The Inconsistencies of the Tooth Fairy

Okay everyone, can we please have a serious conversation about the Tooth Fairy?

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Wednesday night Taelin lost her 7th tooth.  Before I even got home from working at the dance studio, Taelin had her tooth out for the Tooth Fairy and her note (something she did all on her own for the first tooth) done.  Note the importance placed on dance for no particular reason. As I was reading to her before tucking her in, she kept turning around to make sure that said tooth and note were still on her nightstand.  Needless to say, Taelin was enthused about the whole thing.

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go to the people and the places that set a spark in your soul -anonymous

September is coming to an end this week and with it, my first month not working for the same school district I had been with for the last 16 years.  A lot of people have asked me how this new change has been for me and it has been hard to put into just a few words how I feel about the drastic change I’ve made.  It has been so amazing.

I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been an adjustment.  I haven’t had one week look similar to another.  I’m spinning more plates than ever, really.  I am teaching at Taelin’s school three mornings a week, teaching classes at Young at Art, writing (probably not enough but I am trying), working at Taelin’s dance studio (behind the front desk…not teaching dance because I can’t even walk without injuring myself) and then doing all the mom/wife things too.  Yes, lots of spinning plates, but I like every single one of them.  A lot. Continue Reading

Growing Pains Suck

Next week I am ending my time in a school district I have worked in for the last 16 years.  It has been a big decision; one that hasn’t been without doubt, tears and a lot of thinking in the middle of the night.  Since making the decision, there continue to be moments of “What am I thinking?!?” but if I’m honest there have been more moments that have confirmed my decision.

It has been painful the last few years as education has changed. Schools no longer look like they did when I started.  In some ways, that is probably good as things need to change and evolve but if you ask me (and many of my fellow educators) most of the changes we have seen aren’t positive ones.  I can very much say that “stuck” is how I have felt.

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image by Jodie Crowe

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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

I am currently sitting in a professional development session with principals and instructional coaches about how students can using writing as a reflection tool.  Just a few minutes ago I was told to sit and do a little writing about my experiences about writing. So…with that permission a new blog post was born as I think about that the majority of my writing is done on this or my work blog. (Sadly, I was only given two minutes so everything you read after this was done later.  Apparently they weren’t kidding when they said to to a “little writing”.)

When I think about writing the first thing I think of  is this little blog.  If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I was going to be writing on a fairly regular basis, and sharing it out with the world, I would have told you that you were high.  I wouldn’t have considering myself a writer and I pretty much hated teaching it.  Now though, it is my favorite thing to teach (and help others teach) and “writer” it something I would consider calling myself.

And while this little exercise was supposed to be focused on how students can learn through writing, we just read a little essay by someone who outlined 5 things they have recently learned about life and the two topics meshed in my head and here we are.  Writing has been an incredible processing tool for me.  It makes me look at life differently and has provided me a way to think about what has happened to me and make sense of it.  So, in the spirit (kind of) of the original assignment, here are 3 things that I have recently learned because of writing I have done (or thought about doing).

1.  I need to trust my gut.  My mommy gut, in particular.  Taelin has been less than thrilled at preschool for several months.  I have written about it several times and it something that has been weighing heavily on my heart and mind.  Something happened this week that gave me the push to look for a new preschool for her next year.  I set up an appointment to take a tour of a different place and the relief I felt afterwards showed me that I finally did something that I had really wanted to do but was scared because of the possible confrontation switching schools presents.  I don’t know if the one I am touring will be the one that we end up with, but I know now that I am heading in the right direction.

2.  Taking pictures makes me happy.  One of the things I have found great joy in, especially in the last year, is taking pictures.  It isn’t so much the actually snapping of the pictures, although I do love thinking of the composition and viewpoint, but it what taking pictures has meant regarding how I spend my time.  I am taking at least one photo every single day and while I share one on here, I have so many more.  I look for the moments and try to capture them, knowing that they might very well never come again.  That awareness has helped me live in the moment to read one more story or sing one more song before bedtime.  I am not taking any pictures of my spotless kitchen floor or my perfectly folded laundry because it isn’t important, so therefore don’t exist.  So I am spending more time doing the important things, and capturing those things with a picture.  Both of them make me happy.

3. Time moves quickly.  People told me before Taelin was even born that the time would fly by.  “Fly” isn’t even a fast enough word to describe it.  A couple of weeks can make such a difference in the way she looks and acts (thank you pictures…again), what she knows and how she learns.  Without wishing the time away, I am already thinking about how we can make the most of the upcoming summer.  She has a list of her own…she wants to go camping and kayaking.  She wants to bake 4 kinds of cookies (not 3, not 5, but 4 kinds), have picnics, go swimming, play t-ball and play at the park.  I want to do all those things and more so I am already planning.  Reserving campsites and scheduling swimming lessons but not filling up all the days so that a spontaneous mother/daughter day at the beach or a family hike up to Silver Creek Falls can happen too.  It feels like I am already looking at the August calendar and I just need to s-l-o-w it all down a little.  Every once and awhile something happens that reminds to stop and breath and it is usually when at the end of a day when I am sitting on the coach and writing and it seems like this has happened more than a few times recently.  I am so thankful for the reminder.

It seems like I haven’t been blogging much lately and I was feeling guilty about it.  When I stopped to think of why that was I, realized it was because I was busy doing all the things I have listed on my blog (and a few that are not) and I stopped feeling guilty.  (No…really, I did!)

I have been reading up a storm, taking pictures, traveling with my family, working out and cooking new recipes, scrapbooking and hanging out with Taelin and so much more.  I was feeling really worried for awhile that I wasn’t getting everything done on my list but I am honestly not worried at all.  But all the things I am doing, and the writing that I do manage to get done has fulfilled my life more than I could have ever imagined.

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf. ~Jonatan Mårtensson

Tuesday morning I got up early and exercised before hopping in the shower.  After a quick shower, I finished getting ready (changing what pants I was wearing twice) and packed my lunch.  I filled up a sippy cup that I knew Taelin would want once I woke her up and sat next to her bed like I do every work morning as she wakes up, talking to her about the day and what she hoped she got to do at school.

I finally coaxed her out of bed and helped her get dressed.  We brushed her teeth and combed her hair.  She decided at the last second that she didn’t want ponytails and only wanted clips which was fine by me since they didn’t take as long and I had a staff meeting first thing at work.  I packed up her bag for school with her sheet and blanket for nap time, threw my phone and wallet into my bag and got into the car.  Taelin insisted (again) to climb into the car herself and get herself into her car seat.  That has been happening more lately because she is getting so independent and she usually doesn’t bang her head or leg when she gets into my itty-bitty car.

We got buckled in and started off to our familiar route to her school.  We were on time, even a little ahead of schedule, as we turned the corner and headed up the hill.  I stopped at the stop sign at the top of the hill and turned left, heading down the road towards another hill.  As I came up the road I noticed that there wasn’t a car at the stop sign at the side street I was approaching.  And then, all of the sudden…even faster than all of the sudden if there is such a thing…I saw a kid in the middle of the road jumping off his skateboard.  I slammed on my brakes as he landed with the top half of his body on top of the hood of my car.  He rolled/bounced like a rag doll across the hood off onto the other side of the road and down into the ditch filled with blackberries bushes.  It happened within 2 seconds and I doubt the image will ever leave my head.

I don’t remember throwing my car into park or even what I said.  I grabbed my phone out of my bag that had fallen to the floor and jumped out of my car to find him twisted up, alert and screaming in pain.  I don’t remember dialing or even what I said to the 911 operator.  The boy somehow was present enough to call his dad who came running down the street not a minute later.  He kept saying he was fine and he need to get up and all I remember saying is, “Don’t move.  You can’t move.  Wait until they get here.”

The police showed up…then the fire truck…and then the ambulance…and then more police.  I got my car out of the middle of the road and just stood there as everyone tried to get him up and out safely.  He was crying and kept saying he was sorry and that it was all his fault.  He said he needed to get up because he had lacrosse later.   I answered whatever questions I was asked by the multiple police officers and then finally called Joe to come and get Taelin.  She had missed the whole thing and was wondering why we weren’t going to school.  I will be forever grateful that she missed it.

I was crying and beyond shaken up and then I saw the dad walking over to me.  I braced myself for what I imagined was going to be the most angry parent I had ever come into contact with.  I braced myself to just take it.  It wasn’t my fault, the police later came to the same conclusion, but somehow it didn’t matter at the time. His son was hurt, really hurt, and I couldn’t imagine how he was feeling.  And then…there was no yelling.  He came over and asked me if I was okay.  He told me that it was just an accident, that they happen and that he just the other day ran into someone coming out of parking lot.  He gave me his business card and told me to call later if I wanted an update on how his son was doing.  He walked back over to watch the paramedics help his son.

At some point, his mom showed up.  “Ok, here it comes,” I thought to myself.  I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollable, but I was crying.  She came over and without saying anything hugged me first and then said, “It’s okay.  It isn’t your fault.  It is not your fault.”  What?  Seriously?  She then told me how she once hit a bicyclist and knows exactly how I was feeling.  What?  Really?  She walked away and they got into the ambulance and off they went.

I finished talking to the officers and the one that was doing the paperwork said that I was not at fault but that I did need to file a report with the DMV.  I headed home and then to work, pretty much in a daze.  Later in the day I called and left a message with the boy’s dad which was returned by what I found out later was his step-mom.  She updated me throughout the day about his surgery (he had a broken femur) and then again apologized and reminded me that it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault; I know that…but I feel horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  What if I had just done one thing differently yesterday morning?  What if I hadn’t changed my pants or what if Taelin had wanted pigtails?  What if I had decided to shave my legs in the shower or talked to Taelin and little more or less as she was waking up?  What if I had been driving a bigger car?  What if?  What if?  What if?  I can’t turn my brain off.  I clearly didn’t wake up Tuesday morning intending for this to happen.  But I still feel horrible.

There are a lot of things that are just shocking about this whole thing.  He is going to be ok.  He actually called me tonight to apologize for running into me.  He sounded so tired.  He is home with four screws in his leg and his step-mom says he will probably be back to school on Monday which seems incredible.  He said he was sorry my car got damaged and that I got drug into the whole thing.  I kept apologizing back.  It isn’t like he left his house in the morning intending to run into my car.  It wasn’t my fault but I am still so sorry it happened.  What a hard lesson.  What a painful lesson.

And my lesson? While I am sure that there are many things that I can’t even imagine yet, one lesson I am astounded by is the lesson in incredible grace.  Every time I retell the story (out loud or in my head) or talk to his step-mom, I am blown away and the calmness and grace that his parents have had.  It has to be a complete day from hell. A parent’s worst nightmare. I can’t really describe it…I am just in awe because it seems so far from what I would (and did) expect.

I have been completely consumed by the feelings these last two days. Guilt, fear, worry, anxiety…more guilt.  I have been all over the place and while I feel better today than I did yesterday, I think it will be awhile before I even out.  I keep replaying it over and over in my mind, wondering if there was something different I could have done…not that it matters.  I get caught up in the “what if’s?” and get sick to my stomach.  I am feeling everything so much more right now because of this…lots of things that have nothing to do with the accident.  And at the same time, things that would have seemed like a big deal are so not a big deal to me.  It is going to take some time as the feelings come and go.  I am easily irritated, overly sensitive and have little patience for pettiness…not exactly a flattering description, I know, but it is an honest one.

I am trying to understand how to navigate all of these feelings and remember that while there isn’t anything I can do to change what has happened, I can choose what to do with each feeling as it comes.  I am sure I will continue to think, talk and write about this accident.  I don’t know how much will be done here versus with good friends or even just in my head.  I can only hope that this young boy and his family can ride through all the emotions they are bound to be feeling too.  It is just all a little overwhelming.

If you made it all the way to the end here with me, thank you.

consternation: a sudden, alarming amazement or dread that results in utter confusion

 

When I was around 6 or 7 my parents enrolled me in ballet.  I didn’t understand at the time, but the primary reason I was there was that my doctors thought it would help me.  I was severely pigeon toed.  So pigeon toed, that at one point I had to wear this contraption at night that was basically a pair of shoes bolted on a board that forced my feet to turn out.  They thought ballet would help with my problem and I was totally on board.  I mean, really, what little girl doesn’t want to be a ballerina at some point?
I spent several years dancing and loved every minute of it.  I took it very seriously and was not patient with the other girls that didn’t.  I loved my ballet shoes, my leotard, and the music.  I loved my teachers and I wanted to be exactly like them down to the way I held my fingers. I practiced every day while looking in the mirror trying to perfect each of the routines.

Then there were the recitals….oh how I loved the recitals.  In addition to everything else I loved about ballet, recitals brought it to a whole other level….there were costumes.  There were puffy pink tutus and silver sequined leotards.  There were lights and an audience and although I was shy most other times, I loved getting nervous and then shining on stage.  The applause…oh the applause.  It was pure joy.

At the pinnacle of my ballet career, my ballet class had a routine to the song Music Box Dancer.  We were the oldest girls that our teacher taught and as a 4th grader with several years of ballet under my tutu, we were clearly the models that all the younger girls wanted to be like.  We were the last routine of the night, except for the big finale of all the girls, and I took the whole thing very seriously.  Our costumes looked exactly like the ones that you see in music boxes; long pink tutu’s with white tights underneath with a simple white leotard on top.

Even today, I remember the dance. For weeks leading up to the recital, I practiced and practiced.  My teacher had put me in the front, clearly because I had so perfectly memorized the moves from beginning to end.  I was the back-up in case someone forgot what they were supposed to do.  I was very important.

I remember stretching out my arms with my fingers in just the right position and jumping and landing gracefully at the just the right moment.  I tilted my head ever so slightly so my hair just barely fell in front of my face as I turned on my tip-toes.  I had never felt so beautiful as I did that night.  The audience clapped wildly for us when we were finished and I was sure that had we an encore prepared, they would have surely loved it too.

Around this time was when the first video recorders had come out and while my parents didn’t own one themselves, some other parent did.  About two weeks after the recital, I came home from school with a copy of our performance which I watched again and again. I relived that moment for weeks and it was just as great every time.

The next year we moved and I had to quit ballet.  It was heartbreaking because I was only one year away from being able to start using pointe shoes…the ultimate ballerina shoe.  Eventually, the regular watching of the video tape ceased but of course was kept for memories sake.

Fast forward about 12 years.  I was in college and home for the weekend.  Joe, who was just a boyfriend at this point, had come home with me.  My task for the weekend was to go through the stuff I hadn’t taken to college to determine if I really wanted my mom and dad to continue to store it.  I came across my sticker book, pencil collection, and other assorted things that for some reason I felt I needed to keep.  Towards the middle of the sorting, my hands landed on the video tape.  I stopped doing anything else and started to run downstairs, calling after Joe to follow me.

As I waited quite impatiently for the VHS player to fast forward to the Music Box Dancer performance, I explained to Joe what he was about to see.  I called to my mom and dad to join us and settled myself into a front and center position that was surely too close for adequate eye safety.  I finally found the right spot and as soon as I heard the music begin to play, the exact feeling I had that day came rushing back and I held my breath.

What happened next gave cause for great consternation.

At the beginning of the routine there was a short moment where we were all standing in position, while the music began to play.  Then two at a time, we leapt across the stage, arms stretched, landing gracefully before beginning the next jump.  At least that is what I remembered.

What I saw instead was an awkward, skinny little girl clunking her way across the stage.  Instead of graceful jumps, big knobby knees poked unevenly out to the side and wobbled after the impact of landing.  A face, sort of twisted with concentration and determination, was framed with stringy dishwater blond hair.  Arms seemed mostly forgotten, looking more like someone trying not to drown.  I was in front, not because I was good, but because I was the shortest one in the group, by quite a bit, and not one of the other girls watched me for a second to remind them what to do.

I turned to look at Joe who tried a little bit to keep from laughing, but didn’t last long.  I can’t blame him at all.  I looked funny…really funny.  The girl on the t.v. wasn’t at all the girl that I remembered.  I don’t remember what I said, but my mom just kind of smiled and my dad threw up in hands like he does and walked away.

That night when I was trying to fall asleep, I tried to understand how in the world my version of the moment could be so different that the reality.  How did I not see my knobby knees?  How could I think that others would want to be like me?  How did I think that was beautiful?  What was I thinking?

Today, the video tape sits on a shelf with the other few home VHS tapes we have.  We don’t even have a VCR anymore, but we still have the tape.  I don’t think I will ever be able to get rid of it.  I wonder now, almost 10 years since really seeing it for the first time, whether or not I am glad I watched it?  It definitely shattered my thinking of the whole event and I have been teased more than I think is fair….I was only 10 for goodness sake.

But then a part of me feels grateful for watching it.  While I definitely was the furthest thing from a beautiful ballerina. there wasn’t a person in my life at the time that let me believe anything but that; not my parents, my ballet teacher, or the other girls in my class. They had to have seen the stringy hair and knobby knees…but they also saw how much I loved it and how much I believed in myself.  What an incredible gift they provided me at a time when life just starts to get really weird.

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