I always block out the first conference of the day and the last. This means I’m completely ready when my first conference comes in, and I don’t get trapped after conferences end by a conference that goes over time.
I’m a genius, and it works out perfectly.
Except today, when it didn’t.
I had blocked out the first conference. I really had. It showed up marked out in black on the system’s calendar feature. Black means you marked it out. That’s what it’s always meant.
My first conference for the day was scheduled at 3:10. That time slot was marked in red. Red means you have a conference scheduled. It’s that easy.
I had my well-written conference summaries all typed up and laid out on the table in order. I had student work stapled together and also line up on the table. I had my “talking points” for each student clearly planned out.
And then, at 3:00, a student’s mother walked down the hall toward my room. It was weird, because I didn’t have her down for a conference at all. I quickly checked on my computer. The 3:00 spot was still marked out in black. I moved my mouse over it, and the student’s name appeared. Apparently, a parent can sometimes schedule a conference in a cancelled time slot. I’m not sure how it was possible, but there it was.
I quickly welcomed the mother in, and played from the hip. It’s not like I don’t know the kids, so I was able to tell the mom about her child. But, still, it was awkward, the scrambling… the having nothing to hand to her to take home…
I was glad when it was over. I quickly hovered over every “canceled” conference to make sure it hadn’t happened with anyone else. It hadn’t.
Today, I’m a proud teacher. My students wanted to walk out in spite of the fact that a walk out wasn’t approved by the school. They set up the parameters–17 minutes of silence right outside my classroom door–and I supervised. These often crazy, sometimes moody, rather charming, and almost always LOUD 8th graders lined themselves up against the wall and stood in silent solidarity for 17 minutes.
When 17 minutes had passed, they came back in the room, silently rejoined their classmates who had not walked out with them and immediately got to work on their assignments.
Today I got a glimpse of who these kids will be someday. It made me pretty happy for someday.
I was sick last week, and I’m still feeling off my game. Proof positive: today I ran out of Diet Coke. This NEVER happens. Or, at least it never happened. Until today.
When I found myself faced with an afternoon void of my sweet nectar, I became uneasy. Luckily, there’s a gas station a few blocks from my school, and I had a few free minutes during my planning period. I grabbed my keys, slipped out the door, and headed off to replenish my supplies.
Five minutes later I was walking out the door of the gas station,a Diet Coke in each hand, when I heard an unmistakenly familiar sound. I turned toward the sound and, sure enough, there were two young women (or maybe they were older teen girls) arguing in the gas station parking lot.
I couldn’t quite make out their words, but their anger was clear. I watched them for a moment, wondering if I knew them. I considered moving closer to them to try to see if I could recognize them. Maybe they were former students. I watched for one second more, and then I got in my car and drove away.
Today I brought home a box from school. It’s a copier paper box. My daughter is supposed to be using it to sort some stuff that has formed a pile on the radiator in our dining room. But my daughter had too much homework to face this task tonight, so the box just sat.
That is, it just sat until the cats found it. Now, one cat stands guard while the other jumps in and out of the box. Then they switch roles, and the jumper becomes the guard while the guard becomes the jumper.
Tomorrow, I will bring home a second box for my daughter to sort some stuff that has formed a pile on the radiator in our dining room. This one? It belongs to the cats.
I’ve been sick for days. Today I was brave and left the house. I had a “mandatory” parent meeting. I could have just sent my husband, but this stage mom went. Because… well… stage mom.
On the way home, my husband and I stopped for a quick lunch Nothing fancy–I’m a teacher, after all–but just a quick bite to kind of celebrate my return to the real world.
We ordered, and my husband went to get something. I began to feel weak, and I propped my head up on my hand, my elbow on the table. Slowly, slowly I felt my elbow slide. The table was getting close. I could just rest my head on it for a second. That would be okay, right?
My elbow slid a bit more . The table looked oh so close . I could just rest my cheek on it for a second. It would feel a cool, so calming, so comforting, so right.
My husband’s voice was suddenly behind me. “I’ll have them put our food in a take-home container,”he said.
Maybe I’ll be human again tomorrow. At least my lunch is already taken care of.
Like many parents, I feel like my teens don’t always listen to me.
Today, I was having a college talk (not our first, by far) with my 16 year old. “Remember, we aren’t made of money,” I tell her, again reminding her that she needs to make good finincial decisions when looking for the “perfect” school.
When she doesn’t respond, I continue. “None of us were born into money,” I tell her, “and that’s why I had to take that job at a topless doughnut shop when I was in college.”
“Wait,” she says. “What??”
Oh, good. I have her attention. “It was called Debbie Does Doughnuts,” I tell her. “No one went there for actual doughnuts, though.”
She is staring at me For once, I have her full attention. “You really did that, mom?” She’s not as horrified as I would have predicted.
“No,” I tell her. “I didn’t. Because I made a smart financial choice when choosing my college.”
After a long afternoon trying to find the perfect dress for my daughter to wear in her vocal recital, we hit the jackpot. And. By jackpot I mean a dress we both find at least tolerable at a price that is at least not absurd.
We walk out into the mall from the store where said dress was purchased, my daughter clutching her bag in one hand. “I think we both deserve an Auntie Anne’s pretzel,” I tell her, and when turn left, toward the Auntie Anne’s storefront.
My daughter slows down as we pass the Pink store. Her eyes are fixed on the large photo in the store window. It features teen girls in barely there bikinis. “How do they get their bodies to look like that?” She wonders aloud.
“Photoshop,” I tell her.
She turns to me, a sudden knowledge In her eyes. And then we start walking again, both of us a little wiser than we were just a few moments ago.
My niece’s voice comes from the back of the car. “My daddy says,” she begins. My daughter Paige and I turn our attention to her. “My daddy says he didn’t used to like you when you were born.”
She is talking to Paige, who laughs .
“Really?” I ask.
“No, I mean Claire,” she says, naming my other daughter. “He said he didn’t like Claire when she was a baby.” She pauses, before quickly adding: “But he liked her when she was a little kid, and he likes her now.”
“When did he say that?” I ask,
“Last night.” She’s quite confident now. “He told me that last night.”
By the time my brother gets home, I’ve forgotten the conversation. But I remember it later. And I remember the lesson: be careful what you say around young children
My daughter has worn many costumes. She’s been many different personas, including.. an innocent flapper girl, an undersea creature, a strict nun, Cruella De Ville, Annie, and Rapunzel. But, my favorite “costume” is the one she’s worn most recently. Her track uniform. (I had to pause for a moment to remember that it was called an uniform. I almost wrote “outfit” instead.)
It’s not that this uniform is particularly attractive, it’s more of what this uniform means. Until this year, my daughter only considered herself one thing: an actor. For fifteen plus years, that consideration had been enough. She was happy with it. It was her.
But in the last year she’s moved away from that. Not from acting–she’s in a show right now, as a matter of fact–but from considering herself only an actor. In December, she told me she wanted to begin “track pre-conditioning.” And, when the team had try outs (I wanted to call them auditions) she tried out, not only making the team, but making varsity.
I was so proud of her for trying something new. So, today when I saw her track “costume” in the laundry, I smiled.
You know what it’s like when you fall in love with a book, right? You want everyone to read it. But, only if they are going to fall in love with it, too. Because you will be disappointed if they don’t fall in love with it. Seriously disappointed.
So, I’m in love… with a book. It’s not a new love. I’ve loved this book for about five or six years. Over and over again.
The book is In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. If you aren’t a huge fan of this book, don’t let me know. I will lose all respect for you. I’ve read it about 8 times, probably. And today I sent out an email, announcing this book as our next selection.
They’d better love it. Or it’s over for us. And, by “us” I mean me and the book group.
So, all three of my readers… what’s a favorite book of yours? One that you love beyond measure and would defend to your death.