So many sweet successes, each alone more than enough.
Today, a group of emerging higher ed superstars wrapped up our yearlong Leadership Legacy program. Before the university president’s speech, before certificates and applause and cake, participants shared the ideas for change we’d launched into existence. It thrilled me to describe an alumni mentor initiative that’s now charging forward, with current PhD students paired with graduates. This program aims to retain and support the success of underrepresented students (first-generation and students of color) by offering a connection with graduates from similar backgrounds.
Continue reading “Day Anew”
Even on a day that saps breath, beat
Night, home, a high whine
sears the deep ear. When veering toward bed
or bread or any
the last throb of momentum, habit
is the last hope.
Calabria, thud and sway
already in motion,
churn flesh inside
out. Turn up
here like sleepwalking
to Messina, like emerging
at the first dawn.
When I picked Tee and Bug up from the airport on Friday night, the kiddo was on the brink of tears. In the car, I finally pried it out of him. “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow,” he sobbed.
“Oh, buddy,” I smiled. “It’s Friday today. Do you know what that means?”
“No.” He was rubbing his eyes. The flight was five hours from Seattle.
“It means the whole weekend is still ahead of us. You were just away for a week of Thanksgiving vacation, and we have two more days before school.”
“Two WHOLE DAYS?”
And so it was that this morning, Bug crawled into my bed at 5:54 and told me he had been awake “for hours.” I told him my bed was only available to sleepy people. Funny how quickly he gave in.
These little dawn cuddles usually don’t last more than 20 minutes. This morning’s lasted for nearly three hours. We snored there together, right on past sunrise, right on past the honking geese and the snoofling dog. We had the yummiest, snooziest lie-in we have had in all of the six years Bug has been on this planet. When we finally roused ourselves, we stayed put, smooshing and talking about dreams and such for the other half of the morning.
It was a day of firsts, apparently. The sleep-in kicked off one of the most therapeutic home-bound Sundays on record. I didn’t even have weekends like this before Bug was born. We did watercolors and coloring books, made soft pretzels from scratch, built a railroad station out of legos complete with a border guard and a city park. We both enjoyed completely unplanned sleep-where-you-fall naps sometime around mid-day. We stayed in our pajamas until nearly 3:00pm, and we only dressed then so we would be warm enough to romp around the playground in the afternoon sun.
We never got in the car. We didn’t spend a penny. We only argued once, and it was finished in minutes with a hug and dinner.
Somewhere in there, I finally got around to creating a homework nook where Bug can plop down when we arrive home from school. This has been one of those lingering tasks I have deftly avoided for two months. I knew it would be helpful for his focus but I could not summon the energy to take it on. It is not easy to find a place on the first floor that isn’t crowded with stuff. Today, high on rest and vacation ease, tackling this project was a breeze. Bug now has a corner of the dining room complete with a bin of school supplies, two chairs, and a clear spot at our underused table. As soon as it was unveiled, Bug sat right down and went to work, covering four loose-leaf pages in pencil drawings.
Just before bath time, we took out a big piece of construction paper and some markers. We wrote “Bug’s Homework Station.” Bug decided it should be decorated with “all bright colors,” so we covered it with polka dots and lollipops. He took great care in taping the sign to the side of the plastic drawers on the table where his crayons and glue sticks now live.
While Bug was simmering in bubbles up to his chin, I sat on a stool at the side of the tub and watched. A little playmobile girl was fighting through the “gloop,” trapped and choking under the surface. His right hand was a giant sea-creature that would rise up through the froth and swoop down on her, “Chomp! Oh, bonk, argh my head!” Trying and trying again to catch her, the hand-monster was foiled every time.
It has been years since a day this good. It has also been years since I have seen my son so clearly. For this extended moment, I was quiet enough in my own head that I could look at Bug and imagine the world as it is to him. What a tilt of the glass! It is like stopping on the busy sidewalk where you walk every day, lying down, and looking up through the buildings and trees. The purpose of every angle, even the ticking of the clock and the throbbing of the human traffic, all shift into new alignment. Sometimes it takes an intentional pause to see things as they really are. In fact, such a pause may be the only thing that clears the gaze.
As he soaked, I felt myself peel open and marvel at the singular experience of the boy inside Bug’s skin and mind.
He looked up from his bath battle and stared back at me a beat longer than usual.
“What?” he asked. “Why do you look like that?”
I smiled. “Because I lo-o-o-ve you.”
He shrugged. “So?”
“And you’re my beautiful boy.”
“Arhh!” Another splash. The hand monster was about to break the surface again. The playmobile girl tried to swim away. “The gloop is around my throat and I can’t breathe!”
Neither could I.
For one fleeting moment, I understood the magnitude of my luck. It feels like waking up.
On a day when nothing goes
as planned and frustration rides
you right up to the lip
of the cliff,
Clear the schedule.
take the kid and leave
the phone behind.
Find a playground
with a jungle gym
and at least one slide.
Run some more
in human form
as he scales
the monkey bars,
climb on up after him.
Slip your legs
through the space between
and the whole wide
see how the world