Tag Archives: teacher

Something BIG is Coming…

Miss me?

I kind of did as well. I just checked and it seems that my last entry on this blog was posted March 1st, 2020. That’s “pre-COVID” if you hadn’t figured it out. I guess, like a lot of people, I was just focused on other things for the past few months. It’s the height of irony for someone who loves to document life. Think about it. The most bizarre year of any of our lifetimes comes along and I can’t bring myself to write a solitary word about any of it.

I believe in the silence, we sometimes find answers to the big questions in life.

These past five months have been a blessing for me. They have been filled with many wonderful memories – memories that, for now, will remain untold on these pages and bound up only in the collective mind of my family. You all know by now that this blog has been a way to document the life of my family as my kids have been growing up. Don’t worry, they’re not quite grown yet. There are many more stories to record and to share.

But I think these times God gives us – times like a national lockdown – force us to confront the question of what is most important in our lives. For me it has always been God. It MUST be God. He is at the center of all that I hope to do and be – “my first beginning and last end,” to quote the daily missal. To love is to sacrifice, to give oneself to God, whole and entire. We do this in giving ourselves to our spouses, our children, the Church, society. I have always harbored a desire to be loved. It is a desire with which I have struggled in many ways. And yet I know that it is far greater to love. I hope that my love for my wife and kids has shown through in the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve committed to this space over the years. But to love them means to sacrifice myself for them. Now I am preparing to embark, for them, on what is perhaps my greatest task in life fully realized. Let me tell you.

Christ, the Great Teacher. “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” (stained glass, Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic church, Newark, NJ)

Two things in particular have happened in the past few months to spur this realization. First, there were the hours and days and weeks spent with the kids. My wife works from home in a cozy office off the back of the house. We try not to disturb her during the work day. But yours truly is a school administrator/teacher. We got shut down. Just like every other parent in America I found myself suddenly teaching my own kids. My situation was a bit different. For starters, I had always wanted to teach my kids in a formal setting. It’s why I went to work at the school were I did – so the kids would be with me and one day I would have them in class. I know, I’m that dad. Although they say they think that’s a “cool” idea now, I’m not sure how they’d feel in high school. And I have even reached “Master Dad Joke” level within the International Society of Dad Humorists so I was just waiting to lay puns and set snares with an intellectual bent that would make anyone’s head explode. Yet here we were, unexpectedly getting that chance; while I was simultaneously teaching other kids online and helping to run a K-12 school.

Three months. We did this for three months. We got creative and got plenty of exercise walking around the neighborhood or riding our bikes. We laughed. We cried. We struggled. But it was sooooo worth it.

Another thing happened recently. This one affected me more than the kids. Two weeks ago one of my older brothers committed suicide. He had a wife of 27 years and two grown kids. I will never understand why he did such a thing. Please pray for his soul and for his family. Something shook me about this. Did the lockdown mess with him? He was one of the most social creatures I’ve ever known? There’s no sense trying to find an answer, though. It is over. It is final. Pray for him. When I say something shook me, I mean that the fragility of life came to the fore of my own life once again. We’ve lost so many over the years. We cannot go forward as though all is doom and gloom. Yet at the same time we have to use these moments to focus on what is truly important, just like we might see good in the lockdown if we understand that we got more time together as a family. Don’t get me wrong. I think the lockdowns were useless and politically motivated and you can call me a nut but the curve was flattened a long time ago. Nonetheless, it gave me time and his death gave me pause to reflect.

I have one solemn charge in life and that is to get my wife and kids to heaven. I need to teach them their faith and about the world around them. I need to pray with them every day, go to mass with them every day like my dad taught me. I need to give them everything I have. And I’m the one to do it. Just look at me! Every moment of my life prepared me for this. And right now you’re asking what I’m talking about…

Wait for it…

After fifteen years in education as a teacher and administrator, after more than a decade of documentary blogging, after years of working in broadcast media, having served varied school communities, television networks, and a brief stint driving live lab mice to the airport; I am leaving it all behind. Starting in a few weeks, I will be the principal of my home. Since I was only ever vice principal, I guess I just gave myself a promotion. My two kids will be getting up with me every morning to do what is most important – praise God and live out our family life together – while I teach them the “Three R’s” and try to keep them away from Mommy’s office. I’m excited beyond belief. I know I can do this. I hope they’ll be cooperative when the going gets tough. And you my dear readers, both of you, already know that there’s no way I’m starting this new chapter in my life without chronicling all the gory details. Look for a new blog to start soon (either right here or under a new domain). And if you have any friends (like the million or so Americans who are also crazy enough to try this same stunt) who want to follow and read along, send them my way. The adventures of a now-former vice principal who quits his job to be a homeschooling dad might just be anybody’s cup of tea in these insane times.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare…

I wanted to address the topic of sleep this evening; or rather, my lack thereof. This is one of those things that I KNOW my fellow teachers will understand. Summer’s going along nicely and then BAM! All of a sudden you have to wake up at some ungodly hour and shift your daily routine forward by an hour or more. And you think you’re cool and you’ve got it under control. But you really don’t. School started for us one week ago. For the past few days I have felt like I was running a marathon every day. My daughter and I have dutifully gotten in the car at 7 each morning and driven then mile to school. By 3:20 when I’ve matched the last of the kids to their carpools and locked up the buildings I scratch my head. I look at my little girl and say “I’m beat… Wasn’t it just 7AM?”

This afternoon I came home, sat down on the couch, and crashed harder than MH 370. Too soon? I only slept about an hour and that didn’t seem nearly long enough. I spent the next hour or so in a daze. Fortunately my lessons are well planned so I didn’t have any “work” to attend to. I have intentionally removed most distractions from my daily life, too, so that I can devote all of my time when not in school to my kids. Hence, I felt a little down on myself tonight for sleeping. But I’m sure they understand.

Then came bedtime — their’s. Fortunately they haven’t been giving me a hard time about this lately. My son did, however, approach me at 9, asking me to read him a book. OK, it turns out that he hasn’t gotten the whole “homework should be done when you get home from school” routine. In school today he had been given a book by his teacher and asked or told or whatever, I’m really not sure, to read two chapters by tomorrow. Now that it was late and he was tired he wanted yours truly to read it to him. He tried playing the old “Daddy, remember when you used to read to me?” card. It worked.

Tonight’s bedtime story: an old classic I read as a boy in my grammar school. It’s called Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims“. Except when I read it the title was Squanto: Friend of the White Man. It’s a fascinating tale of love, murder, and deception. At least it was when I got through with it. I hope he doesn’t have to make an oral presentation on this thing. But if he does, it will be phenomenal!

My daughter busied herself with some craft she was working on. I believe she was knitting. She kept muttering something about the Evremond’s and Charles Darnay and how it was “right to revenge”. I really wasn’t paying attention. Squanto apparently caught her ear, though, and she looked up every now and then to listen in. “Daddy,” she would say, “what’s a firestick?” “Huh?” I would ask. “Oh, yeah, sorry… it’s a gun.” Back to her knitting. A few moments later: “Daddy…” This time she did not look up but was transfixed on the knitting with a wild look on her face. “How did Squanto know English?” “Sweetheart, it’s a fictional account. It’s like how you pretend to clean your room when I tell you to.” Slowly she roller her eyes towards me, still feverishly knitting in her lap. We locked eyes and both laughed briefly before I returned to the page.

I wanted to read this old classic but the school book won out. This boy seems like the REAL friend of the white man.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “Squanto just went from leading Charles Robbins and the other Pilgrims toward the village to teaching them how to plant maize. Seems like there should have been some dialogue or other build-up in between. Also Squanto is now a grown man.” It also seems several pages had fallen out of the book. OK kiddos, enough of this…

For my bedtime entertainment I went with some remarkable lighter fare. A found a Youtube video of an epic disaster to help me relax. Ever heard of “Balloonfest ’86”? In Cleveland in the 1980’s a group of people got together to help the city shed its “Mistake by the Lake” image. Hey, I grew up in New Jersey. I get it. You get tired after a while and you want to do something over the top to show them all “We’re #1!” However, inflating 1.5 million balloons with helium and then releasing them en masse moments before a major shift in weather over a major American city is probably not the brightest way to accomplish this goal. The balloons all blew out over the lake and sank before deflating. 70% of the balloons washed ashore in Canada. They loved us for that. But then again they gave us Bryan Adams so I think we’re even.

Ah… one of these days we’ll adjust to the new daily schedule and we’ll cheerfully wake up refreshed at 5:30 AM to tackle the day. We won’t be exhausted when we come home from school either. We’ll have energy and plenty of time for fun and games as a happy family.

Unfortunately that day will be in May.