Time Capsule Letter

Dear Teresa,

When I met you as a seventh grader as you held the door open for students in the car line, I almost immediately found myself thinking, “I do indeed hope I get to work with her next year.” Such was the power of the first impression you made. As you progressed through eighth grade, you confirmed and deepened that first impression on an almost daily basis with your dedication, intelligence, perseverance, and humility. I know that I need not wish you all the best because you are the rare type of person who will make the best happen, who will grab every opportunity and not wait for life and blessings merely to happen but instead will bring opportunities and blessings with you everywhere you go. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work with you this year, and I know without a doubt that when I look back over my career at some point, having you in my classroom will stand out as one of the brightest highlights.

Your Teacher

This post is part of the thread: End of School Year – an ongoing story at MTS. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


The Boy wakes up just when K and L both fall asleep in the afternoon for a nap. He’s cranky, fussy, and high maintenance. What to do? Take him down to our swing/hammock area and blow bubbles. And when everyone wakes back up, what else are we doing to do but show them our tricks: I create the bubbles; he chases them down and destroys them.

It’s another one of those moments when I marvel at the simplicity of what it takes to entertain a three-year-old. He can do the same thing over and over continuously, like most all kids his age. “I’m bored” has become an occasional refrain we hear from the Girl; never do we hear it from the Boy, unless he’s just copying her. The Boy can simply do the same thing over and over and over and over once he’s decided it’s entertaining, and what he finds entertaining can be the most simplistic action. Look at what it takes to entertain adults: vast stadiums with grown men (almost always men) being paid multi-million dollar contracts to play a sport so everyone else can vicariously participate, when all they need, all they really need, is a bottle of bubbles.


“There’s a little ice cream left in the freezer,” K says right after dinner. “Who wants some?” It’s almost a question that doesn’t need to be asked.


And afterward, the real sign of spring: we go for a walk in the neighborhood while the Boy rides his new glider. Within the space of ten days or so, he’s gone from simply standing on it and slowly inching his way forward to running on it.


Granted, he’s only doing that uphill. It’s easier to control that way: going downhill quickly builds up speed and the threat of a loss of control.


The Girl, meanwhile, roars ahead with her friend W, circling back to us, riding ahead, circling back. And K and I walk behind them, herding the Boy to the side when a car comes by, chatting about things so trivial that I can’t even remember what we discussed. A perfect Friday evening, in other words.

Third Party

The gifts came on his actual birthday, last Thursday. A party can wait, but gifts? That’s just cruel.


Wednesday of last week we took the Boy to Toys R Us to pick out some presents, and we bought him a little something that he didn’t ask for but which we knew he would love. He’s really outgrown his four-wheel vehicle (rover? quadcycle?), and his bike is still too heavy for him really to do much with. A glider was the obvious bridge.


So first thing Thursday morning, we put it together. It was the first time in over a week that I’d sat on the floor, and I wondered what it might be like to try to get back up, what with new, thick scar tissue, tired muscles, irritated everything. “Push it as much as you can as soon as you can,” the surgeon had said, and that day, plopping down in the floor and getting back up seemed like quite a bit of pushing. Indeed, quite enough.

The Boy though was just getting started. He began with tentative walking in the kitchen/dining area. K and I showed him how to sit in the seat so that he balanced his weight over his arms and his backside, and within a couple of days, he was cruising in the house quite quickly.


Today then was just icing on the cliche. No icing on the cake, though: a bit of thick, fresh whipped cream. And some construction equipment moving about the crushed Oreos that plague every building site.

“I want a digger cake,” E has been saying for some time as we’ve talked about his birthday party. We’d seen it via social media and knew he’d love it. K showed him a picture and it was instant mini-obsession. So the Girl and I laid out a piece of foil the same size as the cake, did some planning and positioning, then went to work creating a decorating masterpiece to top K’s amazing cake.


The party itself was a small affair: just the grandparents and the Boy’s best friend, N, who lives a couple of houses up from us and has become a regular visitor. We’d managed to keep the cake out of view until just before the moment of ceremonious candle extinguishing, and the result was predictable but sweet: some squealing, some laughing, and an immediate desire to play with the diggers on the cake.


After cake, we all headed outside, where E tried his new coaster on a variety of surfaces, deciding that the best was grass.


In the end, though, with a near fall, he decided that as amazing as the coaster might be, four weeks are much more secure feeling. After all, he’s been riding this thing for over two years now: it’s second nature to him.


“If you keep practicing,” we all told him, “soon, you’ll be able to ride the two-wheeler as fast and as well as your four-wheeler” we explained.  E thought about it, then said simply, “Nah.”

Back to Normal

What is normal in a house with kids? In the late spring, it’s hard to determine what might be “normal.” School, winding down, is in flux. The yard is in constant need of attention, with a thousand and one things calling out — berry bushes need covering, hedges need trimming, tomatoes need staking, peas need something to climb on.


So what is “normal”?


Ironically, with a now-three-year-old, it’s a first around every corner. A first time bouncing the ball repeatedly and catching it. Not a first time watching it roll down the hill. But a first time walking down alone, with Tata standing watch at the edge of the driveway.


And it’s a day of not-firsts leading to firsts. The Girl cleaning her room, alone in the house, semi-fine with it, semi-fussing about it as everyone else works outside.

“You’ll hear everyone outside from the window,” I reassured. Well, not everyone. I was back working on the car — another “normal” when you own a Volkswagen is that there’s always something going wrong — but everyone else was in the front yard. Eventually the fussing subsided, the room got cleaned, quite well, and the Girl joined us. Them.


Afternoon: washing the cars. The Girl didn’t want to “help” until she found out she could get wet. And so she came bounding out of the house in her old swimsuit and helped wash the car. Sort of. A bit more playing.


Well, total playing. I wanted to do it all myself because my normal hasn’t been so normal until recently. But that’s normal.


The Boy joined us. Again, normal. He squealed — literally — every single time he got a shot of water.

“Daddy, squirt me again!”


Finally, normal again.


There is a whole range of motion that one never notices is missing until the ability to twist and turn like that returns. Things as simple as grabbing a sock from the floor or walking down stairs quickly. Things like picking up your child or rolling over on your side in bed. Getting in a car without careful preparation or sitting in an Adirondack chair. Things you never think about until you can’t do them, then don’t realize how much you missed them until you begin doing them again.

Catching Up

The last few weeks have been bad for our scrapbook. Surgery, work load, and general apathy have all combined to shut things down creatively speaking. Photos have remained on the camera for days, weeks even. Day after day has passed without writing a single word. And so there’s a backlog that creates an odd mosaic of the last couple of weeks.

The Last Few Days

I made it through forty-two years or so before the integrity of the bag of skin and muscle that holds everything else in place was compromised. Intentionally compromised, to be sure. Systematically compromised. But compromised nonetheless: a small incision just below the navel, just wide enough to slide in a cable and a few instruments, but wide enough to lay you out for a week. A week of realizing anew all the various activities that require the now-incapacitated abdominal muscles. A week of wondering when things will return to normal, thinking that perhaps they won’t, knowing of course that they will. A week of feeling silly for being so thoroughly knocked off one’s feet by a procedure so relatively-minor.


And in that time, everything else goes on as normal. The Boy discovers new things, the Girl goes to school, our youngest cat transforms into a full-blooded hunter.


Of course one thing that does change: the interest in a silly online scrapbook. But with the return of mobility and the disappearance of pain, perhaps that will return as well.