Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Twenty days remaining ...

While picking up a three-way lightbulb at Target the other day I had a wee bit o' panic when I walked by what used to be an outdoor furniture display but is now SCHOOL SUPPLY CENTRAL. (When did that happen?) Replacing patio umbrellas and floral-covered cushions are bins and boxes and cardboard carousels of pens and pencils and glue sticks and scissors and erasers.
This means one thing and one thing only: My summer break is about to end.
My life's stress is going to triple ... quadruple, perhaps.
During summer break, my biggest stress revolves around which car I'll be driving to the shopping plaza or grocery, considering the children are all licensed and working absurd shifts and in need of vehicular transportation. If they're off to work before I get out of bed -- I like to awaken at the crack of noon these days -- then I'm the one sans Chevy, or the sorry soul stuck with the gross car that smells like dirty dog paws.
A lesser summer stress concerns what I will eat for "breakfast": Shall it be something I have to cook (think omelette or Cream of Wheat) or something previously cooked, say, spaghetti or brussels sprouts adorned with congealed butter from the night before, that I can simply eat from the pan whilst standing in front of the fridge. Or, sometimes, someone drinks all the milk and doesn't replace it. That's summer stress, especially if there's a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and I'm feeling the cereal vibe. I've been known to have a bit of a meltdown when I reach for the jug and there's approximately a quarter teaspoon of milk remaining.
But when school is in session, when I go from being a mom of three kids to a school marm of 150 kids, well, then the stress level increases, let's just say, somewhat tremendously.
As a result, at the pool today I wasn't able to relax entirely. Oh, I tried. Lying face down on a floatie thingy, I imagined I was in the gentle part of the ocean, being lulled oh-so-tenderly, and then, without warning, a vision came to me of a seventh-grade boy ramming me with his boogie board (or whatever it's called). While inside making my lunch plate, instead of focusing on the awesome sandwich wrap I was assembling, my mind took a disturbing detour and reminded me of my school's load-'em-in/load-'em out cafeteria routine. Will I really be back to fourteen minute lunches?
Is it time again to learn 150 names and 150 learning styles?
To make parent contact sheets? To figure out which kids need preferential seating and modified lesson plans and alternative assessments?
In twenty days I'll be back to pantyhose and pumps and navy blue suits. No more flip-flops and swimsuits, shorts and wrinkled tees. I'll smell like Estee and the classroom ... the delicious sunscreen scent will have to stay in its bottle.
I'm likely to have a weird back-to-school dream tonight, which will, more than likely, feature a surly seventh-grade boy, a patio umbrella, a box of erasers and a three-way lightbulb.
That's how my dreams roll.


Bee said...

"Crack of noon" -- that made me laugh. Kate, I love the way that you write. Are you just as funny in person?

I am so sorry about the return-to-school thing. I know that you haven't had nearly enough time to get bored of your summer routine.

Kate said...

Thanks, Bee, for the compliment~! You made my week and quite possibly my month.
For several years I wrote a weekly newspaper column, which was supposed to be somewhat humoresque. It was called "Tales from the (mother)hood," and it ran in four metro-area papers. Gotta admit: I did enjoy all the positive feedback from readers.
However, as much as I loved writing the weekly essays, it was necessary that I quit when I was elected to the local school board. Taxpayers don't want a funny person serving on a community board. Also, I had returned to the classroom after a four-year hiatus and I needed more time in my day to lesson plan/grade/etc.
Am I funny in person? I like to think so. I certainly crack myself up a lot. And it is humor that I use in the classroom to defuse tension. I rarely have discipline problems.
Have you returned from the states?
How did your husband fare without you? I'd noticed that he had posted a message on your blog. Very cute, indeed!

Bee said...


Bee said...

Ok, "hi" wasn't my real comment . . . it was my "test" comment because I had to switch google accounts.

My real comment is that it doesn't surprise me a bit to discover that you are the Erma Bombeck of KC.

To answer your question, I am STILL on vacation. At this precise moment, I am sitting in a New Hampshire lake house -- listening to the rain drip off the pine trees. Having grazed our way through a box of pastries this morning, our little crew is now contemplating our next meal.

We may go to a movie, even though there isn't much to see.

I have just finished a book that I think will appeal to you -- "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel. She has a very funny, original voice.

What are you up to today? Is it raining in KC?

Kate said...

No Erma am I. One of my writer friends, Jennifer Brown, is, however. In fact, she won the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition TWO YEARS IN A ROW. I like to think that I mentored her. (Smile.) Her very first (?) publication was a poem that I had judged as the winning verse in a newspaper-sponsored contest.
She is sometimes pee-your-pants funny. You can read her writing at ... .
A New Hampshire lake house? You're so lucky!! Perhaps even with the rain your experience is lovely. You did, after all, have a box of pastries!
It is not raining here in K.C. today, but it is overcast. I spent my morning driving my oldest daughter 60 miles to a two-hour bookstore meeting (My daughter is a bookseller; I am proud!). Once I got home I kicked into housework mode. (My dining room table is a MESS, as I've been scrapbooking for the last coupla weeks.) Anyway, I just popped a pan of lasagna into the oven, threw in a load of towels, and then headed into my office.
It's always nice to hear from you, Bee. And, no, I haven't read the Zippy book, although I've picked it up repeatedly at Border's over the last several years.
Enjoy your vacation! I'm sure you've earned every single minute.

Midwest Mama said...

I noticed the same thing today. I went to grab sunscreen and found protractors and what-not instead. Sad. Summer is over two soon.

However, I must admit after two months of having my own children home, I now have the intelligence of a two year old. Kudos to you teachers for keeping your wits about you for months at a time!