Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Little Understanding

I definitely wasn't feeling 100%.  Twinges of body aches, stuffy nose, stomach slightly off. And.... exhausted.  Bone tired.  I entered my room and nearly sunk to my knees - COLD.  The boiler was out AGAIN.  "Noooooooo" I moaned out loud.  This would not help matters.  I hurried to turn on the small space heater under my desk, adjusting it so it was as close to my feet as I could safely put it.  And there I sat for a bit.  Just trying to warm up, wake up.  Instead - I found myself head down on arm, eyes closed, not sure how I could make it through the next 10 minutes, let alone the day.  "Get up and move or you're doomed" I willed myself.  A quick trip downstairs to check my box and visit the office seemed to revive me.
I knew my patience would be thin today - but it wasn't fair to take my malaise and frustrations out on the kids.  I must be diligent, I admonished myself.  The bell rang, they traipsed in, hanging up coats, stashing lunch bags, settling in.  We made it through about 20 minutes.  Then - I could feel the monster welling up.  Some innocent remark, or goofy behavior - one I would normally not even notice - had set me off.
"I'd better warn them"  I thought.
"So guys - I'm not at my best today.  Don't feel real well and am exhausted.  It won't take much to send me over the edge today.  I don't want that to happen so I promise to do my best to be patient, but I need you to help too.  Can you do that?"
I was met with a sea of warm smiles, understanding nods, even a few giggles.  "Naw - we don't need to see you go over the edge, Julie" a few joked. (Sadly they had seen it happen once or twice this year.  I had regretted each time - such a relief to know they didn't hold it against me.) 
They were on my side, in fact.  I felt myself relax.  The monster retreated.  I swallowed the lump in my throat that had come out of nowhere when I realized how much they cared, how compassion came so easily, how they UNDERSTOOD.
We forged through the rest of the day - me not at my best, but gratefully calling on all the patience I could muster; my students - well... champions.

I get by with a little help from my friends.   ~ The Beatles

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


There were only four other cars in the lot when she arrived.  The quietness of the hour struck her as she exited the car.  No cacophony of children's voices from the playground, no cars passing on the street, not even birds welcoming a new day.  It was still, serene.  A light snow mix fell from the slate sky.  32 degrees - but not a bitter cold.  She was snuggly dressed - warm boots, down jacket, scarf, mittens - so she could enjoy the bite of the air.
She gathered her belongings and headed toward the building.  This was the kind of snow she liked it occurred to her.  Gentle, peaceful, silent - and infrequent. At heart she was designed for the heat - a true desert rat. Yet - a winter morning like this could entrance her.  Enough snow had fallen so as to pop and crunch under her feet as she moved forward.  She delighted in the sound and wished for more powdery mornings like this.  Snowy days had been few so far this winter - not an unwelcome state of affairs for her - but a day like this was a happy change.
She did not hurry up the walk this morning, but lingered, drawn back by the gentle winter tableau around her.  An invitation to be present, observe, decelerate - and bask in the warm embrace of crisp December.

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
               ~Robert Frost