Today is January 12, 2021, and I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.
These moments will not be forever.
“Put on a song, Papa!” It had been a long day. No longer working remotely, I had spent two hours driving, worked a full day in my building, and just finished loading the dishwasher. But the innocent, raw joy imbuing my four-year-old daughter’s invitation to dance quickly overcame my fatigue last night.
Her eyes glinted as I fumbled with my iPhone, trying to locate the music app, connect to my portable Bose speaker. “Put on a fast song,” she instructed, already sending her little body and hair into motion with enthusiastic dance moves. Arms waved. Legs kicked.
Suddenly the speaker burst to life, as the Pandora app on my phone selected a Meghan Trainor tune. Setting my phone on the counter, I turned to move to the dance floor. There she stood. Hand out. Four-year-old delight radiating from her entire being, as she waited for me to take her hand and dance with her.
These moments are fleeting. She is my third daughter, and so I speak from experience when I make such a statement. I must always remember that when it is time to do a puzzle, play in the dollhouse, or dance to Meghan Trainor, I need to do it. No matter how tired I am. I need to do it. Because this time will not last. And these moments will not be forever.
Last day now. Thank you…
To all you wrote.
To all you who commented.
To all you who learned.
To all you who lived like a writer.
To all you who believed this matters.
To all you who contributed to my life.
To all you who contributed to the lives of others.
Because you care.
It took something for you to do this.
So thank you.
Makes the soul sing
Makes us feel
Like we matter
In the world.
Softly closing the door on a long day
She greets me.
“Well?” she asks.
And feel my eyes shine.
“I felt heard today,” I say.
Writing. Literacy. Music.
Crawling into bed late,
I thank the cloud
the one that’s been holding me.
Sleep now needed,
my smiling soul
Opening my eyes in the darkness, I realize I’ve fallen asleep. Two warm bodies lying on either side of me breathe peacefully. Reaching silently up, I slowly slide my hand along the headboard to locate my iPhone. I check the time. Okay, still time. Later than I wanted, I think to myself, but there’s still time. These early mornings are wearing me out. Making as little sound as possible, I sneak from the room. I’ll carry those two sweeties to their beds later, I think as I exit.
Downstairs now, to the basement. I pull on the old chain and illuminate two keyboards next to a couple sets of headphones. It’s late, but I’ve got a rehearsal this week. And there’s work to do. I’m playing for a fundraiser for my children’s school next weekend, and one of the other fathers (a guitarist and producer) has assembled an incredible band. Only one rehearsal remains before the dress rehearsal, so… I’ve got to learn my parts. I take a deep breath, switch on the power strip, and watch the displays on my keyboards light up.
I can feel the exhaustion in my body. But once my fingers hit the keys, the magic of music wipes it all away. This skill I have to create music– a skill honed over decades of lessons, practice sessions, rehearsals, repetitions, performances and shows- must be honored. Although I am only able to dedicate very thin slices of my life to this part of me right now, now, in the dead of night, I feel grateful. For music has become like a friend I don’t see often anymore. But I am always glad when I do. We know each other so well.
Finding the file on my phone, I press play to hear the song. An original R & B tune written by a local artist. Okay, I think, here we go. Let’s learn this…
Hallways now filled with students passing to their next classes, I ventured out into the stream. There she was. Our eyes met. “Oh,” she said, “there you are. It’s just the person I was looking for.” Silently I wondered what this interaction might bring. Making my way through the throng of book-laden middle schoolers, I approached her, a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher from my building. A colleague. A friend. She stopped, waiting for me.
“Hi,” I said. “What’s up?”
“Well,” she began, “I wanted to tell you something.” My mind raced with possibilities, as likely anyone’s would. I nodded, focusing my entire attention on her. Her face exuded seriousness, but this is her way.
“Okay?” I said.
“You and I have spoken a few times about this year… about how I feel I’ve been struggling in some areas of my teaching, right? Like conferring, for example.” Briefly, she cast her eyes down to the floor, but then right back to mine. “But last Friday, you said something that was so helpful. Remember in our meeting, you mentioned a few specific things that we as teachers could focus on in our conferring? For some reason, when you said that, I felt like I could do it. And now…well, I’m excited to confer in this unit. I just wanted you to know that what you said really helped.” And she was gone.
I stood, silently feeling the smile forming on my lips. I could feel these words taking hold, warming me inside like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. And although I knew I couldn’t bottle this moment, I returned to my office knowing I could live off of it for at least the rest of today, if not this week.
How much of a difference can a kind word can make.