A Hug I Could Not Refuse

Social distancing guidelines do not allow for hugs in most situations. And compared to my typical teacher hug routine, I would guess I’m about 90% successful at school. Although honestly, it feels more like missed opportunities than successes.

One day last week, there was an opportunity I’m glad I did not miss.

Music class is supposed to be fun and engaging. At least, that is my plan. And when I cannot seem to get a student interested, engaged, connecting-it is frustrating. Last week I had one of those kiddos.

In our first class together, there was constant disruption. This student showed no desire to participate. No matter what I tried, he was determined to get out of the room.

The next time I came to this class, something was different. I have no idea what had happened before my arrival, but my friend was sitting there ready for music.

Now, several reminders and redirections were needed, but there was also participation! And he made it through the entire lesson. Even though it was a small step, I counted it a success.

Later in the day, I walked past the same class heading out to recess. I caught the eye of my friend. “You did a great job in music today. I am really proud of you,” I said. He stepped out of line and sheepishly reached one arm out to give me a hug. His reach was hesitant, his eyes looking down.

Needless to say, social distancing guidelines flew right out the window.

This was a big step, and a hug I could not refuse. ❤

Coming & Going

This Labor Day weekend, I am looking forward to an extra day of rest following the two first weeks of school. I need to relax and take care of myself. Part of that care includes time with family.

That is one of my first thoughts when it comes to holidays-who is coming and who is going.

This time, Gart and I are staying put. Though not always the case, a welcomed choice this weekend. Even after our recent extended time here, we need to be home. Sleep in our own bed, sit outside in our own backyard…welcoming the ones who are coming.

On this Saturday morning, the house is quiet. Our youngest, the last one at home, is at a friend’s. Our daughter, who recently moved out, is traveling. Our oldest and his wife will be here this afternoon.

Witnessing my kids at this age causes me to reflect on my own younger days. Days when I was the one always coming and going. Days when my Mom and Dad were the ones staying put.

It’s a funny thing, seeing myself through my parents’ eyes. Waiting patiently to hear about a friend, that recent trip, or to actually be together in person.

These are the moments that remind of the beauty of life-moments of growth and understanding. Realizing what a privilege it is to be the one staying put. To be the one watching and waiting, experiencing all the comings and goings from my front door.

Grandma’s Back

Last school year, I had a sweet group of fourth-graders. They liked to call me “Grandma.” I did not mind it one bit. It was funny and endearing. And it allowed for connections that otherwise might not have happened. The Grandma Connection

Fast forward to this new school year. Those sweet friends are all scattered. Some opting for virtual. Others no longer in my music class. I imagine some have also moved. But there’s one I still get to see.

This particular friend, now a big fifth-grader, has been a little withdrawn these first two weeks of school. I haven’t had much luck getting him to participate in music. But sometimes it takes time to get back in the routine of school, so I hadn’t given it much thought.

Today forced the issue. When I entered the classroom, my friend was sitting at the back, head down, hood on. And when other classmates were getting out laptops for an activity, he didn’t budge. I tried getting him to go, but he was not moving.

Once the other students were logged in and exploring their music activities, I made my way to the back of the room.

Me: Remember what you called me last year?
Student: Shakes head no.
Me: Yes, you do. You called me Grandma.
Student: Shakes head.
Me: That means you can always talk to me. Ok?
Student: Shakes head again.
Me: (Patting his head) Love you, Bud.

I was sitting in my room eating lunch a few hours later when this friend showed up at the door. Carrying his lunch tray, hood off, smiling behind that face mask. He walked over and gave me a hug, assuring me that he was ok.

What a relief! Many moments tested my patience today. And some of my reactions could have been better. I am thankful that this one, at least, worked its way to a positive.

I guess this means Grandma’s back! 😉

Reminders

I seem to need the same reminder over and over these days. My husband would agree. 😉 What reminder? Stop worrying about things that are out of your control. Focus on what is in front of you today.

Sounds easy enough. And yet, I continue to struggle. I am beginning to recognize it more quickly, so I suppose that is progress. Or maybe, it is just part of life. Either way, here is a little reminder for me. And anyone else who might need one. ❤

Release

Holding on
Too tight
To things
I cannot
Control
Tension
Held in
Clenched fists
Raised shoulders
A stiff neck
Its journey
Does not
End there
It travels on
To the heart
Then shows
On my face-
The struggle
Within me
Seeping out-
Perhaps
The solution is
Also within me
A cleansing breath
In and out
Allowing
Every fiber
To release
The hands
To relax
A full circle
Ending with
An honest
Smile and
Open heart

Rediscovered

I love it when I rediscover something. Especially when it involves music. Such was the case this week.

I happened to notice a friend sharing a new music album on their Instagram. The name of the album was Out of Body, the group Need to Breathe.

“Oh yeah, I used to listen to them. Such a great sound. Maybe I’ll check it out.”

Later that evening, I downloaded the album. It played in the car on my way to school the next day and again on my way home. On the second listen, one song stood out-Banks. The following lyrics stuck with me.

I wanna hold you close but never hold you back

I’ll be the banks for your river

Turned out to be the inspiration for a poem. 🙂

Riverbank

Walking
Alongside
The riverbank
Wondering
What it might
Have to say

Wisdom
Gathered
In tiny bits
Only when
The water is
Still and quiet

Changes
In the current
Noticed by
Trees leaning
In just close
Enough

These wise
Residents
Hold hands-
Keeping
The river
In place

Sometimes
The bank
Allows itself
To be overtaken
When the river
Loses its way

Patiently
It waits for
The waters
To recede
And continue
On their journey

Strength
Evidenced in
Roots and trees
Dirt and rocks
Always faithful to
Its fickle friend

Humility
In willingness
To give up a
Part of itself
Every time
The river strays

Wondering
If the riverbank
Will share some
Of its wisdom
While I quietly
Take a seat

Pinks and Reds

Morning clouds
On the horizon
Edges glowing
With shades of
Pinks and reds
Colors expanding
Until simple lines
Miraculously
Transform into
A beautiful sphere
Daily rising
Over the horizon-
Though colors
And brilliance
May vary-
A simple sunrise
Taken for granted
Until its hues
Can no longer
Be ignored
The blending of
Color and light
Begging for, while
At the same time,
Defying description
Leaving behind tiny
Traces of evidence
Imprinted on
The memory of this
Fortunate witness

Running Late 💗

Kids Grow Up

I wrote this poem several months ago after a conversation with my oldest. This seems like the perfect time for sharing.

Parenting is a lifelong adventure. And though responsibilities change as time passes, some things never change. Like that struggle between worry and release.

The temptation to hold on too tight is strong. And even after successfully letting go, certain events bring me right back into the battle.

Currently, it is a concern for their safety as public school teachers and a working college student during this pandemic. They are all adults. They know how to take care of themselves. But I will always be their mom. ❤

No Longer a Kid

How are you today?
A simple text
Sent to my child
Nothing urgent
Or momentous
Mom checking in

My eyes well up
With tears before
The swoosh sound
Of the sending text
Has even faded
What? Why now?

A flood of memories
Instantly fills my mind
A million questions
Where did the years go?
Did I do enough to
Prepare you for life?

The phone rings
Jolting me back
To the present
Tears turn to smiles
Questions fade away
The world is okay

Hey Mom, thought
I’d call and talk
Instead of just texting

And so it goes when
You are the parent
Of adult children
A simple thought
Becomes a rapid
Onslaught of emotions

A myriad of questions
And concerns
Instantly erased by
The sound of a voice-
My kid who is
No longer a kid

Running Late

This morning I left for work about 10-15 minutes later than usual. Not terribly late, just enough to take away that buffer between arrival and car duty.

As I merged onto the highway, I began to notice pinks and reds on the horizon. The colors created a glowing outline behind the clouds. As my car crossed the bridge over the Arkansas River, a big, beautiful sun appeared. Those pinks and reds were now perfectly blended into one giant sphere.

If I had left at my usual time, I most likely would have missed this view!

The experience made me think about how tiny moments can generate enormous power.

This first week back to school has been challenging. Teaching during a pandemic brings more questions than answers-more uncertainties than assurances. Yesterday, I allowed an onslaught of negative thoughts to weigh me down, unable to focus on anything positive.

Witnessing that stunning sunrise was the first step toward a much-needed attitude adjustment. And if my attitude today reflected even one tiny pink drop of those rays, just maybe I was able to encourage someone else.

I guess when you look at it that way; I really was not running late after all. I was actually right on time.

Acceptance

Even though this past week was spent preparing for the first day of school, I was in denial. Yes, it was a good week. I was glad to be back with colleagues, to have focused time for planning. Yet, in the back of my mind, I thought something different would happen.

I believed there would be a change in our plans before the first day. Somehow, there would be an announcement that we were transitioning to distance learning.

But that did not happen, and tomorrow is the day.

So, now it is time for acceptance. I will welcome our students with a smile, doing my best to ease their concerns. Hopefully, music will help us all adjust. It will not be school as usual, but we will find our new normal.

I will do my best to view the day through their eyes. And just maybe, they will help ease my concerns. 🙂 ❤

To laugh and play
On the swings
Pumping feet
Back and forth
Flying so high
Until a brave
Jump launches
Toward the sky

To show love
Skipping across
The playground
Hand in hand
With a friend
Spinning around
Falling down
On the ground

To speak truth
I love you
Immediately
Followed by
Your hair looks funny
Honest words
Unfiltered and
From the heart

To seek security
In the comfort
Of a father’s lap
Curled up in
Perfect rest
Breaths in sync
Every ounce of
Tension fading

To press rewind
Erasing today’s
Apprehensions
Long enough to
See our world
Thru the open
Eyes of wonder-
Like a child

Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles~Kelley Morris, piano

Significant

Last night was our annual “Meet the Teacher” event. It looked quite different from years past. More controlled, a limited number of parents and children attending at one time. Everyone wearing masks, maintaining distance.

While assisting a family in finding their classroom, I spotted one of my students from last year. He is a sweet boy, such a good student. He smiled behind that mask and said hello.

On my way back downstairs, I saw him again. This time, sitting with his mom. “Just enjoying the view,” he said. Mom shared that he would be doing school virtually this year. Little sister has a heart issue. They need to be careful. He is understanding, but obviously disappointed.

I wish I could accurately describe his eyes. So honest, so sincere. And his words, “Mrs. Morris, I really wish I could just give you a hug.” I responded, “Me, too, Sweetie. Me, too.”

And then I quickly walked away so he would not see me cry.

This small interaction, only a few minutes, was the most significant event of my entire day.

Small

The days seem long
And yet, they’re not
When viewing them
Thru a wider lens

Getting caught up
In what’s next
On the calendar
Is the expected

At least, that was
The case until
Our days were so
Abruptly changed

Life events often
Taken for granted
Now indefinitely
Placed on hold

And so, the small
Takes precedent
A kind word
An honest smile

A vantage point
Revealing that perhaps
The truly significant
Is actually quite small