gillis and her big mouth

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Month: December, 2012


Another Christmas ends not with a bang (thankfully), but with a whimper. An “I wanna go to bed,” whimper actually. The whimper might have been coming from me, or from my three year old, it was hard to tell. In any event, I’m ready to clear this holiday out. I enjoy many aspects of the holiday – small traditions like cutting down a tree and decorating it with ornaments that come with their stories, visiting extended family, and baking together. Strangely enough, I’m also a huge fan of Christmas movies and music. Huge. But I’m not a fan of all the “extra” events that get heaped into this season. I loathe the holiday party and will do nearly anything to get out of going to them.

It seems counterintuitive to drag yourself out into the night, waiting in vain for your car to warm up because you cheaped out and didn’t get the one with the seat warmers, holding a shiny hostess gift bag in your hands and wearing some velvet accessory or another…I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Actually I’m exhausted from traveling with children for two days, and then wrapping gifts and assembling toys into the wee hours of the night last night upon our return, but I digress. I do think there’s something pathological about all this forced merriment during the darkest time of the year. Those of us who live in the northeast should really be put on IV drips of vitamin D (and perhaps some Prozac) for 4 months out of the year. We should have those lamps that mimic the solar rays installed in our cars, bathrooms, and workplaces. Then maybe I’d feel like socializing with people, but until then, what I’d really love to do is crawl into a warm, puffy cave somewhere and sleep until June.

Do You Smell What I Smell?

Here’s a Christmas carol that needs to be written. It centers around a mouse, deceased, and located under a child’s bed. Let’s say she’s an 11 year old girl with allergies. As the days wear on, the family members circle around one another, sniffing with accusation. Suggestions for flushing the toilet, using room spray, and yes, even changing undergarments are exchanged. Eventually all parties move on with their daily business, so to speak, until one fine day when the youngest family member drops a rolling toy precariously close to the rodent corpse and the source of rotting-sweet smell is discovered. The mystery is solved. There is much rejoicing, followed a small amount of shoveling.

What holiday classic will your family rewrite this year?

Striving to Slow

Lately I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed that I’ve completely forgotten to be on the lookout for the marvelous. How sad.

Today I am pushing that frenzy aside to let in some other things.

I’m so thankful that my son didn’t tantrum tonight. I enjoyed helping him into bed and felt my grinchy little heart grow two more sizes while he fought sleep and I sang our old lullabies softly. We both surrendered and we both won.

These weeks before the holiday break, when the students from dysfunctional homes start to circle the drain and the other kids buzz around like they’re drinking jet fuel for breakfast, I am trying to keep my thoughts centered on their needs instead of my lesson plans. Teaching can be difficult work, but it’s also amazing to be able to connect with kids at this magical between-point in their lives. I think I am finally starting to get it, finally seeing how nothing beyond the relationships really matter. Eventually they’ll all figure out how to read more fluently if they learn to love stories. Their writing will improve when they ¬†are shown what they are doing well and how important their voice is to the community. And their cell phones will have calculators built in, so they probably won’t end up homeless if they don’t master reducing fractions this year.

I’m marveling at how things ease up when I stop pushing my way through the day. I hope I can resist the impulse to strive inappropriately. I want to nurture the small voice that says “good, good” and tamp down the one insisting, “more, faster, better” all the time.