Mine

Pain grips my heart so tightly my lungs feel its pain. Throbbing, bursting within its cage, it fights to maintain a hold. The pieces of it struggle for freedom, but sheer strength keeps it together. I cannot lose a grip now. Everything is fine. It’s all okay. You’re all right. My mind ticks off bland statements of reassurance. But then, I meet their eyes, their sad, solemn eyes. Any hold I have shatters, and pieces of my heart float down into the pit of my stomach. My stomach knots, trying to brace itself against their intrusion. I beg my legs to stay in place, not to run to each of them, hug them and let them know I care.

They don’t understand. They don’t understand that even though they are not mine, they are mine. They, well most of them, will always hold a special place in my heart. Even when they speak ugly of me, hate me for reasons beyond what I understand, ignore the potential I see in them, or move on as though I was just “some teacher”, they will remain in my heart as mine. Because my students are just that. They are mine. Am I tough on them? Yes. Because I love them enough to push them into better things. Do I hug them? Yes. Because some of them are not hugged often enough. Do I wipe their tears? Listen to their fears? Banter back and forth with them? Yes. Because they are mine- they are MY students, my kids.

So as I watched those boys file past me in the gym today as the funeral ended, my heart was obliterated. Not so much from my pain, but from that which was so evident on their faces. Faces that are those of boys who are not yet men, striving to be strong in this time of loss. Though I am so, so sad to lose Cameron, a boy who, as everyone knows, was sweet, kind, and an all-around great kid, I am mourning for my other kids. Cameron, I know, is hanging out waiting for us to join him later.

But for those kids who remain, my kids who remain, who still have the challenge of loss, my heart is broken and tears fall.

Hearing from the other end of the phone, “Mrs. Dyson, he’s gone” will forever haunt me. That sweet voice, which is normally so bubbly, so full of wonder, calling to tell me the news was full of such pain and overwhelming suffering. Her tears seemed to leak through the phone and fall onto my shoulder. I swear I felt them. But I was too far away to offer that hug. That hug that she wanted, that I so very much needed. Her pain, her loss became mine in that moment. Because she is one of mine.

Now here we are. Here we are telling ourselves, “Cameron wants us to…”, “Cameron would say…”, and “My, look at that storm outside.” Here we are with our wonderful memories, our tears and laughter, our storms and peace. Here we are. Together. Because we are friends. Because we are family. And I grieve with my kids as they grieve together. And we rise together.

And we remember just one of those special kids- one whom I am fortunate enough to call mine.  

It Burns! It Burns!

HOW in the world is it ALREADY July 15th?!?!? Do YOU know what THAT means? Birthday? Nope. Anniversary? Nope. Appointment? Nope.

*Spoiler Alert*
It BurnsIt means that school is getting closer!!! (Insert theme music from Psycho!) Now, truthfully, I am blissfully unaware of the actual date that children have to report for the first day of the 2015-2016 school year. There’s always that one person who bursts my bubble, and I feel its inevitability creeping closer each day. However, even more bliss is found in my ignorance of what day I am supposed to report back to school. Yep- I may be a Type A personality of sorts, but in this particular area, I regard ignorance in much esteem.  Not knowing gives me a false security in thinking I have PLENTY of time to prepare. I can totally get all of that “stuff” done before I have to be there. Totally. It’s the same reason I set my clock 10 minutes ahead. I know that if the clock shows the time I am supposed to be somewhere, I REALLY have TEN whole minutes to arrive. It’s great! (But sometimes drives my dear husband crazy.)

However, that Type A personality won’t lay low for too long. I’ve already begun the scheming planning of what my darlings will be doing in class, tossing ideas around, nixing the bad, shining the good, and applying lipstick to the ugly. I’ve got it all under control!

It actually started months ago with devising my Summer Reading List. My personal homework has been to re-read each of them, while the kiddos only had to choose one. Fahrenheit 451 (seemingly the favorite), Antigone, Invisible Man, Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow, and The Kite Runner were the finalists. I endeavored to throw in a little bit of something for everyone, a vast array of literary flashlights that shine into the darkness of ignorance and illuminate an area of life previously undiscovered. I invite you to discover too!

P.S. My personal favorite, though it is far more graphic that the others, is The Kite Runner. It is one of very few books that had me bawling, grasping for understanding of the inhumanity found in a country I will never see. Its poignant descriptions were mind-altering and swooped me into another world entirely. An intense, wonderful read!Kites

Ah… the Age-Old Argument

Since this week has been a “blow up” week of all things controversial, I figured I’d throw one more in the ring. Controversial Books. Let’s ban them! Burn them! Pretend they never existed! Matter of fact, when we hear someone use the titles of one, let’s bury our heads into our pillows and scream! Then throw said pillow in said person’s face. Whew. It’s exhausting. BUT it has been the theme of our government this week, so when in Rome….I mean, America…

Why do we ‘ban’ books? (As if we could do so under the Constitution?? Oh, wait…apparently that age-old document has been through the ringer this week!) There are some people with such strong opinions toward literature that they feel it would benefit the greater populace to rid the country of it entirely. Why in the world would we introduce our children to Mark Twain’s satire in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when he uses offensive words???? You mean that there is NO religion in 1984, and they do WHAT in a CHURCH? Gasp! Gone With the Wind, a novel set in Antebellum South, has racial issues? Dear Me!! What should we do?!?! Well, we as Americans always have the solution— ban something! Or vote! Then vote again when we don’t like the outcome! OR diversify literature so that these so called ‘banned’ books become an apparent attempt to bury our past and its achievements, shame, knowledge, enlightenment under the dirt of modern transgressions.

Okay- I may have been a TEENY WEENY bit sarcastic up to this point. In all seriousness, literature is wonderful! American literature, once it branched out beyond the confines of European mimicking, is something to be celebrated. From The Awakening by Kate Chopin to The Help by Kathryn Stockett, novels are an escape from the modern day. They are a way to connect to the past while learning about oneself. There is a lesson to be learned in each novel in which you can immerse yourself. It’s like a mini-vacay for your brain! Despite the fact that some of the classics, like Twain, use antiquated words, there is much to be said for style. Don’t get so caught up in your defensive nature and complete disregard the moral, the theme, the intent behind the overall plot of a novel. Perhaps you disagree with the author’s choice of language (and apparently we live in a country full of people with opinions), but don’t lose perspective. Remember that each author created that story from within his/her own depths, in his/her own time period in order to convey a STORY for the sheer purpose of entertaining. If you’re lucky, within that entertainment, you can find something magical!

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy….

(Shout out to Sublime)

Busy nothings

“Life is but a quick succession of busy nothings.”~Jane Austen

Ahhhh… such wisdom by one of the greatest author’s ever published. I truly enjoy a good Jane Austen novel. There’s nothing to remind oneself of an ‘easy life’ than to curl up with her novel and a good cup of joe (with ice should you feel it more appropriate in the summer). Reading is an excellent “busy nothing”.

Recently, I was at an outing with some of my teacher-friends (as if to differentiate them from my NON-teacher friends! ha!). One of them said, “Oh I’ve read three books this summer!” To which another replied, “I’ve read four! It’s great!” They then began to converse about their books. Much to my chagrin, I realized I hadn’t read ANY. I had not the time to sit and read at all! It was two whole weeks into summer, and I had not even gotten the opportunity to indulge in my favorite pastime. I set out to remedy it as quickly as possible!!

After our ‘accidental kitchen remodel’ was finished (longer story than should be allowed on the first blog), I was finally able to sit down and read. “Oh, Tara! How in the world with two small children do you find the time??” you ask. I can answer in two little words. Two short, glorious words in which all mothers of young children relish. Two infinitesimal words with SO much power…. nap time. That’s right. Between 1 and 3 in the afternoon, I have time to catch up on chores, watch a tv show (whose jingle does not repeatedly play in my head all afternoon), or read a few chapters in a book. It. Is. Awesome. I usually choose the latter.

Reading really does wonders for the brain. A quick click here will tell you how: http://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/benefits-of-reading-real-books

Need somewhere good to start on your next “busy nothing”? Ask me! I LOVE inspiring others to read and helping them to find what interests them. Truly, finding a genre of literature you enjoy is like being able to have a personal masseuse available at any time of the day. Or you could try this goofy little quiz to figure it out!

https://www.bookbrowse.com/quiz/

Happy reading!!