Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 7

Today, March 7th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Tugging the beautiful shiny mylar balloon downward and in through the front door, I placed my shoulder bag on the floor.  I hung up my coat, took off my shoes, grabbed the balloon, and made my way toward the living room.  Piano music filled my ears, and I remembered it was Thursday, my daughter’s lesson day.

I peeked into the living room.  On the coffee table lay a small pile of presents and a few cards.  Then my wife’s voice came from the kitchen, “Happy birthday, honey.”  Her warm smile greeted me.

Yep, my birthday’s come again.  Tonight we would open those gifts, head out to my favorite restaurant, eat some cake.  The five of us would be together.

As I gazed out the window at the sun reflecting off barren winter trees, I silently marked the moment in time.  How lucky am I? I thought.  How lucky, indeed.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 6

Today, March 6th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

With the brightly-colored book now in my hands, I moved the pillow out of the way.  My four-year-old daughter snuggled closer to me.  No light remained outside, and the warmth of the lamp next to us glowed softly.  “Let’s read The Lorax!” my daughter excitedly announced.

Placing my feet gently upon the coffee table, I settled in.  “Let’s do it, honey!” I said.  On the table where my feet now rested lay a disheveled pile of colorful Dr. Seuss books.  This week, my two older daughters and I have been spending time in our respective schools participating in “Dr. Seuss Spirit Weeks.”  I smiled as I regarded the pile of books; the girls pulled every one of them off the shelf, I thought to myself.

Tonight felt special.  For some reason, my four-year-old has resisted Dr. Seuss up until this week.  Why is that? Not sure. We’d read plenty of Curious George, Snowy Day, Corduroy, fairy tales and nursery rhymes . . . dozens and dozens of books.  But for some reason, Dr. Seuss had not yet captured her interest.

However, now here we sat, we two, snuggled together on the couch- not our normal location nor routine, but that was okay.  We started in.

Then, the priceless moment.

I read the words from The Lorax:

He lurks in his Lerkim, cold under the roof,

where he makes his own clothes

out of miff muffered moof.

Suddenly, my daughter gasped, repeating the nonsense word “miff muffered moof” aloud.  “Papa! I know what that is!” she exclaimed.

Feigning genuine intrigue, I widened my eyes and turned to her. “You do?!” I asked.

Eyes now sparkling, she nodded.  “Yes! But . . . it’s a secret,” she whispered.  Cupping her hands over my right ear, she leaned in close.  I felt her warm breath as the barely-audible word came: “Fabric.”

I turned to her again.  “Fabric,” I quietly repeated.  “I bet you’re right, honey.”

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 5

Today, March 5th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

I could see them through the glass-paned door, all sitting in a semi-circle.  As quietly as possible, we opened the door and sidled into the classroom.  Not surprisingly, all the little faces of the pre-school children, as well as the cast of adults positioned among and before them, turned to face us.  I felt my face form into a bright smile and heard my voice say, “Good morning everyone!  We’re just here to visit.”

Making my way to the back of the room, I watched as the teacher held up vividly colored flashcards.  “Let’s begin,” she instructed, sitting up on her knees.  Suddenly the room burst into unison voices, reciting the letter A, its short vowel sound, and the word ‘apple.’ I glanced over at my assistant superintendent who had accompanied me into the room and greeted her smile with my own.

Earlier in the day, she and I had visited the middle school across town from my own.  There, we had witnessed adolescent writers composing research-based argument writing on such topics as gay marriage, gun control, and the utility of bells in schools.  In that classroom, the teacher had patiently explained to us that these writers were working on a third argument piece.  I thought to myself how helpful that will be for the students, as repetition is how we learn.

Now sitting quietly observing a pre-K lesson, my assistant superintendent silently gestured to me that it was time to move on.  Our next stop would be a few kindergarten classrooms, followed by some time in upper grades.  Each room we visited left me awe-struck at the levels of organization, care, and skill the teachers brought to the mission of educating each group of young children.

Following our elementary walk, we traveled a few miles to our local high school.  There we were warmly met in the lobby by the school’s Humanities Department Chair, who gracefully led us through nine different English and social studies classrooms.  At one point, my assistant super leaned over to me to whisper, “See that boy in the front row? I’ve known him since he was in pre-school.”  Silently, I marveled at the breadth of the journey each of these students had traveled thus far; from learning what sounds a letter makes, to now presenting on the effects of globalization on the nation of Nigeria. Amazing.

As I drove home that day, I felt so privileged, so privileged to have witnessed a slice of the twelve plus year educational journey kids take on in their lives. I found it truly fascinating!

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 4

Today, March 4th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

The white gloves now securely on my hands, I placed the red and white hat upon my head and turned to face my four year-old daughter.  “Well?” I said. “What do you think?”  My daughter regarded me thoughtfully, then turned to consider the cover of the book I had just placed upon the coffee table.  Looking at the book.  Then looking at me.

“You need whiskers, Papa.”

Whiskers.  Right.

At that point, I heard my wife from the kitchen.  “We’ve got that covered, honey!  Come on in here, Papa.”  As I walked to the kitchen, I felt myself being followed by a still-pajama’ed four year-old.  In her hand, my wife held a black make-up pen.  Placing the pen on my face, she said to my daughter, “You’re right, baby.  The Cat in the Hat needs whiskers.”

Today was the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss.  So, as the Literacy Specialist in a middle school, I thought it appropriate to try and create a bit of nostalgic, albeit silly, fanfare in my building.

Two hours later, as our students disembarked from their buses and entered school, the Cat in the Hat greeted them.  “Happy Read Across America Day!” I chirped.  And what were those expressions on their faces?  Those smiles? Those reactions?  What was behind them?  In many, I thought I may have detected . . . just maybe . . .a sentiment of, “Yes, I remember that time.  A time when reading was fun. A time I sat on someone’s lap. A time no one tested me on my reading. A time now lost.”  Maybe that wasn’t the look.  Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe.

But in any case, I do believe my efforts brought a smile to the face of many that day.  And that makes the silliness worth it in my book.


Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 3

Today, March 3rd, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Grasping gloved hands, we quick-stepped across the street toward the trailhead.  My breath hung cloudy in the air, while cold wind whispered in my ear, reminding me it was still winter.  “So, what did you write about yesterday?” asked my eight year-old daughter, looking up at me from beneath her pink polar fleece hat.  The two of us had just snuck out of the house, bundled up in hats, gloves, and snow boots, to steal an early morning weekend hike while my wife and other two daughters slept in.  I had just reminded her that the 2020 Slice of Life Story Challenge had begun.

“Well,” I began, “I wrote about you. And that Cyndi Lauper song we heard yesterday. . . you know, the one called ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun?’  Remember we listened to that song yesterday?”

Suddenly dropping my hand, my daughter burst out into the frigid winter air, “Aww, come on, dad!  That’s what you wrote about?!”

Surprised by her reaction, I suddenly felt pangs of guilt.  Gosh, maybe she feels offended that I wrote about her without her permission, I thought to myself.  We had now reached the trailhead and had begun to traverse up the snowy path toward the barren forest.  Winter stared at me from every angle.  “Well,” I stammered, “I mean, I didn’t just write about you and that song.  I, uh, also wrote about how it reminded me of high school, and other thoughts…”

My daughter interrupted my awkward explanation. “I mean, girls want a job and a life, too, Dad!” she quipped.

Wait, what did she just say?  I tried to connect the dots of this surprising conversation.  Then suddenly it occurred to me that her indignation originated not from a parental breach of privacy assumption; no, she was taking issue with the song lyric.  “You mean, girls don’t want to just have fun?” I asked trying to clarify.

“Yeah!” my daughter giggled.  “I mean, that’s dumb.  Girls. . . we want a job and a life, too!  That song is dumb.  I don’t like it.”

“Right, honey.  I hear you.  Girls want more than to just have fun.” With snow crunching beneath our boots, we grabbed hands again and headed into the forest.