Sunday, October 21, 2012

Turning the Page

There's an enormous dry erase board that my husband framed up and hung in the little "mud room" entrance to our kitchen and since our family mostly enters our home this way via a garden door--rather than the more formal front entrance--the board has stood as a constant reminder of what needs doing around here.

In the beginning it was divided into five sections with each person in our house writing his or her name at the top in dry erase marker. This left five vertical columns for each person's daily stuff. Occasionally the boys would leave funny or cryptic messages for one another with the most constant data being grocery lists with scribbled in requests for ice cream, reminders for dry cleaning or to fix something broken in the house. Eventually, memos for tux rentals and graduation invitations fought for space with college application deadlines and dorm move-in dates, summer work interviews and appeals for a new pair of running shoes. There were times when the board was exploding with muti-colored announcements all crammed in a happy chaotic jumble.

The old board is looking a little barer these days. It's no secret that I dislike change if it's not something I wanted in the first place. However, I will go on record as saying that I hung on to some very old memos --perhaps longer than was necessary. As each boy left in more permanent ways the need for them to use this as a tap on the shoulder decreased imperceptibly.... almost as if word by word.

And then this week? Something changed  and I found myself standing in front of the middle son's written reminder to file his college graduation plan.   He's done that and the ceremony is in December. There was the oldest son's memo for rental agreement on his house, which happened months ago, as well as a sketch of a wooden construct to be used at a summer camp where he is the climbing instructor. Done. Finally, there was my hugely scrawled admonition to the youngest son to PACK for college as well as the distinctively pink signature of his girlfriend that had been there since the previous winter.

By not erasing those last two bits of information I realized I was trying to keep certain things alive that were no longer relevant to us or to our sons--and in that same way--avoid the inevitably gaping space that would result. But in fact the youngest had already left --successfully packed-- almost two months before, plus he and the girlfriend were no longer together. In the time that had elapsed those written words had been drained of their meaning and now were nothing more than symbols of fear that the space they had previously filled might never be replaced by anything else. 

Sometimes it takes naming a fear to make you see how stupid it really is. This was the case on Thursday afternoon. After considering one last time the commands, suggestions and reminders from the last six months I picked up a dry erase marker.  Impulsively, I turned it over to its felt eraser end and slowly scrubbed away at all of the messages that no longer applied. And... the world did not end.  Even though the board is still pretty empty. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. If that's true then I can't wait to see what she does with this message board...and the life we live as reflected on its surface.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I would have posted before now, but I appear to have a decision making disorder that makes it hard for me to commit words to paper (or computer screen) until I know where I'm going with the point I'm trying to make, but I've put off cleaning the house--or as it is currently known: Brokedown Palace--as well as grading the half kilo of papers I brought home with me yesterday so I have a moment to express a thought or two. I know I won't be the first person to say this, but two days for a weekend is really not long enough. Especially if I'm expected to be completely ready for work on Monday. I'm going to need at least three days, mainly because I require an entire 24 hours just for all the crying. I wish I was kidding.

How bad is the behavior at our school? So bad that during morning announcements over the PA system-- (Wherein the entire school collectively recites THREE pledges--national, state and the school pledge to be a better citizen and not stab anyone until we get home--so who are all the jagweeds out there on Facebook claiming school kids don't say the pledge anymore and the country is going to hell? No really! Find them for me so I can kick their asses right now, because it takes my school eleventy-five minutes of pledging instead of receiving instruction every day and as a result I've got students who think the name of our continent is Antarctica and one who just this week spelled the word the word shovel thusly: sufol. Time is of the essence, friends. OF. THE. ESSENCE!! This cannot be overstated. And no--I'm not suggesting that our kids can't read or spell because of the Pledge of Allegiance, so simmer down all you flag wavers out there.)  --our sweet principal has us clap in unison for the number of days our little dumplings go without a disciplinary referral to the office.

I'll wait while you digest what I just said.

Yes. It has come down to clapping for the self-restraint shown when young children make it through the day without setting fire to the bathroom, though rhythmically speaking what we do really resembles that slow "clap out" that all the prisoners did for Robert Redford when he played a warden in the movie "Brubaker".  By the way, that smell you've probably just noticed? It's the smell of failure. Thanks for noticing.

It was a good idea, in theory, to assess our progress with regard to in-house violence. Sadly, we got as far as 10 days of relative calm during that first week and a half, which had our teachers in a kind of mouths-wide-open-yet-cautious state of mild shock and disbelief and then things went south as they are wont to do here at Lord of the Flies Elementary when a bi-polar/schizophrenic third grader-- who is built like a small tractor and whose mother neglected to administer purchase his insanity pills-- roundhouse punched another classmate right in the face while in the cafeteria. Current total of claps as of yesterday? Three. Hope springs eternals, folks.

And then it is stomped until lifeless by someone wearing dirty Air Jordans.

In other news I saw something on Pinterest about a Chocolate Ding Dong Cake with caramel and sea salt and when you add that bit of happy information that to the fact that I also just this day stumbled onto the existence of Candy Corn M&Ms? Let's just say I may have discovered my reason to go on living. It's either that or risk censure when someone discovers me "drinking" my lunch out in the teacher's parking lot, though I don't think there's a jury in the land who would convict me if they had spent even a day with me. The invitation is open, but you'll have to bring your own kevlar vest. Don't say you weren't warned.

I'm headed out tonight to my husband's class reunion. I'm actually looking forward to it since I purchased this miracle cucumber eye cream that somewhat diminishes the suggestion that I'm storing small dark coin purses beneath my eyes. I'm not saying it's like a facelift or anything, but it shaves a whole three years off my appearance. When you consider that I was coming out of ICU three years ago and--even then--looked more rested than I do after leaving work every day? Well....I'll take what I can get and going backwards in the time machine known as "GETTING OLDER" is better than forwards. If you don't know that yet you are probably still in college, in which case you probably should be studying instead of pondering your mortality. There's plenty of time for that.