Duck, Duck, Geese!

Day 30 of 31

I see that people are writing about birds today. I wrote about a bird yesterday but it was more about a former student than a bird. So, let me try again.

When my daughters were 1, 3 and 5 my husband and I took them to feed the ducks. We, and by “we” I mean my husband, decided that we should take them to the same place he used to feed ducks when he was a little boy. Cute, right? So we piled in the car with two loaves of old bread and set off for the hour long drive to Cameron Field in South Orange, New Jersey. I know, bread is not good for ducks but I honestly was not aware of that at the time.

As we got out of the car we saw lots of ducks swimming in the pond and a few geese far off in the distance. It was a beautiful, warm fall day. We took one of the loaves of bread with us as we all walked to the edge of the pond. It must have been an adorable sight. My husband and I with our three little girl ducklings all going to feed some other ducklings. My daughters are tiny so even my then 5 year old, Sara, had short little legs coming out from her shorts. Kelly was even smaller and Emily, being only 1, was a newer walker with hand-me-down shorts that fell practically at her ankles.

Sara is a true first born-responsible, reliable and a rule follower. Being the oldest, she showed her little sisters how to tear off pieces of bread and throw them toward the pond. Sara demonstrated this like a professional duck feeder and Kelly and Emily followed her comprehensive directions. As they began throwing the bread more ducks arrived and found their way toward the girls. All the girls were laughing and giggling and it was a special moment….until….

The geese that were far off in the distance realized that they were missing out. Soon we could hear their honking as they made their way toward us. The giant Canadian geese began bullying the ducks and the ducks began to withdraw. They had likely experienced this event many times prior the arrival of the Clark family. My husband and I looked at each other as more and more geese swooped in. Soon they began chasing and hissing at us. My husband scooped up Kelly and ran with her. I scooped up little Emily and ran. I know what you are wondering. Who scooped up Sara? No one. No one scooped up Sara. We did not save Sara from the geese. I know. We suck.

Sara ran as fast as her little legs could carry her but the geese continued to run after her because Sara was holding onto the bag of bread. As my husband and I ran holding the other two, poor Sara was left to fend for herself. We began yelling at her…”Sara! Drop the bread! Drop the bread!” She was crying and running and screamed, “What?” We yelled as loud as we could in order to be heard over the hissing and honking of the geese.

“DROP THE BREAD… DROP THE BREAD!”

Finally Sara heard us, dropped the bread and ran to us. The geese were no longer chasing her and we made our way to the safety of our car. She remembers that day and it is doubtful that she will forget it. It is also likely that this day at Cameron Field, where our attempt at fun duck feeding went awry, is the cause of Sara’s lifetime dislike of birds. Sorry, Sara!!!

Morale of the Story: Never feed the ducks with your children unless you have a 1:1 ratio of adults to children.

Chase

Day 29 of 31

From 2007 through 2011 I worked as the librarian in my children’s school. It was the perfect job for me since it was only 3 days a week and I was able to read stories all day long to the Kindergarten-Third Graders. Reading to cute kids all day, what could be better? All was well but I began to think about returning to the classroom full time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted, or had the energy, to go back to full time teaching but I was starting to miss the classroom. I had already been a teacher for 12 years, had recently completed treatment for cancer and was unsure if I should go back. Also, because I was fairly certain I would die pretty soon, I didn’t really want to traumatize other people’s children.

Spoiler alert: I did not die.

The last year I was in the library I got to know a first grader, named Chase. Chase was one of those students who loved listening to stories but would often have difficulty sitting for the entire story, which is not unusual for many 6 year olds. He had an amazing personality, was super creative and had great insight into the characters. He, like my one daughter, thought outside the box and his smile would melt my heart.

I remember reading the story, Calvin Can’t Fly to Chase’s class. Chase was sitting right in front of me while I held the book so the students could see the pictures while I read to them. The story is about a bird named Calvin. Instead of learning to fly like his siblings and cousins do during flying classes, Calvin spends his time reading books in the library and letting his imagination run away with him. He opted out of his flying lessons. Soon it is time for all the starlings to fly south but Calvin can’t fly so he stands, with a book under his wing, and a tear rolling down his face while he watches his family fly away.

I read the story with lots of feeling, because, I mean, that’s how I read and talk. I looked down at Chase, sitting in his spot right in front of me and noticed that he had a tear in his eye while his mouth was turned down into the cry position. He raised his hand and didn’t wait for me to call on him. With a very concerned voice he said, “Oh no! Mrs. Clark! Calvin’s family flew away from him. It’s so sad. He is all alone.” I quickly redirected him and said, “It’s ok. I don’t think the story is over yet.” Next, I leaned down and whispered to the class, but mostly to Chase, “Let’s see what happens.” I finished the story and Chase let out a relieved sigh. Adorable, right?

The following week the principal called me into his office and told me that a second grade teaching position would be opening up the following year and if I wanted it I could have it. I was still uncertain because we all know how much work it is to be a classroom teacher. I thought about it overnight. The next day I met with the principal and told him that I decided to go for it on one condition…that Chase would be placed in my class.

My first year back in the classroom was spent with 21 amazing 2nd graders and yes, Chase was one of them. Coming back into the classroom full time was something I thought I would never do, but I am so glad I went for it. Chase ended up being one of those enthusiastic new readers and helped me to feel like I could teach again when I was unsure. He was full of energy and sometimes he was a lot-but so am I. I think we understood each other. He never thought inside the box and that was the best part about being his teacher. The last day of school as I hugged all the students goodbye, I hugged Chase a little more than the others. Not because he needed it, but because I did.

Five Things About Me

Day 28 of 31

As I finish out year three of the Slice of Life Challenge I have been struggling for ideas more than during the past two years of this challenge.  As a result I have been looking to other slicers in order to find some new formats.  


Sharon G. of Sharon My Thoughts borrowed Five Things About Me from another slicer and I am doing the same.

Five Things About Me:

  • Something About Yourself
    • I was so nervous my first day of teaching that I considered quitting before I started. My principal said, “Don’t worry. The first graders won’t know if you make a mistake.  Besides, you are young and pretty so they will love you.” I ended up teaching that day and have loved being in education ever since. P.S. That first grade class had 32 students. 
  • Something About Your Family/Neighborhood
    • I grew up with a not so great mom but broke that cycle (I think) with my own children-Yay Me!!! 
  • Something You Love To Do
    • I love painting old furniture and giving it new life which I discovered during 2020 when we were all working remotely
  • Something You Hate To Do
    • Cook-I would rather clean than cook. I genuinely hate cooking
  • Something You Want To Learn
    • Who the people are in the old pictures I have that have been passed down over the years

5,4,3,2,1

Day 27 of 31

I saw a slice by Tracy Brosch in this format so I am trying it today.

5 THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS PAST WEEK:

  • Visiting with family I haven’t seen in a long time
  • Chatting with like minded co-workers at the end of some long days
  • Watching my dog trying to climb the no longer carpeted stairs
  • Singing “My Life Would Suck Without You” as loud as possible in the car by myself
  • Laughing with my sister about the dysfunction that is our family

4 WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY UPCOMING WEEK:

  • Will
  • Break
  • Ever
  • Come

3 PLANS FOR THE REMAINING WEEKEND:

  • Find my missing shirt
  • Call my dad
  • Go to bed early

2 THINGS I LEARNED THIS PAST WEEK:

  • It is ok for some of my writing to suck
  • I was the only person in a room of 25 people at a family party who does not make a to do list every day

1 GOAL FOR NEXT WEEKEND:

  • Have dinner with friends from college

The Debrief

Day 26 of 31

Today we celebrated Christmas (sort of) with my husband’s family. Like many families, we typically gather together for Christmas but have not done so since 2019 because of Covid. Today, however, we all finally got together minus kids at college or who are away.

My husband comes from a big family and he has five sisters. Most of them have children and some of their children have children. When we began dating and I attended my first Clark family event, I was overwhelmed. I come from a small, quiet family so being around people who were all talking and laughing was new to me. I loved it but it did take some getting used to, as did the long goodbye process, which I have yet to master.

I don’t know if other families do this, but one of our favorite parts of going to family events is riding the hour and a half home and participating in what we call “The Debrief”. The debrief typically starts when the car pulls away from the house and continues during most of our ride home. We all get in the car and then someone will say, “Ok, let’s debrief.” Then it begins.

We rehash parts of the day/evening and everyone gives input. We debrief the food, who got there late and why, who left early, what people were wearing, how we liked the new boyfriends or girlfriends, and different conversations that those of us in the car had with those at the party. Sometimes we all have the same information and at other times one person has a piece of information that none of the rest of us heard.

As we left tonight, my husband and I began our debrief with just the two of us since our girls are all out of state. While I talked about some of my observations I mentioned that I miss the girls debriefing with us. I love hearing the different perspectives and opinions of my girls during our debriefing sessions. As I looked out the window, I wondered if debriefing is a family tradition that our kids will continue, or is it just a weird thing that only we do?

When we arrived home we sent a video to our girls so they could see some of the happenings. Our oldest daughter texted back saying she had a little “fomo” about not being there with us. A few minutes later she texted again. Her text said, “I want to call you tomorrow for the debrief.”

I guess it is a family tradition.

Crazy Together (a FIB poem)

Day 25 of 31

Fibonacci poetry was founded by Gregory K. Pincus. It is a poem that follows the Fibonacci sequence for syllable count per line. Thanks to all the people in this challenge who have shared theirs. Here is mine:

Crazy Together

I’m

Strong

Tired

And Grateful

That I love my job

Even when it is very hard

Teachers in my building work harder than you could know

I am so lucky that I found this crazy school because we are crazy together

Shout Out to Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 24 of 31

I love this quote.

The funny thing is…I am definitely NOT someone who enjoys fear-like at all. I have so many fears it would fill this page but some include: death (that’s the biggest one), failure, drowning (death related), roller coasters (perceived death related), flying (death if the plane crashes) but I like to travel so I still fly, storms that could cause death, and that stupid birthday party game where we tied balloons around our ankles and people would try to stomp on the balloons and pop them. Why was that even a game?

I don’t know why this is the quote that I seem to be drawn to. Maybe it is because it pushes me to challenge myself? Maybe because as I have gotten older I definitely have gained courage and strength. I’m not sure but it is a quote that I tend to think about whenever I have a big life change. When I decided to change jobs several years ago “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” popped into my head. When it was 2006 and TYOC (The Year of Cancer) I thought of it. When I went on my first roller coaster with my kids I thought about it. Every time I feel anxiety about whatever change or life event is coming I repeat it over and over again in my mind.

So, shout out to Eleanor. I still have fears but I try not to let them control me too much and thanks to her words of wisdom, I have in fact, done many things I thought I could not do.

She Is Coming Home (sort of)

Day 23 of 31

She is coming home!

The first to leave the nest is now returning

Smart and independent

She won’t be living with us but will be close by

5 miles away in graduate school and living on campus

Ahhh, so much easier than the long busy car or train ride to DC

She is coming home!

I talk to her often but now I will see her too

We can meet for lunch and head to Target

We can shop on Nassau Street

Maybe even go out to dinner in town

I know this may only last 2 years

But right now I am excited for August

She is coming home!

Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!

The Path

Day 22 of 31

There is a cemetery near my home. If I decide to take a longish walk, I sometimes travel the path that leads from one street, into the cemetery and back to another street that heads me toward home. It’s a short cut that I will only take during the day. I mean, it’s a cemetery so, not a great place to walk at night.

Lawrenceville Cemetery Pat

Meandering through rows of concrete tributes

So many…weathered beyond recognition and difficult to read

Others…large and looming

Engraved with family names

Summoning those to take a closer look

Moving closer I discover

Dates of birth and death

Quotes that give meaning to lives well lived and to lives barely lived

Relationships between husbands, wives, and children

None of them lived long by today’s standards

The old man, the wife who outlived him and the baby that died at age 3

I create stories about these unknown people

Based simply on what is written in stone

I don’t walk the path often

That would be creepy

But when I do I am always surprised by how the grounds center me

It is quiet

Peaceful

Weirdly beautiful

It causes me to pause

And wonder

And

Slow

Down

My

Thoughts

At least while I walk along the path

The older section

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