Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
Tight shoulders, gritted teeth, buzzing brain. I slam my laptop shut with a little extra oomph and shove it into my bag, barely noticing the usually-calming texture of my case and decals. That email, rrrRRRR, seriously?!... I didn't get to write my plans on the board and tomorrow morning is collaboration time... Have to get those book reviews graded in time for the kids to make corrections... and grade those projects... Still haven't responded to that other email... So much to... "Ma-ma-ma!"

Little Sweetie tugs at my pants leg, peering up half-sideways with her signature grin. "Ok, are you ready to go buh-bye with Mommy? Let's go have some fun!" I take a deep breath, pick up my bag, and grab her warm little hand. Her tiny fingers cling to mine, and those once-pressing thoughts drift away like fog in sunshine. Her neon pink shoes patter on the tile beside me, stopping periodically to investigate open doorways, lockers, and fascinating spots on the floor.

"Are you ready to go to the zzzzzzzoo, since Meemaw had to drop you off early?" She stops, flips her eyes wide open, and does her best fish-mouth. "That's right! We can see the fishies!" I giggle, and she continues with her famous extended version of her favorite word: "Tur-tur-tle-tle!"

"Yeah, and the turtles! We can see the fishies and turtles at the zoo!" The language teacher in me is in constant awe of how huge her receptive vocabulary already is, especially now that she is really starting to be able to produce a wider range of words and gestures to communicate her understanding.

By the time we're driving up the road with the windows cracked and sunlight streaming through the moon roof, my shoulders have loosened and my jaw hangs in an easy smile. As we walk up to the distinctive yellow entrance with its towering sign, my mind empties and opens to take in all the zoo joy that awaits:

rich, creamy Black Cherry ice cream in a crisp waffle cone, and Sweetie's hysterical puckered face each time I give her a lick...

her spindly legs bouncing as she crouches to peep through the barn slats at the goats, stretching her little hand out to pet any that come close enough...

she sticks out her tongue and pants heavily (her signal for "dog") as the black bear waddles right up to the glass in its newly redesigned enclosure...

"Beehhhh!" she shrieks when we approach the polar bear, who lazily lounges by his pool...

her tiny finger curls and straightens at each new habitat, then her little hand opens into a floppy wave as I name each animal for her...

her toothy grin as she pats, then slaps, then hugs the baby polar bear statue on the arctic playground...

she toddles up to the small blue slides, unsteadily sets herself down at the top, slowly hangs her legs down, grins, sticks her tongue out, and slides herself down like a very big girl, no longer needing Mommy to hold her like she did this summer...

and, best of all, her squealing, cackling, shrieking windmill of writhing legs and flailing arms each time the cougar paces past her, the beaver dives in front of her, or a flock of sparrows flutters by us on the path.

Pure delight. So much joy. The perfect reset to my day.


  1. I sooooo related to this! Your Little Sweetie reminds me of my own little girl! Being a teacher can be all consuming but taking the time to enjoy being a mom helps!

  2. Great slice! It is crazy how that one email can have so much power. I am glad you found your kryptonite!

  3. Nothing nicer to relieve the day's stress than a little sweetie's glee at the zoo. I'm glad you must be close enough to drop by. I am close to our museums and the zoo, and count it wonderful that I can go for just an hour. Beautiful descriptions, Jennifer!

  4. Your little Sweetie lets you put work into its place in a parallel life. Priceless.

  5. Your little Sweetie lets you put work into its place in a parallel life. Priceless.

  6. What a great way to reset. And the way you described taking her warm little hand.... I was right there with you. Takes me back to great memories when my girls and I would swing by the zoo after school for a quick "reset".
    Thanks for the reminder.

  7. What a delight to view the world through the lens of this little Sweetie. She is the perfect reset button for busy working days.


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