I told Oliver yesterday that I had signed him and Annabelle up for a storytelling camp in July. For two hours each day of the one-week session, the kids will be writing and acting out their own stories. Sounds fun, right?
You would have thought I’d enrolled him in military school a few hundred miles away.
I shared the news at dinner. I slipped it in during one of my Meandering Distraction Narratives about how, during a staff luncheon Friday at the school where I work, one of my coworkers threw away a chocolate chip cookie I had been looking forward to eating. He was trying to be polite by throwing my plate away for me and I didn’t want to seem hoggish by jumping up and grabbing the cookie to eat later.
I did want to eat it, though. I was thinking of enjoying it in my quiet classroom after the luncheon and speeches were over.
So anyway, I was telling my family the story of The Perfectly Good Cookie That Was Thrown Away, and I casually mentioned the fact that I had signed both my kids up for storytelling camp.
The next thing I knew, Oliver was crying into his food, Dan was yelling, and Annabelle was excitedly discussing the various scripts she was planning to write and characters she would play within the stories.
Dinnertime in our household is an exercise in overstimulation. And that’s putting a positive spin on it.
Dan: Listen son, you are not going to get out of this by crying. Do you understand me? Everybody has to do things they don’t want to do. Do you think you’re going to lie around all summer watching TV? Do you think you’re going to run us ragged driving you around to buy toys every day?
Me: I just feel terrible. I think maybe one of Annabelle’s friends would like to take Oliver’s spot in the camp …
Dan: No! He is going to do the camp. Oliver, if you don’t do this, you are going to choose another camp, but you are going to do something …
Oliver: (Puts plate on counter, declines third helping of pasta, slinks off into the TV room to pout.)
Dan to me: Don’t give me this pity party crap. What are you going to do when he decides he doesn’t want to go to college because he’d rather hang out here and play video games …
This went on for a while. I conceded that Dan had some valid points. Oliver would never know his potential if he didn’t try new things.
Terms were negotiated. Baths were taken. Oliver has agreed to attend the camp, provided he won’t be forced to perform.
I’m sure I can clear that with the instructor. Most instructors are reasonable human beings, right? They understand about phobias, social anxiety and kids who would pretty much rather do anything than participate in their class, right?
Speaking of which, another school year is behind us. Dan and Oliver have become veterans at starting and ending the school year, but this year was a first for me and Annabelle. She finished kindergarten and I finished my first year of teaching.
On the last day of school in 2014, I was finishing a 10-week long-term substitute teaching job. I put in a long, hard 10 weeks at that school and on the last day, I came home with a bleeding foot because I had opted to wear cute shoes instead of sensible ones, and I’m getting too old for such things.
To me, that little spot of blood inside my beige Nine West ballet flat was symbolic – a metaphor for my 10-week sub job: Blood, sweat and tears.
Teaching is many things. They say it’s hard and they are not kidding. They say that doing something isn’t the same as teaching it, and that’s true, because when you’ve done something for so long that it has become second nature, you forget what it’s like to be in the beginning stages, and it’s hard to believe there are people who don’t enjoy doing it.
I still can’t believe some people don’t like writing essays. I’m convinced they do like it; they just don’t know they like it.
Sitting through the graduation ceremony at my school on Saturday morning, I was a little warm and a little bored at times, but I told myself not to complain, not for one second, not even in my mind.
My summer bucket list is long; I know that long days don’t necessarily equal productive ones, and maybe that’s a good thing.
In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, whose words were often chosen out of a desire to distract people from the real issues at hand, said:
“Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”
I’m going to watch for the longest day of the year. I hope not to miss it.