Tick, Pause, Tick, Tick Pause, Ticktickticky

I hate the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When I was a naughty kid, I dreaded my dad uttering those terrible words “Just wait until your mother gets home.”  Waiting is the worst, especially when you know that what is waiting for you is BAD.

I am currently in a nasty waiting game.  My heart has been all jumpy, and stoppy, and generally not good.  My little ticker is doing some sort of rhumba that makes me sweat profusely at the drop of a hat, makes my left arm simultaneously achy and prickly with pins and needles, and causes me to be tired almost all of the time.  Not to mention the whole inconvenience of constantly dropping stuff because I lose feeling in my left hand.

As much as I don’t like it As much as it scares me, I made the dreaded call to my cardiologist.  I hate the fact that I’m 32 and have had a cardiologist for many years now.  I hate that when I called, the receptionist knew exactly who I was.  I hate that I had to tell my principal about what’s going on because I don’t like being weak.  I hate that when I fill out my emergency card every year, I practically write a book under “in case of emergency”.

But most of all I hate waiting.

My appointment is Wednesday afternoon.  Questions swim in my head.  What’s wrong this time?  How many EKG’s will I have to do?  Will I have to wear a monitor to school?  Will I have to carry one in my purse?  What does this mean for bike riding? And the worst one yet: Will I need surgery again?

I know the Bible tells me to be anxious for nothing.  And I’m trying.  I really am.  But if I’m being straight with God and myself, I’m anxious.  If I strip it bare, I’m afraid.  Really afraid.  I’m waiting for Wednesday and right now Wednesday feels very far away.

Death By Chocolate Cake

I haven’t ridden my bike in almost two weeks.  I have a litany of excuses related but not limited to a pencil stabbing and birthday cake.

I am exhausted from the first week of school.  This week is usually completely tiring, even when all goes well.

All did not go well.

In the span of one week my precious students dealt me 2 bouts of vomit, 1 rush of pee on the playground, 1 pencil stabbing, 1 punch in the face, and a long string of profanity.

I’m going to have to dig down deep this year.

My body tends to tell me when it’s time to rest by getting sick.  I woke up Saturday with a bit of a stomach bug.  I laid on the couch and watched a lot of bad tv.  Sunday I woke up with fever aches, but by Sunday afternoon I was feeling well enough to go to the grocery store.

My step-dad, Chris, has been taking amazing care of my mom as she recovers from eye surgery.  Sunday was his birthday and I wanted to do something nice.  Since I love my step-dad, I didn’t bake for him.  No, I bought him a shimmering quadruple chocolate monstrosity of a cake.

As I carried the cake and an armload of groceries from the car to the house, I noticed that the washing machine had leaked all over the garage for the second time that weekend.  I stepped carefully because flip-flops do not have the greatest traction.  I’d almost made it to the door when my feet slipped.  I held the cake aloft.  Oh no, oh no, please don’t let me ruin the cake.  Wait, please don’t let me hit my head or ruin the cake.  No, wait, please don’t let me hit my head, rip the seat of my pants or ruin the cake. With a thud and a weird “Oof” of air, I landed squarely on my tailbone.  Pain shot up my back.  I cringed.  What about the cake?  What about the cake?

I peeked in the bag and to my great relief the cake stared back at me in perfect condition.  It’s all about priorities, people.  

Tailbones heal.  Cake does not.

And so there it is, my list of excuses as to why The Rocket is in the garage, stewing with Frank.  That’s never good.  I’ll ride soon and I hope that when I do, The Rocket will forgive me without demanding penance for my inactivity or for the divine piece of chocolate cake I inhaled.

Crooked-Mouthed Kitty

Friday afternoon I opened my classroom to my incoming students and their parents.  I met 16 of my new families and am touched by the fact that they took time out of their day to stop in.

A few minutes into the meet and greet one of my little girls reached in her pocket and pulled out a kitty cat face made of beads.  She said “I made it for you.  Its mouth is crooked.”  I smiled and replied “I like it better that way.”

And it’s true, I do like it better that way.  The lopsided grin gives this cat a mischievous look, like it just swallowed a bird.  (And you know I like anything that eats birds!)  I put a magnet on the back of the kitty face and stuck it on my filing cabinet where the girl is sure to notice it Monday morning.

I couldn’t get this little cat face out of my mind all weekend.  I’m not really a cat person, so it took me awhile to figure out why this plastic kitty was stuck in my head.  Then it hit me-it’s not perfect.  The imperfection is what makes it interesting, quirky even.  The juxtaposition of the otherwise cheery cat with a big smirk amuses me.

The same is true for my students.  The little things that make them unique are the things I treasure the most.  The kid who accidentally cut my hair, the kid who fell out of his chair more times than either of us could count, even the kid who shouted out curse words when he was excited-all of them hold a place in my heart because they weren’t perfect.  They were delightfully unique.

Tomorrow, with a stomach of butterflies, I’ll begin a new year of teaching.  A new year of learning from my students.  A new year of learning about them, finding out what it is that makes them inimitable.  Every now and then I’ll catch a glimpse of my precious crooked-mouthed kitty and I’ll smirk right back, happy with the knowledge that imperfection is a wonderful thing.

Are We There Yet?

A new school year is nearly here and I’m so eager to get started that I feel like I’m perpetually leaning forward, kinda like when I’m watching a tense movie and I can’t wait to see what happens next.  It’s not that I’m tense about the new school year.  I’m just about to burst waiting to see what happens next.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks giving my room a complete overhaul.  Re-arranging furniture to facilitate partner work stations.  Cleaning out files, cupboards, cabinets and ridding my room of anything resembling clutter.  I recovered my bulletin boards in different fabric, replacing harsh colors with calming blues and greens.

My summer was spent filling my brain with books on literacy and writing instruction.  Just when I thought I would overflow with good ideas, I went to an Interwrite training and left with even more ideas on how to provide dynamic instruction.

Yesterday as I wrote out nameplates for my incoming kids, I couldn’t help but wonder what they’re like.  Which kids will make me laugh?  Which kids will devour books so quickly I can’t keep up?  Who will beg to be my after school helpers?  Which kids will blow me away with their compassion?  Who will puzzle me and make me discover new ways to teach?  Which of these little ones will take my passion for writing and make it their own?  Who are these kids?  I’ll meet them Friday and Friday can’t come soon enough.