What Is Your Biggest Fear For Him?

I hadn’t considered this question in some time, but a few weeks ago, before parent-teacher conferences at our school, a colleague I don’t often enough get the opportunity to speak with often asked me this question.

I am certain that I fell into my now-common middle distance, eyes up and then to the right gaze, and sighed in contemplation.  I guess that has become my “I’m thinking” preparatory set as I deliberate the big stuff.  I considered options for the few moments the normal flow of conversation allows.  I began to give voice to something, stopped, and began anew.

“I guess I am most worried he won’t find a mate.”

My colleague, one of the quickest wits of our time and a genuine all-around decent guy, replied, “Yeah, but doesn’t everyone worry about that for their child?”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right, that’s true,” was my not-at-all snappy comeback, looking up and to the right again, “but he’s going to take so much more time.  He’s going to have to find someone extra-special, someone so patient, someone who will help him, who will wait for him.”

I can’t quote the rest of our talk, but I remember telling him I worried for the day my son wakes up and isn’t able to walk.  Something he does now will become something he never does again, and while that is true of each of our children, each of us for that matter, I know my son’s trajectory is a little more direct and brief.  I’ve recorded what I believed was his first last, the rock climbing wall, and though it was the first last, it is certainly not the worst last.  The thought of my child circling a day on the calendar, marking the first day he can no longer walk, is simply too much.  So I don’t think about it.  Much.  As much.

Last week the world learned that Stephen Hawking had passed away, decades after his disease suggested he should be crossing the finish line.  Decades!  I felt like this quote from his brilliant mind was a beautiful fit for what had been racing laps around my grey matter.  He hit all the right notes in this bit of advice to his own children, and I’m going to remember it for mine too.

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I Live In A Van Down By The River

Just call me Matt Foley.  If you have no idea who he is or why it’s funny, come out from underneath that rock and check it out.  Click here to view a Saturday Night Live masterpiece. You surely will not regret it.  

And then check these.  These are my boys, then ages 3 and 5, turning up their very best preschool impressions of the hilarious Chris Farley character.  And yeah, we let them watch the skit when they were tiny.  Because we were terrible parents.  Or maybe awesome parents–depends who you ask, I suppose.

Matt Foley is the world’s least successful motivational speaker.  Well, maybe second least successful.  Probably I win (lose?) that designation.

At the close of our speech-language department’s monthly meetings, I or another of my colleagues end the meeting with what we call Closing Thoughts.  These presentations, not truly “motivational speeches,”  but a short 1-5 minutes in duration, are meant to impart a message of positivity.  Sometimes the messages are hopeful or gushy, some contain sentiments of gratitude or mindfulness, but always the objective is a moment of contemplation about our place in the SLP world.

I’m up for next week Friday’s meeting.  It’s our opening meeting for the year, and this meeting above all others, is long with procedures and policy.  It’s where our speech paths learn what the new mandates are (there are MANY!), and how much more of their time will be co-opted by paperwork and administrative crap over what really matters: speech-language therapy.  No one ever leaves procedural meetings uplifted.  Beaten?  Overwhelmed? Inert?  You betcha!  But not quite enthusiastic.

Being the senior (not in age, but in experience, ahem) program support teacher, I volunteer often for the jobs no one else really wants to do.  I’m no martyr or anything; I just feel at some level responsible for the success of our entire department, and especially for the happiness and contentedness my four office mates, so if I can relieve someone of a stressor or inconvenience, I do try to do that.  I think I’ve developed a pretty good opening message for this year, but revealing it here would be anti-climactic.

Instead, I’ll leave you with how I opened last year, which actually borrowed heavily from a blog post I’d written here, but people seemed to like my talk, so the message bears repeating.  This back to school stuff is killing me.  The shoulder-induced lack of sleep is one thing when you’re just hanging with your children, but when reality forces you to wake long before dawn and be smart on command all day long. . .  #epicfail, y’all.

 

Familiar with the six word memoir?  The story goes that a magazine editor challenged Ernest Hemingway to write the shortest narrative possible.  He submitted “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”  Six words.  Six words that provided character and conflict, that told a complete story.  A simple Google search returns this version of the tale along with 1.24 million more hits confirming or denying its veracity.  Whatever the truth, SMITH magazine supports a website dedicated to the six word memoir and its role in creative writing and self-reflection.

Last summer, my big kid attended the College for Kids Young Writers’ Academy at UWM.  On the showcase day, audience members, mostly parents and other family members, were invited to participate in a challenge much like the students had been doing all week.  One of the instructors threw down the six word memoir challenge.  I absolutely froze with writer’s block.  Not everyone did, and from the room came a handful of charming mini-bios.  Among my favorites:

I found you; I found me.  (And the “awwwww” went up from the entire audience.)

I am not good at this.  The audience bust out laughing at this young lady’s clever spin.

Life sometimes strides; Life sometimes sucks.  This one also drew laughs from around the room, and I couldn’t have been more surprised at its author:  my son.

Around this same time, I’d just returned from one of my Barenaked Ladies concert road trips.  The refrain I hear often from those around me after I return from another show is, “Don’t you ever get sick of it?”  That, “don’t you ever get sick of it?” would NOT be MY memoir. If I continued to do something that bored me to tears, I wouldn’t continue to do that something.  It’s why I have the ever-changing career I do.  It’s why I do the creative writing project I do.  It’s why I’m a people person, because my brain isn’t wired to be a tasks person.

You want to ride horses or buy your own spray-tan machine?  Cool.  You are captivated by Lularoe leggings or have 34 pairs of Toms shoes?  Good on ya.  Enjoy them!  I won’t judge.  And therein lies the difference–I won’t judge you for spending money and time in ways that make you happy.  I might not get it for me, but I don’t have to.  If you get it for you, it should be enough.

Try as I might, my six word memoir remains unwritten. How does one capture one’s essential self or perception of self?  Including one attribute eliminates space for another. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a friend. I’m a speech-language pathologist.  I dabble in many roles, but star in none. But getting back to my son’s memoir: Why was he, all 5’10″ of twelve-and-a-half years of him, able to crank it out in the allotted time frame and belt it out in a roomful of people?  I wondered, does it accurately reflect how he views the world?  He nailed it–life does sometimes stride, and it most assuredly sucks at others.  It’s profound.  Alternately, it’s middle school shallow.  It is balanced though, right?  Much can be revealed in six words.  Maybe that’s why getting it right matters so.  Have you written your six word memoir?  I can’t do it in six, so here’s seven:

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Image found at kikki.k Stationery

As you move forward this year, do more of what makes you happy here in your work as a speech-language pathologist.  If it’s creating cutesy, Pinterest crafty stuff in your therapy activities, do it.  If it’s mentoring students through an activity such as robotics or Girls on the Run, do it.  If it’s developing a laser focus on strategies for working with students with autism or phonology, do it.  If it’s taking a break at lunch time and walking around the block to get your steps in, do that.  Do it even if you get weird looks from your staff.  Do it even if it’s inconvenient or forces you to step out of your comfort zone a little.  Do it even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone but you.  I don’t have to get it for me, but if you get it for you and it makes you happy, that should be enough. You being happy will very likely make you a better, more effective clinician.   So though it’s one word too long for a six word memoir:  Do more of what makes you happy.

 

#WhyIWalk Wednesday

My circle of truly generous friends and loved ones (and fellow bloggers I technically haven’t met yet) grows.  Well, hell, you can read:

Because when designing our team shirts, my big kid asked this to be printed on them:  Help Me Stay Strong.

On day three of the quote challenge, I present one of my all-time faves.  I read it in the book Wonder by RJ Palacio, which came highly recommended to me by my then-fourth grader.  It was the first book he ever seemed excited over, so it holds a special place in my heart.  I was convinced the book would destroy me, but it didn’t.  Read it.  Read it.  You won’t regret it, and perhaps it will remind you to

 

Be kinder than is necessary–RJ Palacio

*drops mic*

OK, well technically (again with the technicalities) the post isn’t over until I tag three other bloggers in the quote challenge.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, you lovely writers you, is to publish 1-3 quotes over three days, and nominate three others to do the same.  No pressure, no hurt feelings if you don’t.  Really.

Shandra Eats

Ioana at Music Teacher Lifestyle

Aimee at A Nene’s Life

OK, one more thing, and I’ll shut up.  Here’s the link to our MDA Muscle Walk team page, in case you had like $10 you didn’t know what to do with. . .  Join or support Team Greater Than Gravity.

*drops mic* (for reals this time)

 

Play Ball!

Evening two of the quote challenge finds me home alone.  It’s my little guy’s first baseball scrimmage game tonight (last week’s scrimmage got snowed out, not rained out, but cold and snowed out–yes, that happens here in Wisconsin in April).  I was already committed to a meeting at the kids’ school this evening, so after it and inhaling a bowl or two of cereal and picking up groceries minus saline solution–looks like I’ll be wearing the specs tomorrow–I’m home alone.  Being alone in my house is one of my favorite conditions, but I am missing being at the diamond.  Picture and text updates are a gift of modern times, but they don’t come close to being there.  Can I admit I’m a teensy bit relieved not to be a momsicle, out there freezing my keister off in the 38 degree Fahrenheit weather?  Only a teensy bit.  Really.

God, my kid loves the game!  

In the spirit of @thebaseballbloggess, I wish all you fastball-throwing, second base-stealing, catcher’s mask-flipping, sliding-into-home plate-beating-the-tag, bottom-of-the-ninth-walk-off-home-run-sluggers and fans a happy new year!

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.

–George Will

You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.

–Cal Ripken, Jr.

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On my  Day 2, I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge

The Baseball Bloggess

Winnipeg Arts Hearts and Smarts

The Road to There

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.

The Universe is Trying to Tell Me Something

Earlier this evening, for the first time in my storied blogging history (go on with your bad self, WW), I posted a quote alone–well, a quote meme with little text to accompany it.  As we all know, I’m something of a talker; brevity is not one of my special gifts.  *ahem*  But I had something on my mind, so I tossed it out to the universe.  Imagine my surprise just now to discover that Look for the Good, a fellow blogger, included me in a quote challenge–post 1-3 quotes over three days in response to the 3-day Quote Challenge, and nominate 3 bloggers each day to do the same.  Sometimes the universe messes with us, and boom!  You find out you’ve already done the thing you’ve never previously done without even knowing you’ve been asked to do it.  I also ordered our family’s t-shirts for the 2016 MDA Muscle Walk tonight, which left me feeling shaky, so thank you much for the diversion.  And I do appreciate wise words, so Edmund Burke’s, which hang in my work cubicle are worth repeating here:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

For Day 1, I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge–these talented people were the first to react to my use of Burke’s quote:

Christel T’s Blog (which I just learned how to translate!)
The Psycho Mother
Tales From the Cabbage Patch

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.

Do something.