Tuesday, April 11, 2017


So we are testing this week, and I'm thinking, as I always do, about the qualities that can't be measured. One of the first things that comes to mind is kindness. It makes me sad that something so important can't be measured.

When I think about kindness, one of the he first people I think of is Miss A. A has been at our school since first grade. Reading, actually school, has never come easy to her, and she's worked and worked and worked. She's in fifth grade now, and has never scored proficient on any standardized measure.

But she is proficient in lots of things that matter.

Last Friday, for instance, I accompanied the fifth grade to the library. I grabbed a stack of books to book talk. They are all new books, and there were a few I didn't know. One of them, the title of which I can't remember, was about a young girl whose mother has left. The girl thinks if she wins a poetry slam, her mother will come home.

D is another student in that class. She is new to our school this year, the oldest girl in a family of four children. D's stepmother and step-siblings moved out of the country earlier this year. Now it's just D, her dad, and three siblings.

D immediately asked for that book. Someone else had already snagged it, but I did a little finagling, arranged a multi-book trade and was able to procure it for her. But then they got to the checkout counter and it turned out that D has two books checked out from her previous school. And the district has a new policy that no one who has old fines can check out any books until they are taken care of, so D couldn't have that book.

I understand the district rationale, but I also know that sometimes a kid just needs a book. Nevertheless, the person in charge of the library wasn't bending. D was crestfallen.

Miss A. was right behind her.

"Can I check out that book?" she asked.

I told her she could. And she put down one of the books she had chosen, and checked out the book D had wanted to read, then we went back upstairs.

On the way back up, I suggested that maybe Miss A could share her book with D. She looked at me like I was crazy. "I didn't check the book out for me," she said. "It's too hard. I checked it out so D could read it."

And with that she handed the book over to D.

"Here," she said. "Here's your book."

And for about the millionth time, I wondered why we never measure the things that really count.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


So it's sounding like I might become a military mom. Air Force, to be exact. And I'm terrified.

My younger son went and met with a recruiter today. Took some kind of a preliminary test. Discovered that he was smart enough to be in the Special Forces. Made me dig out his birth certificate tonight, so he can take it, and his diploma to the recruiting office tomorrow.

And I have to tell you I have very mixed emotions.

On one hand, he has got to do something. For the past four or five years, since his senior year in high school, it's pretty much been one failure after another. Two different junior colleges. Motorcycle mechanic school. A zillion different jobs that he likes the first day, and quits the second or third. He's been going nowhere fast for awhile. The military might be really good. Structure. Discipline. Male role models.

And at the same time, I am absolutely terrified. I don't want him to go to war. I am afraid he would come back with missing body parts. Or with more PTSD than he already has. I am afraid he wouldn't come back. I don't know if his older brother could bear it, if he didn't come back.

And yet, at the same time, he has to do something.

So this morning, when I knew he was going to the recruiting meeting, I texted him and wished him luck. And called him afterwards. Tried to feign excitement when he showed me the recruiting pamphlet. Tried not to look at the picture of the person holding a very large machine gun. Tried not to think about where someone might need a gun that big.

I might become a military mom.

And I'm terrified.