Sunday, December 18, 2016

Who Are You Now?

This morning I was struck with the thought that all three of the female children in our family experienced a trauma: sister K's first born passed away and sister S's husband died in his prime. I began to ponder about the sons of my parents: C went to jail and J lost a child in divorce.

Then I began to wonder how all those events shaped us as individuals. I recently listened to someone on NPR say we may all change significantly during our time on earth--an average of 3 times, if I remember correctly.

Though I don't see us as completely malleable creatures. I believe we're born with a personality that our environment influences. And depending on the strength of our personality, each person we spend significant time with helps us to see things differently--perhaps changing our social or political views and practices.

But, can we look back and see when or how we changed? Or are the effects so subtle even the people who've known us for years would be unable to say for sure?

A Carolyn Hax column from this year suggested that we become different people depending on who we decide to spend our lives with. A reader wrote in concerned about a friend's post marriage behavior. Here's part of CH's response:
"Relationship living involves at least some compromise somewhere, unless you manage to pair yourself with the person who has the exact same peer group, taste in television, bedtime reading habits, politics, drinking/eating/smoking habits, energy for going out, contentment with staying home, financial priorities, preferred form of exercise, approach to family and whatever else.
And so being apart from the person you’re compromising with on a daily basis usually means you plump out into a fuller version of yourself, even temporarily, in their absence.".
This rings true for me, as I've known people who lost a spouse whose friends and family remarked on how much they changed afterwards.

Today is a good day to raise a glass to all who have changed/influenced me for the better and may there be many more.
I never know what my brain will choose to ponder in the shower . . .

Who are you now?

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I will never forget the first time I met Kim. It was 1992, opening day of the new school year for my girls. Our family had arrived in Salem nearly a year before, the day before Halloween, 1991. Before we knew it, it was time to come back after our summer break. I was outside, with the rest of the parents, near the Salem Heights Elementary parking lot at a table set-up for parents to meet-up and collect information about school activities. Small talk buzzed throughout the area, then our eyes met. A connection! Despite ten months in Salem, I was eager to meet possible kindred spirits.

Kim and I shared our arrivals to town. She said she hoped to find a part-time job that allowed her to be home when her kids were home. I told her I'd found such a job I loved. Our conversation continued a short while from there. A few weeks later, I spotted her at the school where I worked. She'd been hired as a one on one for a young child in a neighboring classroom. I was surprised and pleased to see she had listened and acted upon what I'd told her.

Eventually, after being a one on one and subbing around the district, she became the second KG assistant. She was kind, loyal and efficient. And now, 20+ yrs later, both of us have gone through teachers & changes over the years. We've bonded with the teachers, watched them move on and in Gwen's case, mourned a wonderful teacher passing.

Now we've begun a year that has challenged both of us on many fronts. Our principal has taken advantage of the district homogenizing the description of our position. Instead of kindergarten being our focus, we've been scheduled to assist in 5th, 4th & 1st grades. Moving to a different location every 30 minutes. Instead of focusing on the development of the skills of the youngest, we're being deployed into other classrooms to assist with a new curriculum.

All of us working in kindergarten are frustrated. Partly because "change is hard", but mostly because we both believe the district's focus ought to center on the youngest. It's the reason (we heard) for the district's full day KG investment. Sadly, it'll also be the reason Kim will leave sooner than she planned. I'll miss her: her obvious love of the children, her attention to detail, how she never fails to remember to help us all everyday.

Now that I think on it, this will be the most selfish thing she's ever done. I only say that because she's never selfish, but her action is completely understandable in this situation. Not only is she old enough and situated well enough to retire, but she's no longer enjoying her days. We've experienced changes we don't agree with before, but this latest change has made the least sense and caused the greatest upheaval to all of those involved.

I'll miss her every day. So glad she has my phone number!