With Advice, Sometimes, Comes Laughter

I am honest with my children, and I have found that it has, to some degree, backfired on me.  My children, the darlings who I carried for nine months and nurtured into little compassionate girls, find some of my honesty to be odd and funny.  I find that they often laugh at me when I am trying my hardest to be poignant and supportive.

It doesn’t bother me. I like that they laugh at my idiosyncracies and realize that their mother is a bit eccentric.  They are very aware that they are genetically attached to me and that, like it or not, they, too, will develop some abnormal beliefs and behaviors.

Recently, the girls and I were having a very candid conversation about the start of school and the changes they would be facing.  All three of my children showed concern for the sheer size of their schools.  Respectively, Carson’s entire seventh grade class was 22, Maggie’s fourth grade class was 25, and Lizzie’s second grade class was eighteen students.  No one changed classes.  No one had the opportunity to meet new people.  It was a pint-sized version of the schools they would soon be attending.

My biggest fears for them included the following: with whom would they eat lunch; the embarrassment of walking into the wrong classroom; and lastly, having to go to the bathroom at school.

The first two topics were easy.  I told all of them to find someone they liked earlier in the day, and see if they were in the lunchroom.  I said it was not uncommon to walk up to an acquaintance and say, “Hey can I eat with you?”  I told them that their friendly smiles and warm personalities were inviting.  I knew they would be welcomed.

Second, I told them how I have walked into the wrong classroom as a teacher!  Just last year, I got my day messed up, and I walked into a classroom and set myself up to teach my class.   However, I was a period early!  Instead of going to my hall duty, I was trying to teach a class!

The last topic was a bit more sensitive.  Everyone, at some point in time, has to use the restroom in public.  Bodily functions should not be embarrassing because sometimes, it just cannot be avoided.

“I know sometimes using the bathroom at school is difficult.   It took me over five years to be able to use the restroom at school.”

The girls gasped.  “You didn’t go for five years?!” Carson asked, incredulous.

Realizing that they thought I meant both urination and defecation, I corrected myself.   “No.  I could pee, but I couldn’t poop.”  I paused to think how to phrase my words in a nurturing way.   “You might find that you feel like I did.  Sometimes, being in a foreign place makes it hard to poop.”

I must have been staring off because when I refocused on the girls, they squealed with laughter.  For almost three minutes, they could not speak they were laughing so hard.

“Okay, Mom,” Carson finally uttered.  “You deserve some kind of reward for your accomplishment.”

“Five years…” Lizzie muttered, but she snorted before she could finish.

“Yeah.  You deserve a porcelain throne!” Maggie said barely audible.

I sighed and left the room.  Evidently, they do not share my discomfort for public restrooms.  They must take after their father.




An 8-Year-Old’s Perspective

Because of a lack of pre-knowledge or worldly experience, sometimes the things we say to our children are clearly misconstrued.

Case in point: this morning, I was sipping my coffee watching the Today show when Lizzie woke and walked out of her room.  She had that sleepy-I-don’t-want-to-wake-up look on her face.  She kept blinking her eyes trying to get them to stay open, and she rubbed her face at least a dozen times.  She walked up to me and indicated she wanted to sit on my lap.   She is at the point of being almost too big at 4’6′ and 75 pounds, but because she is the youngest, I have yet to refuse.  I opened my arms and she sat down, putting her arms around my neck and resting her head against mine.   She gazed at the television, which was airing a Monster’s University advertisement.

“Inc.  That stands for Incorporated?” she asked.

“Yes, Honey.  Inc. is short for Incorporated.”

“What does University stand for?” she continued.

“University doesn’t stand for anything, but U. does.  If I said ‘Miami U’ I would be talking about Miami University,” I explained.

Without missing a beat, she said, “I’m not allowed to go there.”

Knowing full well she was implying her father’s allegiance to his alma mater, Ohio University, I replied, “Sure you can, Honey.  You can go wherever you want to go for college.”  I am a bit more open-minded.  Tom has two loves: OU and OSU, and in his mind, their rivals are strictly off limits.

At this point, she took her head off my shoulder and looked me in the eyes.

“No.  I am not allowed to go to Miami at all, and the only way I am allowed to go to Michigan is if I get a scholarship and a full bus ride.”


Ahhh, the ever sought after but ever so challenging full bus ride.  Yes.  We have spoken about a full-ride numerous times.  Apparently, it just so happens to be on a Greyhound bus!

Day 342: Wrong Number!

Today, a friend and I were talking over lunch.  I was eating leftover homemade chicken noodle soup that I nuked for longer than I should have; I burnt my tongue.  She had your typical 35-year-old I-work-in-a-school lunch: PB&J, small bag of Baked Lays, a Christmas sprinkle cookie, and a chocolate milk.  While enjoying our lunches, she and I discussed the fact that I only have 25 blogs left to write in “The Year of Writing Every Single Day.”

“I can’t believe you found something to write about every day,” she said to me.

“Me neither.  I go through droughts, and sometimes, I cannot wait to get home to write.”

“How are you feeling right now?” she asked.

“In a bit of a funk.  I don’t know what else I have to say,” I admitted.

“Tell an old story.”

“I think I have told all of the old stories.” I sighed in a over-exaggerated you-should-feel-bad-for-me way.

“What about…..?”

“Already wrote it.”


“Yep, that one, too.”

“Hmmm.”  She took a sip of her lunchroom cafeteria chocolate milk carton.  She stared at her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and thought hard.

“What about the time…”

I perked up. “Hey, I never thought about writing that story!”


Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the known who would like to stay unknown.


I had just walked into the workroom for lunch.  It had been a busy morning.  I had just returned essays, and everyone wanted to conference about their grades.  You see, I grade essays very hard, but I do it out of love.  I expect every student to read every comment I make, and then revise their essays and become better writers.  Anyway, after a morning of revision, editing, and conferencing, I was feeling pretty exhausted and ready to relax over lunch.

The lunch table started to fill with teachers.  We sat around this day chit-chatting about God knows what– the crappy Browns, the crappy weather, the crappy highway construction– we talked about anything except work.  Lunch hour is a time to not think about work and regroup.

The phone rang, and like children, every single person at the table yelled, “Not it!” and put their fingers to their noses.  I happened to be getting a Diet Pepsi out of the machine, and I was the last to touch my nose.

“You’re it,” someone yelled, pointing at me.

I sighed, glared a little, and walked over to the phone.

“English/History workroom.  Can I help you?” I said.

“Yes, may I please talk to Susan Pratchett,” the man said.

“I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number.”

“Is this 444-555-8080?” the man asked.

“Yes, that is the number you dialed.”

“Then I need to talk to Susan Pratchett,” he repeated, this time, slightly stronger.

“Sir,” I said with an equally serious strong tone.  “No one by that name works here.”

At this point, I realized all conversation at the table had stopped; everyone was listening to my end of this bizarre conversation.

“Is this Anywhere in America High School?”  I could sense he was annoyed with me, but I was equally annoyed.  How could I put someone on the phone who did not work in my building?

“Yes this is Anywhere in America High School.”  I was sick of the conversation and this man’s badgering.  I was about to hang up, but I wanted to get the last word in.  “And no matter how many times you ask, Susan Pratchett does not work here!”  I slammed down the receiver.

I turned to sit back down and finish my lunch.  Everyone was staring at me.

“Umm, Cheryl,” Sarah said.


“You do know that Susan Pratchett is Susan Tabor.  She went back to her maiden name after she got divorced.”

I was stunned.  What?  “How long ago?”

“About three months.”

I grimaced.  I just hung up on someone because I don’t pay attention to details.  I looked at the group and shrugged.  “My bad?”