Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby Cheeks

Who doesn't like babies?  I smile at babies. I'm happy for people when they have babies..... most of the time.  But I never really got excited to see baby pictures or even really cared much in general about other people's children unless they were students or family or friends.  Intuitively, I knew babies were a big deal so I respected them and smiled for them and generally felt good knowing they were out there.

Since having more direct experience with the birth of a child I get much more excited for people.  I have gotten literally giddy for hugely pregnant women, any-day-now women, when I see them.  I am full of pleasure when I see a happy baby with parents.  It's neat to be able to sense the reality of the specialness in a child's existence where before it was a bit more vague.  And this led to the following...
The principal of my school has a very cute picture in her office of her grand daughter with those adorable cheek proportions only available to babies.  Because I get excited about such things, I actually noticed the cheeks recently.  Seeing them I can almost feel my son's cheeks when I kiss them, almost see my son in my mind's eye and his beautiful cheeks.  Which got me to thinking.

The little baby in the Principal's office photo is not as little any more.  Over four years old in fact.  Those baby cheeks have been replaced with an entirely new set of beautiful cheeks.  What we learn in one situation transfers, for better or worse.  I have, I believe, 8 framed pictures of my son in my office.  All of them make me think of my beautiful boy that I get to see when I get home.  But someday..... someday those pictures will not be reminders of the little cutie at home that I can see in minutes and kiss and hold and love and enjoy.  Someday, those pictures will be memories of what cheeks USE to be at home waiting for their loving father to see and kiss and love and smoosh with affection.  Someday, these photos that tell me in their 8 thousand words "go home..." will whisper "look at this... do you remember when.....?"

I may not be ready to let these moments go.  As if I have a choice.  I love every kiss.

I see another reason why some people have babies instead of baby, I see another reason why my mom has wanted a grandchild since way before I knew what a girlfriend really was.  Our brains never let us recollect with perfect fidelity so we carry on and recreate.  How can we not become addicted to creating such beauty.  Will I begin to think of grandchildren as soon my youngest has teenage cheeks?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy 8 Months!

Lonely at The Middle

I'm far from "The Top," but I wonder if I have a little insight into why it may be lonely there.  It's not for the reason I expected.

I feel a new sense of loneliness as an element in my job.  I expected that I would not be able to share all of my thoughts with my teacher friends at work as an administrator because I would know things not to be shared.  I am prepared for relations to change because my role is different.  How they will change I will not know for a while.  The beginning of a school year is too busy in any role to be exceedingly social.

The lonely feeling I have found already is the result of contemplation and mental processing.  As a teacher, in an entire academic year I may learn of a student that I have with personal or family issues.  A couple of students at most. I may deal with a couple of unhappy parents or know of a conflict with a teacher.  That's when I had less than 200 students, their parents, and many colleagues in a year to interact with to any significant degree.  Now, there are well in excess of 1,000 students to concern myself with.  That's a lot of parents.  All of the teachers are now professionals whom I deal with as such and not just coworkers with whom I socialize or collaborate with.  In just two weeks I have had serious conversations with several students and teachers.  In just two weeks I have had to process significant concerns of multiple students, and to a far lesser extent, teachers.  For comparison, in 8 years as a teacher I have rarely received the email that lets teachers of a particular student know to be aware that a major tragedy has struck the family of a student in that teacher's class. Now I have written that email and it is no easy task, no standard human response, to think of the facts in a students tragedy solely as logistics.  I find my capacity of compassion used on a regular basis.  For each significant case, I am aware of these human lives so important and I know that I have the opportunity to make a positive, detrimental, or neglectful impact.  These are real people dealing with very real circumstances from death of a parent to feeling as though he or she can not learn or feeling as though he or she has a problem with another and lacks the tools to deal with the problem.

Everyone of these humans deserves my attention and I am not overtaxed in my ability to provide as much as I currently know how to give.  But with each situation of such caliber, I require an amount of energy and quiet to process for myself.  I do have friends and family and colleagues who laugh with me and joke with me, listen to me and allow me to listen to them.  The loneliness comes from the additional need to sit quiet in my mind while I process the death of a parent, the stress of knowing not what to do, the clash of home life and school life, the culture shock of middle school versus elementary school, and much more.  I am not lonely in a physical way.  Yet, I feel lonely more often as I spend time more often weighing situations not mine, deciding how best I can be human in return, and processing those thoughts, feelings, and emotions after each situation.

And so, even with excellent friends and family, it is a bit lonely in "The Middle."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Getting Clear Again

(Enzo with his cup after eating.)

I have begun the second week of work, with students present, this academic year.  It has been quite an experience and I have been adapting as quickly as possible to my new role in education as vice principal.  Luckily I am well supported; the principal and one of the other assistant principals have held my exact position before (we have three vice principals with different primary responsibilities at my school) and they both make themselves available to help me.  Also, I have had a couple months of work in the summer to learn.

Still, I have lost myself a few times in the work to the point of feeling ungrounded.  I have felt some anxiety on occasion with some triggers being work stress and others being nothing to do with the job.  Today, for example, was quite hot, a trigger of mine, and while I was sweating in my shirt and tie I did have to work through anxious thoughts that I might end up in a panic attack.  It never came.  It has been much of a year since I have had a full panic attack and I have become good at dealing with anxiety most of the time.  On occasions that I am not so good, as was the case last Friday, my lovely wife is there for me.  As are several good people who have assured me that I may call on them at any time I feel my anxiety rising.  This Friday, Tami was there to help me work through my anxiety.

It was the high anxiety I felt Friday night that helped me in a way.  It meant that I gave myself excuse to spend as much of Saturday as possible appreciating my son and wife and avoiding any responsibility or concern that did not deal directly with our time together.  That prepared me for Sunday when I did just enough around the house and at work to feel responsible, to get a grip on my reality, and to feel a sense of peace and so take a look around me.  I never seem to realize I'm not myself until I'm me again, looking around and appreciating the world with some version of my general perspective.  A perspective that includes knowing my family and my experience is more important than achieving any self-, or otherwise, established deadline.  It all prepared me for a better today.  In essence, I felt less desperate to accomplish any task today though still effective at my tasks, more myself, appreciative of my surroundings, happier and present.  Even in dealing with anxiety during the heat today I was far more myself than I had been last week.  I woke up with plans to get to work early but I was totally okay with getting there at a regular time; giving Tami my fool attention when we had reason to chat this morning and love each other.  After school let out, I was fairly efficient and, not spending a ridiculous amount of extra time at work, I arrived home completely awake.  Last week most of our evenings together uncharacteristically involved prepared food, late night eating, and zombie-like unwinding with a television after a bit of chatting.  Today I washed dishes, Tami prepared a meal, and Enzo sat in his high chair serenading us with his various sounds between eating avocado.  Then, Enzo and I spent a couple of hours playing with no sounds other than our own.  It was a great time.

It's late now, and I am tired, but I am also me being tired.  I was there today when my body worked, talked with Tami, washed dishes, played with Enzo, and as I write this post.  I know what the air smells like, I know what my skin feels like.  I remember how good my son's skin smelled as I kissed him tonight.  I remember how much I loved my wife as we talked about big things in life.  I've been too far from myself, and too tired anyway, to be philosophical lately.  But today, I felt the satisfaction of being, doing what I needed to do, experiencing what was mine to experience, and enjoying the extra treat of spending my evening as a family with Tami and Enzo.  It's good to be here.  And, writing this, taking stock through words, felt very good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mind of his Own

Looking at this picture you may say to yourself:
Wow, I can see here that Enzo.. and he is ADORABLE... is not correctly in his car seat.  He appears to have stood up in his car seat to talk to his mom and to only be distracted by the camera taking his picture.  Yes, yes it is quite clear that when his father placed his baby boy in the car seat, rather than sit without resistance as he did in the old days of January... or even July of this year... Enzo simply decided to squirm, twist, stand and then begin a smiling and cooing conversation with his mother despite his father's efforts.  It's also quite clear to any logical mind, you don't have to be Sherlock to see it here, that 1) His father must have been laughing and enjoying this event rather than forcing his will, and 2) His father has simply spoiled the boy by taking thousands of pictures of him  to the point where The Kid simply stops to pose for every photo op.
And, yes, you would be correct.

Why I am still smiling after the longest day of work so far this school year:

One of the best experiences in a day is to hear this kid laugh.  It's especially excellent to start him laughing, it's not difficult to do, and then to keep it going until it turns into a long string of loud from-the-core laughs and shrieks punctuated by pauses of anticipation until the next kiss/snuggle/silly-face comes in to release another set.  Tami is very good at this with Enzo.  She is also great at laughing loudly for no discernible reason until Enzo get's caught up in her laughter and starts laughing and yelling out in extreme joy himself.  He can't possibly know what his mother is laughing about but the site and sound is a good enough reason for him to celebrate and join in.   These are the best, most rejuvenating, and healing sounds that nature can provide.

Here is The Kid playing peek-a-boo with his mom.  We were camping with friends on the coast in Mendocino County while celebrating our 5 year anniversary.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Here is to 5 excellent years my love.
Happy Anniversary.