I Bathed in Poo Water

Roun’ here yard waste pickup is the second and fourth Monday of the month. I miss this consistently so the black trashcan full of garden clippings, weeds, twigs, vines, several months of rainwater and mosquito larvae sits against the back fence of my jungle-like garden elevated from the ground by a couple of cinder blocks.  Yesterday morning after I kicked my children out the do… I mean, lovingly sent my kiddos to school I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I noticed some neighbors had their yard waste out. I did a quick calculation and thought, FOURTH MONDAY, and hustled home.

When I reached my yard I glanced up and down the street and saw my neighbors had some twigs by the curb. Good, the truck hadn’t come yet. We still had time to drag the can to the corner.

photo 2I knew it would be heavy, it certainly had several months of rain water and rotting yard refuse inside as well as a couple feet of sunflower stalks on top. I just had to get the dang thing down off the cinder blocks and  drag the can a hundred or so feet to the curb. This was the moment, the hideous can of stinky dead stuff needed to go.

I grabbed the handle and gave the can a soft tug and… it didn’t move. The climbing creeper vines from the fence behind it had begun to assimilate the can of yard crap into itself like the Borg. With a determined yank I pulled it off the cinder blocks and with a great kerplunk it plopped onto the grass at my feet.

In an unexpected turn of events a large tidal wave of black, poo scented rain water rose up from the depths of the can, through the tangle of  sunflower stalks and cobwebs and landed on top of my head, all over my right arm and bathed both feet.

After a stunned moment I reluctantly looked down at my body. Black chunks of grossness covered my arm. The black toxic waste-like substance pooled at my feet, squishing between my toes. And the smell, oh, Lord have mercy. I smelled like poo.

And mosquito larvae.

Bring. It. On.

In that moment it was all about me and the poo can of yard waste. It against me. Me against It. And It was not going to defeat me. This was the moment. That was the day. The yard waste was going out. We would never wait for, and forget about, another second or fourth Monday again.

I knew before I could go any further I had to dump the rest of the black, poo water out. The can was heavy and sloshy, and well, it was just plain cruel to leave that for the yard waste pickup guys. The water had to go. I took a deep breath and tipped it over. Gallons and gallons of black water poured into my garden. You can’t defeat me, I thought as I watched it flow, I lived in India for over a decade – I had Typhoid* for goodness sake.

Poo water, you’ve got nothing on me, I thought as I dragged the, now much lighter, can of yard waste to the curb. And that’s the moment I felt it. That’s when the water that had sloshed up on my head began to flow from my scalp in rivulets behind my ear and drip onto my shoulder before trickling down my bosom.

Lt dan 2Is that all you got? IS THAT ALL YOU GOT! I shouted in my head like Lieutenant Dan hanging from the mast and screaming at the storm.

We made it to the curb. I bathed, for real, and scrubbed a lot. In fact, I scrubbed places I may have never scrubbed before. When I walked clean and sparkly (well, at least clean) back into my bedroom I heard the telltale noises of the yard waste truck. It was like heaven in my ears; I feared they would have skipped my house or had already come, but no, here they were. They took it. They took it all! And I photographed them as evidence.

photo 1

Until next time, toxic poo water.

*Typhoid is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person. (Super gross, I know)

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LIFE: Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

BR

It’s always a little exciting when someone you know writes a book AND gets it published. A longtime friend of mine, Steve Lange, is that person. I was given the amazing privilege of getting to read his novel, Breathing Room, even before it was released. Ultimately, when the Breathing Room Three-Part E-book Series was released on Amazon Kindle last year, all three became #1 bestsellers!

Breathing Room follows Jack and Patricia Christopher and their six sons over the course of two decades. It is the tale of a family searching for a haven that will provide relief from the seemingly unending struggles that oppress them. Intermixed with the tragedies, their story is woven together with moments of humor and tenderness. This novel is loosely based on the author’s own experiences growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

By the second chapter I was hooked and found myself in a perpetual state of wondering what would happen next. This book is real and raw and the experience of reading it leaves you feeling sympathetic toward each and every character. Whereas most stories tend to have a clear distinction between those who are “good” and those who are “evil,” Breathing Room portrays a family of flawed, yet utterly human individuals that the reader easily identifies with. I came to care for the Christopher family as I joined them in their quest for a place to breathe, an end to the tragedies that seemed to wash over them with the predictability of the ocean tides.

There are certain books that, as you read them, you can envision the film version. Breathing Room is one of those books, not an action packed blockbuster, but a slow moving, family drama that draws you in and leaves you with a sense of loss when it is over.

At times while I was reading Breathing Room I gasped as I remembered my own eleven year ordeal searching for a place to breathe, waiting for the feeling of imminent disaster to pass. I recall experiencing something akin to a feeling of relief when disaster did occur because the stress of wondering when it would come was finally over. For anyone who has experienced that longing for a place of shelter from the storms raging around them, or who has ever hoped for something more than limping cautiously through every day, Breathing Room is for you.

Breathing Room reminds us even in our darkest moments, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that  Hope is not dead.

Hope is never dead.

Breathing Room is releasing today (June 20, 2015) in print. I hope you will take a moment to explore whether Breathing Room is a book you might enjoy. Here are all the Breathing Room links you will ever need.

Links to Breathing Room the Book/Ebook

Facebook Page

Follow on Twitter

Email: Stevenlangebooks@gmail.com

Mailing Address: PO Box 3254 Harvey Cedars NJ, 08008

I was in no way, shape or form compensated for this review. All opinions are most assuredly my own. 🙂

This post was originally posted in April 2014. I have updated it with the news of the release of the print book.

Turn It Up!

One of my greatest delights is standing between my children in church and hearing their sweet voices join mine in worship. Now before you get the wrong idea, my two little ones are experts at disturbing these idyllic moments.

The truth is, it’s not unusual for me to lose a child during the worship time. Eventually, I notice one is missing and start glancing around; someone behind me usually catches my searching eye and points under a seat somewhere down the row. I smile my thanks and bend over to remove my child from under the seat and return to singing only to get tapped on the arm by the seven year old asking what does that or this word mean, you know, weird words like “hosanna” and “worthy.” It’s delightful that she wants to know, but this is like the seventh time she’s asked. I once again return to singing and soon realize the five year old is now lying in the middle of the aisle, I whisper loudly to her, “someone’s going to step on your head.” I silently blame myself for forgetting to bring a coloring page and crayon packet once again. At last I hand the little one the pen and “welcome card” from the pocket in the seat in front of her to entertain her.

I wouldn’t change it.

singingNo, mine are most definitely not the perfectly dressed in their Sunday best little girls with white tights and bows in their hair. Mine are the children who look like they dressed themselves (they did) and I am the mom licking my thumb to remove dried icing from the little one’s cheek before she exits for Sunday School – and yes she got it on there by clandestinely licking the icing off her big sister’s cinnamon roll before church. This child seriously needs Jesus.

But it is those brief moments of unified voices in praise with my girls beside me that I cherish. A combined 120 seconds of that? I’ll take it. Joyfully.

Three years ago my daughters and I stepped onto a plane with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We flew across oceans and continents from one country to another. The first six months in the US are still a blur. The girls were not yet in school. The younger two children did not even speak English and the older two were barely bi-lingual. They could not read. They could not write.

But they could listen.

Almost from our first day in the US we listened to a Christian radio station and we learned every song. I consider it the number one most healing influence in our life at that time. Even today, it is all we listen to in the car.

The other day I borrowed my dad’s car to drive my daughter to the dentist. His car’s dial is set to Sports Radio. That, of course, was unacceptable. As I was driving I scanned through the channels, trying to find something a ten year old might like. After about ten minutes of skipping from song to song she said, “Mom, can we put on our regular station?” Gladly.

We might not have a wide variety of songs in our repertoire but there are few things in this life that give me as much pleasure as listening to the sound of my children singing worship songs in the car and hearing them say,

“Turn it up, Mom, this is my favorite one.”

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®.

Shoulda Been Criminals

lockLast week I was at my parents’ house picking up some things to sell at a yard sale later this month. I thought there might be some things in the basement to sell but when I asked for the key we discovered it was with my dad at his work. We were locked out.

I had my eight year old daughter with me and as we walked back toward the front of the house she asked me for a bobby pin. I happened to have a couple in my hair, so I pulled one out and gave it to her and went inside to talk with my mom.

A few minutes later G. returned and handed me back the bobby pin.

“I couldn’t get it open.” She said.

By this time I started to have an inkling of what she wanted the bobby pin for – the lock on the cellar door. She had tried to pick it and failed.

“Here, you do it.” She said as she handed me the bobby pin.

I don’t know about you, but picking locks with bobby pins is not an experience we were exposed to growing up. Heck, we weren’t even allowed to have our elbows on the table at meals. Suffice to say, we just weren’t a “lock picking” family.

Recently, at 75, my mother was required to get an updated driver’s license photo. One day soon after getting the new picture, I overheard my mom talking to my brother and she said, “I wish I were a criminal, mugshots look better than this. I look like a little old lady in this picture.”

They made her take off her glasses for the photo.

Apparently by living a crime-free lifestyle we’ve missed out. I lack lock-picking skills and may never  again see my 1980s Smurf figurine collection hidden in the bowels of my parents’ basement, and my poor, 75 year old mother is stuck looking like a “little old lady” on her driver’s license.

smurfShoulda been criminals.

 

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What I Found At The End

I have a confession to make. For years I avoided reading the Psalms in my personal devotion time. I think that somewhere in my prideful heart I assumed that the Psalms were for people who couldn’t handle the rest of the Bible. In my mind they had become a kind of “Bible Lite.”

This attitude was full of pride, obviously, and since I’m confessing this to you, you’ve probably guessed that at some point I must have had a change of heart – and you’d be right. It wasn’t many years ago that I reached the end of myself.

Have you been there? The uttermost, absolute end of yourself?

While I stood there at the end–the end of me, the end of me knowing where my life was heading, what my purpose was, what to do and not to do, say and not to say, it was there, in that place of utter desperation and brokenness that I discovered The Psalms.

Oh where had they been all my life? How could I have possibly disdained them? Why did I never devour them before? What a prideful fool I had been.

So there at the end I opened the psalms and I read.

I read one after another and each spoke volumes to my shattered heart. When my prayers had dried and my pain was too deep to find the words to speak I read the Psalms aloud to God, my Savior. The Psalms themselves became my very own words spoken from my heart and through my tears. They were my cries for help. They were my cries of pain. They were my cries of confession. And at last, they were my cries of Hope.

ps

It saddens me that I had to reach the end of myself to discover the beauty and significance of the Psalms. I love the entire Word of God and every verse is precious to me, but no matter what else I read each day in the Word, I always first open to the Psalms.

If you have not yet discovered the joy of reading the Psalms or if your heart is hard, or broken or maybe you’ve run out of words to cry out to God, there is hope. It’s not too late. I encourage you to take the Bible in your hands, open up to Psalm 1 and start reading.

Read day after day until you reach the last one, and when the final verse of Psalm 150 is read, flip back and begin again.

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

Not Awesome

Everything is not always awesome. If you’ve been a mother for any amount of time you’ve probably experienced your child being hurt. Not physically hurt, although that happens often enough, but hurt emotionally. Recently my teenage daughter texted me and asked to be picked up early from a school event. Once home she asked me for a hug and cried in my arms for a while.

Feelings were hurt. Kids were mean. My heart breaks.

On those less than awesome days I’ve found that the best thing is to just hug, be there for her, and not try to fix. Can I be real honest here? My flesh urges me to tell her to go upstairs, get a bowl of ice cream and relax in front of the TV, as if that would make it all better. But that is the response of my flesh and the ice cream will provide no real comfort. In these moments, a bowl of ice cream teaches my daughter to find her comfort in something other than the True Comforter.

So while we hug, I pray.

God knows, He saw, His heart breaks too.

I was recently reading the passage in Luke 18 where Jesus told His disciples to let the little children come to Him. How many times have I read that, seen it, heard it? Yet on this particular day I understood something new about our Heavenly Father. Honestly, who among us doesn’t melt at the sight of a newborn or enjoy making a nine month old laugh? Whose heart doesn’t fill with joy while watching the freedom a four year old feels to pirouette through a parking lot or at a ten year old’s excitement and anticipation over the one line she gets to say in the school play?

Our hearts swell with love, often for no other reason than because these precious creatures are children. I forget that God looks at our children and that He also experiences that same warmness and joy that we feel in their presence – but He experiences it in perfection – even better. Then, even so, when our hearts break with our children, it is only natural that we turn to the One whose heart is breaking with us. He is the True Comforter, not just for me in my sorrow, but my child’s Comforter in her own sorrow.

Her sadness is not too insignificant for Him to care.

I must constantly remind myself that my children’s faith journeys are their own to traverse and I am here to guide. The God who comforts the downcast is as much their Father as He is mine. And as I have personally experienced His comfort time and time again, the greatest response I can give to my daughter in her own moment of sorrow is to lead her to The Source of all comfort and The Healer of all wounds, so that when the day comes that I am no longer with her, she can find her way to Him.

Then after a little while, when the tears subside, she and I can share another hug, and maybe a bowl of ice cream.

not awesome

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

Call Me Homeless

I spent part of my Friday night with the homeless.

homeless-

Don’t get me wrong, the purpose of this post is not to toot my own horn, but rather, to toot the horn of the men and women I met on this cold and snowy night who just happen to not know where they will be sleeping in a few hours.

Let me back up; when there have been several severely cold (read: below freezing) nights in a row, a local ministry I volunteer with fills a van with a large thermal dispenser of hot chocolate, packets of peanut butter crackers and some bins of hats, gloves, scarves and blankets and drives to the transportation center downtown.

There were three of us tonight who bundled ourselves up and stepped out of the van into the swirling whiteness of an unforeseen snow storm. While we unloaded the van men and women already covered in a dusting of snow gathered and asked us for gloves, or hats or blankets. Two of us took the hot chocolate a little ways away and offered steaming cups and crackers and conversation to passersby.

The first time someone thought I was homeless, they saw me walking toward the van and got my attention to inform me that there was free hot chocolate behind me. The second time was when I asked our van volunteer for another bulk pack of crackers by saying, “Do you have anymore crackers?” and a man standing in line for some gloves overheard me and immediately reached into his pocket and handed me his very own packet of crackers that he had received with his hot chocolate.

I was stunned into silence.

I am still stunned into silence.

The third time I was mistaken for homeless (sad to say this is not the first time in my life this has happened, surely it won’t be the last) a man standing in line by the van started advocating to the other volunteer on my behalf because he was certain my coat wasn’t warm enough. He insisted I ask for a coat and warm weather clothes and stand in line before him.

Stranger caring for stranger. Friend caring for friend. I’ve heard of the compassion and generosity of the destitute and downtrodden; the gentleness of the hearts of those laying down this very night wrapped in sheets of plastic and newspaper, and covering their tired feet with four pairs of socks that they got from a red van and some random people handing out hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s night.

Call me homeless. I’ll take it as a compliment.

For more follow me on Bloglovin and find more thoughts on this topic here and here.

The Red Journal

photo 1

Since 1999 my older brother has kept a Christmas journal that contains reflections on Christmas written by members of the family. Each Christmas one family member writes in the journal and then does a reading at the annual party.

journal

I recognize each person’s handwriting. What a special tradition.

2014 was my year. 


I wrap my children’s Christmas gifts early and put them out a couple weeks before Christmas day. If the gifts are out, you may wonder, how do I keep my children from squeezing and shaking and peeking at their packages in the days and weeks before Christmas? Wouldn’t the temptation to take a peak be just a little too strong? And what about the beautiful packaging – doesn’t it get bent and torn and worn away?

Yes and yes.

In fact, in our house there is a lot of movement of the gifts (by the children) – from upstairs in my bedroom, to down under the tree, to back up in the bedroom again. As you can imagine, there are repairs on the paper from holes and rips that, “accidentally” appeared there.photo 1 (3)

None of this bothers me. You see, I know that the majority of the pleasure derived from the gifts is experienced in the anticipation of opening them and seeing what is inside. Once opened, gifts often lose their luster and it doesn’t take long on Christmas day or the days following for the open gifts to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sweet treats from the stocking are found under the couch partially eaten and collecting dust, little makeup boxes lay empty and discarded while the eyeshadow they once contained is caked on my children’s faces or, occasionally, smeared into the sofa. The device they’ve wanted all year is discarded in preference of mom’s iPhone – as usual.

That’s OK too. As much as gifts and even lovely traditions (like this journal) are important and we hope they last for generations to come, gifts and traditions don’t make Christmas – Christmas. And Christmas will certainly not cease to be Christmas if all the gifts and traditions and trappings were taken away. The Whos taught us that.

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:

Grinch: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Narrator: And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So, what does Christmas mean?

I think most of us would agree that Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of a Savior. Everyone here tonight knows that. We come together at this time of year to celebrate the BIRTH of a Savior. Emphasis on the word, Birth.

Now, I am not against Jesus’ birthday, Christmas traditions or gift giving; the Bible encourages traditions and even the wise men gave gifts, but if that is where our Christmas celebration ends, our disappointment is guaranteed. We are left with emptiness, much like the feeling we experience after the gifts are finally opened and we wake up on the morning of the 26th to a house full of discarded wrappings and empty boxes. It’s not enough, it’s never enough – all the amazing and beautiful, best gifts in the world or fun Christmas events and parties can never truly satisfy the longing inside of us. In fact, once Christmas is finally all over, we are often left feeling relieved.

Now let me try to say this again, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a SAVIOR, emphasis on the word, Savior. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The gifts will never satisfy because our hearts are longing for something much greater and more lasting – our forever home – heaven, Eternity with God Himself. A place and a time where the celebration will not be focused on the Savior’s birth but a place and a time where the celebration is focused simply, on the Savior.

Think of the generations of worshipers from the very first; those of old who looked forward with anticipation for a Savior who would one day come, to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, the disciples, the apostles, the early church, the very first believers in nation after nation as the Gospel spread all over the world and even to this present day. Imagine all those who have gone before us, and the true believers who are celebrating Christmas all over the world far and near even this very night. We, every true follower of Christ who has ever lived and is alive today, are invited, not just to celebrate the birth of this precious baby, but, in fact, we are all members of the wedding party in the most glorious wedding supper of all time. Rev. 19:9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” 

This same baby, God in human form, who entered this world in a stable and was laid in a manger grew into manhood and was victorious over death and the grave in order to give us the greatest gift ever given, one that can never be damaged or outdated or unsatisfying; the gift of Grace to save us from our sins.

And this gift, He is still offering it today. At this very moment, he is calling out to the lonely. The sick. The brokenhearted, The imprisoned. The depressed. The hungry. The dying. The lost. The deceived. The fearful. The poor. The proud. The haters. The smallest child and The aged. Those near and those far away.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev. 21:3-7

It’s why we celebrate – it’s what we celebrate – not just the birth of the savior – but what his birth represents – Emmanuel – God with us – our Savior has come.

An Open Letter – The Christmas Shoes Song

An open letter to the writers, producers and every radio station that plays – The Christmas Shoes song.

tcs

I’m not really sure what exactly an “open letter” is, but I feel compelled to write one anyway. They say, “Be the Change you want to see.” Well, I don’t know how that relates to me writing this letter – but I do hope to make my voice heard.

Much has been said about the Christmas (thank the Lord, it’s just Christmas) song, The Christmas Shoes. Articles, Facebook statuses, tweets… But I, too, have something to say:

If every single solitary person in the whole entire world* HATES this song, why play it?

Have you somehow deceived yourselves into believing that it’s a good song? Do you think that people really like it? If so, who would these (insane) people be? Honestly, I’m just going to say it, the song is not good on any level.

Let’s step aside from the lyrics for a moment and simply focus on the music – Compelling? I don’t think so. Catchy? – it’s about as catchy as leprosy (i.e. – not a lot of people get it stuck in their heads, but those who do, would rather be dead. I don’t think I’m stepping over the line or exaggerating here.)

Now let’s take a look at the lyrics for a moment. In all fairness, I will force myself to look up the lyrics and copy some of them here in this letter. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This. Like, gynecological & dental appointments are way, way higher on the list of things I’d rather do right now than allow the lyrics of The Christmas Shoes to invade my eyeballs – but I will take a deep breath and visualize warm beaches with my loved ones/a handsome, single man in his forties around me and I will get through it.

The Christmas Shoes (excerpts)

I wanna buy these shoes

For my mama. please

It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry sir

Daddy says there’s not much time

You see,

She’s been sick for quite a while And I

know these shoes will make her smile And I

Want her to look beautiful

If mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love as he thanked me and ran out

I knew that God had sent me that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about

(Deep breath. Happy place, happy place…)

So, the gist of the song seems to be: the little boy wants to buy his mom some shoes for Christmas because she is on her deathbed and he thinks she, or Jesus, are actually going to be concerned about her footwear when she meets Him in heaven. Apparently, the singer of the song believes that footwear in Heaven is really important too, since, according to him that is what Christmas is all about.

I’m kind of at a loss about where to go with this letter. You see, if I have to explain to you why this song is HORRIBLE, then I fear you are incapable of comprehending  the horridness of it. However, I will press on – in all honestly, The Christmas Shoes song has become my own personal Nemesis.

I need you, dear sirs, (I assume you are all men) to understand that this song should be burned to ashes and never be played again. It would also be nice if you would kindly offer psychological counseling to every person who has ever had the misfortune of hearing it.

I’m not asking for much. I do hope you read this open letter. I write it with humor, but in all seriousness, this song is unacceptable. It is upsetting. Ridiculous. UnChristmasy. And really, just bad. It needs to stop.

I would love to hear back from you – specifically the radio stations who choose to play it. As an artist, sure, feel free to write whatever you want, but radio station people, please, PLEASE stop the torture. The destruction of The Christmas Shoes song would totally remind me what Christmas is all about. Let’s make 2014 the last year for The Christmas Shoes; the shoes need to be buried.

Sincerely,

Actually, Honestly and Truly Scarred for Life

PS – Any press is not good press. We write about The Christmas Shoes because it is an atrocity that Must Be Stopped.

***

The Christmas Shoes

Writer(s): Leonard Ahlstrom, Eddie Carswell
Copyright: Sony/ATV Songs LLC, Jerry’S Haven Music, WB Music Corp.

(I put this up for copyright reasons – but if you would like to send them heartfelt notes of why you HATE this song too, please do.)

* (minus the people to whom I am addressing this letter, but maybe you hate it too.)

If you hate this song – please do comment; let’s make our voices heard.

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With Love, Speaking for The People, Rebecca W. Onkar

10 Reasons I Appreciate Teachers or…

Why You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Teach in School

10 teacherz

1. Stinky Children. Have you smelled a child’s breath in the morning? Do you know where those hands have been? I do. I know these smells All. Too. Well, my friends. I live with children. I know what they smell like. It’s not good. If I get 50% of my children to brush their teeth on a given morning – it’s a GOOD day. Poor, poor teachers. I deeply apologize.

2. Interruptions. I’ve taught enough small children over the years to realize that it is nearly impossible to get through anything without being interrupted. In fact, I have my own children to prove this theory. This morning as we were getting ready to leave for school I said, “Ok, everyone be quiet, we’re going to pray.” Just like we do every morning. As I take a deep breath and my lips are forming the “D” in “Dear Jesus,” my seven year old says, “Did you put my water bottle in my bag?” “Yes, close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. D…” “Did you put my snack in my bag?” <deep breath> “Yes. close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. De…” “Is it Halloween today?”

Lord have mercy, she did it FOUR times. In the end I had to have the five year old pray because I was too aggravated to talk to the Lord in that moment.

God bless teachers.

3. Stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where you could just tell a random story of your choosing about an irrelevant incident that happened in your life whenever the spirit moved you? Welcome to Childhoodville. Random. Random stories out of left field, probably when their teacher is trying to explain math or something. You have got to shut them down and move on, or the random storytelling will take over your life, I mean, classroom.

4. Farting. Let’s get real, Everybody farts. This includes the people who claim they don’t fart. They do. However, back in the day when I was in school, no one farted in school– or at least admitted to farting. Once, when I was in 9th grade the kid behind me accidentally farted loudly during class. With a “W” last name I was in the far back, left corner with just one seat behind me. In an instant, every single head in that classroom whipped back to our little corner of the room. In mortal fear that someone might think that I had committed the fart, I quickly turned around and glared at the kid behind me who sheepishly shrugged his shoulders as if to say, whoops. At least he manned up and owned it.

These days farting seems to be the “in” thing. I got on the bus with the 5th Graders to chaperon their class trip and before my buttocks hit the green faux leather bench, I smelled it. Stinky, unmistakable fart smell. On the crowded bus. Really? Sigh.

My five year old is always loaded. And she is unashamed. When I ask her if she does it in school she claims she doesn’t, but I’m not so sure. For a little person, she is super gassy and I don’t even know why. I can’t imagine what I’m feeding them to cause the gas buildup; it’s not like they eat vegetables or anything…

5. Questions. Ridiculous questions. Questions like, “What do you call 100 twins?” And they expect an answer, as if that’s a thing. And they won’t ask you once, they’ll ask you 400 times, apparently forgetting the 399 times they already asked you the same thing.

If teachers haven’t been driven just a little bit insane I’d be very, very surprised.

6. Discipline. Call me crazy, but I just like to work in a world where people are adults and it’s not my job to correct them.

7. Cleaning. God bless them again, but there are some teachers who even clean up their students. Imagine it’s winter and seated before you are twenty sweet and shiny faces; shiny with florescent yellow snot logs hanging just above their upper lip. The remaining log-less students’ nostrils are filled with enormous snot bubbles or crusty boogers. Bring on the tissues. And rubber gloves. And Clorox wipes. And Airborne.

Bless you teachers. Bless you.

8. Whining. Maybe this only happens at home? Somehow I doubt it. Whiners gonna whine.

9. Repeating. As in, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooom, Mom…” Although I suppose in school it is something along the lines of, “Teacher, Teacher, Teacher… or Mrs. Fillintheblank, Mrs…” You get where I’m going with this… (refer back to my insanity comment.)

10. I’m leaving #10 blank for a Fill it in Yourself Competition. There is no prize other than my eternal gratitude for your understanding and empathy; for the teachers – not me, I wouldn’t do that job for a million bucks.

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It must be a calling. I cannot imagine why someone would willingly submit themselves to the stinks and sounds of a small child classroom environment if they weren’t on a mission of some kind. There just isn’t enough money in the world. All I have left to say is, whatever teachers are being paid, it isn’t nearly enough.

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