Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hearing the feet at the pavement #sol18

At 10 am, students began trickling into the space. A steady flow of silent, somber teenagers streamed from the hallways. If you've spent any time with high school kids, you know that quiet isn't a state that comes naturally to them. Yet, here they were, walking without words, without laughter, without any of the typical teenager posturing.

For 17 minutes students stood in clusters, silently. Some raised their fists. Some sat at laptops, registering to vote. Instead of marching in the cold, the students gathered in the common area, crowded together.  Student leaders had created spaces for students to share their reflections. Along with the voter registration table, there were spaces where students could share their thoughts about gun laws, about the purpose of the walkout and write letters to members of congress. There was a memorial wall with the faces of the Parkland victims and a table where more students wrote letters to the survivors. All of these tables showed evidence of student thinking as post-it notes filled the pages and stacks of letters sat on the table waiting to be mailed.

For 17 minutes the students were silent. In their silence, they made their voices heard.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tooth Fairy


As my husband headed to bed tonight (he's so responsible; he headed to bed extra early so he can still get enough sleep tonight due to the time change), he asked me, "Do you want to take care of the Tooth Fairy?"

I added it to my reminders. "I got it," I told him. For good luck, Greg put a dollar on the stairs so I don't forget. It's fair. We parents forget about the Tooth Fairy. It happens. One time we forgot to leave money for Emma and Greg raced upstairs that morning and hid a dollar in her blankets. "Go back up and check it out," he told her. Emma decided she must have slept too wild and mixed up the dollar in her covers. Phew!

The next time Emma lost her tooth, well, we forgot again. I came downstairs that morning to find Greg crafting a note with his left hand. The day of her tooth loss, Emma had hung a sign telling her brothers to "Keep out!" Greg capitalized on that sign and used it as an excuse. Quick thinking.

Thankfully, Emma was thrilled to get a note from the Tooth Fairy, so that made up for any confusion.

The problem, though, is that this note set a precedent. It became family legend that perhaps the Tooth Fairy would leave you a note.

I remember losing teeth as a kid and how exciting the anticipation was. My dad was a roofer, and I vividly remember the night that the Tooth Fairy left behind two quarters, one of them covered in tar. I walked into my mom's room that next morning, holding the quarters out in front of me. "Mom," I said. "The Tooth Fairy must have been flying really close to dad's jobs last night."

"What?" my mom asked.

I explained to her that since the quarters were covered in tar, the Tooth Fairy must have been near dad's work. I think that was my first inkling that maybe the Tooth Fairy wasn't quite real. My mom played along with my story, but that was the beginning of the end of the magic.

And so tonight, I'll tuck the dollar under Justin's pillow. It's such a small window when this magic exists. I want to stretch it out as long as I can. Even if I have to set my alarm to make it happen.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sneaking out

I woke up this morning to a sweet text message from my childhood best friend, Erin. She'd heard that my grandpa had passed away and wanted to send her thoughts. Erin's name always transports me back to the summer we were fearless, in 7th grade.

That night we were sleeping in the backyard in Erin's family tent. It was a perfect summer night and we had started plotting earlier in the day. We dragged out sleeping bags and pillows, flashlights and bags of chips. And bars of soap and rolls of toilet paper we'd pilfered from our hall closets. That night we were on a mission. We were going to soap some windows.

Once the sun set, Erin and I hung out, watching the time until it reached midnight. Who knows what we did to fill the time. When you're with a good friend, you talk for hours about everything and nothing.

Erin's dad worked third shift, so if we were going to sneak out, we had to wait until Mr. F. left for work. Once we heard him pull out, we quietly unzipped the tent. We loaded up with bars of soap, and crept out into the yard. The alley way that ran behind Erin's yard was our gateway to the rest of the neighborhood. There's nothing I've ever felt as an adult that matches that thrill of being 12 and living in a small town and being out in the middle of the night.

We headed two streets over. We had a target that night -- the older teenage boys who tormented us in the light of day. We soaped the windows of their mother's cars. We scribbled messages and nonsense. We covered the windows, rubbing the bars of soap to nubs. We stifled our laughter, keeping an eye out for headlights and lights in windows.

When we finished, we sprinted through the alley and dove back into our tent,  falling asleep on top of our sleeping bags.

The next morning, my dad decided to stop by on his way to work. At about 7:30, he unzipped the tent (I realize now he was probably making sure we weren't stowing any boys in there). 

"Good morning," he whispered, sticking his head into the humid tent.

"Hey, dad," I crawled over to give him a hug. As my dad squatted in front of me, facing away from the alley, a car crept by. A car covered in soaped windows. The car.

"You guys have fun?" my dad asked. I tried to keep a straight face. To not freak out.

"Um, yeah, we just hung out and feel asleep early," I managed to respond.

"Ok, well, be good. I'll see you later," my dad backed out of the tent. As he shut the door to his truck, I turned to Erin, my eyes huge.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Gratitude Journal


Today I'm thankful for...

1. Watching Jacob make a "breakfast salad" at dinner: pancakes, bacon, eggs, shredded to pieces, "dressed" with syrup, shoveled into his mouth.

2. Snuggling on the couch with Emma.

3. Justin's great big hug as he whispered, "Are you sad? Me too."

4. A husband who listens, who rearranges, who shows up.

5. The light across the street.

6. A village that provides a safety net, a hug in the form of texts, a back-up plan.

7. The words, "I wish you had been my writing teacher" appearing in the chatbox after hosting a webinar, the weirdest of PD because you talk into space with no human feedback for 45 minutes.

8. Strong Women: moms and aunts and sisters and daughters and friends and neighbors and colleagues and, and, and...

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Six word memoir: My Grandpa

He never once met a stranger.

Dipsy-doodle pitches in whiffle ball games.

Mr. Bear stories whispered under blankets.

Front porch swinging, visiting with neighbors.

Foot rubs, Jeopardy, Notre Dame. Passions.

Rosary praying, Communion taking, Faithful servant.

Best Grandpa, Dad, Husband, Friend -- Man.

Peaceful passing. Dearly missed. Never forgotten.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Rodeo and Juliet


"Mrs. Faulhaber, Mr. D wants to see you," the student beckoned me to the classroom next door.

As I entered my colleague's classroom, the kids, all 28 of them, turned to me. I'm a literacy coach in the district and I had worked in this classroom quite a bit. The kids seemed excited about what was going to happen next.

"Tell her," their teacher said. All eyes turned towards Catherine, a bright student who had researched skateboard tricks for the research project.

"Well," Catherine started, "I found a movie." The kids started tittering. They were wrapping up their reading of Romeo & Juliet this week, so I wondered if she had discovered the R&J version

"Okay?" I said.

"I was doing some research about Romeo & Juliet and well, I found this movie. It's called Rodeo & Juliet." Catherine, along with the whole class grinned. That was not what I expected to hear.

I got a little nervous. "Okaaaaay...."

"It's a movie about a girl who moves to the country and falls in love with a sexy cowboy," she explained. "It's so corny."

I have to admit, I was relieved. Based on the title, I was afraid this movie was something that would air on the After Dark channel. From her description, it sounded more like a Hallmark movie.

I wasn't quite sure where to go from there. Then, inspiration!

"How is this movie connected to the play?" I asked.

"Well, they fall in love but they're not allowed to be together," one of Catherine's friends piped up.

"Ah! That's an archetype," I dropped in the vocabulary word I knew their teacher was going to be introducing in a few days. I love a little purposeful front-loading.

I waved good bye to the students and headed back to my office where maybe I spent some time watching a little bit of a movie. It was for educational purposes, after all. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Facebook Memories

I think Facebook wants me to have another kid. It's not happening, but every so often Facebook memories unearths a sweet moment from that time when I had 3 kids under 3. And because of the highlight reel feel of social media, all I remember now is those sweet faces, those tiny voices, and how happy we all look. Don't get me wrong, this time of life is amazing. We're just older and busier. I'm far enough away from the chaos that I can feel nostalgic about the crazy days.

And so as I watch the young parents around me, I think about all I want to say to them, but won't. (with thanks to Ron Koertge for the inspiration)

I Have So Much Advice For Those of You Starting Out

Give up sitting at a table for a meal. You'll
jump up and run around,
wiping messes, scooping seconds.
You'll wipe up milk, sticky juice.
But you're building towards days
when you can all sit together.

Also, it's all right to take a nap, grabbing
some sleep when you can. Or sit and read a book,
Or check in on your phone for a bit.
Carve out space for quiet, to listen to your own breath.

Avoid reading too many blogs about parenting,
or advice columns. 75% of the time,
the things you're worried about turn out to be nothing.
But sometimes your gut is right on.
That's why it's important to find a good pediatrician,
or a friend with older kids.

Not surprisingly, playgrounds are a good place to hang out.
You'll need to get out of the house,
to meet other people,
to wear your kids out.
Find the four nearest playgrounds and start rotating.

Don't feel like you always have to play with your kids,
but push them on the swings for a little bit.
Teach them to pump their legs.
Watch them when they say "Mom! watch this!" for the 50th time.
But then stand far enough away that they can wander.

You who didn't ask for my advice, please hear this:
Try to live in the moment, soak up those memories.
Archive -- pictures, videos -- so that in a few years,
when the fog clears and you feel like yourself again,
you'll remember the halcyon days.