Sunday, May 31, 2015

NKOTB are Now the Old Folks Down the Road

Hey! It's May 30th in Indy and you know what that means: the Indy 500 race is over, tornadoes have hit, the Little Flower Catholic Church had their festival and the New Kids On The Block are playing a concert in Indianapolis! My FB page is exploding with folks I know posting pictures of themselves partying at various bars or arriving at the venue. is where I smile. The folks I am referring to are kids that have morphed into 35 year-olds (and then some) adult women. My own daughters would have been there if the planets had lined up in the right order. Yes...those same daughters that had NKOTB pajamas, cassette tapes, t-shirts, posters, hats, underwear, (I am can't swear to that one....but I bet I'm right), figures, games, cards, you get the idea. There was no Christmas, birthday or Easter basket that did not contain this stuff. And when a new product was advertised, my girls went through the CHILD VS. MOTHER RANT which was a cross between begging, family promises and a layer of mom- guilt that went something like this:

         "I can't live without this, PLEEEZ, Mom, I'll do a thousand chores, I'll watch Nick (younger, annoying, little, brother at that time), I'll clean my room, I'll organize World Peace, and even do my homework without being told. I'll even wear that headgear for my braces! If only you will buy this NKOTB outfit! (And now the big guns come out:) EVERYBODY has them! I'll be the ONLY girl without this outfit! PLEEZ Mom, if you love me...."

And then it happened. The parent caved, the kid won, and before the next latest and greatest recording was released, all NKOTB items were stuffed in the box for the next garage sale. No clean rooms, no headgear for the braces --even located--let alone worn, and not everyone at school had the outfit. In fact, the truth be known, by the time this mother could afford two sets of all begged for items, they probably were out of style. Sigh. Urgency and my wallet were oxymorons. Too bad. So sad. Or as my daughter says to her offspring today (yes that same daughter in aforementioned paragraph), "Suck it up Buttercup."

Yep, we have all blissfully matured from our days of worshipping the Beatles, the Monkees, Bon Jovi, New Kids on the Block, and New Direction. And yes I did just jump through about three generations there. Like that? I can do better. The New Kids on the Block groupies are now the thirty-somethings who live down the road... enjoying mortgages, babies and teenagers, homework wars, dandelions and crabgrass challenges, and kids who MUST HAVE tickets to see Five Seconds of Summer this summer.

I have only one thing to say to that: Nope. Oh...and "Suck it up, Buttercup!"

The real truth is that your mother just spent your concert money on her concert.

Rock out're only a new kid on the block once.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer has Come! Time to Play, Indeed!

Another school year has slammed shut like a hollow locker. The day's knowledge washed off the white board. Books collected, papers distributed and the recycle bins overflowing with those same papers. Grades posted into that cyberspace portal which some kids will dread their parents opening. The flag has come down from its station and put away until next year's Pledge of Allegiance.

I am a teacher. You know that. And this time of year is always bittersweet, as faculty departs for summer break or new job opportunities, or that adventure called retirement. We all gathered as the buses pulled away....yelling good-byes, and "I'll miss you" even though some kids we won't. Just as they won't miss us. It's just a fact. Nothing to be too upset over. I mean really, do you like everyone you work with? Didn't think so.

But now that I settle into a summer that will come and go as quickly as my prep time, I have some moments to call my own. To repair the damage done to my house, garage and car known as 'hit and run' which is what life is like when the morning alarm of 5:15 announces the new day and falling into bed at 11:30 pm is part of the agenda. You know how it is; you just push through. What do you leave out? What goes undone? It is like dusting your house when the company is coming up your walkway. You just keep processing errands, appointments and people. I know God did not create 'hurry' but I feel I live in that whirlwind most days. But I am not complaining, simply stating facts.

Summer is a time for the soul to take it a bit slower. To make time for the porch, even if I have to pencil it in on the calendar. To avoid 'sign-up charts' like the plague, and to realize I am not going to make all of the grandkids' events. And that's okay. It is far better to be rested and ready for them to play at my house and sleep in my sleeping bags. That is the summer they have been craving, as well.

I started my first day of summer vacation by going to a couple of garage sales with my daughter while pushing my youngest granddaughter in the stroller. A simple act, yet I held it up to the light as a holy moment. This is the family that just moved back home after being out of state for three years. A simple stroll created a quiet ecstasy in my soul. Yesterday, having five grandsons at the park was beyond grand. They went from baseball to basketball to soccer. Soon a small clump of trees called their names and off they went exploring. I simply smiled. I am the grandmother, who as a child, could NOT wait until school was over. I lived to be outside to play, create, wonder. I came in when the lightning bugs came out. Perhaps, I am more a child when summer begins than any other time of my life.

Yet in the back of my mind I worry about my other kids. My students. Will they find enough to eat without school breakfast or lunch? Will they be safe or stuck babysitting for hours? Will they find any time to relax or will their sport schedules and travel teams keep them so booked up that they can't find time to goof off? Will these kids who stole my heart be so connected to their phones and electronics that they never get lost in a book or craft? Will they watch films that steal their innocence or will that happen when supervision of caring adults is lacking? I think of the faces that reacted to my hours and hours of lecture, questions, and how they would laugh when I said some crazy thing. In that moment, their giggles were authentic and their middle school lives were carefree. I want my kids to have that balance of a summer that is fun, relaxing, and full of childlike memories. Is that too much to ask? We push and push them to be better test-takers, citizens, independent thinkers, problem solvers; it is my hope that we also give them permission to just be kids.

Well...I am off to bed. Baseball games and birthday parties await me. And a nap. And a good book to read. Summer is here. Time to play.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bubbles: A Visual Miracle

I know what you're thinking: Deb has been into the bubbly again and is having hallucinations. Well, if you know me,  then you  know I don't drink alcohol. Although, one time a guy came up to my daughter and after observing my crazy behavior, inquired how much I had to drink. My girl responded that I did not drink. His next comment was, "Oh yeah. C'mon. How much has she had tonight?" My daughter just smiled and said, "No really. She doesn't drink. That is how she is all the time. This is why I drink!" And this is how an innocent story became family lore.

Back to the bubbles. I find bubbles fascinating and here is why. When I was in, oh say, eighth grade, I had an old science teacher named Miss Geisler, at IPS # 73. I think she had a thing for Thomas Alva Edison, and was older than the sun, wore wire spectacles, rode the bus to school, always wore old lady shoes and taught every second kids were in her presence. She was persnickety, blew a whistle when we got too loud, and paddled when necessary, and was spell-bound by the electron microscope. Her classroom looked like it would explode with curriculum, folders, books, and such. I feared and loved her all at once. And learned, oh so much. One day, she told the class this scientific fact: 

        The thinnest source of atoms we can see with the naked eye is the common soap bubble.

Now....this was the late sixties, before fiber optics, mind-boggling technology, and Google. But I never forgot this brief lesson. And as I stood at the sink doing dishes as a pre-teen, I would hold a soap bubble up to the light and gaze at the prism-like rainbows. I would hear that teacher's voice about the thinnest source of atoms and the ordinary became amazing. That bubble would rest on my fingers and I became spell-bound in the mystery of the scientific world. Who would have known that years later, I would teach a lesson developed by astrophysicists, beamed down from the space shuttle, called, 'The Electo-Magnetic Spectrum: Seeing in a New Light'.This lesson dealt with light rays, the color spectrum, and how humans see their world of color in this atmosphere. 

I know Miss Geisler was watching. And smiling. And perhaps, bubbling over with pride.

When we had 'Bubble Day' at school, the kiddos made ginormous bubbles using hoola-hoops as a bubble wand, filling the playground with "the thinnest source of atoms one can see with the naked eye." Even today, one can browse FaceBook and see how to put glow sticks in bubbles and make magical spheres that float in the summer night. Weddings are replete with bubbles as the bride and groom exit the church in a barrage of lovely, floating, round rainbows. A nice, photographic, send-off that is far easier to clean up than confetti. 

I am thinking that my science teacher's acclamation has been replaced by some technological bling that makes the common soap bubble look as outdated as pagers and video-players. But, hey--I see how bubbles can make a toddler giggle, second graders play and learn, a bride and groom grin, and a sixty year old teacher gaze at the by-products of Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Don't you love it when the simple, common, uncomplicated object lifts our minds and hearts to a place of contemplation? Isn't it rather touching when an old sage makes a proclamation that sticks with a student up until her later adult years? Man, that is teaching at its finest! I have always regretted that the 'thank you' letter in my head never made it to the paper. I always meant to write Miss Geisler and tell her I became a teacher partly because of her influence. She left this planet many years ago to explore other physical and chemical dimensions I'm sure. And perhaps, to catch up with Mr. Edison. Yet, the bubble lesson never left me. 

Bubbles. A whole bunch of science and fun floating on the air. Extraordinary spheres that shimmer and shine, reminding us that we are surrounded by miracles if we would only look, study, and think.

But mostly just bubble over with wonder. Just as Miss Geisler would have wanted.