Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sweet end to a gray day

As a chronic worrier, I sometimes get the feeling that I've forgotten what I was worrying about. It leaves me worried about what I was worried about, since I get the feeling it was important.

I think it is just the way today was. Most things about today went incredibly well. No freakouts from Natalie all day long. She napped excellently, including one that was like three hours in the car.

I went over to the school today to drop off a letter of recommendation for a former student (just so happens she was a sophomore in the same class as the student who just passed away). I saw her in the hall, and said hello, but didn't really stop to talk to her. Things like this happen to me all the time with former students. I see them in the hall and I don't know what to say to them other than asking how school is going, which really no kid wants to talk about. I want these kids to know that I remember them and I'm glad to see them, and some of them I think are so super awesome and others I worry about. But these little minute long meetings in the hall don't convey all that.

Another thing that is hard about going back to the school is how students look different. This would happen to me anyways though when I was teaching. I taught freshmen, so often a kid would see me a year or two later, usually after a summer, and it would be hard for me to tell who it was. This is particularly true for boys. It just makes everything so much more awkward for me since I'm worried I have the wrong student in my head since they often look so different.

There was a lot of sadness in visiting the school today, too. I saw students writing on big sheets of butcher block paper hung outside Madison's HPT. Natalie wondered over to them and the girl's gushed over her and how big she was and how they remember me being pregnant. On top of the usual feeling of disconnection I mentioned above, there was also this big sense of loss hanging over things since it seemed like I should mention Madison, especailly given that we were right outside basically his in school memorial, but I didn't have much to say and didn't want to upset anyone. I did realize that a couple of the students who appeared to be taking it hard based on their FB posts were in his HPT, which now makes a lot of sense since I hadn't thought of them being in the same social circles. I had wanted to read what students wrote, but felt like I was imposing a bit, and didn't think Natalie had the patience either.

Most of the rest of the visit went smoothly. I let Natalie walk around some. I try to do that when we go out now whenever I can. She has been improving on following me, but no hand holding. I saw lots of students and some teachers. At the end of the visit, I decided to go back to the art department to talk to one of the teachers (whoever was available) about getting a student to illustrate a book I want to write for Natalie about how she can deal with my food allergies. The teacher was very receptive to the idea and it seems like she was going to do a similar project involving children's literature anyway. However, near the end of the conversation, it felt like things turned. I had said that I could bring in books for the kids to look at if it would help and not be stifling to their creativity. She kind of made a face and then said I could do that if I wanted to help and said she does have a son and lots of books for him. I really felt like I offended her. It bothered me the whole car ride home. I hadn't meant to imply that she didn't have any books for her child. I also hadn't meant to imply that she didn't know anything about the subject, but see how I might have since I assumed I knew more than her. But, giving myself a little credit, I have read over 600 children's picture books or board books, many of those in the last year or so. Other than librarians, I usually AM the most versed person I encounter when it comes to kids books. I feel I must apologize when I contact her, but I'm having trouble deciding how. It is a personal weakness of mine to over explain myself. If my parent conflicts my last year of teaching taught me anything it was that I tend to over explain to a point that seems defensive. Anyway, I want this project to be fun and I'm excited about the possible result, so I want the collaboration to go smoothly. I don't know, the whole end of the conversation seemed to take a bit of a downward dive as she mentioned how busy she is for various reasons.

I feel like the rest of the evening went quickly and that I barely interacted with Natalie at all aside from some feeding her dinner and some giggles there. Mike was in a bad mood too, for reasons couldn't pin point. Little things were making him annoyed, which I understand.

By far, the best thing about today happened after bath time. Natalie was extra grumpy about having her shampoo rinsed out, but cheered up for "towel time." At bed time, I lay her down on the bed supported by her favorite pillow (the Boppy) and I put the night time lotion on her legs and tummy and back. The last couple months, I've been singing "My Girl" to her. Tonight, she struggled to unwrap herself from the towel, which is common. But then she kinda grabbed up me to get up. For a second, I was worried that she wanted to nurse. But instead, she gave me a hug, then she came at me for a kiss, waiting for me to face her for a kiss on the lips. So sweet. Natalie was giving kisses freely when she first learned how, but now I usually get a few a week. This little peck and the tight squeeze of her hug were the best things about the whole day. In some ways, I feel like I didn't deserve such a great reward today when I didn't feel like I did all that much for her today.

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