Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Things Nana Can't Fix

As I am falling asleep I’m often writing in my head, reworking sentences into perfect prose.  Last night I dozed off after writing a wonderful paragraph.  I remember thinking that it would be a perfect blog post and that I needed to get it written down first thing in the morning.  At dawn’s early light, okay maybe it was more like 10:00, I booted up my laptop and didn’t have anything to write.  Not only can’t I remember the perfect sentences, I can’t even remember the topic.  So, today’s post is some random thoughts from a recent week substituting.

A few weeks ago I was at a middle school covering a 6th grade reading class.  At lunch time I was in the classroom reading the teacher’s lesson plan when a girl came in early and started to chat.  After a few general comments she says, “I may run out of the classroom crying because my little brother’s father died last night.”

“Oh, that’s awful,” I tell her.  “What happened”

“It happened in his home.  I think it’s called a home cide,”  she says.

“A homicide?” I ask her.  “Someone killed him?”

This child is probably 11 years old and she’s telling me about a murder.  She’s  11 and she’s discussing how her mother is worried that she won’t be able to collect social security for the baby because the baby daddy never officially declared paternity and now they had to make sure they got a DNA sample before he was buried.   She’s only eleven.  She’s a child.  Children shouldn’t talk about homicides and DNA and paternity, especially with a substitute teacher that they’ve just met. 

I’m a problem solver, a fixer.  I’m good in an emergency.  I know where to go for help and who to contact.  It’s one of the challenges of substituting that the students tell me things and a part of me wants to take charge and make it better.  It’s not my role to make it better.  I can only listen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nana Celebrates a Birthday, Cha Cha Cha!

Today is my birthday.  I have nothing special planned.  The spouse bought me a chocolate cake with birthday greetings written in red frosting.  It is a well known fact that calories consumed on one’s birthday do not count, so I’ve indulged several times today.  We usually don’t buy gifts for each other, mostly because there isn’t really anything that either of us want or need.  I do reserve the right to buy myself something guilt-free, but so far I haven’t developed the urge for another bauble or techno toy.

The granddaughters called and sang “Happy birthday to you, cha cha cha.”  My son-in-law told me the song was accompanied by a complex dance routine. 

When my children were small some of their favorite stories were about the days that each of them were born.  This evening, after the birthday cha cha cha song, I talked with my daughter and told her that Grandpa Joe had recounted the story of the day I was born.  She told me that she didn’t remember ever hearing the story.  I told her she could read it in the blog.  I think now I’ll have to write and post  the stories for each of my children and grandchildren on their birthdays.   Whew!  That will give me material for at least four postings in the coming year.

My father (Grandpa Joe) called to wish me a happy birthday and, of course, declared that he remembered the day I was born.  It’s a story I recall being told numerous times throughout my childhood.  I was born in England, in Harrow, my parent’s first child.   As was the custom of the time, my mother was attended by a midwife and I was born at home.  The midwife had been on holiday and my mother was relieved that she was back on duty when she called her to come to the house late in the day on October 23.  My father, anxious to be of assistance, was pleased to be assigned the important task of boiling water.  Not sure how much water would be needed, this was after all the birth of his first child, he set numerous kettles to boil on the stove.  He was quite proud to be trusted with this vital task.  Once his pots were boiling he went upstairs to find out what to do with all the boiling water.  He was quite surprised to discover that he was boiling water so the midwife could have a cuppa tea!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nana Makes A Subtle Change

Last week I colored my hair.  Not a dramatic color change, I just covered the gray.  Well, I covered a lot of it.  There's so much gray now that I can never get it all.  The spouse was oblivious.  Today I substituted at the high school in the same classes that I covered several weeks ago.  Numerous girls commented on my hair.  They had me as a teacher three weeks ago for only two days and they notice that my hair is different.  The spouse sees me daily and doesn't notice a thing.  Last week I was congratulating myself on a subtle color transition.  I was thinking that it was such a natural appearing color that the spouse didn't notice a difference.  I'm having to rethink those assumptions after my experience with the students today.  Either they are very observant and the spouse isn't, or that understated, refined color isn't as subtle as I convinced myself that it was.

This weekend I celebrate another birthday and the title of my blog will no longer be accurate.  I will have surpassed the benchmark.  I realized that I need to update the sidebars and the page design could probably use a freshening. On the other hand, if I make a change will anyone notice?  I know for sure that the spouse won't!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One More Life Lesson

Years ago my friend, Darla, told me about a story she read in the newspaper that provided a life lesson and carried a profound message for her marriage.

The police were called to the home of an elderly couple.  They found the wife sitting calmly in a rocking chair on the front porch, the husband dead on the floor inside the house.  If the narrative ended here it would just be one more elderly widow left to finish out her life alone, but there is more to the story.  After finding the body of the husband and the hammer that had been used to kill him, the officers questioned the widow. 

“Why did you do it?” they asked.

“For all the little things,” she replied.

“All the little things”…it makes you wonder how much it takes to be pushed over the edge.  How many years can the little irritations be tolerated?  How much can be overlooked and learned to be lived with?  How many years does it take to build up the frustration that will make you snap?

Darla and I joked about keeping a hammer in a glass case that we could break in case of emergency.  The spouse and I both occasionally will say “Where’s the hammer?” in a moment of frustration with each other.  The spouse and I celebrated our forty year anniversary in August; Darla and her husband have been married even longer.  I sporadically think about that elderly woman with the hammer and remind myself to let go of the little irritations. 
The universe has once again provided a life lesson.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nana Experienced the Thrill of Victory

It's Tuesday.  Aside from being the day we have to take our garbage up to the road for Wednesday's pick up, everyone in Hermiston knows that it is Lucky Number Day at Bi-Mart.  I had forgotten this well know fact until I pulled in to the parking lot and saw the stream of seniors clumping up to the door with their walkers like battering rams in front of them.  If I wasn't desperate, I would have skipped this stop on my list of errands.  On Tuesday the aisles are crowded with shoppers who seem to believe that Lucky Number Day is the Hermiston equivalent of winning Powerball. 

I was on a mission.  A mission to load my cart with lightbulbs.  After a week of the spouse complaining about the energy efficient lightbulb in the the lamp by his chair that made it impossible for him to read, I vowed to stock up on those soon to be obsolete, energy sucking lightbulbs that produce enough light for us old timers to read by.

My cart stocked with an assortment of lightbulbs, I headed through the aisles to the checkout, right by the Lucky Number poster, and

     I won!!!

The last time I wrote about Lucky Number Day I  didn't know a single person who had ever won.  Today I became the exception to my own rule.  For the first time I experienced the thrill of victory right in the middle of Bi-Mart, next to the seasonal displays of Halloween candy and pressed wood furniture .

What, you may ask, did I win?  Eat your hearts out, losers...

We're having Mexican for dinner tonight!
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