All so they can play chopsticks at a dinner party when they’re grown-up

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Two years ago my husband found an old-school, Russian piano teacher. He did this how he does everything. Complete tunnel vision until objective is achieved. There’s no giving up in parenting!  The first year was a comedy of errors full of Three’s Company type of misunderstandings due to her very thick accent (which my son calls her volume).  I’d sit in the other room and hear a lot of, “Svweetee..vould you try zat again?” “what? oh. try it again? ok.” …..”zank you” “what? oh. you’re welcome”.  She’s like the nicer, gentler, Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

It’s gotten better. But every summer we take a couple of months off.  To give the kids a break. To give Tatyana a break. And let’s be honest, to give me a break. But summer is officially over when she walks in at 6pm on a Tuesday night. Homework, projects, parent-teacher meetings all follow quickly after.

I snuck in the room tonight and recorded the below. This is what I will hear from 6pm to 7pm every Tuesday until next June. Help me.

Grab Bag

The last few days of school are here. No more lunches I didn’t make. No more papers I forgot to sign. No more reading logs I forgot to send in. Phew. It’s been a long year. 

I can’t wait to go into summer mom mode. Summer mom is so much nicer and calmer than, say, holiday-crunch mom – or worse yet, new-school-shopping-at-the-last-minute mom. 

I asked my boy what we should get for his teacher as a thank you gift – lord knows she deserves it.  He had just finished telling me about “John the bus driver”. He’s a Yankees fan with 3 grandkids. He likes to fish and go to the beach. He loves candy and once he let all the kids eat leftover Halloween candy on the way home. Thanks John. Ok – so I’m set with what to get for John. 

Me: “But what about Mrs. S?” I say. “What does she like?”. 

The boy: “ummm. She wears sweatshirts everyday.”

Me: “ok, like team sweatshirts? Does she love the Eagles or Phillies or something?”

The boy: “No. Not really. They’re like jean sweatshirts. All different colors.”

Me: “uh huh. ok.”

This exchange made me think of another exchange, one even less helpful than this one, about 12 years ago.

I had just joined a very tight-knit group of event planners who seemed to have a million inside jokes, were constantly making fun of each other, worked insanely hard, and had a great time to boot. The leader of this pack was a woman who would go on to become one of my closest friends, but who at that point, wanted very little to do with me. To gain some brownie points, I wanted to buy the perfect gift when her birthday came around.  I asked one of the other gals that had known her the longest what she liked. Here’s the list she emailed me:

  1. Pugs
  2. The Spanish Language
  3. Traveling

This is not a joke. This was the list. WTF. What was I supposed to do with this list? Pugs? The Spanish Language? Come on! 

Once I got over the outrageousness of it – I laughed my ass off. 

To this day, when someone asks me what to get for someone else, I have to hold myself back from saying,”the Spanish language or pugs”.

 

 

 

Here’s to you Mrs. Jones

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This is my boy and his all time favorite teacher – Mrs. Jones.

A second after 3rd grade started, the teacher he was supposed to have all year had a baby and Mrs. Jones stepped in. She immediately turned the room into an interactive, dynamic place – new rugs, new wall coverings, new everything. It wasn’t just room B-6, it was Hollywood.  All the “kiddos”, as she called them, were mini directors in their own productions. The room was covered in colorful, themed imagery.  She was animated and sweet and my boy (and the whole class) loved it.

As the year went on and we all got to know Mrs. Jones, it was clear how much she loved teaching and how much she loved our kids. Yes, all the usual teaching stuff happened. They learned, they read, they wrote.  But her class was more than that – it was fun. It was silly. It was over the top. And it was exactly what those little people needed. I’ve never had a teacher send me daily updates (sometimes more!) or pictures of fun things the class did that day.  We even got Sunday reminders of what the week ahead would look like. I don’t know about you, but I try very hard to forget where I work from Friday night to Sunday night, not her.  It was obvious that this wasn’t a burden for her.

This past week we got a letter from the school that our original teacher (who I’m sure is a wonderful person) is coming back for the last two months of school.

Devastation ensued.

9 year olds crying everywhere.

I still remember my favorite elementary school teacher, Mr. Walter Freeman. 4th Grade. He ate oranges at his desk every morning. When you went up to talk to him,  he had a citrus halo around him. Is it weird that almost all my good memories have food related connections? Anyway. He was dreamy.

Teaching is a calling. You need some sort of superpower to be able to walk into those classrooms every day and actually enjoy being there.

So good luck to you Mrs. Jones – there’s a lucky class out there waiting for your cheery voice.  Thanks for making a really good memory for my boy.