This Teacher’s Nightmare (or My Dream Last Night Before I Forget it)

I have to write this down before I forget it.

It was mid July and I received a letter in the mail. “There have been some changes to your position and you will need to come to @#$#% School (Note to reader: The symbolized curse words will be in the place of things that I have forgotten) to the Parent’s Night to find out about your new position.” I couldn’t believe it. I had three years left before retirement and I wasn’t going to be doing the job that I loved so much at Smithland Elementary School in Harrisonburg. I interrupt this dream to ask especially, my teacher readers: Can you imagine this nightmare? Coming to a Parent Night and not even knowing what you’re going to do? And no, I don’t know why I didn’t call @#$#% School to find out what I was going to do.

It’s Parent Night. I must have called my Mom and sisters because they all came along to @#$#% School for the big reveal. Jack sat dutifully beside me and my Mom and sisters were behind me. (Insert some psychology: This must be a metaphor! ūüôā ) The lights begin to dim. The spotlight lands on a large sequined woman. It’s Mrs. @#$#% , the school principal. She begins to sing some lyrics that go like this: “It’s a new school year at @#$#% . Our jobs are so important. Our jobs are so important…” and then it goes into what can only be described as a Broadway Back to School Spectacular Spectacular (nod to Moulin Rouge) Frankly, it was raucously inappropriate for a Parent Night, but this was not reality, friends. I need to remind everyone that this was my dream last night. Mrs. @#$#% starts introducing the teams of teachers. Three teachers got up with the 5th and 6th grade team so I decided I’d go up and introduce myself. “Hi. I am Mrs Rimer (this is weird because I haven’t ever declared this at a school event) and I received a letter that I would be teaching here. I really have no idea what my job will be.” Mrs. @#$#% whispers like Shere Khan the snake in Jungle Book, “There has been a change of plansssss….stay after the program.”

And in the Blose sister way, I went back and told one sister what she said, and then another would ask “What did she say?” because no one listens in my family or they come up after the story is half told and then you have to start all over again. It’s a family trait. ūüôā

Mrs. @#$#% invited me into her office where there were plenty of pictures of her from previous Parent Nights in different sequined dresses. I was pretty sure that our educational philosophies were going to clash. “Mrs. L (wait I thought I was Mrs. Rimer), you have been hand selected to be a teacher for a very special group of 12 8th graders. They need your energy and your excitement. And because they can’t behave for anyone else, you will teach them math, reading, science, social studies, art, PE, music and computers. (Ok. At least I don’t have to teach library) You will get a 30 minute lunch break each day unless they get out of hand.” I didn’t say anything which is not like me. I leave her office and everyone is standing there. I tell them about my new job. Everyone is furious. Jack said, “You are not doing that.” I have no choice! “I need to teach 3 more years or I have no retirement!!” I shout. So I go to my room, and there aren’t 12 8th grade boys but there are 24. I notice one has salt and pepper hair. I recognize him. “Wait. Aren’t you @#$#% ? I taught you in 1991.” “Yeah. It’s me, Mrs. L. I never got past 8th grade.” “Why didn’t they just push you through and give you a participation diploma!?”

And that was it. I don’t remember anything else. The good news is that I can do anything for three more years.

Driving Down Keezletown Road

I’ve been itching to write this since 8:00 this morning, but that teaching job that (sort of) pays the bills claimed my day. ¬†If you are a writer, when you have something that strikes you, it’s a splinter in the foot. ¬†You don’t rest until you’ve dug it out.

I have quite a lovely commute to work. ¬†I take Keezletown Road. ¬†I think it’s still called that but I’m not sure because what I call Keezletown Road, Jack calls by some number. ¬†When he says it, I have to ask, “What’s that road?” ¬† It’s ironic that this is the road that took the Blose girls to elementary school every day. ¬† A curvy, hilly road and if the bus driver was in a happy mood he’d take the hills a little faster, and I’d literally fly in the air, laughing joyfully. ¬†I don’t think my feet touched the floor of the bus until sixth grade.

Usually on my commute, if no one is coming, I glance over to the left at my childhood home, now way up high on the hill. ¬† Ten years ago, my Mom moved that house up that hill. ¬†Honestly. ¬†Moved it over a mile through some fields and up to the top of a big hill where the milking herd used to lounge in the spring sun or find cool shade in the dog days of summer. The view from the top is stunning. ¬† Today, I started thinking about my Dad. ¬†Gone now twelve years, he wasn’t given the opportunity to sit on the new deck and take in that view. ¬†I soon felt my eyes stinging with tears. ¬† I started thinking about a younger Billy¬†Blose, before he was a husband or a father, chasing in cows to the milk barn. ¬† Even as a teenager, he wanted to live on that hill. ¬†I wonder if he took the time to visualize what ¬†his life ¬†would be like before he had to get on with his chores. ¬†¬†¬†I’m sure there were countless times as a young farmer that he would stop by the edge of the wood on the four-wheeler, and look at the Peak, dreaming of waking up to that view. ¬†¬†I remembered him then as my older Dad, happily taking our future minister, John Leggett, to the top of the hill to show him where he planned to move the house. ¬†John was looking for a home in the area, and the story is that he said, “Yes. ¬†I think this spot will suit Alayne and I just fine.”

Is a dream deferred a dream denied? ¬† Is it a tragedy when we don’t get what we want? Yes. I’m afraid it is a side effect of being human. ¬† Someone once asked me why he didn’t move the house up on the hills years ago. ¬†Well, there were seven girls to feed and clothe, big wheels,¬†dollhouses, roller skates, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, high heeled shoes to go with prom dresses, cows, trips in a motor home across the country, ¬†cars, ¬†lots of dogs, a pinball machine, a tree house, Disney World, college, weddings, grandbabies, and trips with the grandkids. ¬†My third favorite Beatle said, ¬†“Life’s what happens while you’re making plans.” ¬† But I’m going to suggest that there’s nothing wrong with making “plans.” ¬†They keep us motivated when we get beat down. ¬†They give us energy when we really don’t want to get out of bed. ¬†Plans keep us inspired. ¬†They are often a flashlight in the dark and a welcome distraction when reality is cruddy. ¬† ¬†I don’t think Dad would have traded that view for the hollering at basketball games, walks down the aisle, jumps off the mantel with his grandkids, ¬†or any single moment with my Mom. ¬† I’m pretty sure he already knew what it looked like, anyway.