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Tag Archives: Gratitude

The Two Little Piggies

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I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. The hours are horrible. The pay is a pittance. The work never stops – nights, weekends, vacations. There are times where it is as if no one wants to hear a word I am saying, and all I am doing is putting out one behavior fire after another. Not to mention all the times I have had to tell  the Three Monkeys that I can’t do something with them or for them because I have had something to do for the class.

It is EXHAUSTING.

And then there are times when it all is so incredibly breathtakingly amazing.

This is the story of the two little piggies – guinea piggies that is – and how an act of kindness lifted my heart in so many ways.

Way back in August, my students and I decided we wanted to get guinea pigs for our classroom. We had everything we needed. Cage? Check. Food? Check. Hay? Check. Guinea pigs? Ummm…

It’s not that I didn’t want them. I did! But, guinea pigs cost money. And with the pay cut I took in order to work at this little piece of academic heaven, I never had the spare change to go get them.

That damned empty cage sitting in my classroom mocked me every single day.

And then this week something serendipitous happened. I came across a listing for two male guinea pigs (cage included) FREE to a good home. Needless to say, I jumped on it. FINALLY we were going to get our piggies! I went to school the next day and excitedly told my class the news. The squeals of delight filled the room. We couldn’t wait!

That evening I took Monkey #1 (now 15 1/2, if you can believe it) and The Middle Monkey (almost 14!) to go pick up our new furry friends, Sergeant and Lieutenant – AKA Sarge and Louie. Together, the boys and I loaded the cage into the car and headed home. Upon arriving, we unloaded the cage to the kitchen table where they would wait until the next day when I would move them to their new home – my classroom.

There was just one little hitch in the plan. Something unexpected happened. In the span of about 10 minutes, Monkey #1 fell head=over-heels-hopelessly-in-love with Sarge and Louie. The very guinea pigs that were destined to go to my class the very next day.

All Wednesday evening, Monkey 1, my sweet little Aspie Monkey, was crouched on a kitchen chair, arms wrapped around his knees, gazing through the open cage door at Sarge and Louie.  He was so calm. So peaceful. Nothing, not meds wearing off, not his brother being very 13, was ruffling him. Occasionally he would tentatively extend one finger and stroke one of the piggies.

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“But, I love them,”

And then came the words that broke my heart. “I wish I could keep them,” he quietly whispered.

“But, baby, I’ve already told my class about them, and they are very excited about the piggies coming. You know they are meant to go to school.”

“I know,” he sighed. “But, I love them. I know I just met them. I can’t explain it. I love them.”

Oy.

I tried to make light, but I could tell, this was no ordinary love. This was a deep piggy love, and I – the worst mother in the whole wide world – was ripping them away from him. Not that he told me that. But he might as well have, because that is exactly how I felt.

The next morning, I brought the piggies to school. More squeals of delight. I told my school kiddos the story of Monkey 1 and his love of the piggies and how he had wanted to keep them. I don’t know why I told them. Except that maybe I have a case of verbal diarrhea and just talk even when I shouldn’t. But I did.

Today I got a message from one of my parents. Her daughter had told her about Monkey 1 falling in love with the piggies. Then the sweet girl asks her mother if there was a way that we could get other pets for the class and return the piggies to my son. Because obviously God wanted my sweet son and the sweet piggies to be together. The piggies belonged to him. Not the class.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was literally speechless. All that came were tears.

In the hours that followed, that mother asked and searched, and has now located another pair of guinea pigs for my class to have. All so my sweet Aspie Monkey can keep Sarge and Louie.

His response when I told him was to bury his head in my shoulder and repeatedly say, “I get to keep my boys. I get to keep my piggies.”

Yes you do, my sweet boy. Yes you do.

So while it means there will be more living things in my house, every single time I see those little furballs, every time I see that little smile on Monkey #1’s face, I will think of the sweet girl who knew it was meant to be – even when I didn’t.

And I’ll remember the time my student and her family taught me a lesson in kindness and compassion I’ll never forget.

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Happy Birthday

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Yesterday was my mother’s birthday.  And with all the craziness of the past couple of days (you know, what with the break-in and all), I failed to mention it when I dropped the monkeys off at her house yesterday morning.  Not exactly a stellar moment. I was well on my way to work when I remembered and gave her a quick call to send birthday greetings.  She was in the car, on her way back to her house after taking the Girl Child to school to then pick up Monkey #1 to then take him to school.

You see, that’s what she does. She ferries the monkeys for me on my days with them. Well, that’s just one of the things she does. She does ever so much more for me – for all the monkeys – and I am afraid I don’t let her know how much we all appreciate it.

Among the many things she does, she:

Is a chauffeur for the monkeys. She takes them to school.  She picks them up from school. She takes them to the doctor and to the orthodontist. She takes the Girl Child to dance three days a week. She puts miles and miles on her car every week – and never asks for gas money.

She is the homework manager.  She keeps track of missing assignments and project due dates and science fairs and…and…and…well, everything.

She is a teacher. When it was decided that the Middle Monkey had not transitioned well to middle school and perhaps needed to try on-line learning,  she has stepped out of her retirement and is serving as his learning coach. She spends all day cajoling an at times quite reticent (and quite loud about it) 12 year-old to complete his tasks. She is having to relearn high school algebra (yes, he was placed in a math class 2 grade levels above his own), just so she can assist him. I know it hasn’t been fun, but she’s doing it – for him. Because he needed it.

She is my errand runner. Dropping off prescriptions, dropping off the dry cleaning, picking up things I might need from the store but forgot to get.

She is a Dance Nonna. She takes care of all things dance related for the Girl Child. Other than ferrying her to class, she makes sure there are tights and shoes and costumes and rehearsal schedules.

She’ll bring us dinners and does the laundry and sometimes even surprise me by cleaning my kitchen.

Why, you might ask, does she do these things?  Well, because she wants to help and to feel the she matters.

And, yes. I repaid her by forgetting her birthday.

Ugh.

So, my sweet Momma. Our sweet Nonna Monkey. Thank you for all you do for me. Thank you for all you do for us. I know there are times when I don’t express how very much I appreciate you. I know there are times when I seem annoyed. But, I could not manage my life or the lives of The Monkeys without you. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday.

I love you.

A Little Thanks Giving


This year, I had my students come up with 5 things they were thankful for being in their lives.  The catch was – they could not be the “typical” things that everyone else would have.  I wanted them to think about the little things.  Then they had to give the reason WHY they were thankful for it.  It was surprisingly hard for them.  They all wanted to put family and friends, etc – and even then they had a hard time telling me WHY they were thankful.  I tried to do one as a sample for them – and well, it WAS hard.

So, in an attempt at fairness and never asking my students to do something I wouldn’t do, here are my “thankful fors” – some traditional, some unusual, but all from my heart.

  • I am thankful for music, because it completes my soul and without it, I do not think I could live.
  • I am thankful for ocean and the beach, because when my world seems all jumbled and too much to handle, they make me feel small and humble and ground me.
  • I am thankful for my creativity in all it’s forms of expression (singing, writing, jewelry making, etc.), because it gives my hands something to do and keeps my brain from exploding.
  • I am thankful for ‘Tator Tots (good fried ones, not stupid ol’ mushy baked ones), because they make my mouth happy.
  • I am thankful for BOOKS, for the crack of the spine and the smell of the pages and the weight in my hands and because they can help me escape my little life for awhile.
  • I am thankful for Facebook, because through it I have reconnected with people from all phases in my life and well, who needs to pay for a therapist when you’ve got all that free advise?!?
  • I am thankful for yellow flowers, because even on a cloudy day, they are like a little bit of sunshine here on Earth.
  • I am thankful for high heels, because they make me feel tall and sexy and mmmmm…
  • I am thankful for my former students, because when my current class is making me wonder why I should bother with continuing to teach, they remind me of the impact I made on their lives.  And even if I eventually do decide to move on to something else, the years I taught were worth it.
  • I am thankful for my ex-husband, The Father Monkey, because even though we are divorced, he has remained one of my dearest friends, and because he can still make me LAUGH.
  • I am thankful for my mother, Nonna Monkey, because while she makes me CRAZY, I could not manage my schedule without her.
  • I am thankful for my former relationship, because he reminded me how to truly love again.
  • I am thankful for Monkey #1, for his wit and intelligence and curiosity – and yes, even for his Asperger’s…
  • I am thankful for Monkey #2, because he is my little Huggy Monster and I am glad that at 10 and a half, he still wants to hug his Mommy IN FRONT OF HIS FRIENDS (I know that won’t last for much longer).
  • I am thankful for Monkey #3 – The Girl Child – for her vitality and joy for life.  She has two speeds, full on and asleep.  I wish I could embrace life like she does.

And now that I think about it, I am just THANKFUL.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and the negatives.  It becomes hard to see the forest for the trees.  But, as I look at things, as I look at my life, there is so much more than the bad.  So, why sully the good by focusing on the bad?

Maybe instead of only giving thanks on Thanksgiving, we should do it more frequently.  It just might give everything else a little more perspective.

It’s worth a try!