most hectic...
The beginning:

It's just as scary for us as it is for them.  We don't know what we're getting.  Nuh-uh, and those nervous little people you send off to us in the morning?  Yeah, they're a little like Gremlins... they're really cute...and cuddly...and sweet...and unsure of what to do...they're scared...they're strangers to us...they're reeeeeally quiet...and know what? We're scared of them too!
Then the middle happens...and happens...and happens...and there are ups and downs...and twists and turns...and we fall in love with those little people...and they make us laugh...and sigh...and cry...and pull out our gray hair...and just when we think we got 'em all figured out...we have to pack it up...test them out...write them in end of the year shows...and keep teaching them while they are in summer time mode...and wanting to play...and they scrape their bodies across wall...and drag their bodies down the hallways...and you swear that the children you have spent the past 9 months with truly are Gremlins and the sweat dripping from their little foreheads has caused them to turn into this...
So...right now I am MIA for a bit because I am busy trying to do this...