Sunday, September 11, 2016

I miss being a grandkid....

      I was watching an episode of "Farmhouse Rules" I had recorded on my DVR, and I found myself in tears. That is not usually the response one expects from watching a Food Network television show. While Nancy Fuller was making cinnamon rolls for her grandkids, I had a bit of a meltdown: I miss my grandparents. One set of grandparents lived on a farm on the outskirts of a Midwest college town; the other set lived in a cozy suburb to a big city next to an even bigger lake. It was the best of both worlds for me; I could enjoy the country life and the city life whenever I visited.
      I remember the fun we would have when we would visit the farm. In the summer, my sister and I would get to play outside in the fresh country air. We'd ride on wooden horses that we would drag around the acreage or the orchard or the barn. We'd go out to the cow pasture or into the corn crib or out to the garden. It was heaven. Grandma would make simple but wonderful meals: dinner would be Iowa-cut pork chops, fresh corn, and creamy mashed potatoes. Dessert would include angel food cake slices with fresh strawberry sauce or cookies and ice cream. Breakfast would be toast and scrambled eggs with orange juice or cereal with ice-cold milk. I remember her making cinnamon rolls, too, which is one of the reasons Nancy Fuller's show made me cry. I have so many great memories of spending time at the farm. Being a grandchild of farming grandparents made for a great time. 
     And then we'd visit the grandparents in the big city and get to experience all that entailed. We'd go to the museum or the zoo or a ball park. Summer was filled with parades and summer fests and traveling around all of the wonderful places in the big city. Or we'd stay at home and play in the pool in the backyard. If it got too hot, we could go downstairs in the cool basement and play lots of fun games we'd make up. We'd help grandma make yummy baked chicken and rice pilaf or Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes (usually just for Christmas, but we could convince her....). Dessert would be ice cream or cake or cookies we helped her bake. Breakfast the next morning would be cereal or waffles. Belgian waffles. With syrup or strawberries or powdered sugar. We'd spend evenings playing board games or, that one Christmas, making a gingerbread house and having to send people to the store to get more ingredients. And the grocery store wasn't the only place to visit. The shopping! We could go to a mall that was bigger than my whole town; I swear it. Okay, maybe not as big as my whole town, but it was big. We would go shopping, well, at least window-shopping, and try on fashionable, cool clothes and experience the big city life.
        Spending time with either set of grandparents was a blessing that I don't think I took advantage of; no, scratch that, I totally know I didn't take advantage of it. I remember time spent at the farm wishing I were at home so I could go to the pool with my friends. I remember time spent in the big-city wishing I were at home so I could go to the local library to get some silly book. I particularly remember one summer we got to spend an entire week in the big city, but all my sister and I wanted to do was hang out at the house and be sullen pre-teenagers. Grandma and Grandpa got a bit miffed with us, in fact, and told us that they might as well send us home early since we weren't going to have any fun.
      What made me sad while I watched the show today was that Nancy made special pancakes with sausages in them so that her grandkids would have a special memory of spending time together with her. It was a poignant moment for me because I do have those special memories of spending time with my grandparents; however, I also try to push those memories into boxes that I store in the back of my mind because, while they are wonderful and happy memories, I'm sad. My grandparents are gone. I won't get to make new memories with them ever again this side of eternity.
       I'm not good at being vulnerable or open with my grief. I'm much better at hiding the sadness behind busyness or hermit-like behavior. Too often, I allow myself to stop feeling the grief instead of pushing myself to feel it so that I can move forward. One of the reasons I haven't written in my blog for so long - I have no idea if anyone even noticed - is that while my blog has been a way to communicate to whomever wants to see it, I didn't want to share.
        Maybe I was supposed to watch that show because it's time to start thinking about and sharing those memories with those who want to know them. In fact, I should probably share this with family who know exactly how I feel. Maybe they'll read my blog.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day Thanks....

For Grandpa....

Silence broken.
A thunderclap.

Seven guns firing at once. 

Then twice. 
Then three times. 

A flag folded
Over a brass urn 
Surrounded by flowers. 
Taps sounds as tears fall.

A patriotic rectangle
Becomes an origami triangle
Through white-gloved precision.

Slow salutes.

Seven shells in a red bag.
"With thanks from a grateful nation."
A family says farewell.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Advice for Potential Teachers....

January Blogging Challenge day 14:  If a young person told you he or she wanted to become a teacher, what would you tell her/him?

Interestingly, this happened just the other day. One of my students was talking to her peers in class and mentioned that she'd woken up that morning wanting to be a teacher. Her classmate was surprised, since apparently this student gets all upset when someone doesn't understand.

The student said, "Yes, but only after I've explained it." 

I laughed and said that if she planned to be a teacher, she should get used to that.

She went on to say that the thing that makes her want to be a teacher is the pleasure of helping people understand something they never understood before.

That's why I want to be a teacher, too.

If I were going to give advice to potential teachers, I would say that it's a hard road, but a good one.  It's not just about giving out information that you have at the tip of your tongue; it's about giving people the tools to find out the information for themselves. 

In today's world, teaching is more about what the students learn rather than what the teachers teach.  It's a career choice not unlike the ministry or public service: it's more a calling than a job.  

As a teacher you'll face public criticism by people who wouldn't do your job even if they were paid much more than you ever will be. Politicians and news anchors and parents and the average guy on the street will have an opinion about what you do and how you do it.  You will be, at times, saddened and disgusted, tired and defeated, and tired and overwhelmed.  And then, at times, you will be joyous and proud, humble and amazed, and blessed and rewarded.

But despite the ups and downs and the tilt-a-whirls that come at you, if you do become a teacher you will find that you are going to be blessed beyond measure by the students who come into your life.  Teaching is not a career to "fall back on" or to have "just in case."  It is, if you really want to see children's eyes light up when they learn something new, the only career you will ever really want.