Yesterday, I shared that I am reading The Tale of Despereaux byKate DiCamillo to my children, Alex and Megan.
On our final day of the #SOL20 Challenge, I want to share this with you:
At the last moment, Antoinette came out of her faint and shouted one word to her child.
That word, reader, was adieu.
Do you know the definition of adieu? Don't bother with your dictionary. I will tell you.
Adieu is the French word for farewell...
But reader, there is no comfort in the word "farewell" even if you say it in French. Farewell is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow. It is a word that promises absolutely nothing.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who was one of my favorite authors, and who passed away untimely, too soon, refers to the Tale of Despereaux in her book, Textbook. On pages 316-317, she creates a new poem based on the final lines in books including Our Town, The Razor's Edge, and of course, Despereaux. It is gorgeous. In this time of quarantine, if you are looking for reading material, I highly recommend Textbook. The whole book is interesting and funny and sad but these last pages always strike me.
Goodbyes are never easy. Sometimes we see them coming and can prepare closure of some sorts, a proper send off. Other times, they are a sudden tearing apart, a chapter closing before you ever saw it coming. There have been so many goodbyes.
As we end this year's Slice of Life Story Challenge, I hope it is more "so long" than "farewell." I hope you will be back on Tuesdays. I hope the stories continue. I hope what you've written this month you will return to, or share with your children or grandchildren some day. These have been and continue to be historic days. I pray you are well. I pray you stay that way. I pray the stories never end.
s"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."
-Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
I read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo many years ago. I don't remember the full story but I remember I loved it. When I went to my classroom on Friday to gather whatever I would need until... whenever this is all done, I saw the book on my shelf. Knowing the book I was reading to my students and the book I was reading to my own children were both coming to an end, I knew I needed a new read aloud. So an old book became a new friend again.
There have been so many golden lines I've loved so far, so many memorable characters. As dinner was cooling, I read my children the line above. Gregory, the jailor in the dungeon where the little mouse Despereaux has been banished, will save him if he can tell him a story. Because, "stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."
The world has gotten darker each day this month. March is not usually like this. March is usually full, busy, the bridge from winter to spring.Parades and parties and plans. Not this March. I've never in my life lived through a March like this and I hope to never experience a month like this again. The world does seem smaller, darker...and yet.....the stories are the light. The stories we share here remind us of better times. We can share our humanity- our hopes, fears, and struggles. The stories connect us at a time we feel so apart.
"Social distancing" does not mean the stories end.
The stories never end.
The stories are light.
And so are you.
Last night, my daughter had her heart set on an "indoor camping trip." She borrowed sleeping bags from her grandma and we had a picture of a campfire on the floor. It was raining here in NY so we made s'mores in the microwave. Part of our indoor camping adventure included watching a movie. While we have an extensive Amazon library of movies we've purchased, no one wanted to watch anything we owned. We found a movie we haven't seen- Sergeant Stubby- based on the true story of a dog who was a hero in WWI. You can see the trailer here:
The movie was so heart-warming. My son especially loved it. It was just the movie we needed last night.
One of the schools in my district posted a really moving video of staff and students with rainbows. The song that played in the background was this one, "Rainbow" by Kacey Musgraves.
I cant' really get it out of my head.
Today is a rainy day and I am looking for the rainbow.
The sadness is here today. I know there are blessings, I know there are lessons, I know there are upsides.
I have much to be grateful for.
But I just miss real life so much today.
How are you? Let's help each other find the rainbow.
My classroom looked just as I left in on March 13th.
But the feeling was totally different today as I gathered materials I would need, possibly through the end of the year. I saw one student's water bottle, abandoned on the desk. Papers in the mailboxes, just waiting for a child to put them in a folder. My denim jacket left on my rolling chair.
When March began, I wrote about a school being full of stories. And now the school stands empty, the stories paused.
Each day, my own children tell me more about their own classes. They tell me about their journal writing or their science experiments or how they had "Fun Friday." Stories they never told me before, uncovered now.
They tell me about their school as if it is in the present tense, as if they will go back soon.
I hope they can. I hope we can. I hope the stories will start again.
Today, the school was so silent. Unnaturally silent.
There were strict directions not to hug or touch, but as soon as I opened the car door, she ran to her Naya and wrapped her arms around her waist.
It had been so long since they've seen each other. Alex and Megan are used to Naya coming to our house every morning, Monday through Friday. to help them get ready for school, make their breakfast, pack their lunch, and walk them across the street to their school. Often on the weekends, there would be visits too. Sleepovers. So much love and togetherness.
Today, we drove one town over to where my parents live for a social distance visit. The idea was to talk from a distance. But the love was like a magnet and pulled them in, just for a few seconds before they remembered it wasn't safe.
Mostly, there was appropriate social distance. We know it is critically important.
But I'll remember that moment, that hug, when all of this is just a memory.
11 years ago, I put labels on wine bottles
and put them into mesh bags
as favors for my upcoming wedding.
11 years ago, I couldn't have known
that I would open one of the 5 bottles of wine
because it was a global pandemic.
And there have been
so many days and nights in the house.
And all day long
my chest has hurt
and I've worried that I am going to be sick.
And if my husband gets sick
and we both need to be hospitalized,
who will take my children?
Because no one can be around us
if that is the case.
the wine from 11 years ago
took away any chest pains.
And I think it was anxiety
and not the Corona Virus.
And the report cards
that needed to get done
will wait until tomorrow
Because I needed a glass
of wine tonight
from 11 years ago
when the world was different
in every was possible.
This is just to say
That my kitchen is currently a disaster
as I try to reorganize cabinets
to limit grocery store trips
and use up what we have.
This is also just to say
I ruined a healthy eating day
by stuffing cookie after cookie
in my mouth
while listening to weight loss advice
on my phone.
My report cards aren't close to done
and I do not look forward
to a rainy day
in my house
This morning, I listened to a shared reading from my friend, Dr. Nicolette James. She read the picture book Listen by Holly McGee. You can listen and respond here, if you like.
Here is what I wrote:
"Your air is mine" struck me. Maybe because I just read something about how the Corona virus can live in the air for 3 hours. Maybe because now it is undeniable that we are all connected- that what affects one affects all.
I'm reading Facebook posts where kids are seen playing basketball together in packs. The parents posting are angry- we are supposed to all be keeping our distance. Wouldn't we all like to sit in a restaurant with a friend again, hug our mom, cheer in the stands at a sporting event? Why do some people think the rules don't apply to them?
It makes me think of what I used to say to the kids chatting on my line in the hall while the other kids were quiet. Everyone wants to chat, but the ones who are listening and practicing self control don't. The whole class suffers as we all stand and wait for the chatty ones to realize why we aren't moving.
It's like that now. We are all in it together. We all need to do our part. Your air is mine.
This morning, I was anxious and angry. Aggravated and appalled.
Now, I am accepting of this new reality.
I am organizing my office to be better equipped to help my children with their schoolwork and teach my third graders remotely.
I am thinking of ways to connect.
I am looking for ways to make this work.
It's been a journey of mindset to get here.
I think the key for me is to watch less news.
Focus more on the possible and good than the inevitable and the frightening.
How are you doing with this new reality?
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski