Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ode to Middle School

So the adjustment to middle school is a little more than anyone anticipated. 

Part of it has to do with the challenging academics. 
The material is a little tougher. 
The expectations are higher, as they should be. 

But the real issue?  Organization. 
[Not my strong suit, by the way, which is no small irony, since I teach a course in study skills.  For a living.]

But it’s time to get our game faces on.
And we are getting really serious around our house.
About the agenda. 
About recording assignments.
About bringing home the right books at night.
About getting our work done.
About doing it well.
About putting that work back into the binder for tomorrow.
About turning it in.  On time.
About not cramming things down to the bottom of the locker.  
Or the backpack.  (Because while doing a clean-out the other day, one of my little darlings found a baggie of a-substance-formerly-known-as-grapes.  Fortunately for all of us, the Ziploc was intact.  I counted this as a blessing.  Really.)

And who's in charge of all this serious-ness?
I don’t even have to say it:
Mama has to wear her game face, too.
Gotta remember when to pick up the kids.
Gotta check that agenda.
Gotta confirm that what’s on the agenda matches what’s on the teacher websites.
Gotta make sure all the math problems get done.
All the permission forms get signed.
All the tests get studied for.
All the papers go back to the right spot.
All the half-eaten snacks get thrown away.

Plus provide yummy-but-healthy after-school-snacks.
Plus prepare something-that-resembles-a-nutritious-dinner.
Plus connect with my sweetheart husband when he gets home.
Plus make sure the dog gets taken outside.
Plus keep things moving, so we can get to evening activities.  On time.
Plus ignore the papers that are waiting to be graded.
After the homework is done.
After the dinner is eaten.
After the softball game has been won.  Or lost.
After the dishes are cleaned up.
After the kids are hugged on, sometimes prayed with, and sent to bed.

Every.  Single.  Afternoon.

With a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Well, not yesterday.
I was just concentrating on the serious part.
The stressed-out part.
The Mama’s-gonna-make-sure-it-all-gets-done-and-gets-done-right-no-matter-what-it-takes part.
There wasn’t a song to be heard.
Or a smile to be seen.
My own all-too-serious was silencing everything else.

Silencing the banter.
Silencing the “Mom, will you quiz me on this?” invitation.
Silencing the silliness that can make the work bearable.
Silencing our spirits.

Well, I knew it.

So I went outside.
Just to get a little taste of this delicious, pre-Fall weather. 
Just to catch a glimpse of the blue sky.

And I saw it.

Last summer, my son and I decided we wanted some home-grown vegetables.  So we made our purchase.  One tomato plant. (My family doesn’t even like tomatoes, but that’s another story.)

Not wanting to overwork ourselves, we did virtually nothing for this plant.
No fertilizer.
No special watering.
No prime spot in the sunlight.
We just put the pot on the back patio and left it there.

And—perhaps not wanting to overwork itself—our little plant gave us a grand total of maybe 5 cherry tomatoes.  Which was okay.  We laughed about our scant harvest and threw away the remains of our purchase in early November.

Here’s what we didn’t know:
Somehow, that not-so-fruitful plant left behind a seed.
And this particular seed is a determined little guy.
Because it decided to grow.
Right where it fell.
In the dark dirt underneath our patio steps.
Somehow, this little seed managed to sprout.
And the stalk from that seed has muscled its way through a crack in the concrete.
(It was hungry to see the sun.)
Over the course of the growing season, it created miracles.
Yellow blossoms.
Then fruit.
First like little green marbles.
Then bigger.
Then (finally) bright red, juicy cherry tomatoes.
More than I can use in my dinner salad.

But just enough for today.
Just enough to pop into my mouth on a not-so-great afternoon.
Just enough to remind me:   Don’t postpone joy.
Just enough to sing a quiet song: 
Right where you’ve been planted.
Stretch towards the sun from that spot.
That will be just enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

{Okay, here's a confession:  
Posting these words is like putting something precious in a handmade canoe and shoving it into the big, old ocean.  There's no way to know where--or whether--my boat made shore.  
If it did, though--if something here "landed" in your heart, gave you a glimmer of hope--I'd be seriously blessed if you'd say so in a comment.  You can think of it as sending a little canoe back in my direction.  :-)  }