Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Genevieve!

You are two years old today and I can scarcely believe it, the time has flown by so quickly. About two years and 34 weeks ago, it was slowly dawning on me that you might be with me, a stowaway secreting yourself in small, warm, well-broken-in quarters until the time was right for you to show yourself. I wish I could say that I was immediately overjoyed at the thought of you, but see, I didn't know you yet. Only two weeks before I had ended the 50 straight months of nursing your brother then sister, uninterrupted by my pregnancy with her. For the first time in over four years, I didn't have a nursling or anyone in diapers. Your Daddy and I had wrestled with the idea of having another baby, and even though four children were what we had once imagined, we were tired and thought maybe three would be enough after all.

Thank you so much for knowing we were wrong. Thank you for staying with me and bringing your tiny blue self into the world, knot in the cord and all. I can tell you in all honesty that you have brought joy and beauty and searing love to me every single day of your life. You were only weeks old and so very tiny when you showed me how much you had to say, when I would prop you on the pillow in front of me and you would lock your eyes onto mine and kick and wave and make all manner of coos and grunts. Your story was already fascinating and it only grows more so with each passing day.

So now you are two. You look more and more like your big sister as you get older, but you are the only one of golden hair with highlights that no amount of money could buy. You are fiercely independent in some ways but you still love your mama. You love to swing and to be outside as much as possible. You love to go to the grocery store and run up and down the aisles and try to convince me to go "dif way!" You throw a mean tantrum and can turn from stingy to generous on a dime.

At night when you finally admit defeat and snuggle into my body to nurse and sleep, I smell your hair and rub your back and know how numbered those nights are now. You are my last baby, and hardly a baby at all anymore. I know this and the understanding is deeper than it was with your siblings and all the more bittersweet.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Home Stretch

Remember the last time I wrote a real post, like a week ago? Well I'm still here. At work. With no students. As of today, no one at my school has any students anymore, though, since Friday was the last day of classes for all schools in the district. But while other teachers scurry to get grades done, I had to do all that a week and a half ago. All I have to do now is go through the checkout process. This is somewhat like a scavenger hunt, only less fun and instead of collecting stuff, you get rid of stuff and collect signatures. You give your receipt book and summer address to the financial secretary and she signs your blue form on her special line, you give your AV inventory to the librarian and she signs, and so forth. I can't find anyone to take my offspring and sign off on them, though. There's no line for that.

Yes, it's that time of year when my own children come to work with me since they have nowhere else to go. At least I only have to work today and then until lunch tomorrow. And actually, the kids do great while they're here. Mostly. First they play games on the computer. This involves me a lot of me having to come over and try to figure out why the desired game will not work right. Then they draw on the whiteboards. This is the phase we are currently in. Calvin is drawing a variety of dinosaurs, both winged and non, and Somerset is drawing food and trees. Joshua is still on the computer. Somerset has also had a brief interlude with markers and construction paper that resulted in a lovely card for me, delivered to my desk organizer for work-to-be-graded, which is otherwise blissfully empty. Later the PTSA is feeding us lunch, which means I'll try to find something among the meat trays and pasta salad and crackers that my kids will eat and it will all end in Joshua having a chocolate chip cookie the size of his head for lunch.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hang the DJ

My Pandora stations:

1. Al Green radio
2. The Smiths radio
3. Blue Mountain radio
4. Drive-By Truckers radio
5. Paolo Nutini radio
6. Lucinda Williams radio
7. Joni Mitchell radio

Now playing: Garrison Starr radio

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In Which I Sit Here Wanting A Fountain Coke

We've reached the portion of the year when I no longer have any students. Since I teach all seniors, and said seniors have taken their exams and will be graduated this Saturday at an hour of indecent earliness so that several other high schools may cycle through the too-small venue on the same day, I'm done. But not done. I still have to come to work every day until May 23, and then come back for the two administrative days after Memorial Day even though I had to bust ass to get all my grades and debt slips and what have you turned in yesterday.

I enjoy the quiet time, but it's also somewhat frustrating in a "hurry up and wait" kind of way. It's almost as if there's a moratorium on getting anything useful done during this time. For example, I have to stay after school today to hand out caps and gowns to my homeroom, because we do not want Them back in the building during school hours, roaming the halls out of uniform and mouthing "suck it" to their underclassmen friends through the little steel-mesh-sandwiched windows of their classroom doors.

I also can't go home and clean my sty of a house or go get my oil changed and find out why the little engine-shaped light in the van’s dash is coming on suddenly. I could, however, go down the street to Exxon right quick and get a big Coke and a bag of Doritos. I'm starving! And sitting here all by my lonesome knowing I could go get naughty snacks is not helping me any. When my students were here, I didn't really think about how hungry I was, because the time seemed to fly by until lunch at 11:50 (twenty seven minutes of frozen, low-cal meal. Mmm-Mm!), and it's not as if I found Chip-Juice at all tempting. (For the record, Class Day was replete with Chip-Juice references that ranged from revealing shout-outs to premature nostalgia to an edgy spoken-word piece in which the two performers at one point shouted alternately at each other "Chip!" "Juice!" I am not making that up.)

So what will I do all day, you ask? I do have some things I want to do, like organizing books and cleaning out my junky desk and what have you. Sometimes I'll be called to cover classes for absent teachers, since most of the subs with any sense have gotten the hell out of Dodge by now. Mainly I'll read and play on the interwebs and try to stay under the radar. And try not to succumb to the siren song of sneaking off campus for empty calories.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm a cliche!

All my attempts to distance myself from whiteness have failed, apparently. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say that I lecture either BD or SAM on the virtues of the Oxford comma at least once a week. In my defense, it's usually when asked to edit something they've written, or when they're forced, reluctantly, to remind me that I can't use my beloved Oxford when I'm supposed to be employing journalistic style. This usually sends me off on a rant about how journalistic style is barbaric writing for the illiterate. Because I am that person.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mothers Acting Up

If you can squeeze in an hour or so amid your Mother's Day activities this Sunday, come down to Cooper-Young for the Mothers Acting Up parade. The theme is Reclaiming Mother's Day and eight local mamas will be recognized for work in the community, including (blush) yours truly and my girl SAM. The parade will start at Mothersville (800 S. Cooper) and end at Peabody Park. This will be a very kid-friendly event with stilt walkers and such, and of course the playground. Come on out!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

S is for a Stitch in Time

Last night as I lay in bed, just as I was drifting off to sleep, it occurred to me that I had barely had any contact with Somerset all day. BD picked the kids up from school so I could have a little time to myself in the afternoon, so I missed that pick-up and ride home conversation. She played with a friend all afternoon with me intermittently fussing at her for various infractions. We did all sit down at the table for dinner, and it was a pleasant meal with minimal complaining and the kids talking a little about their day. But I don't think she and I had even a minute of meaningful or significant contact between just the two of us. That realization made me want to cry.

I feel like of all my children, Somerset has the greatest potential to be damaged and have her life ruined by me. She was my baby, the only girl and the object of her two big brothers' affection for almost four years, and then one day, she wasn't. And she knew it. She still knows it. She's a lot like me in that she's stubborn and has a fiery temper. When faced with trouble she will usually laugh in its face, but it's mostly bravado. If I poke at it even a little, her face will crumple and she will dissolve into tears. She fights with her brothers almost constantly because she knows the brotherhood bond between them is forever and unfairly closed to her. I try to make her believe that if she would just stop pestering the crap out of them for a few minutes they might be nicer to her, but she's not buying it. Maybe she shouldn't. What do I know?

I'm the oldest child. There are almost five years between my sister and me and another five between her and our brother. All I ever wanted from them was to be left alone. That was mostly all I wanted from my parents, too. I knew I was loved and taken care of, but for whatever reason, I never craved or expected a closely-bonded relationship with my parents. My kids do, though. Somerset remembers when she was my baby and I held her and carried her around and nursed her until her third birthday. She remembers when I looked at her with nothing but pure, unadulterated love and adoration, and she's aware that too often now, all she can see in my face is frustration and annoyance. She needs attention and the more she raises hell to get it, the more I push her away in ager because her behavior makes my day more difficult.

I have to do better with her. She deserves more than what she's getting from me, and she knows it, and if I don't get it together there's going to be hell to pay later on. I know that as certainly as I know my own name.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

World according to Calvin

On the way home from the grandparents' this evening:

"If cars were people, that one would have a unibrow. And it would be mad all the time."

Friday, May 02, 2008

Casual Friday

As the school year draws to a close, my seniors are mentally checking out. Right now their main focus is signing yearbooks and taking pictures for the Class Day slide show. I thought you might enjoy seeing me with some of my fifth period.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The War Prayer

My favorite source of classroom inspiration right now is the website of a Chicago teacher named Joe Scotese. I'm introducing his "illuminated texts" idea in my classroom today. I wanted to show you my favorite one because I find it to be both very timely and extremely moving, all the more so because it was created by students.

A Prayer For the Lost

You can read the complete text of "The War Prayer" here. I like that Mark Twain.