you’ve made me sense the nearness of my years
and I don’t mind at all
possibilities are as rampant as raindrops on an April morning
I can see quite plainly how your smile is different
this is where I thought I might feel nervous
losing you to THAT world
the very same world, I once hurt my hands punching walls to reach–
hobnobbing like some awkward figurine whose two legs were sculpted as one–
and whose tiny Victorian shoes were forever jammed in a loaded pedestal
you are now primed to enter THAT world, but walking elegantly through the door
so you see my son, my smile is different too
the young athlete in purple and gold was trying to escape
his muscles maxing out in length beneath his sweating skin
each time crawling on knees and palms to reach the outer ring
every wrestler knows when you reach that white circle, the whistle blows
out of bounds
you get another chance
he was fierce
yes he was
in his determination
the other wrestler wearing the baby-blue and white singlet
continued lunging at his fleeing opponent
baby-blue and white wanted the win badly
purple and gold was trying with all his power to escape
on the other side of the large wrestling mat,
a bulbous-bellied man in a bright yellow shirt
was positioned like the sun
he stood there eclipsing all else around him with
his giant flashing camera and smashing fists
he was a bright star
without the warmth
but with all the heat
loads of hot air bursting out
through a constant barrage of bellows
screaming at the young wrestler–his son
“YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THAT”
“GOTTA PULL YOUR LEG ‘ROUND FASTER”
“QUIT RUNNING FOR THE RING”
“YOU’RE NOT TRYING”
and secretly, the young wrestler in the purple and gold and I both knew
he was trying
trying very hard
to reach that white circle
and never stop running
art previously published
unfortunately, this is a true story, colors of singlets were changed to protect the innocent:)
Did I ever see my children
as these faces I see now
My eyes periscope across the ocean of manila brown desks
I’m thinking many thoughts
especially how to remain afloat today
and not sink like a sub
The endless falsetto voices lost in the banter of youth
are not affected by the tepid grey tile and dull institutional cinder block
as am I
On these first days
when teachers gaze across that sea of bright, clear eyes
do they see my children
as I see them
Not evaluating as an instructor
but visualizing with the hopeful heart of a parent
painted oh, so long ago
In my six years as a substitute teacher for all grade levels, just about every teacher I’ve had the honor of working with goes above and beyond what is expected, in an ever changing educational environment. Teachers are a compassionate group. Many educators’ patience is wider than an ocean of manila brown desks.
may I call you out
the nights are growing colder
the mornings chilly
leaves are weary and falling
the trees want to sleep
their shadows have cooled
and something is pressing in the wind
like a secret around the corner
this time of year
the minute hand seems to
overpower the hour
stepping through that next door
another calendar to markup with activity
summer is worn out
for the harvest to begin
every time you change
I wish they could stay the same
and play with dolls just a little longer
Galeen on a ‘shroom painted on paper a few weeks back
you’ve gone about halfway
righteous peppers your tongue
your decades of experience
shower unadulterated minds
your determined suggestions
penetrate virginal ears
then the moon flips
your waxing tongue is stifled
nature in her amusing way
has pushed you out
and laughs at your wrinkled brow
she flawlessly accepts
what you won’t admit
children are whirlybirds in the wind
and the only thing you control
is where to sow the little seeds
in your vegetable garden
Photo – delicate daughter (now 17) and big son (now 14) standing in front of mural their mom painted in 2004.
Zebras prisma penciled in 2008
In keeping with this week’s theme, “Reality and Afraid,” I’m sharing another favorite post from way back.
One day at the high school…
I’ve been substitute teaching four years. During my tenure I’ve noticed, as I’m sure many of you have, that a warm-weather phenomenon has been affecting our schools. Now if you’ll humor (along with) me, I’m going to tighten my brassier straps and adjust my mom sorting hat…
As parents of Generation txt’ers, we’re exceptionally busy. We’ve produced 2.1 offspring who run us ragged. We do daily battle to arm them with the latest technology. We toil endlessly to swaddle them in brand names and expensive athletic socks. Appearance goes a long way toward their shades of happiness.
Our children’s desire for ‘peer acceptance’ can wear us out. After a long day of caring, we parents are frazzled. In fact, we’re so exhausted that some mornings we can’t even muster up the words, “Wait, you’re not really going to school naked are you?” (Of course I exaggerate, some students are partially clad and others remember to wear clothes.)
It certainly would explain, when I was sitting beside a student (I was a one-on-one sub that day) I turned to find a pair of underwear in my face. The student with the low pants (he must not have realized they were the wrong size when he purchased them) was standing with his back to me while conversing with a fellow student.
Perhaps there could be a kindly worded, student pamphlet espousing reminders like: Dear young ladies, your breasts won’t run away if you can’t see them. Rest assured they will still be there when the school day is over. So cover your breasts while learning. Save them for later, when you’ll really need them. Dear young men, if you stop looking at the breasts long enough, perhaps you’ll realize your pants have fallen down.
Created months ago…
Long ago I promised myself I wouldn’t morph into a stereotypical mother. That mom wants to shove her big son’s, size 14 feet into toddler shoes again. That mom wants to place a puppy-patterned hat on her sixteen-year-old daughter’s head.
Single digit temperatures have forced me and the giant husband indoors. During yesterday’s mall-walk while following orange footprints affixed to tile, a scant tear pooled in the corner of my eye. A beautiful little dress with flowers bursting like a spring garden along its hemline had caught my attention. I imagined the delicate daughter, my Caroline twirling in it. Her toddler cheeks rosy pink and her giggling as pure as the precious white dress.
Then wouldn’t you know my other eye formed a tiny tear as we passed by the toddler shoes. I remembered the big son – my Max – running down our old, wood-lined driveway. Back then, his hair stuck straight up as if in perpetual shock and he loved wearing work boots. The work boots gave him a ‘thumpy’ gait and made his diapered rear end bounce from side to side. This beloved memory is forever velcroed to my heart.
Caroline and Max are no longer small. I’ve had the joy of watching their shoe sizes change. They’ve grown into warm-hearted and gracious teens. Still I pray, when they walk into adulthood they never forget the simple goodness of wearing little shoes.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve become a walking cliché. 🙂
Thank you. May you dream of following the footsteps of happiness.
Max and Caroline painted long ago with acrylic craft paint. I plan on redoing this painting someday. It needs more cool colors. I’m not too happy with it, but it worked for the post. Both photos taken yesterday morning at the Newburgh Mall. Sorry – I don’t know who designed the dress or the workboots.
We grow. We sometimes have children. We involve ourselves with other things other than ourselves. And we learn, sometimes.
As life has its ironies, mine has been no different. For the last four years, I’ve been a substitute teacher. I spent eleven years designing and developing textbooks. I’m a strict parent (though I do love fun and goofiness). I do this because my children must be smarter than I was at their age.
I was a willful child. My kindergarten teacher recommended that I repeat kindergarten. Her reason, “She doesn’t follow directions at all. She doesn’t WANT to follow directions at all.” I remember thinking, “But my way is better. The piano can be played from underneath.” My parents told Mrs. H, “Absolutely not. Our daughter is simply creative.” My parents gambled. They really couldn’t know if I was creative, only that I had great difficulty following directions. In truth, they didn’t want me to have the stigma of being in my younger sister’s class.
I recall my willful behavior put me into the classroom corner, and I think I remember a pointy hat. Could be with the passage of time, I dreamed the hat…or not…
I often find myself fighting against my inner-child. Funny, how these things stay with us. Now, I get quite annoyed at some students when I’m subbing – they don’t follow directions! My way is best 😉
Thank you. May you dream this eve of brick buildings made of marshmallows, licorice chalk and smiling teachers.
Dunce Cap drawn August 20, 2014 while wearing a childlike smirk
Okay, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The delicate daughter was named after a lovely Harry Nilsson ballad and the big son was named after the sitcom, Get Smart. But, please don’t tell them. They are already subject to the birth order dilemma, or in other words, jockeying for position as is their perceived ‘right’ based on when the canon shot them into the delivery room.
Let me bring you way, way back into my career and to my first foray into the mad, mad world that is publishing. Before entering my eleven-year career at an educational publishing house, I worked for a small publishing company. I was there for a year. And what fun I had: I put several family members on jacket covers, got to speak to Elvis Presley’s step brother and learned about the birth order.
I learned about the whole birth order thing when my art department had to redesign the cover for Dr. Kevin Lehman’s book, The Birth Order Book – a book still popular today. Rooted within The Birth Order Book’s pages, Dr. Leman explains how birth order affects our personalities, parenting-style, marriages… Using quite a bit of humor, the Doctor strives to help us overcome our, “ingrained tendencies.” Having five other siblings myself, I was quite curious about what Dr. Kevin had to say on the matter. Besides working on the cover, I read his book. I found many of his insights spot-on though my greater difficulty was admitting this. I’ve always described my birth order as bottom-of-the-top (third born followed by three more Italian cherubs). So I have difficulty admitting some truths and I know why: I’m a middle child.
For your viewing entertainment, I’ve included some of my early book jacket designs. Don’t judge too harshly, these were my first covers and I was having a good old time… (The Elvis cover is a comp. A sister’s photo graces the cover for Hot Trax. I gave the jacket cover with one of my brothers on it to my sister-n-law. Don’t ask me what real men do ’cause I don’t know. Sorry, don’t have Dr. Kevin’s I didn’t design his cover.)