21 December 2010

Mrs. Trimble, guest reader

A note came home from school the second week of December.  Mind you, notes have been coming home on what seems like a daily basis. Everything from picture retake reminders to requests for donations for the mitten tree. But this one was "special," my daughter said.  This one was asking for parents to come in and share a favorite Christmas book or tradition.  With big blue eyes my daughter handed it to me and asked, "so what book are you bringing, mom?" Fine.  If this will make her happy, I can certainly find 20 minutes out of my Christmas season to go sit and read a book or talk to her class.  No problem.  Add it to my list of things to do.  I got it covered.

I checked the "yes" box and sent the form back to school.  But that was on December 10.  I told myself I would worry about what I was actually going to read or share later.  Well, later was yesterday.  Suddenly it was time to go to school.  I grabbed the first book I saw, dropped JT off at the neighbors house and raced to school.  I got to her classroom on time to find 18 3rd graders sitting in a perfect semi-circle on the floor.  I saw what was obviously the teacher's chair perfectly placed in the middle of the semi-circle.  And then I saw it. THE BOOK.  The book I bought for Natalie 4 years ago when her dad was deployed for Christmas.  The book she had obviously picked for me to read and brought with her to school in her backpack.  The book I cannot make it through without crying. This was not going to end well.

I said a little prayer that went something like this, "Lord, please don't let me scare these children by boo-hooing all over the pages of this book," picked up The Soldier's Night Before Christmas and started reading.   Little giggles erupted every now and then and things were just peachy until page 10.  You see, page 10 is where the Santa of Soldiers stands back, takes a look at the soldiers asleep in their racks, and renders a salute.  It gets me every time.  This time was no exception.  Except this time I had 18 pairs of eyes on me.  I couldn't hide the fact that my voice was breaking with a cough.  I couldn't pass off my tears as "something in my eye."  They were on to me.

I summoned the courage to look at them and what I saw surprised me.  I saw one little girl with her head down, crying.  One little boy was up on his knees trying to crane his neck to look at me from under the book, tears in his eyes.   And I saw my daughter wiping away the tears from the corners of her eyes too.  I was expecting them to think I was nutty.  Why was this mom in here crying while reading us a book?  What's her deal? I expected a bunch of, "what's wrong with your mom, Natalie?"  "Hey, Mrs. Trimble, why are you crying?"  However, that was not the case.  These kids were WAY more mature than I gave them credit for.

I made it through the rest of the book without too many more stumbles.  I closed the book, took a deep breath and said, "Raise your hand if your mom or dad has ever been deployed during the holidays."  What followed was one of the most moving conversations I have ever been a part of.  I wish I had a video recording of it.  So many stories. So much pride in their voices talking about their moms and dads.  These little people have endured so much in their mere eight or nine years on this earth. And they do it over and over again. They do it with grace. They do it with courage.   They do it without even knowing they do it.  That's what makes them so very special.

As I was leaving the classroom, I heard a little girl whisper to Natalie, "Natalie, your mom is cool."  I smiled.  Little does that girl know, I think she is the cool one.  I would tell her myself, but it would probably make me cry.  Again.

08 December 2010

03 December 2010

It's Hip to be Square.

When my children were younger, say about 5 years ago, I vaguely remember my mother telling me something like, "just wait till they're older."  Maybe it was, "this doesn't get easier, it only gets harder."  Either way, at the ripe old age of 31, I thought she was crazy.  What does she know about single parenting during a deployment?  She had me in the 70's, it's nothing like that now.  I even remember thinking that it would not be that way for me, because I was bound and determined  NOT to be like her!  That's right, I thought I knew everything.  I thought nothing could be harder than the physical demands put on you by being a stay-at-home mom to two children while your husband was out collecting stamps for his government-issued passport .  I was wrong.

That being said, I can always tell what kind of day my daughter has had from her expression the moment she steps off the bus.  Yesterday was no exception.  She stepped off the bus, rounded the corner and I saw the tell-tale signs of a bad day.  Splotchy cheeks (thank you, Aunt Sissy) and tears in the corner of her eyes (I'll take the blame for those).  She hung her head, waddled up to me thanks to the weight of her backpack and cumbersome violin case, and said, "Mom, someone called me a name today."  Mind you, I was still reeling from our conversation earlier in the week about "the bad words in the dictionary those men gave us,"  but that is a whole other post.  I have not quite recovered from that one, and I'm not sure I ever will.  (I will tell you that "those men" are members of the Rotary Club that handed out dictionaries to all of the 3rd graders at her school.  "Those men" sounds bad no matter how you phrase it, so I felt the need to explain).

We got back to the house and the dam broke.  So many tears.  After much coaxing and a bribe in the form of a piece of apple pie she told me that a girl in her class called her....wait for it....wait for it....square.  Yep.  She called her "square."  I choked down a chuckle behind a fake cough and asked my daughter if she even knew what "square" meant.  Of course she did.  She looked it up in the aforementioned dictionary!  (I swear I'm going to burn that thing)!

I then did what I do best, and dug deep into my Cosby Show memory bank.  Wasn't there an episode about Rudy getting called a name at school?  What did Cliff say to make her feel better?  Before her piece of apple pie was finished I had paraphrased Heathcliff Huxtable so well she was drying her eyes on her napkin and belly laughing like the 8-year-old I know and love. Crisis averted.

After the week I've had, I wonder what the 41-year-old mom I will become has in store for me.  On second thought, no I don't.  But if I ever do want to know, I should probably just ask my mom.

17 November 2010

Some fun stats

My sister-in-law, Sarah and I were talking today about our blogs and she asked if I had ever checked the "stats" section of my blog profile. I had only ever checked it once and I'm pretty sure that was by accident, but I went ahead and checked it again today. It told me that 123 people that have read this blog did so using Internet Explorer. Huh. It also told me that someone from Alaska read my blog today. Huh. And, my stats also say that 1% of people that read my blog do so from an iPad. Huh. I'm not sure exactly how or why eblogger knows that, but I thought I would give you some actual stats about us that might be a tad more interesting.

*On average, I make 4-5 "special meat" sandwiches a week. (For those of you wondering what in the world "special meat" is, it is what Natalie calls liverwurst. My mom got her to try it once when she was little by calling it "special meat" and Natalie fell in love. She now takes it on bread almost every day for lunch. Don't judge. It's protein.).

*Twice a day JT tells me he "so misses me." Once when I drop him off at preschool and once when I pick him up. I love that boy.

*JT has not had a timeout at school in the last 8 days. That is our longest streak yet. (I hope I am not jinxing him).

*Natalie reads at least 5 books a week, usually more. The girl is almost never without a book in her hand. The only thing that slows her down is her tendency toward motion sickness. She said today, "Mommy, sometimes I think if I had one wish, it would be that I could read in the car." I love that girl.

*I have used my pressure cooker 6 times in the last 2 weeks. It has now earned a coveted spot on the kitchen counter. That is high praise! (And thanks to Sarah for the awesome gift).

*My brother-in-law, Sean (wife is aforementioned Sarah), left this month for a year in Afghanistan. By the time he returns, he will have officially missed 1/4 of his daughter's life, not to mention the vast majority of his 8 month-old son's. Some statistics really really suck. This is one of them.

*Joshua's Blackberry went off at 4:52am this morning, and since I couldn't go back to sleep, I have been up for 18 hours. Statistics say I should go to bed.

Good Night!