March 22, 2010

Lego Mash-up

So the students asked me how my spring break went? I answered, truthfully: "Crappy."

I'm usually a pretty sunny gal, always looking for the glass half-full, and they know it. I don't know why I answered that way--maybe I was feeling contrary, or didn't think it through or just felt like a little truth in the classroom is okay. I rarely talk about my personal life. Sure, they know the basics--I have a husband, some kids somewhere, grandchildren that I dote on, but really, I'm there to think about the students and their needs and problems and whatever, so I don't say too much about me.

"Really?" they said. "What happened?"

I plopped my book bag down and started taking out the folders for their class, arranging the handout Bias and Opinion by Malcolm Gladwell.

"I had a fight with my husband for starters." I hefted the stack of graded essays to the corner of the table. "Then I graded papers, but really I just love doing that." They laughed.

"I visited my mother and father and found out that they are on the edge of being able to care for themselves, and that's not a fun realization that your parents are getting way older." I looked up. "I know you all think at my age, I'm WAY old and nearly dead," I said. "But I'm not." We'd relaxed into the class, and they told about what they did, how there was some crappy things for them too, and then we went on to other things, like bias & opinion, a quiz, and how to structure a research paper.

Truthfully? My spring break was like a mash-up of Lego pieces. All the parts are there to make something but it remains unmade unless someone has the energy and the creative bent to get-it-done. I seemed to be in short supply of the latter.

And like the potential Lego creation, I left out some parts. I didn't tell them about whether or not to defy my doctor's request that I go on statins. (I'm deferring, another year. My doctor will cluck cluck and then we'll go on.) I didn't tell them about the conversation with my sister--that she wants to have a conference call with my brother about my parents. I can't shake the feeling that I'd be ratting out my parents, and I don't want to do that.

I didn't tell them that my husband and I are planning a terrific vacation to Nova Scotia, Quebec City, and Montreal this summer, and of course, that's what triggered the fight. But we're better now. His birthday's tomorrow and a bunch of Happy Birthday balloons are floating in the air at the end of the staircase, tied to the banister. I'm planning his birthday dinner, and am going to make him a fabulous cake. I bought him two things I know he wants, as well as a surprise of some original artwork; the painting arrived tonight during dinner, having been purchased while at my parents house from their artist friend. I clapped like a five-year old and he laughed.

I'm going to yet make something of this day.






SOLSC 23. Click to return.

8 comments:

  1. Oh so many things I can relate to in this post - hang in there - I am hoping that your new semester holds some wonderful suprises and tidbits of joy.

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  2. Morning Elizabeth,
    What a powerful piece! It's hard to write about because it's filled with so much of life's issues that we all have to deal with. I'm wondering what your kids took home with them as you shared yourself with them about what we all dread to deal with. I love the Lego metaphor:
    Truthfully? My spring break was like a mash-up of Lego pieces. All the parts are there to make something but it remains unmade unless someone has the energy and the creative bent to get-it-done. I seemed to be in short supply of the latter.
    You have your parents on one end and a celebration for your husband and Obama will be signing Health Care today.
    Bonnie

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  3. Morning Elizabeth,
    What a powerful piece! It's hard to write about because it's filled with so much of life's issues that we all have to deal with. I'm wondering what your kids took home with them as you shared yourself with them about what we all dread to deal with. I love the Lego metaphor:
    Truthfully? My spring break was like a mash-up of Lego pieces. All the parts are there to make something but it remains unmade unless someone has the energy and the creative bent to get-it-done. I seemed to be in short supply of the latter.
    You have your parents on one end and a celebration for your husband and Obama will be signing Health Care today.
    Bonnie

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  4. Great writing here. Glad your day ended well!

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  5. Oh boy!
    I can relate!
    I like the lego analogy.

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  6. A mash-up of Lego pieces. Now that's some analogy!
    I hope your next extended break is more pleasant than the one you just lived through.

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  7. I love a good mash-up.

    Also, another book recommendation: Donald Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing, but you probably have that one.

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  8. Elizabeth,
    I'm sure your students appreciated the honesty you shared with them. I think it's good sometimes to let them know how challenging our lives can be.

    I wish you the best as you sort out your difficult family decisions. I've recently had some similar experiences with my in-laws that posed a challenge. I know that your strength will see you through.

    And I absolutely LOVE the painting you gave your husband for his birthday! Such movement and such beautiful characters!

    -Carrie

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