Crisis Introverting

They flit through my head. I can grasp on to one with a tenuous grip and it just slips through. There’s no way to place it to flow through my fingers to the screen.

I can pick up the bound pages and hold them but the synapses in my reading brain do not seem able to connect, no matter how hard I try.

It began at the start of this new normal. It got to the point where I just threw my hands up and said, FINE. I will stop. So I stopped. I successfully tuned out the ideas flitting about and the books in my home made way for a remote learning classroom.

The new normal squashed any possibility for those things. They were replaced with creativity in teaching this new way, creativity in teaching fifth grade math standards I am nowhere near qualified to teach to my own kid, creativity in heartfelt connections to those we have been separated from. Our family of  trois is tight and two of the trois are very introverted and happy with our own company.

Except we’re not. Turns out introverting in a time of crisis is like how at home learning is in no way like school. It’s crisis school. So, it’s crisis introverting. Someone recently told me I need to save myself from, well, myself.

So. We’re not okay.

Except there’s the kid that is doing all the Google work on paper and taking a pic to attach because he’s on his phone and it’s tricky.

Except there’s the giggles from Maddie as she video chats with a group of friends.

Except there’s the kid who is doing video responses for assignments because his phone is hard to work on. (Spoiler alert- it’s the same kid.)

Except I teach for a district who understands this unprecedented time calls for compassion and understanding and relationship building. Not workloads to break our back.

Except that I get daytime cat cuddles. Except I can sneak a kiss to the new work at home dad in the basement any time I want. Except I can go outside and take in a deep breath. Except it turns out I can be very silly on video, more so than in person.

So, we are not okay.

But, I know we will be.

 

 

On Brand, She Will Not

The new pile of clothes includes gray, black, cammo, and a hint of blue. Staying completely on brand, she is. Shopping trips with grandma and the cousins always go pretty well. Even if there is not a single toe stepped outside her black, grey, blue color palette. Well, sometimes the socks are rainbow, the only pop of psychedelic in her wardrobe. There are constants I can always count on with this kid.

Oh and if it’s penguins, pusheen, pugs, llamas, or avacados then it usually gets a free pass no matter the style or color. This pretty much transcends all things Maddie.

Headbands, scrunchies, tops, unders, pants, shoes, backpack, notebooks, pencils, hoodies, coats, gloves, hats, you name it. It fits the Maddie K. persona she is crafting. This includes on brand merchandise. In that this kids does not a lick give about things being on brand. Comfy? yep. Fitting in one of above said categories or colors? Obviously. But on brand? Who the heck cares, she says?

The hydroflask is the latest case in point. Every kid has one or twelve. Every kid wants one or a hundred. Maddie totes around a pusheen plastered metal water bottle from a subscription box, because, well, it has pusheen. She asked for a new one that maybe could have a handle on it and that she could put her pickle (don’t ask) stickers on. Score! An Easter basket idea for the increasingly hard to buy for kid!

I asked her if she was talking about a hydroflask. She says, of course not. Please do NOT buy her one of those annoying denty on brand bottles please, she says. Any metal water bottle will do- she just need a blank one for stickers.

Maddie K. on brand, she will not. Not sure how to tell her though that Pusheen and Pickle are both BRANDS. I think I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

Not sure what she would do if they came out with a hydroflask sporting  pickle water bottle though.

Image result for pickle moriah

This is Pickle. Still don’t ask.

 

One Happy Creature

There’s not a lot of happy going on these days. Can I write about anything else? Is there even anything else? My introvert hermit persona cannot and will not settle. It’s a conundrum to be certain.

There is one happy creature in our midst. Maybe three. Certainly not the introvert mom in her unsettled self. Certainly not the extrovert dad whose been forced to now cancel three trips in the coming months. Two of them involve concerts which are what makes up his personal peace.

It could be the ten year old who is happily encased in her office hole creating and playing her soul numbing game. That is only possible until her e learning kicks in.

So who is left? Well. The two fur creatures are certainly cruising around with more spring in their step. They’re for damn sure keeping to the it’s 6am stupid human, feed me now, schedule. I’m convinced they are keeping us on schedule.

Maybe.

I’m buried in cat. And I’m okay with that.

Peace of Mind

It’s the state of the world right now. So fittingly, every conversation, every minute seems to be filled with Covid-19 anger, acceptance, sadness, isolation, mandates, humor, and oh my gosh moments.

We aren’t the panicking type. We are the steady and wait it out type. I’m a book loving, hermit, introvert, extraordinaire. Staying home is like my nirvana.  Except all the news and all the panic and all the talk and all the Oh My Gosh starts to get to me. Except it’s not just me, the one who can consist on cereal and cans of soup. Do we have enough? Does my mom have enough? Are we really going to be okay? I haven’t grocery shopped yet. You can’t even get into the stores and they’re shortening hours.

Then the governor drops the bomb. All restaurants and bars will be closed until the end of the month effective close of business tomorrow. Drive thru and delivery might be safe. If kitchens are deemed able to stay healthy. Whatever that means. This is now serious. This is now real.

I feel the posts and panic settling in and it makes it a little hard to breathe. Amazon prime 1-2 day becomes overpriced Amazon Prime 4 day. My fingers still hit add to cart for some food for the kid. Breakfast bars, crackers, goldfish, pretzels, cereal, and a book to read to my students later this week because in my crazy Friday, the brain forgot to grab books. I felt some pressure ease. Even if it won’t come until maybe Thursday.

Then since I am at the home where I started, the pressure eases more. Containers get extra grapes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Here comes a container meatballs and a box of pasta. In goes more sauce and some italian sausage. In a bag goes a container of chicken rice casserole. A jug of orange juice that can’t be drunk by the grandma and was bought for the littles who didn’t finish it. A loaf of bread that hasn’t been opened yet gets added. A packet of yellow slices to turn that bread into grilled cheese. For good measure, some brownies because they are pure love.

Sort of. The pure love really comes in the form of a mom who looks at her daughter, can tell she can’t breathe, and piece by piece soothes the panic and brings back the calm.

That’s the love. That’s where we will find hope and calm in this crazy state of the world right now.

Where’s the Beef?

Every football season, hockey season, and baseball season arrives with the handy dandy steadfast fantasy draft. Along with every fantasy draft arrives the equally steadfast, Meat Monster that takes over our house. Walking downstairs and spying the four feet by six feet dry erase board on wheels in my living room alerted me that a date had been slated for the latest fantasy draft. It’s March, which means it’s baseball season coming. Or not coming due to the pandemic. That won’t stop the Meat Monster from arriving though. There are always pounds and pounds of meat jockeying for space in our refrigerators and freezers. Yes, plural. Eleven guys, with at least half of them topping 6 feet, along with a kid and a wife and some extra buddies that smell the bbq and show up even if they are not picking guys.

Except that pandemic.  That nasty bugger has led to stores full of people and empty of perishables and non. That includes meat. Meat is required for any fantasy draft. Pandemic be damned.

Enter the Meat Market where the Meat Monster finds its most comfortable habitat. Everyday stores are empty but are people going to really stock up on meat market quality meat? Pulling up to the small establishment in the next town led to a sinking feeling. The parking lot was overflowing. The number system in the freezing temperature room was overloaded. His heart sank that there would indeed be pizza this year’s draft. The blasphemy!

Oh, but you cannot and should not discount the power of the Southside Irish. Tuesday is St. Patrick’s Day. There is corned beef to be had. No pandemic is going to stop the celebration of all things green today. Even if those celebratory moments are few in collective numbers. Luckily the corned beef rush was the reason for overcrowded lot.

So the Meat Monster is alive and well. He’s grown in fact. Not only does the fantasy draft get brisket and ribs this week. The aforementioned kid and wife also get burgers, hot dogs, and steak.

Now we just need to find a store that still has rolls.

Breaking Point

There is a breaking point for all things in life. Your temper. Your patience. Your hope. Your perseverance. Your humor. Your laughter. Your tears. Your love. Your motivation. All can be broken. Some can be mended. You can feel the rush in the air when the breaking point is arriving. This year it comes in waves. There are break points all along the thread of life I am weaving through this school year. That’s how so many teachers measure their year- by school years. August to June.

For all the love I have for my career, the breaking points are coming fast and furious these days. We convene circle after circle and calming corners times two. Fidgets and cuddles abound. There’s a tenuous balance when our community, fragile as it is, is together. When we are blessed with a guest teacher and not split into other classrooms, it’s a breaking point that drives a huge wedge down the center of our world. We circle up and sort it out and repair the harm. And repair the harm. And repair the harm.

I get ready to walk away. Am prepared to walk away. Dream of walking away.

Then a hug happens and a heart is breaking. Then a silly joke makes us laugh. Then an amazing discussion blows me away.

That cycle goes round and round and round. Yesterday and today we have been circling the wedge in our room and chipping it away. Except we only got part way through it.

Then Covid-19 put a halt to it all. I sent my walking talking breaking points home with a pile of papers and a few pieces of #booklove from our classroom library. We didn’t repair the harm nearly enough and that worries the part of me that has had teaching love as much a part of me as mom love.

But the ready to walk away, prepared to walk away, dreaming of walking away part of me recognizes my own breaking point and the desperate need for some distance.

 

Black Hole Prime

I’m in a Facebook Amazon group. I resisted Amazon with a vengeance back in the day. Why on earth would I need to order from a website?! How could I betray my beloved Target?

I’ll tell you how. Prime. 1-2 day shipping. #booklove. Yeah, that’s right. Book. Love. I can think a book and then hold a book and then read a book without leaving my house. The holding is most important. It’s like an introvert recluse nirvana.

So that’s how it started. I was the egocentric Oprah of books. I get a book, I get a book, you get a book, I get a book, I get a book. Every book loving smile box meme had my face plastered on it.  And then somehow one day I found the app and stop the presses. My nirvana reached a spiritual level. Then a Prime Day happened and the deal was sealed.

Then a nefarious friend, only wishing my demise, invited me to join a Facebook Amazon Deals page. Where someone spends her days and nights and in between finding deals.

Suddenly I have nothing I need and I need everything she posts. It’s a black hole, it really is. Just with better deals.

Little Miss CDC

Third graders are typically cesspools of disgusting habits. Too seldom the hygiene and cleanliness genes are hidden far, far beneath the layers of their brain. It’s in a little known section called common sense that most nine year old children have yet to access. Occasionally though, you will be fortunate enough to witness, in the wild, a conscientiously clean third grader. It is a both a blessing and a curse. On one hand you have a cleaner environment. On the other hand, you’re navigating conflict due the less than zero tolerance this soul typically has for their less hygienic peers. It’s easy to spot the Future CDC Director in a room:

“Hey, try this!”
Puts playing card up against mouth and holds it against his tongue. 

“Ewww.. you’re spreading germs big time. Go wash your hands.”

“Can I borrow a pencil?”
Recipient of this question, reaches up and plucks the pencil out of his mouth and hands it to the asker who uses it immediately, no questions asked.

“Oh my gosh, really?? You’re getting all his germs now! Go get some hand sanitzer, it’s on the wall.”

“Are you going to finish that cupcake?”
Friend asks as other friend is mid bite. Other friends says nope and hands over the cupcake with a bite out of it.

“Ewww… sharing food is a great way to spread germs. You’re doomed.”

“I just lost my tooth!”
Holds tooth in hand and when other friend asks to see it, hands it over and they both play with the spit covered tooth.

“Oh. My. God. You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Mrs. Koehler, I can’t do this!!”

In this age of virus mania, having my little miss CDC has been borderline beneficial. She’s everywhere, seeing every offending germ. It’s like her super power.

Although I am fairly certain that she will be the first to self quarantine.

And as I witnessed a particularly hygiene challenged friend, swipe up his nose with his hand and wipe the resulting booger nest directly onto his desk, I can’t say I really blame her.

 

 

Lifting Some Sadness

Sometimes I see it coming. Sometimes he catches me by surprise. Anytime it’s needed. Every time it’s welcomed. At the beginning of the day, middle of the day, always at the end of the day as he leaves our space for a new one. He takes this not a hugger, and turns her into the best one around.

He walks over not quite looking me in the eye. I can practically see it building within him. This need to connect. This need to take some of his feelings and latch them to another living being. There are times when he’s slow but most of the time he’s walking with a purpose, a deep intent.

His arms open, asking permission without saying a word. My arms open in response, letting him know I’m here. This is not a celebratory hug, though celebrating each day we make it in this world wouldn’t be a half bad thing to do. This is a hug because sometimes our feelings just get too big for us to hold on to. Sometimes our feelings just need to seep into someone else a little bit. So when his arms wrap around me, I know I’m taking in some of his sadness. That’s okay. A nine year old shouldn’t have to carry so much sadness on his own. Don’t all of us need to deposit some of our sadness around when it gets too heavy to carry?

After a minute I ask him if he needs more. There’s never any conversation to and fro with words, but volumes are spoken. Sometimes I get a silent nod and we just stay there, mid hug, building up some currency of hope and comfort. Sometimes, it’s enough for that moment, and he ambles back to whatever his mind was doing before the sadness rose to the top.

Either way, he knows I am here. I will always be here.

 

Poemy Monday, the Second

Sleep Desert

I’m living in a sleep desert,
a restful rest desert.
A please let me sleep desert,
a no thank you desert.

The zzzzz’s elude my slumber,
just close your eyes and go to sleep, they say.

Night after night,
I’m chasing them down.

They’re just out of grasp,
stolen away by the worries.

They’re slipping through my fingers,
drowned out by the snores.

They’re riding away
on the backs of the sheep
I cannot seem to count.

Just go to sleep, they yell.
I would if I could, I respond.

I’m living in a sleep desert,
a restful rest desert.
A please let me sleep desert,
a yeah right desert.