Tag Archives: memories

We All Remember At Least One

classroom

Remember raising your hand so long your arm started to cramp and you had to do that behind the head support move with your other arm?

I started the 4th grade in 1987 in Ms. Griffith’s class. I finished the 4th grade in 1988 in Mrs. Chun’s class.  Her husband proposed to her in front of our whole class with a singing telegram.  Our class sang at the wedding, I caught the garter.  We did a class play of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I was Edmund.  I remember how she would sing with us each morning and how she put her hand on my shoulder with empathy when we got back from Christmas break and I told her that I didn’t get the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  Even though she was my teacher, I think I maybe had a little bit of a crush on her, she was kind and pretty and always seemed interested in what all of us had to tell her.  Her’s is the class I see in the forgotten corners of my mind when I think back to elementary school.

The middle school years can be tough on everyone and the feeling to fit in is almost palpable. I will never forget saving my money from mowing lawns and heading out to the mall, going into a cool clothes store called Chess King and buying Skidz. It was the coolest outfit I had ever owned and for once I was going to have the name brand clothes just like the cool kids. I remember wearing them on a Monday morning and feeling like the king of 7th grade. I think they went out of style the Wednesday of that same week but I didn’t get the memo and wore them again and endured some ridicule.  That was the last time I wore them, middle school was hard.  I will also never forget Ms. Hall, she was my English teacher and she taught me lots of things, the most important was that teachers don’t have to be the enemy. Ms. Hall was funny and cool and I remember that older kids from the high school would come by sometimes to visit her. She would joke with us and laugh with us and made me feel like her classroom was a safe place where the middle school pressure to be something you are still too young to be can be overwhelming.  When I made it to high school I went back and visited her, I felt like the coolest kid ever.

images

try not to be so jealous of my style

In high school I seemed to find my way a bit but I still had plenty to learn.  Mr. McCloud taught me that being sociable was a good thing but it was also ok to apply myself and that I was smarter than the effort I put forth.  Mrs. Moody & Mrs. Evans taught me how to be a part of something that was bigger than me and put a class clown up on a stage and let me spread my wings in a more productive setting than the back of Mr. McCloud’s Algebra class.  Mrs. Rivers taught me that the movie “Gone With the Wind” left out quite a bit of the book and that sometimes taking shortcuts aren’t the best idea.  She also taught me it isn’t much fun getting an F on a test.

In college I had a philosophy professor (I don’t even remember his name) that not only taught me about existentialism but also that joining in on the conversation, attending classes, and taking an interest could make college a good experience for what happened inside of the classroom as well as what happened outside.

In 2003 I remember helping my wife hang paper on a bulletin board and getting her first classroom set up just right.  It was what she wanted to be ever since she was a little girl.  Most of us lose on making it to what we wanted to be when we grow up.  For most of us it turns out to be “this is what I do” not “this is what I am.”  Not for her though, a teacher is what she is.

I am sure that there were parents that summer that got their kid’s class list and weren’t thrilled that they got Mrs. Holland because it was her first year and you just never know about first year teachers.  Fast forward a few years and it is common knowledge that if you have a third grader getting ready to start the year, you hope that they get to be in Mrs. Holland’s class.  Kids from the high school come back to visit her and by the time they are freshman it has been over 5 years since 3rd grade.  She makes a difference in those kid’s lives. The kind of difference that they still remember when they grow into full size people.  She has this unbelievable gift that sets kids at ease and somehow they instantly know that they can trust her.  She pushes them to be better and to grow and in her classroom is often where the bloom of a person begins.  She doesn’t do teaching, she is a teacher.

Next year their won’t be any kids or parents excited because they got Mrs. Holland.  After 10 years in the classroom it is time for a little break.  She is going to stay home and cherish being a mom while our girls are still young.  I am sad for this batch of  rising second graders that they won’t get to experience a third grade year with her but I am more excited that we get to have her all to ourselves for a while.  You see, she isn’t just a teacher. She is also a mom and that is another thing that she doesn’t just do, it is something that she is.

mom-tattoo

I couldn’t be more proud of the impact that she has made in her first 10 years of teaching and I know that there will be times that she will really miss it. She has been “playing school” for as long as she can remember and today she exclaimed with a tear in her eye that it was her last day to play.  I know that she will be back in a classroom one day and I can’t wait for this next little chapter of our lives where we can grow as a family.  She is so excited to be taking this break because even though every school year brings a fresh batch of 3rd graders, your own kids are only young once.

No matter how old we get we can all remember at least one teacher. The one that explained it different or the one that held our hand when we needed it or made us laugh and feel like we belonged.  None of us would be were we are today if it weren’t for the impact of  teachers and I just happened to be lucky enough to marry one. Teachers of the year come and go with each new calendar  year but for dozens and dozens of kids, Mrs. Holland wasn’t a teacher of the year, she was the teacher of their life.

Here’s to the next chapter Mrs. Holland, cheers!

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Don’t Step on the Magic

Sweet

Saying Yes

ketchupbread

Because why not ketchup.
Stock Photo

Sometimes you have to give in to originality. You need to stop letting your daily decisions be regimented by social norms. Sometimes the only consequence of saying yes is your kid’s snaggle-toothed smile.

What I’m trying to say here is that I just put a turkey and ketchup sandwich into a school lunch. That’s right, I pack lunches. I also get daily lunch reviews that occasionally could make the harshest New York Times food critic cringe at times. I am still waiting for my Zagat rating though.  My initial reaction to this request was saying no. I mean ketchup on a sandwich is weird, Subway has 37 different condiments you can put on a sandwich and ketchup is not one of them. I don’t want my kid to be known as the ketchup sandwich girl.

Then I thought about it for a bit and wondered who made me the boss of what tastes good to my first grader.  Once upon a time I was a kid too and I am sure I was into some stuff that was weird.  I’m sure I got told no a few times to my suggestions of strange ideas and eventually put those ideas to rest and got normal.  I’m not suggesting that this was completely my idea but had I stuck with some of my outside the norm ideas we probably wouldn’t have had to wait this long to be able to buy containers of dehydrated cereal marshmallows that we are now free to enjoy on everything from Rice Crispies to spaghetti.

The world is going to do a fine job of stepping on the innocent magic a child is born with.  Over time a part of their creativity will get broken and pushed aside as they get normal and get accepted instead of getting fun and getting crazy.  Luckily a ketchup sandwich doesn’t really have any negative side effects and saying yes was easy.  The rest of the day though, I thought about how easy it would have been to just say no and step on a little bit of her magic without even realizing it.  I’m not suggesting I need a medal or anything.  A trophy maybe but not like with a big ceremony and a marching band and having to give some inspirational tear jerking speech while I accept a key to the city and a free Subway sandwiches for life card.

It isn’t like making a ketchup sandwich made her day that much more awesome or not making it would have crushed her but the situation did offer me a chance to reflect on how fast life can kick the childhood magic right out of their hands.  I’d like to try and keep it around a bit longer, I mean who knows what kind of amazing ideas could be floating around in her head afraid to come out because they may be weird.

Sometimes I think it is good to remember that being a parent is just as much about saying yes as it is about saying no and sometimes saying yes can be totally sweet.

 

Weak

Didn’t We Just Do that Whole Cicada Thing?  

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride. Photo from cardomain.com

They should have given this car better handling considering all the ladies I had to dodge trying to get at me and my sweet ride.
Photo from cardomain.com

Ever have a memory that seems like it occurred pretty recently and then realize it was 10 or 20 years ago?  Man, that is like age kicking you right in the breadbasket (when I was a kid, I used to watch wrestling and “bread basket” was what they called that part of a male that rests below the belt and is very sensitive to pain.)

Last night while I was wondering when David Letterman stopped being funny he made some joke about the pending Cicada Apocalypse on the east coast. I looked at my wife and asked how this could be news when it just happened like last year?  Only it didn’t happen last year, it happened 17 years ago.  That’s right, 1996 was the last time the 17 year Cicadas took over both the east coast and the monologues of used to be funny late night talk show hosts.

17 years ago I was popping a Spin Doctors CD into my disc-man and putting a tape with a cord connected to it into my in dash tape deck, hoping not to drive over too many bumps because we all knew that anti-skip technology was mostly hollow promises and nothing is worse than being right in the middle of belting out “If you want to buy me flowers” and your music screech to a halt.

How could that much time have passed so quickly?  How have I been alive long enough to remember the great 17 year cicada outbreak of ’96?  Which, if I recall correctly, did not in any way live up to the hype so I am pretty skeptical of the upcoming reunion tour.  Life has a way of sneaking by and tricking us sometimes. Sure, I realize that I have had 17 years of life experience since the last cicada show-down and I’m happy I’m not still driving a faded blue Chevrolet Cavalier with a leaky sunroof.

Just like flipping through the pages of a calendar and thinking Christmas will be here soon because, how long can it possibly take to live 6 pages, time can seem equally as fast when you look back at things that feel like they just happened and then realize it was long enough ago that you still had a bowl cut.  I’m not sad about getting older and I am having a good time filling each year with memories just as sweet as that Spin Doctors CD.  Sometimes though, having time roundhouse you from out of nowhere with how old you are can be completely weak.


Saturday Morning

Sweet

Kid Style 

I’m not sure if it happened all of the time or only a few times but the memories of it were etched deep enough that they are easy to recall.  When I was a kid we would sometimes go to the Dairy Queen on Canton Road on Friday night.  We would sit on the patio with these round fiberglass tables with red and yellow fiberglass umbrellas that were angled just enough to keep the sun away and look like they were tipping their hat to the cars driving by.  Dad always called it getting a Brazier burger and I didn’t even know that was named after the cooking apparatus until I Googled it just now.  I would get a chili dog and there the four of us would sit like some John Cougar Mellencamp song.

When we finished dinner the sun was down and dad would buy everyone a milkshake to have on the ride home.  Usually chocolate for me, in a bright yellow paper cup.  Thick and delicious in a way that made the pain between your eyes as you tried to suck through the straw totally worth it.  We would get home and it would be time for bed.  Half eaten milkshakes were put in the freezer for safe keeping.

Until I hit the teenage sloth years, I was often the first one up on Saturday morning.  I would walk into the kitchen and get my now frozen solid milkshake and a fork.  I would turn on the TV and relish in controlling its destiny.  I would watch Super Friends and Pee Wee’s Playhouse and scrape the frozen bits of milkshake off with a fork until it melted enough to pull the straw free.

At the time I thought I was getting away with the most diabolical act of breakfast treason ever and smiled in the assurance that my unknowing parents were fast asleep right down the hall.  As the roles have changed, I now know better than thinking that they were ignorant to my scheming tucked away in blissful slumber.  They were awake, maybe groggy, but letting a little boy savor his first tastes of independence.  I will never forget that frozen leftover milkshake with Saturday morning cartoons.  Totally sweet.

 

Weak

Parent Style 

After a long week, the fatigue can often culminate on Friday night.  Yet, still determined to have some kind of life, it is inevitable that we will stay up later than usual even if it is just to have a beer or two and watch an old episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix while folding laundry.  We are wild and crazy like that, I think the kids these days call it thug life.

We stay up later because we still live under the guise that just because we won’t be rushing off to work the next morning, that there will be time for rest and relaxation.  The reality of that is parenthood does not come with a snooze button.  Saturday mornings never arrive late, and often seem to smack me right in the face before the sun is even up or my eyes have had the chance to peal open.  Dropped toilet seats by the oldest begat cries from the toddler begat the realization that we have to be at some dumb kid’s birthday party in two hours and there is more to do than time to do it in.  It is funny how the cherry on top of that Saturday morning scramble is always writing something in said dumb kid’s card, even though a card is merely the gallbladder of a 6 year old birthday party.

Saturday mornings have a different feel now but if my oldest follows in my footsteps as an early riser, as long as she is quiet, she can eat whatever she can reach and clean up.  It would also be in her best interest to hide the evidence if she ops for ice cream sandwiches and fruit roll ups.  I can wax poetic about letting her spread her wings and have a touch of freedom but the reality is, pop should have probably passed on that last Amstel Light and just needs a few more dad gum minutes to sleep.  She has almost completed the complicated TV remote training so I think the time is drawing near.  Until then, we will remember the days of yore and hope those memories ease the pain of our new Saturday mornings that are totally weak.

 

 


Pizza Soup

Sweet

Family Tradition  

I have a propensity to blog about food a bit more often than other topics.  I guess that you are supposed to write what you know so it is likely that my mediocre ramblings about Christmas candy and  bread bowls is as good as it will get.  Sorry guys.  I think, though, that another reason I use food as a topic is because, like smells, food has a way of being nostalgic.  If you have read even just a few of my posts you probably know I am a perpetual kid so this kind of makes sense.

The best food related memories I have are not in the eating but in the preparing of food as a kid with my family.  The worst memories are things like always forgetting to shake my Yoo-Hoo and feeling sad when I had gotten every last bit of cheese off the red handi-snack stick.  I guess the emotional tie is as evident as ever in the term comfort food.

Preparing food always brought us together as a family.  We didn’t eat out very often and even when we did, I didn’t consider a restaurant fancy unless I got to choose biscuits or cornbread.  Most of the time mom would cook but when everyone pitched in, we made more than dinner.  We made memories.

I like that I get to experience that with my family now and if I had to name our tradition it would be called pizza soup.  You see, my wife’s family used to make pizza together,  before we had kids we would make it together, and now it is a full blown 2 on 2 pizza competition.  At the risk of some horrible pun, it is rather cheesy and like something you would expect to see on a poorly written sit-com.  That doesn’t matter though, at the end of each competition when the pizzas go into the oven we split up the remaining sauce, cheese, and toppings into tiny ramikens and enjoy our amuse bouche of pizza soup.  It isn’t really about the pizza or the dinner at all but about the laughter and the giggles and the occasional sauce smeared on daddy’s nose that make pizza soup totally sweet.

 

Weak

I Can Do That 

image via Ronco

I am a man.  As a man, I am impressed by very little.  Or at the very least, I can’t let on that I am impressed.  This personality trait often bubbles to the surface in the kitchen.  I like to think that I can handle my own in the kitchen and  at times I cook pretty well.   The problem is that sometimes I may talk a bit too big of a game.  I am not one to brag but every time I start to make hamburger helper I expect Bobby Flay to walk in and ask if I am ready for a throw down.  I like to cook and you can bank on the fact that anytime macaroni and cheese is made in our house, I will be eating the last 3 bites from the pot standing by the stove relishing in each lukewarm mouthful of salty regret.

Sometimes we watch cooking shows and I never shy away from saying that something doesn’t look that hard or that I could do it.  I remember saying something similar once about a show on food trucks.  The great part about making ridiculous assumptions about that kind of thing is that I will never actually try to start a food truck and as long as it looms in uncertainty I can claim victory.  In actuality, if I started a food truck it would probably be known as that weird guy trying to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the trunk of his 97 Corolla.

I like to dream of being on a show like Top Chef and while I do have some background in restaurants and a few signature dishes, I think the reality might be something like this:

I proudly walk in with my Ron Popeil 6 star cutlery and wastes the first 3 minutes of the challenge arranging all of the knives in the butcher block that was a free gift because I ordered within the 20 minute window on the commercial.  Not phased by the equipment the other chefs are using, I set out to the pantry wondering where they have hidden all of the box dinners.  With time quickly ticking bye I overcome the panic, find my center, and go about my culinary business.  At the judges table, I step up and trying not to stare at Padma Lackshmi I announce, “today I have prepared for you cheese 3 ways.  grilled, toast, and mac’n.  Bon appetit.”

So maybe I over sell myself a bit and hide in the safety that some of my claims will never be tested but  you can’t blame a guy for dreaming.   Who knows, maybe making that cinnamon toast with chili powder that one time really was a fluke and I am better at this than I think.    I may make a serious pot of white chili but the hollow braggadocios claims of my kitchen prowess are totally weak.

 


That Thing You Still Have

Sweet

The Human Highlight Reel

We all have something right?  An old sweatshirt, a hat, a pair of BVDs.  Something that we have managed to keep all this time.  It may have started as a fluke and just seemed to always be around and by now it has grown into an icon of years gone by and achieved shrine worthy status in your home.  No one understands it but us and even though it is worn and torn it has become one of our most prize possessions.

For me it is this sweet beach towel.  Santa brought it to me when I was a wee lad and it has stuck with me ever since.  How sweet is Dominique Wilkins dunking in all of his short shorts glory?  Things have a way of passing in and out of our life with little consequence but every now and then something sticks around.  I love this beach towel.  Not only because is has the Human Highlight Reel on it, but because it takes me back every time I see it.  Just like the smell of mothballs will always take me to the hall closet of my grandparents house where they kept the Dukes of Hazzard board game, seeing this towel reminds me of growing up on Azalea Circle.  Having a tangible reminder of a  memory is totally sweet even if it does have holes in it.  What is that one thing that you still have?

P.S. Remind me to dedicate an entire blog to The Dukes of Hazzard because little in this world is sweeter than that show.

Weak

Crying Digital Wolf 

Do you see what you are doing there Mr. high importance email?  I notice the trend, everything you send me has a red exclamation point on it and when I open it you are forwarding me a chain letter or asking to buy a box of Tagalongs from your daughter.  That actually may be a bad example because it is one of the few emails from you I have ever responded to.   What are you going to do when it comes time to notify us that you actually have re-formatted the TPS reports?  Do you have a dial that goes to 11?  You are crying digital wolf, my friend, and no one cares anymore.

While I am at it I should remind you that a read receipt on your message should just be called a click receipt because I don’t read any of them,I just click that box to make it go away.  I know that you have a voice and you want it to be heard.  I know what it is like to feel like you are drowning in a sea of cubicles but it is time to re-evaluate.  Are you trying to be that jerk that talks above everyone and always acts like what they are saying is the most important thing ever?  It seems like you are.  You don’t have to reply to all when your message is only to one person.  You don’t have to set up tons of auto forward rules so I get email from you on the nights and weekends.   I am not trying to hurt your feelings I just want you to take a second of self-reflection.  All of those extra email bells and whistles can be totally weak.

This message was sent with High importance.


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