Almost

She is almost 11

and as she opened the garage door to go play tonight,

she closed it quick and walked

into the bathroom.

I knew why.

There was a boy outside.

I peeked in to find her

checking her hair.

I grinned and she laughed saying, “What?!?!”

“Your hair looks nice!” I replied.

“Thanks!” she said

then trotted out the door.

She is almost 11

and she put on her bike helmet

without caring about the uncoolness of it all

with her two just-showered braids

dangling below her shoulders.

She is almost 11

and she rode her bike

past the boy playing basketball

and just as she reached his vicinity

she stood up on the pedals,

riding with a little more speed and a little more confidence.

She is almost 11

and I am not ready

for her to be 11

for the need to impress

for the grown up independence

for any of it.

Think I will hold onto 10 for a little while longer

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The Me I Dream To Be…

(Inspired by Kathleen Sokolowski’s post: http://couragedoesnotroar.blogspot.com/2016/03/sol16-day-9-me-i-dream-to-be.html )

 

The me I dream to be is unafraid of putting her writing out there, not the slice of life writing, but the picture book manuscripts she has been working on, for others to read without feeling like everyone will think she can’t actually write.

The me I dream to be is confident all the time about what she knows and what she helps others learn without doubting she is smart enough.

The me I dream to be says yes to taking on new things ONLY when saying yes means no unnecessary stress.

The me I dream to be is less hard on herself and more forgiving. She is less about personal guilt-tripping and more about reflective up-lifting.

This Blank Screen

This blank screen overwhelms me today. The cursor blinks – write – write – write – write

My list of numbered ideas is uninspiring.

Some days are like this.

The brain runs through possibilities and the writer shoots each one down.

The kids? No.

Yesterday’s work in third grade? Nope.

The halfway point of March Slicing? Nah.

Ugh.

And now I feel silly for doing the “I don’t know what to write about” slice.

Is it too early to be out of ideas?

No, it’s not.

It’s just that no small moments will come to my mind, none seem worthy.

Today needs to be about paying attention, being more mindful, slowing down.

Today needs to be about having my writer’s notebook by my side.

And if the blank screen is too much, I will fill a single post-it note.

The Difference a Half Year Makes

When my daughter Sasha visited the dentist six months ago, she had a complete melt down. As a recently turned ten year old with a bad gag reflex and high anxiety about the dentist office, it did not go well. There was crying, her actually physically swatting the dental hygienist AND dentist’s hands away from her mouth, and there was of course, sweating.  That was all me.

No part of her meltdown was to be intentionally difficult but a long standing worry of gagging and throwing up had her a complete wreck. The dentist actually told her she had to come back three days later when she was more calm to let her count her teeth. And she did. And it was okay.

When the appointment reminder e-mail arrived two weeks ago, I tried to get out of taking her.  Multiple ideas came to my head…ask her father to take her, ask my husband – her step-dad, ask my dad, ask my friend with no kids, ask a random stranger, play sick.  I really didn’t care who took her, as long as it wasn’t me.

You see, I felt like a lost and tortured soul six months ago at that appointment.  I must have failed as a mother in some way that my daughter was such a disaster.  She was in tears and I was fighting back tears.  She begged for me to make it stop and I begged her to sit in the chair so the dentist could do her job. So Sasha’s teeth didn’t rot. And fall out.

One week ago, I told her about yesterday’s appointment. I timed it just right.  One week away meant time to practice desensitizing her to the dentist’s tools.  Like I did after the dentist invited us back, I would use Q-tips to practice touching her teeth as I held her mouth open with the end of a toothbrush or anything that would resemble the feel of the mirror tugging at her cheek.

But I didn’t get the reaction I had expected.  She was excited.  She told me that she had been practicing brushing her back teeth.  She was ready.  Who was this child/tween/girl/young lady?

I was not ready.  I had been filled with dread for days. I was worried about her, worried for me.  It was stressful for both of us and I didn’t want a repeat experience.

Yesterday was the big day.  The hygienist took her back by herself.  I could see Sasha in the room, from the waiting area.  There was no screaming or crying to be heard and when I finally did catch Sasha’s eye, she mouthed the words, “I did the x-ray already” I bulged my eyes out of my head and gave her a questioning thumbs up, as if to say, “Really?!?!”  She responded with a giant smile and returned with her own double thumbs up and head nodding.

I was invited back just before Dr. Dave came in.  Sasha was beaming.  I was not sweating. It was a glorious moment.

I am reminded that sometimes the best surprises are the ones when you assume the worst and the best happens.

It was a good day.

An Ode…

Ode to Cardio Fusion class…

Oh, how I love you and loathe you at the same time.

You make my muscles quiver and quake.

You beat me down and build me up, all at the same time.

You push me to sweat more than I have ever sweat before, so much so that the sweat seems to pool in my eyeballs, especially yesterday.

Allow me to talk about yesterday…ten pounds on each side of the bar.

Push Presses, Back Squats, Bicep Curls, and more, under my breath I swore.

Oh, you bastard of a class.

You tire my body but energize my spirit.

You exhaust my core but incite my passion.

Oh, Cardio Fusion, how I love you and loathe you at the same time.

Why Do We Slice? For the PRIZES?

Why do we slice?

For me, last year, I was motivated by the prizes, initially.  I loved the idea of winning something at the end.  I fall back to my childhood days of being at carnivals or Chucky Cheese. Prizes are fun. No doubt about it.

But, after making it two thirds of the way through last March, I had a day when I shared my slice but did not comment on other blogs.  I wrote about it here:

https://lettersfromcoachk.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/slice-of-life-day-27/

I was disappointed in myself. I wanted to be able to say, at the end of March, that I completed the whole challenge. Slicing and commenting!

Here I am again. Only six days in and I have realized that I forgot to go back and comment last night. But I feel differently about it then I did last year.  Last year, I was devastated. I know, seems extreme but I was, though I put on a good face in my day 27 post.  Seriously. I was really, really devastated.

Now, here I am. Out of the running of prizes, again.  No big deal. I know what the prizes are for writing every day – increased creativity, passion, and love of writing, being part of a community of writers, sharing in the journey of the Slicers.

My plan – continue in this process. Write and comment every day.

Regardless of my non-commenting yesterday, I remember that yesterday ALSO brought other opportunities…

I got to spend the day with my local Writing Project group (PAWLP). I got to be in a room with other Slicers like Dalila Eckstein and Lynne Dorfman. I got to have face-to-face conversations with these writers and others.  THAT was awesome.

I was able to share the work I have been doing with teachers about getting them excited about writing with an amazing Voxer group I am a part of, started by TWT’s very own Kathleen Sokolowski!

I downloaded a new book to my Kindle last night called Make Writing by Angela Stockman and began reading it! (Inspired by Jill Davidson from Shelfie Talk and Michelle Haseltine’s work with her 6th graders!)

I texted my friend Becca to get her psyched about running a Writing Maker Space this summer in our district. And since she is my only friend that actually reads my slices and gets them delivered to her inbox AND retweets them sometimes, she deserves a special shout out! Love you Becca!!

See? Those are the real prizes you get from participating in the March Slice of Life.

So, if you too are motivated by prizes, just know that there is more to this. (AND you can do what I did last year…head to Amazon or your local book store on April 1st and buy yourself a brand new book or journal or some pretty pens!)

On Being the Chosen One…

She has been ultra-clingy to me lately and it is not just because she has been sick for the last few days.

The clinginess has been going on for well over two weeks.

I read an article about how almost-two year olds do this…choose one parent to cling to.

I am the chosen one.

My husband doesn’t like it one bit.

He is jealous.

His “perfect princess” thinks Mommy is more perfect than Daddy.

I think it’s funny.

Except at bath time and snack time and bed time when she only wants me and no one else.

This makes it a bit difficult to pee alone and make food and sweep the crumb-covered floor.

But recent moments remind me…

Two hours awake in the middle of Thursday night until her fever broke, just she and I, her sweatiness wetting my shirt as I rubbed her back.

“Can I have a hug?” I asked of her yesterday morning.

She laid her head on my chest, hands stretched around my shoulders then looked up at me with a giant smile.

“Can I have another hug?”

A flash of grin and her forehead pushes into my neck, again.

I smell her hair, breathe her in.

This goes on for as long as she allows.

Hug? Smile. Snuggle. Hug? Smile. Snuggle. Hug? Smile. Snuggle.

I am going to enjoy being the chosen one.

After all, we have a ten year old daughter, too.  I know exactly where this is headed.

Having Heart

I picked up my youngest today after “the call” from daycare came.  If you are the parent of a child that is in daycare, then you get what I mean by “the call.”

She had a fever and needed lots of snuggles. It was a nice afternoon in which we read a lot of books.

I am always amazed by daycare teachers.  Miss Anna told me that Gabby was not herself that morning. I love that she knows my daughter that well.  Daycare teachers are unsung heroes.

I was reminded of how recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance.  I had run into her the week before at the daycare. I asked what room her son was in and after speaking about his teacher, I asked what room her infant was in.

Her response struck me hard in the gut.  She said, “Oh, she isn’t in daycare. I don’t have the heart to do that.”

I did not take her comment well. In fact, I took it as a direct attack on all parents who must not have a heart when they put their babies in daycare.  This may seem extreme to some and I am pretty sure that she did not mean it in that exact way but it felt hurtful to me.

What I said in the moment in response to her: Nothing.

What I said in my head over the next hour in various ways: No one has the heart to put their baby in daycare, but sometimes they have to and sometimes they want to. 

Too many parents judge other parents for their decisions and we need to make it stop. We need to have the heart to accept that every parent is going to do things differently and that there is no right way, just what is right for your family.

I am grateful for the daycare experiences of all three of my children.  They had loving teachers who knew when they weren’t themselves and loved them up almost as much as I would, if I was there.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening to –

Africa (Toto), Flower (Moby), Sweet Thing (Van Morrison), Don’t Stop Believing (Journey), The Story (Brandi Carlile)

Loving –

An awesome little Voxer conversation with some amazing writer-teachers

Drinking –

Not enough water!

Thinking –

About teachers who have come to me recently about having a tough time right now and wishing I can help them, or at least be the listener they need, the shoulder to lean on at the right moment.

Wanting –

A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Egg, A DQ Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard, Peanut Butter Tandy Cakes, pretty much anything with chocolate and peanut butter!!

Procrastinating –

Revising my will, completing paperwork for my oldest to go to camp this summer, planning for saving money for my kids’ college funds, cleaning my dresser off, I could keep going and going and going. Ugh.

Needing –

An appointment for an hour long massage!

Reading –

Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins (I heart kid lit!)

Worrying –

My coaching mentor is watching me work with teachers today! (I get as nervous about being observed as my new teachers do!)

Wondering –

When I will get back to working on my middle grade novel after the critique I got in August. I took the feedback a little too hard and a little too personally.

Hoping –

To be a published author one day, to hear about something I applied to be a part of before the April 29th notification date!!!, to be gifted money to attend ILA in Boston this July!!!

 

A Decade of Debbie

I changed jobs and started teaching third grade in a new school in August of 2006 and Debbie was one of my grade partners.  It felt like my arrival as an outsider bothered her. I was given a contract and replaced a long term substitute that Debbie really liked. She and I taught in side-by-side rooms but never seemed to click and the truth of the matter is that we did not always see eye-to-eye on everything.

In June of 2009, I left the classroom to be an instructional coach.

A couple of years later, I heard Debbie would be taking the five day Writing Academy I run every summer. I was nervous and unsure how comfortable I would feel with her there.  Boy, was I wrong! Everything changed after the first day.  It was like a new appreciation was budding between us.

We laughed together and wrote together, and as writing does so often, we grew together.

I recall her telling me how she felt like I had found my calling in teaching others about how to teach writing.  She told me that she had never had better professional development.  It felt like she was seeing me for the first time and I was truly seeing her, particularly in the moments when she read her writing aloud.

The next school year, Debbie invited me into her classroom to work through a couple questions she and her co-teacher were having with conferring. I modeled some conferences for her and our debriefs were valuable to both of us.  It was as if our past experiences of not always seeing eye-to-eye had melted away.

That spring, I asked the principal if my daughter could have Debbie as her teacher in the following year. I felt as if Debbie was the right match for her and would build her up in many ways.

In 2013, Sasha entered third grade as a shy, young thing and left with great confidence, a new love of math, and a truer lover of reading and writing. She had been blessed with years of great teachers but Debbie stood out with her larger than life personality.  Sasha thrived in Debbie’s class.  Every single time I ran into her, she would tell me some cute thing Sasha had said or she would relay a story of what Sasha had done in class.  I appreciated that so much.  I will always be grateful for the rich experience my daughter had under Debbie’s watch.

Yesterday, I attended Debbie’s funeral.  She was 55 years young.

My heart aches for the loss of this woman who made it her purpose in life to educate 8 and 9 year olds. My heart aches for her family and for her closest teacher friends who are feeling this loss so intensely. But mostly, my heart aches for my 5 year old and 1 year old who would have loved being in Debbie’s class and for all the other future third graders who will miss out on her, too.