Monday, August 16, 2010

School Daze

When the Back-to-School ads come out, so do the teachers. We hunker over the newspaper inserts of Target, Office Depot, and Staples cutting out coupons and making lists...15 cent spiral notebooks times 25 kids ( up 5 cents from last year), Ticonderoga pencils, crayons, markers, large paperclips, Expo markers in pretty colors, erasers, colored pencils, novel Post-it notes, Mr. Sketch markers and chisel tip large Sharpies for the charts, and anything else that we believe we need to enhance our teaching.

Yes, we do count down the days to summer vacation, starting from the first day of school. "Only 179 more days left" you'll hear chanted after school that blessed day. "How many days left until vacation?" is heard several times a year and "One trimester down, two to go!" We can hardly wait to get all the children on the bus the last day, ready for a well deserved vacation, but come the end of July we begin to emerge waiting for those ads to show up on our door step. We begin to fill in the dates of our plan books, looking back on last years to see what we did.

We might forget the classes of our first ten, fifteen, okay twenty or more years, or even last year's class remembering only what we want to remember. It's sort of like childbirth. This is done to protect ourselves. Our brains are reluctant to dredge up the memories of the obnoxious helicopter moms who circle round and round as we walk down the hall, the kid who puked on our new shoes or all over the kid next to him/her. The student whose only words were: "That's not fair!" [read the wall kid- 'Fair is not the same, fair is based on need.' You need to shut up] The kid who stole our best scissors, best paperweight, money, gum, candy, whatever, and then lied to your face. We also forget your face, so if you come back to visit you need to tell us who you are as you did not have porkchop sideburns in the fourth grade. That I would have remembered!

But emerge we do in early August. We begin to show up at school slowly bringing in the school supplies we've purchased because unloading it all at once would look like we raped and pillaged an office supply store. We slowly put up bulletin boards that welcome students, copy worksheets for the first week, organize our desk drawers  (this only lasts about 20 minutes), arrange and re-derrange the desks as we hear about our new students from previous teachers, make up schedules, class lists, pick out books to read, and think to ourselves that perhaps THIS is the year we'll stay organized. HAHAHAHAHA!

Yes, each year we tell ourselves we won't buy any more teacher books, or supplies, but we do. Each year we vow to love something about each kid, and for the most part we do. Each year we tell ourselves we will have the best year ever, and sometimes this actually happens, but we are creatures of habit starting in late July with the ads, and moving through the year until that last day, day 180 when we whoop it up as the kids leave our carefully planned nest, knowing the circle of life will start over again.
                                                The Mighty Fourth Grade Spelling Bee winners from
                                                     Mrs. Billington's class. Second place, fourth, and first place!                                   

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dog Daze

When Annie was two years old, Ed asked how old she would have to be before we got a dog. I said thirty-five. The very next day we had a black collie/cocker named Sandy and I became a dog person. Sandy put up with kids poking, dragging, chased, and loved. Sandy taught Annie how to pee in the vegetable garden and Charley taught Sandy how to be carried around by her middle or neck and not choke...much. When Sandy went to the big dog bowl in the sky we grieved.

About a year later, after an appropriate time we brought home Lucille the 11 week old basset, at 11 pounds, mostly ear weight. Sometime later (we can't remember!), we adopted Emmett the basset, a 6-7 year old extended length dog as a companion for Lucy. Companions they were, sort of. Emmett preferred humans and food to Lucy although she was tolerable. Along came Gracie June, a precious  Cavalier King Charles spaniel,  four years ago, and she was just another food source for Emmett and Lucy. Emmett, lived a good long life and is now with Sandy in dog heaven.

Lucy lives on. Earlier this summer we were very worried about our girl. Both her back legs have had surgery, host arthritis, and cause her pain limiting her excursions. It pained us to watch her try to get up or lay down. We thought perhaps this would be her last summer. Now however, with new bacon flavored medicine the size of a small eraser, we see big improvement! It only costs money.

Today I took both Lucy and Gracie June for a walk with success. It's actually more like a smell than a walk. Lucy has modeled for Gracie how to smell every blade of grass, small tree, large tree, and shrub, so the walk is often stop and start over and over again. Fortunately, Gracie does not like to roll in the most obnoxious pile of whatever stinky Lucy can find. She's too dainty.

Both girls used to pee like Emmett, lifting their leg, like a boy dog. Not so much any more, but occasionally it happens as old habits are hard to break. Lucy now runs and walks, even skips a bit, although this happens more on the way than the way back. Lucy sometimes sits down on our way back home, prompting me to think of the time we had to get the Home Depot like utility cart to bring Emmett home from a walk, like he was in a parade on his own float.

Lucy gets sore, but wouldn't miss a trip down to the river where she wades in to get a drink of water getting her tummy wet enough to collect dirt on the way home. Just enough to be nasty and get a wipe down. Gracie occasionally gets a drink, daintily, just at the edge of the river.

When Lucy stops to rest, so does Gracie. She doesn't want to leave her sister behind. I love this dog relationship. At home they have spats over bones and food, but truly love each other. Watching the sisters go for walks and to be a part of their lives enriches my human world. Oh pups.

                                              Gracie June and Lucy at Whidbey Island 2009.                           

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Umpire's Mom

For years I attended hundred's of Charley's baseball games, from age 4-18, when he was a player. I'd yell for him and cheer him on, bring orange slices and drinks as snack mom, wash the nastiest smelly socks, go through 3 gallons of bleach a season, and put more miles on the car than a long haul trucker. I'd feel badly when they lost a game or championship, and be their number one fan when they won.

Now I could care less who wins the game, don't know the players, and sometimes I don't know the teams name. I'm the umpire's mom! Inside, my heart double beats when he comes on the field to have the plate meeting. My son is in charge of the game. His calls move the game along, elating some, and pissing off others. Charles is the team's best friend or worst enemy switching back and forth over and over throughout the game. The manager can puff up to get in his face, yell at him, tell him how horrible his call was, and my son, the umpire, lets him vent, tells him to go sit down, once, maybe twice or three times. The manager then turns around, kicks the dirt, marches back to the dugout and sits down. All because my son said so.

When things get hairy on the field, players smack each other, or the air gets hostile it's my son's job to turn things around to keep the ball crossing the plate. He never knows what the game will hold. How the team will play. Who will be the big hitter or the crummy one. Each game is new. Challenges abound. Thousands of fans could be on hand or a mere hundred. Thirsty Thursday usually ups the fan count and makes the comments from the crowd sort of slurry! "I'll have 14 beers!"

I am proud that my son realized his passion and followed it. At 25 he's living the life many men think they could from the recliner, where of course, they know all the rules and are the best umpire, coach, and player. Little do they know the training, intricacies, rules, changes, evaluations, networking, logistics, and deep knowledge needed to be an umpire because it all looks so easy.

I sit in the stands incognito, not a supporter of the team or a player,  just a mom. The umpire's mom.