Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day #29

The conversation probably occurred fifteen years ago.
And yet I remember it like it was yesterday.
I had just finished a workshop for first grade teachers.
Eight hours.
Required for all of the first grade teachers in our district.
Forty some odd people crammed into a room
that comfortably held 25.
Some people that wanted to be there.
Some that really didn't.
My friend, Deb, who was going to be giving the same workshop later that week,
had come to watch.
We were looking through the evaluations.
Most of them were great.
People had enjoyed the workshop.
Had learned things that they thought would positively impact their teaching.
Felt the workshop was well organized and well presented.
There was one evaluation, however, that was awful.
The teacher had not thought it was a worthwhile experience.
Hadn't learned anything she could take back to her classroom.
Didn't think I had done a good job presenting.
I looked at that evaluation for a long time.
Probably three or four minutes.
And then Deb took it out of my hands.
"Why are you looking at that?" she asked.
"If 98% of the people said that the workshop was great,
why are you spending time looking at the bad one?
You know what I do with those?"
And she took the evaluation from my hands,
tore it into little pieces,
and threw it into the trash.
When I protested, Deb said, "Carol, if you had a bunch of those,
we would need to look at them.
We would need to figure out what to do differently.
But you didn't.
You had one.
Almost 40 people thought you did a great job.
We need to listen to those people."

I feeling that same way tonight.
The past three or four years I have sliced
every single day
during the month of March.
And I've felt really, really great
the last day of the month.
I'm not feeling the sense of jubilation this year.
I didn't make it all 31 days this year.
I skipped a couple of days in the middle of the month.
I wrote 29/31 times.
That's actually not bad.
I sliced about 95% of the time
And I commented on other people's slices,
at least ten every day.

I really did have a pretty good reason
for not writing that weekend that I missed two slices.
There was some pretty major stuff going on with the boys.
And for those days, I didn't have a working computer
and would have had to go to Kinko's to slice.
I started again as soon as I could.
I could have just quit for the month.
and I didn't do that.
I considered doing a couple of makeup slices
but it seemed kind of pointless
I simply. didn't write every day.

Tonight I'm not feeling the sense of jubilation
I usually do at the end of the March.
Instead, I'm feeling like a big fat failure.
I didn't slice every day this month.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Tuesday afternoon. I watch the presenter as she facilitates the district meeting. She is young, probably in her early thirties. Every once in a while her screen saver comes on and shows a really cute toddler, a little guy with dark hair and dark eyes. 

She works the room before we start, touching base with each individual teacher. She knows them- knows their classrooms, their principals, their schools. She also knows about their families and takes time to inquire about husbands, children, spring break plans. And there are lots of hugs. 

She tells us she has about ten years teaching experience in second grade, in an ELA-S classroom (that's my district's code for teachers who teach English language learners, the S means she is fluent in Spanish and spends part of the day teaching in that language). 

And then the session starts. She is clearly very bright. Knows her stuff. Her presentation is focused and interactive. There is a nice blend of information and activity. She shares the most recent information on our district's efforts to bring in the "Seal of Biliteracy" then moves quickly into demonstrating  a technique for integrating academic language into Spanish classrooms. 

We end up as partners in a small group and she is oh so kind as I fumble to speak Spanish, modeling, providing vocabulary and sentence stems, giving me feedback about what I am doing well, teaching me a few new words and phrases. 

Here's the really fun part of this story. I know this presenter. I have known her for a long time. Ten years ago, I was in my first year as a literacy coach at a mostly Spanish-speaking school in Northwest Denver. It wasn't a high point in my career- I had adopted the boys about two years prior to this and had realized the previous spring that I was not going to be able to balance the demands of an administrative position and single parenthood. I was still sad about giving up the dream of becoming a principal in an urban setting.

At that time, L was a first year teacher. A really first year teacher, having just finished a degree as a theater/music/Spanish major. She had never taught. I'm not sure whether she had student taught. Together, we walked through those first three years. I worked with her on classroom management. Parent communication. I taught her to take running records. To do guided reading. We wrote unit plans together. I substituted the day she got sick in class. She was a coach's dream- full of questions, eager to learn, quick to implement anything she was taught. Two years later, as a new teammate came and L and I mentored her together. I left that school after three years, but we have kept in touch, and I have loved watching her grow and develop into a really capable veteran teacher. 

I'm not quite ready to retire yet, but it's good to know that when I am,  there are people ready to carry on. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slice #27

Ok, so I'm just going to admit it.
Right here, right now, as the kids at school would say.
That organizational stuff eludes me.
I just can't do it.

It's Spring Break.
I'm not going anywhere.
My house is a disaster.
And I should be cleaning.
I need to go through my closet
and give away a bunch of stuff.
I need to go through the drawer
where I keep all my receipts
and do taxes.
I need to clean out
two teacher bags
the wheeled crate I use to present.
And I need to do yard work
Rake up a bunch of leaves and gunk
I need to pay bills.
I need to clean out my car.
And it all seems totally overwhelming.
That organizational stuff eludes me.

And then there is the errand stuff.
I need to call the apartments where Isaiah lived in Phoenix.
I need to call Public Service and Comcast in Phoenix.
His lease is finally up.
And I need to turn off everything.
I need to call my insurance company.
And take the car for an oil change
And figure out why the brakes are making a funny noise.
I need to call to find out what to do
about the squirrels that seem to have moved into my attic.
And get estimates on the tree in the backyard.
But that organizational stuff eludes me.

And then I need to go over to school
Three years ago when I interviewed for my job
They told me I would be responsible
for the book room.
I've done that before.
I hate it.
But I can do it.
What they didn't tell me
was that the book room
had never been set up.
It was a huge room
with partially built scavenged shelves
And partially unpacked boxes.
A huge mess.
I organized it.
Kind of.
Got all of the shelves put together.
Bought boards at Home Depot
and made new shelves.
And it's been ok.
Not great, but ok.
Earlier this fall
the district bought us
a whole bunch of new guided reading books.
Several thousand dollars worth.
And they are lovely
but we don't have shelf space for them.
I put them in magazine boxes
and put them in front of the shelves.
But I have been told they need to be shelved.
And it will mean moving
every single book
in the book room.
Then relabelling every box.
And we are going to run out of shelves.
And it feels totally overwhelming.

I have a lot to do this spring break
but that organizational stuff
totally eludes me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


It's 3:30 on Friday afternoon and spring break has officially begun. The mariachi band is practicing, but other than that, few students remain. Teachers are clearing out pretty quickly today too. I, however, am not leaving. The Personnel Committee is conducting interviews for next year, starting at 3:45 and we will be at school until almost 7:00.

I walk into the library, where we are interviewing and am surprised to see one of our eighth graders sitting at a computer. M turns around when she sees me.

"Dr. Wilcox, do you know how to spell Holocaust?"

I spell it for her.

"Yeah," she says, "that's how I spelled it. I found three definitions and I'm not sure which one is right." She reads the three definitions to me.
1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.2.a. Holocaust The genocide of European Jews and other groups by the Nazis during World War II: b. A massive slaughter: 3. A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.
"You're trying to find out about Hitler, and Germany, and the Jews, right?" I say, still not entirely sure where the conversation is going.

"Yeah" she says. "I never heard about that before," she says. "I never heard about the Holocaust.

"No?" I say, a little surprised that this smart, smart girl, one of our top eighth grade students, has somehow missed such an important event in history. "I think it's the second definition you want, then."

M continues. "And I don't think anyone else in my family did either. I think I'm the first person in my family to hear about the Holocaust."

I am surprised again. "You are?" I say.

"Yeah," she responds. "My dad and mom never finished high school. They don't know about stuff like this." Then she seems worried that I will think badly of her family. "But they are really smart," she says. "My dad is a really good mechanic. And my mom knows a lot about people. She's really good with people."

"There are all different kinds of smart," I say. "It sounds like your mom and dad really are smart people."

"There are a lot of websites for the Holocaust," M says, eyeing the really long list that has appeared on the screen. I look over her shoulder and see that the second or third one down is for the National Holocaust Museum.

"Try this one," I say. "I'm sure that will be a good resource."

"Did it really happen?" M asks. "Why do you think people would do that to each other?"

I tell her I don't know, that I am sometimes surprised by how people can be so incredibly cruel.

"But what did they do in those camp things? What were they? Did they just work?"

I try my best to explain, as simply as I can, in the two minutes I have, a little about concentration camps. That people were taken there against their will. Because of their religion. That sometimes others who helped the Jews were taken too. That all of their things were taken away. That the conditions were horrific- crowded, no beds, no food, no heat, families split up, etc. That many were killed. And that others died because of the conditions.

"And is it true that they killed people in the showers? Did they really do that?"

I think she is talking about gassing people. I try again to explain it.

My principal comes in on the end of the conversation, all ready to interview.  She stops long enough to give M a hug. "You doing ok?" she asks, completely unaware of the Holocaust discussion, and referring instead, to a difficult family situation that I have only heard rumors about.

I can tell that M is not quite done with her research. "Do you have a computer at home?" I ask.

"We don't have internet," she says.

I tell her she can go to the library and use the computers for free.

"I don't have a card," M says. "The computers were down when we went to get one. We have to go back again."

"Maybe you can do that over break," I say.

I head into the library to interview and M heads out the door.

And once again, the reality of life in an urban school completely breaks my heart. A smart kid. Bilingual. Good grades. Plenty smart enough to go to college. With a family who loves her.

And yet a kid who doesn't have an extensive pool of background knowledge. Or the resources to acquire it. That can't even get the system to work well enough to get a library card.

And I wonder, for about the millionth time, about this land of opportunity.

Friday, March 27, 2015


bird’s nest graces

and half a world away
lost soul slams plane
into mountain range
and robs world
of joy and love and gifts
one hundred fifty others
might have left

and yellow daffodils
purple crocus
pink hyacinths
green grass
dash color
against earth
that has been
brown and white
for months

and crazed killer
carves girl baby
out of pregnant mama’s womb
and senator-minister
defames name of God
with remarks
that surely
do not reflect
Abba Father’s
loving heart

and six-year-olds giggle
at toes and underwear
black dog knows boundless joy
when leash comes out
spinach white cheese pizza
leaves slightly garlicky taste
on my tongue

and empty rooms 
echo silence
and the ache
in my heart
is endless
and there are no tears
left to cry

And I wonder
how so much perfection
and imperfection

can co-exist

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Court again.
I arrive around 10 
for the 10:30 docket time.
The boys do not arrive until 10:28. 
The walk across the courtroom with their sister.
I have not seen them for two weeks.
They do not make eye contact.
They look thin and I wonder
what they have been eating.
Both boys need haircuts.
The judge calls our case numbers.
There are three.
One for each of the boys.
One for their sister. 
I sit on one side of the podium.
The boys sit on the other.
The judge tells me that I can decide
whether they should come home.
Now. Or in 30 days. Or sixty. Or 90.
Or six months or a year.
I want them to come home right now. 

I want to feed them.
I want to send them for hair cuts.
I want to hold them 
in my arms and comfort away
all the hurt of the past few weeks.

Instead I draw a deep breath.
Wipe away a tear.
I still have not heard apologies.
I know, despite what they say
that they are still smoking.
Pretty much every day.
Neither has a full time job.
I feel like I need to say something.
"When I adopted you in 2003
I say, "It was forever.
And it is still forever.
But I am not willing to live with addicts."
And so I say, "90 days."
Kadeem protests.
"I was living with her before.
And now we are basically homeless."
I wonder what is happening with his father.
Later I hear rumors that Isaiah 
is living with an older brother.
The judge does not blink. 
"Ninety days," she says firmly.
Isaiah says nothing.
Accepts his fate.
The boys' sister does not want to see me again. Ever.
She just wants to stay in touch with her brothers.
And that is fine with me.
I sit alone as the clerk finishes copying the paperwork.
The boys are across the courtroom.
Then I head to the car.

When I get back to school
I call the boys.
I am not supposed
to have any contact
but I cannot stand it.
I need to tell them 
I love them.
Sometimes love is way too hard.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Does a hyphen really matter?

When I adopted the boys in 2006
Son #1 wanted to keep his last name.
Son #2 wanted to take my last name.
I wanted them to have the same last name.
They are brothers.
People should know that.
And so we compromised. 
Rather than take their last name, Hendrix
Or my last name, Wilcox
We hyphenated the two.

Since that day,
nine years ago
I've often wondered
if we did the right thing.
First, it's a huge logistical hassle.
Careless clerks omit the hyphen.
Bank tellers ignore it. 
Computer systems hate it. 
I can't begin to count 
the number of hours
I've spent waiting on hold
as people hunt for my boys--
can you give me a date of birth?
SSN? Middle name?

More than inconvenience 
I wonder about matters of the heart
Did the boys think
that Hendrix-Wilcox
means I wasn't willing
to jump in with both feet?
Did they think
I would bail
if being a family
became less than palatable?
Did they think I wasn't serious 
about being a forever mom?

I wonder about that hyphen. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


So tonight I'm thinking about the kids that are easily overlooked.
Take E, for example.
An eighth grader
One of the shortest kids in the class for a long time.
In the last year he has shot up
Now he's average or maybe even a little above
his weight hasn't caught up with his height yet
and I wonder how his mom ever finds jeans that fit
that long skinny body
Not one of the top students in his class
but definitely a kid who shows up every single day.
A kid who works hard in class
and does his homework.
A kid who you can always count on.

I make a point to talk with kids like E.
Try to connect with them.
Try to let them know
I see them.

Yesterday I saw E in the cafeteria.
And realized it had been a few days
since we had touched base.
I said hello.
Asked him where he was going to high school.
(My district has a choice policy
and our eighth graders head off
to any number of places).
"I don't know,"  he says.
"No one has sent me a letter yet."
I am surprised.
This is a good kid.
Solid academics.
Absolutely clean behavior record.
"It will come soon," I assure him.
But I wonder how he feels at lunch
when his best buddies all discuss
their high school admittance letters
and he has nothing
to contribute
to the conversation.

This morning
I see him again.
"Any word?"
He shakes his head no and
I tell him I will talk to our high school selection person.
And see if she has heard anything.
I see her a few minutes later
on my way out to recess duty.
She tells me she is sure
he has been accepted
at his first choice.
She will check after lunch.

E makes a point of finding me on the playground
probably twenty minutes since I have last seen him.
"Did you see her?" he asks
and I know how this issue
is eating at his heart.
I tell him that I will check again
after lunch. Which I do.
I think the counselor is getting tired of me
but she consults her list
and there he is listed
on the school that is his first choice.
I ask if I can bring him to talk to her.
She looks at me a little strangely.
"I was going to go up there in a little bit."

"I'll bring him to you. Save you a trip."
I hurry up the stairs. Locate him in science class.
Tell him the counselor wants to talk to him.
He looks nervous and I assure him that it is good news.
We make our way back down to the office
and the counselor shows E
his name on the list.
His smile could light the whole school.
A really good kid
who will be going to his first choice high school
with his two best friends.

I see you, E, I see you.

Monday, March 23, 2015


my head hurts
my throat hurts
my chest hurts
every bone in my body hurts

i went to work today
and wished and wished and wished
all day that i had not
i staggered home afterwards
stopping only long enough
to pick up some ibuprofen
that i gulped down in the car
in the parking lot at walgreen's

when  got home
i emailed my Bible study leader
to tell her i wasn't going tonight
and now i am laying on the couch
with the family room spinning

while my black lab
gazes mournfully
into my eyes
begging begging begging
for her evening walk

she has clearly never heard
the expression
sick as a dog

Sunday, March 22, 2015


A sunny spring Saturday in Denver. I teach, run by home to change clothes, then head downtown to  for Book Club. Other members have come and gone, but six of us have been meeting for almost twenty years. Today's book is, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Tony Doerr. I loved it and can't wait to talk about it.

Union Station has been open six or eight months, but I have not been down there yet. I wander through a huge lobby, looking for a what seems to be a non-existent piano that Val has designated as the meeting area, and wondering how I will ever connect with anyone. My ADD self, which doesn't usually do enclosed shopping malls, kicks in, and I struggle to find the piano, because there is so much else to look at- people, little shops (Hey, there's a sign for Tattered Cover Books, did they move over here?), gorgeous antique architecture and fixtures.  

Just when I am about to ask someone if there is another lobby with a piano, I hear someone calling my name. It is Brenna, who has staked a claim on a quieter corner. Soon Brenna spots Val across the lobby and calls on her cell phone.

"Turn left! No, left again. Turn around. We can see you." 

Brenna and I laugh as Val follows the somewhat convoluted directions, finally spots us and makes her way across the lobby. Brenna and Karen head off to find a beer, while I hold down our encampment in the lobby. 

We know Karen is not coming- she is at a funeral in Saint Louis, but Terri is supposed to be arriving by light rail. No one has heard from her, but after fifteen minutes, we decide not to wait any longer. It is time to bring our final member into the conversation.

Laura is not in Denver right now. She is eight or ten thousand, or maybe a million miles away in Hong Kong, doing a two year stint as director of professional development at an international school corporation. In December, we chose our books for the next six months, so she could buy/download them. And every month, she joins us via Skype or FaceTime or telephone, from her apartment in China. Brenna is our technology guru, who makes it all come together.

Today it takes several attempts. No connection via Skype. Nothing via FaceTime. "I'm going to try calling," says Brenna. But then Laura's face pops up on the iPad. It is early in Hong Kong, only four on Sunday morning and she is still in bed. We wonder for a minute why we decided to meet at two, and promise that next month we will meet a little later. 

Laura assures us she doesn't care that we have called so early and reaches for her glasses and her book, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Tony Doerr. Let the book talk begin! Terri arrives and somehow manages to find us in that huge lobby. She makes her way to where the iPad can see her. 

Some months, depending on what has gone on in people's lives, and on people's interest in the book, we just talk, and the book kind of takes a backseat, but today we are ready to talk book. This meeting has been rescheduled several times and Brenna, Laura, and I finished the book over a month ago. Val, an avid reader, has read several other books, including THE GOLDFINCH, but has not finished ALL THE LIGHT. 

A spirited conversation ensues as we make our way through the book.

"What page are you on?"

"Wasn't that the grandfather, it was her grandfather on the radio, wasn't it?"

"What actually happened to the climax?"

"Could you believe how it all came together, right here?"

"What page is that?

"Do you think that's really where the whole thing came together?"

And so we sit, four fifty-plus women, in the middle of Union Station, surrounded by young and beautiful people, talking about our books, for almost an hour. Finally, Brenna's phone is almost out of juice, Val has to head off to Fort Collins for an evening with a new friend, and Laura is ready to go back to bed. We make plans for next month, BOSTON GIRL, April 11, place to be determined, I think. We say goodbye to Laura, "Love you sweetie! Miss you! Only a couple of more months until June!" and the screen goes blank.

Brenna, Terri and I head across the street for a burger and continue the conversation- books, life, Laura's dog, my boys.

We have been reading talking books and loving each other for almost twenty years. 

Book club. 

Book Club, twenty years, Union Station, Denver

Saturday, March 21, 2015


My boys are gone
but they are everywhere.

I open the front door
expecting to see two big bodies
sitting at the dining room table
side by side
rapping or watching videos.
But the chairs are empty.
My boys are gone
but they are everywhere.

I walk into the kitchen
Mentally making a list
of things we need
from the grocery store.
Almond milk. Mangoes. Cashews.
Sprite. Sour cream and onion potato chips.
I stop myself.
I don't eat any of that.
My boys are gone
but they are everywhere.

I clean the bathroom.
that they shared.
Old Spice. Hair gel. A razor.
Hair in the sink.
My boys are gone
but they are everywhere.

I turn on the television
BET comes on immediately
I hunt for the remote 
and find it 
in the cushions 
of my son's favorite chair
A dirty glass sits next to the chair
My boys are gone
but they are everywhere. 

I open the dryer
and pull out
A pair of boxer shorts.
One basketball sock.
An East High t-shirt.
My boys are gone
but they are everywhere.

I head out into the backyard
and am confronted
by the window
Zay cracked
when he was playing
with a friend's bb gun
and there's a hole in the porch
where Kadeem dropped
the basketball hoop
when he was trying to
stand it upright.
My boys are gone
But they are everywhere.

I miss them.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Friday night and I am exhausted
It has been a long long week.
Days spent committing
educational malpractice
in seventy or eighty or ninety minute units.
A couple of late afternoon
and evening meetings.
A night teaching
for the ELA department.

And then evenings
missing my boys.
Wondering whether they have found jobs.
Or joined the military.
What they are eating.
If they have gotten hair cuts.
How much they are smoking.
Whether they miss me.
And know
that I will always
consider myself
their mom.

I want to sit on the porch
and watch the sun go down.
Drink a glass of wine
(which I never do alone)
Maybe read for a little while.
Watch a little basketball
Then go to bed. Early.
And sleep for about twenty hours straight.

I walk the dog
to the neighborhood grocery
buy a couple of diet cokes
and some oatmeal cookies
then head home
and turn on my computer.
I have papers to read
and a powerpoint to prepare.
I have to teach tomorrow morning
and my students deserve
far more
than I have to give
right now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


J is sitting alone at a  table
when I walk into kindergarten this morning.
Everyone else has had breakfast
and moved on to centers,
but J was late,
 and so he sits there,
eating breakfast pizza
all by himself.

I sit down across from him.
"How are you doing?" I ask
just making conversation.

"I am not fine"
J says.

I am a little surprised
at his adamant tone of voice.

"Really?" I ask.
"What is going on?"

J's chin trembles.
"My mom is in jail,"
he says.

"I am so sorry, J.
That's so hard.
It's so hard."

I think back
to how sad
and worried
I felt all weekend.
I think about the gold jumpsuits.
I think about going to the jail
to visit via video cam.

And then I give J a hug.

We are two friends
missing the people
we love'

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Six years old
he sits criss-cross applesauce
on the multicolored carpet
in first grade
best friend Justin
on his right
I wonder how the school gods
could have put two such naughty little boys
next to each other alphabetically
but he clasps his hands
determinedly willing
never still body
to pay attention
and those big brown eyes
are so, so sparkly

Nine years old
he pedals fast
ahead of me
on his bike
through Washington Park
then gets takes a wrong turn
and is momentarily lost
When I find him
at the fork in the park road
his face is wet with tears
"But I remembered you told me
Jesus would always be with me
and I just prayed and you came."

Twelve years old
we drive by the middle school.
"I don't think I'm going to go there,"
he says to me.
"I'm just going to come
back to Green Valley
with you and Kadeem."

Fifteen and I drop him off
at the football field
his first high school practice
"Do you want me to get out of the car?"
I ask
more than a little nervous
"Naw," he says,
squaring his shoulders
and walking away.
"I got this."

junior captain
takes handoff
from younger brother
and then strong legs
fly down the field
head is held high
as he makes his way
through the post-game crowd
accepting congratulatory hugs
People ask me if I am afraid
he will be hurt
I am terrified
on every play
but he is so happy here.

graduated (barely)
he and his roommate
pack the car
and head one thousand miles
south and west
We hug goodbye
in a hotel parking lot
"I got this," he tells me,
"You just gotta trust me.
I got this."

And now
at twenty-one
I watch
as he is brought
in to the courtroom
in handcuffs and shackles
head bends lower and lower
as the attorney explains
the charges against him
he takes off his glasses
and wipes away tears
more than once
and I wonder where my boy has gone

his eyes were so sparkly

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SLICE #15- A Play in Many Acts

So, first there's the act where a single mom, strung out on drugs, loses custody of her four kids.

And then there's the act where those four broken kids spend several months sleeping on a cot in a garage in their first foster home.

And another act where they spend four years with a foster mother who beats them, and doesn't feed them.

And then there is the act where the assistant principal from their school takes them home with her. And tries to put the pieces of their little hearts back together again. Deals with food hoarding. Deals with meltdowns in Target. Tucks them in every night. Tries to teach them that she will always be there. And adopts them.

And then there is the act where the adoptive mom cooks dinners. And does laundry. And homework. And goes to parent teacher conferences. And buys sports gear (a lot). And takes them to sports practices (many). And cooks pots and pots and pots of spaghetti and chicken fettucini for team dinners. And cheers for them at games. And spends vacations in Kansas and Memphis and Las Vegas and San Diego for basketball tournaments. And sits in emergency rooms when they are hurt.

And then there is middle school act.  Where they spend hours at the kitchen table every night doing math homework. When she tries to teach them how to work hard.Stay away from peer pressure. Buys great snacks so kids will come. Has middle school sleep overs every weekend. Deals with their surly moods.

And the high school act. More of the same. The high school football hangout.  Lots of ugly parent teacher conferences. Teaches them to drive. Buys cars. Fights about marijuana. Deals with insurance company after accidents. Deals with legal issues. Transfers one to alternative school. Two diplomas.

And then the act where she sends them off to college. Drives to Phoenix. Hugs them goodbye. Cries. Misses them. Horribly. Sends lots of money for groceries. Sends care packages. Worries. Prays.

And then the act where they both come back to Denver. Do not work. Do not go to school. Smoke lots of pot. Sell "unnecessary" things like the lawnmower (which is, I guess, kind of unnecessary in January)  to make money for more pot. Fight with their mother about the no jobs and pot. A lot.

And then there is the act where both boys make poor choices and end up in the county jail. And the adoptive mom tells them she will always be their mom, but they cannot come back until some things changes. And she cries as she watches the locksmith.

And the act where the adoptive mom goes to court to watch her sons be charged. A quick glance of recognition as he sees adoptive mom, but then he will not look at her. And she cries as the bailiff gives her older son a box of kleenex because he is crying.

And the act where the adoptive mom is sitting in the court room. And another woman keeps making faces at her and mouthing words. Acting like she is mad at the adoptive mom. And the adoptive mom has no idea who the other woman is. Or what she wants. Or why she could possibly be mad.

And  there is a man in the courtroom. About fifty. Very tall. Dressed in a uniform from a local car dealer. Maybe a mechanic. She notices him but doesn't think much about it. There are lots of mothers and father sin the courtroom.

And then there is an act where Son #2 is brought into the court room. And he keeps mouthing things to the man and the woman. And at first the adoptive mom wonders who he is talking to. There are several young women in the courtroom and she wonders if he has a girlfriend she doesn't know about.

And then there the act she figures it out. The boys' biological mom. And Son #2's biological father. They leave the courtroom. And she thinks they are probably in the lobby and she goes out. But they are gone.

And then she walks back to the parking lot because her cell phone is in her car and she needs to call a police detective. And runs into the father. And introduces herself. He hates the bright sunshine, just like his son. And they duck into a coffee shop and he buys her a coke and they talk for an hour and decide the boys will go live with him.

And then there is the act where she drives downtown for the third time that day for visiting hours at the jail. And she is not sure whether the boys will want to see her, but she is especially worried about Son #1. The sheriff explains video visitation. Wait. Again. When the inmate appears, pick up the receiver. Son #2 is first. He begs her, repeatedly, to bail him out. Which she tells him, repeatedly, will happen tomorrow after the charges are dropped. He wants to talk the whole thirty minutes. Tells her every few minutes how much time they still have. Does not stop talking until the monitor turns off after thirty minutes.

And then there is the act where Son #1 comes onto the screen. And asks her, several times, why she has come. And tells her to bail him out. And hangs up. After 5 minutes and 44 seconds. And she watches as he runs back up the stairs in his gold prison jumpsuit. And wonders if she has said goodbye to him for the last time.

Life. A play in many acts.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I've missed the last two days slicing.
I'm sad, because the last three or four years, I've made it all the way through.
I have been in the middle of a huge "situation" with the boys.
And it's been really, really hard.
And it looks like they are going to be going to live
with Kadeem's biological father,
at least for a while
I had never met before today,
when he suddenly appeared
and maybe it will be better
at least for the time being.

Friday, March 13, 2015


I'm participating in the month-long Slice of Live writing challenge at Two Writing Teachers.  This year over three hundred teachers are slicing every single day for the entire month of March. Head over there and read some more slices.

And then most Fridays, I participate in POETRY FRIDAY. If you are in the mood for a little poetry, head on over to Laura Shovan's Author Amok. Her featured poem, "Shame is the Dress I Wear" is gorgeous. Can't wait until April, when Laura will be featuring poems about clothes and Mary Lee will be writing poems about emotions.

I've been administering the PARCC test all week, proctoring back-to-back-to-back sessions for a whole bunch of different grade levels.  As a proctor, I've had lots and lots and lots of time to think…

"The Things That Matter"

On Wednesday, I heard sad news about a friend 
we had gotten our administrative licenses together 
and then she went on to be a principal
and she was kind 
and she loved to laugh 
and always put kids first
a year and a half ago she retired to spend
more time with her husband and grandchildren
And yesterday, her husband 
shared this post on Facebook
 It is with great sadness that I share with you 
that my beloved wife, 
and best friend Anita 
passed away the morning of the 10th of March. 
Preliminary examinations are that it was heart failure. 
She died peacefully in her sleep. 
She will be missed. 

and this morning I'm thinking about 
kindness and laughter 
and relationships and best friends

this morning I'm thinking about
the things that matter

And yesterday one of our sixth graders 
came in late,  like she often does,
holding onto the hand 
of her kindergarten brother
like she always does
because she is basically raising him 
while their mother
struggles to feed her family 
and put clothes on their backs
and on her late slip she wrote, "Family Problems,"
and when the teacher asked her if she wanted to talk
she burst into tears and they went out in the hall
and she said that her grandmother only has four days to live
and her teacher hugged her and loved on her and they cried
and then, brave girl that she is 
she went down to the auditorium 
and she sat down at a computer 
and read nonfiction articles 
and wrote for 90 minutes straight
on a big deal test 
that is really no big deal at all

and this morning I'm thinking about 
heart and perseverance
and putting one foot in front of the other
when life is really, really hard

this morning I'm thinking 
about the things that matter

And on Mundane Faithfulness,
a blog I follow, 
the wife of a pastor, 
mother of four children
her oldest daughter maybe twelve,
is spending her final few weeks 
lying in a hospital bed
loving on her husband and children
as metastasized breast cancer ravages her body
and two or three times a week 
friends write guest posts 
on her blog about lessons 
she has taught them
about hospitality 
and kindness 
and faithfulness 
and love

So this morning I'm thinking 
about faith
about living
 and dying 
and friendships
and legacies 

and so this morning I'm thinking 
about the things that matter

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2015