Who is Taking Care of Whom?

It was the afternoon of our fourth day of state testing. In addition to state testing, our fifth graders have another standardized test in Spanish for the first time in the coming weeks. It was the last period of the day, I was working at my desk as our Spanish teacher was helping our students get ready for this test. Every once in awhile I would look up at my class as the students reviewed. Then I noticed one of my boys pull away from the group. I causally walked by him to see why he was sitting away from the others. As I did, I noticed he was upset. I signaled to the Spanish teacher, who I have worked with for over a decade. She immediately went to him. Speaking in soft tones, reassuring him that he only had to try. Our student moved to the back of the room. I gave him a few moments, and checked in on him. When I approached he was sobbing, trying to hide his face. I sat next to him and I could tell he felt my presence. He didn’t look at me but he said, “I don’t know if I can try any more.”

In an instant, I felt his pain. We have been preparing for testing, in reality all year. We all knew it was coming. However, the past two weeks we had a unit of study on the state test. I tried to pass the unit off as a short text unit, but they knew. I tried to reassure my students throughout the progress. I reviewed everything we did. I tried to make it fun. But, the moment I saw D’s tears I felt like a failure. My denial that the test was not going to affect our class too much, vanished in an instant. I was feeling the same way he was. All the testing was taking a toll on me too. I told D how I understood his emotions. I told him I wanted to help. I told him I wanted to make the end of year as fun and fulfilling as possible for him and his classmates. He never looked at me. Then I wondered if I was saying these things for him or for me.

When the bell rang and the students got on their buses. My heart was heavy. I felt confident that I did my best to prepare my students academically for the state test, but did I prepare them emotionally? That afternoon I left my school with a heavy heart, wondering if I truly took care of my students. I know I taught them what they needed to know for the test, but did I get them ready for the endurance of the week long test? Plus, the three more standardized tests that were coming in the last few weeks of school? I couldn’t sleep that night, reliving D’s tears and his hearing his words echoing in my ears.

The next day was Friday, but it didn’t feel like Friday. My heavy heart followed me into school. I tried my best for my students not to see. I am not a good actress, so I was worried. My class got through the morning. They helped guide me through the morning with their energy and conversation about their weekend plans. When we were in the middle of the test, I took a sip of my water bottle. In that moment, I realized I swallowed the wrong way. I felt a cough attack building in my chest. I tried with all my might to stifle my cough. I didn’t want to break the silence and the concentration of my students. However, my body had other plans. I moved to the corner of the classroom where I uncontrollably began coughing into my elbow. All of a sudden D looks up and asks, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. You can get back to your test.”

D looks me straight in eye and replied, “Oh, I’m doing fine. I just want to make sure you are okay.”

I nodded to reassure him. He returned my nod and got back to his test. Every once in awhile I did feel his gaze on me. I then realized, we were all taking care of each other. We were not going through this alone, we had each other. My heavy heart felt a whole lot lighter.

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Waiting

Wondering when it will happen.

When it will come.

When it will stop.

Waiting.

Looking at the horizon for the future.

Needing to looking down at the here and now.

Need to reflect on lessons just learned.

Need to understand that the future is not a guarantee.

Need to stop and be grateful for this moment in time.

Need to see the present as the gift that it is.

Silence

I look for silence, but it is always beyond my grasp.

It is as if I am surrounded by a labyrinth of sound and I am endlessly seeking the end of the maze that will set me free.

If I would find it, I would have peace, a moment to reflect, a moment to be still.

When I do find a quiet place in time, I want to hold on to it, breath it in.

But then my mind finds sounds of it’s own.

Reminding me of the things I should do,

Stopping by memories long forgotten, reliving times that I wish would vanish.

The silence is gone, and I realize I cannot own silence.

It own itself.

When I am lucky, I get to borrow it for awhile. If only I will allow it.

Thunder and Fear

In the dead of the night, rooms are filled with flashes of light.

For a moment it appears to be midday.

Familiar objects around the room take in the light, wishing the sun would rise and shine through the room.

Seconds later the booming sound of thunder shakes the house.

Her bright eyes pop open, and then the fear takes over.

In her six years, thunder has always been a terrifying event.

In her hectic state she dashed to her brother’s room,

She dodges the sound of thunder as she runs down the hall.

She leaps on her brother, and once again confides to him about her fear.

He cuddles her and teaches her to count the seconds between the lightning and thunder,

To wash away her distress.

She takes in his nine year old wisdom, and falls asleep in his arms.

First Friends

Willow’s first friend

Has deep dark eyes, that look at her with love,

Most of the time.

He loves to run and shout for joy,

Willow filled with laughter gallops after him,

Because he’s her first friend.

He reads, she follows along.

He jumps, she leaps.

He cries, she kisses him.

Because he’s her first friend.

Soar

Can you soar, but stand still?

I watch the majestic bird circle just below my perch on the trail,

His wing span is massive, his flight maneuvers delicate.

For just a moment, I am eye to eye with him,

Wishing I can fly away and see his world.

He seems to come closer each time he circles by me,

As if he knows my wish and is considering it.

Maybe he has his own wish.

As I stand there taking in his beauty I feel a gust a of wind blow past me,

And in that second I am soaring along side him,

As I am standing still.

The Weekend Purchase

It finally happened. We bought one. My husband, Jim, had been doing research for months. He loves to research before investing in a purchase. I will watch him hunched over his computer with multiple tabs open comparing different brands, types, and durability on any product we are concerning to buy. Jim was looking for which one had the best handling and best wheels to go over different terrains. He made up his mind he wanted one with a single wheel, because he could better work his core while doing yard work. I disagreed. I have always had a love/hate relationship with wheelbarrows. But, he does most of the yard work, so he could have this one.

I have fond memories of being a young child of about five, being given rides in a two wheeled wheelbarrow. My step-grandfather would push my cousin Amy and I around his 14 acre mini farm. I remember thinking how amazing the ride was as he moved us past his flower garden, to the strawberries, and along the cornstalks that were just getting to be about my height. I thought that wheelbarrow was the Ferrari of wheelbarrows. It’s two wheels made it sturdy, and it felt huge to me to hold myself and my cousin, plus the items Poppy needed to tend to his gardens. It made me feel special that Poppy would take us around his property in style. I thought he was so strong to push us along the way he did. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I noticed he was only about five feet four inches tall, but when he pushed us in that souped up wheelbarrow he was a giant.

My father had the typical wheelbarrow with one wheel in the front and two handles that stuck out the back. It was shaped more like a triangle. Not like Poppy’s slick rectangular wheelbarrow. When I was very young I would often ask my dad for rides in it. My dad always declined reminding me it was not steady, it could possibly tip and I could fall out. This wheelbarrow was also dirty and rusty. I don’t know what my father did to it through the years. It could of learned a few things from Poppy’s pristine wheelbarrow.

As the years went on, I was expected to help my father in the yard. I am an only child, so he had slim pickings when it came to help. When I was 13 years old we lived in the Ohio Valley. It was a rural community, and we owned about four acres of land. That’s when my disdain for the one wheeled wheelbarrow peaked. I was expected to help transport numerous items around the four acres for my father. The old wheelbarrow was like a Ford Pinto, you never knew when it was going to fail you. I remember shoveling and filling it with a huge pile of dirt, as I was carefully crossed the yard I ran over a small stone. The wheelbarrow immediately tipped, spilling it’s contents onto the ground. I was only about 20 feet from where I was to make my delivery. I stood there and tears of frustration and hate towards this wheelbarrow streamed down my face. I then kicked that wheelbarrow as hard as I could. At 13, I believed this was the best way to handle the situation. I kicked the tire, and it went flat. I never knew a wheelbarrow’s tire needed air to function. My 13 year old self thought it best to sit next to it and cry until my father would help me out. It worked, and I managed to get off wheelbarrow duty after that.

I did not go to the hardware store to go buy the wheelbarrow this weekend. I figured I did not need to relive anymore bad one wheel wheelbarrow memories. Jim went with our two children and his sister, who was visiting from out of town. Caiden and Willow were so excited about making this purchase, it was as if it was Christmas morning. They danced around the house as they got ready to go. Caiden telling me the lists of things he was going to help his dad with. Willow came running to me holding out her Giants jersey and a pair of leggings, and asked if the outfit was a good one to buy a wheelbarrow in. I told her it was perfect. It was game day, and this was months in the making. So, I guess I could understand.

They we were gone for a few hours. As I did laundry and made beds I wondered what was taking them so long. I remembered Jim is very frugal, and I could see him going to few hardware stores to save a few dollars. When I heard the garage door open. I walked outside to our driveway, and there it was. A two wheeled wheelbarrow. It wasn’t as classy as Poppy’s, but its green paint sparkles in the sunlight. My children were jumping all around it in delight. I looked at Jim, and he said, “I heard you. I do think this one is going be better.” I then looked at my children laughing and running around it. Happy memories are already being made.