Aug 16 2018

This Morning, When You Left for Kindergarten

This Morning, When You Left for Kindergarten

Here is what I see when I look at you: a squishy belly tethered to me by a miraculous cord. Doll-sized newborn diapers, still somehow too big. Wrinkled fists and rocking chairs and receiving blankets. Peach-fuzz hair like velvet against my cheek.

Where has the time gone? This summer, we stored another bin of clothes you outgrew overnight. We trimmed off the last of your white-blond curls, watched the fine ends fall to the floor, swept part of your remaining infancy away. The child who stepped down from that chair suddenly had hair the color of sand.

We’ve been through this before, you and I — packing lunches, first-day photos, waiting in a drop-off line — but today, something is different. This feels like the official end of your babyhood and the official beginning of something else, something long and important and transformative, a thing that will shape you while I am not in the room. All I can do from this distance is trust.

Preschool meant three days a week and home in time for nap. It meant family vacations unfettered by a class schedule and playtime instead of homework. You were missing from our home only minimally, just enough to teach you that you would be okay without me there. Today, the house is somehow a different kind of empty.

I hope your teacher is nurturing and patient, that she remembers you are someone’s most important thing. I hope you make her job easier rather than harder. I hope people will be kind to you, though I also know — absolutely, unequivocally — this will not always be true. But even more: I hope that when a classmate is sad or alone or afraid, you will be the one to sit beside her.

I hope you’ll never lose your love of learning — that all the standards and drilling and testing will not interfere with your inquisitiveness, with the wide-eyed way you crave knowledge: everything from how a vegetable grows in the garden to what makes the ocean salty to why grown-ups don’t celebrate half-birthdays. Please cling to your curiosity with both hands and your whole heart.

I hope your new environment will broaden the way you see the world, but not corrupt it. There is such innocence in your questions and observations, such heartbreaking earnestness, held tenderly together by threads that will soon begin to snap one by one.

This morning, you walked forward, toward your future, and I drove away. You don’t yet know the story that is prepared to unfold before you, but I can predict a few likely pages — I’ve been there, as a student and a teacher. There will be so many lessons, in academia and in life, and I am excited and terrified and nostalgic and hopeful to watch you fill in all of those blank chapters.

We’ll settle into a routine soon enough. Mornings like these will become commonplace, predictable, sometimes frustrating. And I know you won’t be wholly changed when you return this afternoon, but one day I will blink and you will emerge from those very same doors at a saunter, a fifth-grader ready for middle school. One day I will ask, “How did it go?” and you may not be bursting to tell me.

But this morning, you waved excitedly, smiled as you bounded away. I cried for the confounding passage of time.

See you soon, baby. Can’t wait to hear all about this beautiful beginning.

Mar 27 2018

You Need to Go to the Northern California Writers’ Retreat

You Need to Go to the Northern California Writers’ Retreat

If I’m going to leave my babies for five whole days, it had better be for an absolutely perfect reason.

…Okay, let’s get real: this mama hasn’t slept solo in years. When I discovered the Northern California Writers’ Retreat involved several consecutive evenings without diapers or nightmares or snoring, I thought, I do not even remember what that’s like and also SIGN ME UP IMMEDIATELY. My husband is always the one who gets to gallivant around the world for work, and I (desperately) wanted to know what a business trip felt like, too.

I first heard about the opportunity a couple years ago at the San Francisco Writers Conference, where I met Heather Lazare, one of the retreat’s co-founders — she’s an independent editor who’s worked at some baller places in New York, and I’ve been creepily stalking the submission guidelines ever since. The retreat is clearly gaining steam; there were more than five times the number of submissions this year than when it launched in 2016. Finally, once Baby B was weaned and fully into toddlerhood, I gave it a shot: twenty pages. Crossed fingers and toes. Continue reading

Feb 4 2018

PSA: Teachers Are Not in Charge of Choosing Snow Days

PSA: Teachers Are Not in Charge of Choosing Snow Days

Just saw a post on Facebook:

“The kids have a snow day again!!! Seriously? It’s like the teachers don’t even want them there!”

My thumb paused mid-scroll. In the distance, a record player screeched to a halt and all the revelers stopped dancing. Say what?

I think there’s been some confusion.

A post like that is hardly the first of its kind, and maybe this erroneous belief shouldn’t come as a shock. Snow days do sometimes feel shrouded in mystery and enigmatic intrigue — carried over from when we were students, watching the news with crossed fingers and toes, hoping for some surprise sledding (and an extra day to finish our homework). As a kid, spotting your school amongst the rolling list of district names feels like Christmas. Sweet freedom! Goodbye, responsibility! TURN OFF YOUR ALARMS, EVERYONE! Continue reading

Jan 18 2018

Is There Room for Triviality in a World Like This?

Is There Room for Triviality in a World Like This?

I’ve battled an epic case of writer’s block these last several months. It’s not that I don’t have ideas — I do, dozens of them, phrases strung together into haphazard lists on my phone and in the notebooks littering my house. It’s that none of them seem important enough.

Facebook and Instagram and Twitter teem with unspeakable tragedies, news of unrest, and political platitudes. Where social media was once a scrolling stream of family photos and status updates, its purpose now has been emphatically redefined: effect changeIf you’re going to speak, write, wear, or think anything, you’d better be making a statement.

This is such a vital and honorable intention.

Obviously, the method itself has flaws. People — LOTS of them, people you personally know — freely admit to blocking and unfollowing friends who post articles that don’t align with their beliefs or perspectives that make them uncomfortable. This furthers the divide, of course, since now those people are surrounding themselves with carefully curated information that will only serve to bolster their own preexisting viewpoint. Continue reading

Dec 31 2017

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

The Stuff You Actually Wanted to Know, 2017 Edition

It’s that time again: the post where I smuggle you behind the scenes of my blog so you can peek at the stuff other people are Googling.

I’m always fascinated by the search terms that bring traffic to this site, and they seem to get more interesting — and more extensive — every year. In 2017, almost every single one had to do with teaching, which sort of baffles me: I’ve only published two posts (maybe three, if you count this one) that are teaching-specific. But this post from last April continues to generate the most visits by far, with somewhere between 500 and 1000 unique views each week.

Usually I share the top 10 searches, but this year I’ll show you the ones I found most captivating. Continue reading