Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Succinctly Yours: Another Problem with Patriarchal Societies

Many thanks to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting Succinctly Yours! The idea of this meme is to use the picture to tell a story in 140 words or 140 characters. The bonus word was “banish.” Mine has 138 characters.
Despite the possibility that the elders might banish them, the Yodelhosen youth held their first prom. They didn’t yet know that girls were typically included.

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. ~Anonymous, seen on plaque on a teacher’s desk.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Why There Should Be No Talking in School

With the end of the school year looming ahead of us, here are

Ten True Exchanges I’ve Had in School

  1. Me: Here is your assignment written on the board. Everyone needs to be looking up here and listening. You are to read page 234 and answer questions 1-5. That’s page two-thirty-four and numbers one through five. Any questions?
Student: Um. Do we have an assignment?

  1. Me: And finally, the correct answer to number 30 is 4,208.5 cm. Any questions?
Student: (With hand raised.) Do you like cats?

  1. Me: When I call your name for roll, please raise your hand. Michael?
Michael (raising hand): Excuse me? I have dreams of cheese.
Me: Oh. I see. What kind of cheese?
Michael: Gouda.

  1. Sixth Grade student, after watching a theatre film that mentioned concubines (and feigning an innocent look): What is a concubine?
Me: Sort of like a mistress.
Student: I knew what it was, but I didn’t think you’d tell us.

  1. Me: …And that’s your assignment. Any questions?
Student: (With hand raised.) What’s your favorite color?

  1. (Question I hear at least once per week.)
Student: Did you used to teach grade school?
Me: No.
Student: You look just like a teacher at my old school.
Me: What is her name?
Student: I can’t remember. (They never can. For years I had a double named Sue. Now I have a double in the grade school, but she is apparently unmemorable enough that no one knows who she is.)

  1. High school student: Excuse me? Will you please take a look at this rash on my arm?

  1. Student: You look like that one lady in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Me: Was the lady Mrs. Doubtfire?
Student: No, the mom.
Me: (Thinking) Stop messing with them, you idiot, because one of these days they’re going to say yes and mean it.

  1. Me (looking at a 6th grader’s desk while he was coloring a social studies map): My goodness, that desk looks like an episode of hoarders! Please share the markers.
On-looking student (with a very solemn face): Yes, all he’s missing is a few dead cats, some old newspapers and some dust bunnies.

  1. Me (in gifted 7th grade classroom, calling roll): Ethan?
Ethan: Here. At least that is my perception. I could merely be an existential hallucination of some higher being.
Ethan’s friend: Or some lower being.

Only the educated are free. ~Epictetus

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mama, Would You Be Mad?

"Galaxy" Nails

“Would you be mad if I became a nail artist?”

This is her stock question when she is feeling overwhelmed. She asks me this while poking delicately at her plate with a nail painted to resemble peacock feathers in turquoise and blue and gold.  Somehow it doesn’t look tacky on her long, tapered, hand-model fingers.

I suppress the urge to tell her to get her hands away from her food.  I’ve told her this too many times as it is in her life. I just want to enjoy the day.

We are sitting at an outdoor table at the Hard Rock Café in Union Station on an absolutely exquisite day.  Mother’s Day.  Below the terrace where we are sitting, koi and ducks drift lazily through the pond. 

“Do you want to become a nail artist?” I ask.  As her mother, this is my stock response.  We both know I’ve never pushed her. That I’ve never had to. She was born a fierce spirit who’s gone after her goals with awe-inspiring determination since she was a baby. When she learned to walk, it was by launching herself repeatedly forward until she was covered in bruises. She’d pick herself up, too focused to cry, and catapult herself forward all over again.

In those days, I used to read to her from a book we both loved called Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse (illustrated by Barbara Lavallee). As she got older, she would occasionally ask me: Would I love her if she joined the circus? Decided to become a palm reader? A sheep herder?

Yes, I tell her. Of course. I love you for who you are, I tell her, and not what you become. You’ve always made me proud by just being you, I tell her. I don’t love you for being what society calls successful. I just want you to be happy. Would you be happy painting nails all day? Toes too?

She sighs.

And then I hug her, this tall, lovely girl, and watch her go back to school with the same look on her face she had when she learned to walk.

I’ll love you until
the umiak flies
into the darkness,
till the stars turn
to fish in the sky,
till the puffin howls
at the moon.

~from Mama, Do You Love Me? By Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hangin’ with Writers…and other Critters

Thank you so much to all those who came out to the Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Mom book signing today! It was wonderful to meet so many other writers from this area, and the turnout was amazing. What a beautiful day for it, too.

I got to thinking…what is it moms really want? Other than help? We want to know we’re appreciated and supported. We want to know we’re not alone. And we want to laugh, because it takes some of the pressure off. Anything from the Not Your Mother’s Book series is guaranteed to be lighthearted and fun—like a vacation for the spirit. Please consider ordering Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom as a Mother's Day gift for that special mom in your life. Your review of the book here is certainly appreciated, and there is also a Facebook page to like for this and the upcoming NYMB…On Family.

Thank you to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting this fun meme! The idea is to use the picture to tell a story in 140 words or 140 characters. The bonus word was “verify.” Mine this week have 140 and 136 characters.

When Bob’s wife sent him to the doghouse due to poor grooming habits, he was fine with it. That is, until he couldn’t verify if that was dandruff on his shoulders…or fleas. 

Finneus was pleased to verify that his wolfsbane potion did indeed work in subduing the savage beasts. Unfortunately, his fleabane potion didn’t subdue a thing. 

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. ~Robert Louis Stevenson