The day began before it began. With the kitty who looked so cute under the drawer of my bed, so I reluctantly allowed her to stay. For which she thanked me with an in-your-face purring bonanza at 1:29 a.m. And with scratching the door and releasing a desperate meow two hours later (after I’d thrown her out).
Sleepy-eyed and somewhat grumpy, I headed to school for the third week of a testing schedule that permits zero plan time two days a week, nearly-two-hour classes, and not enough computers to go around. The library became the epicenter for all misfits in the school who had nowhere else to go during the tests, and where one measly cart of books was to serve all three of my classes as the upper library, with ALL nonfiction books, was closed for testing. Instead we had a stockpile of books about countries in Europe. My refugees, doing research on their homelands, were at a loss. They looked about as perplexed as me when I thought about the last time European refugees were flooding American schools; in neither of our lifetimes, for sure. Sigh.
By some miracle, a computer cart opened up at lunch, but half the computers were dead by then, and none of them would print. My students were knee-deep in research and trying to figure out how to indent, space, or title a piece on Google Classroom, the tech guy came to try to literally unlock the printing queue of ONE COMPUTER AT A TIME, and then a girl showed me this:
It was about twenty minutes before the last bell. This could have made me angry. Or frustrated for the fiftieth time. But just like her smiling face, all I could do was laugh. And get my camera.
The inequity began before it began. I worked in a rich school district before. With MacBooks. IPads. Books for every student. Now? Crappy Dells that won’t log in, hold a charge, or print to the singular printer available in the ENTIRE SCHOOL. Books all my classes have to share. That I have to request a grant to buy every year.
It’s laughable. It’s laughable how we spend our days, fighting these uphill battles with kids and pets and society. We lose sleep over our children, their children, our children’s children (case in point: kitty). And yet we still get through. We have fuzzy screens and crazy cats and rushes out the door to ice skating and kids who argue about chores and brushing their teeth and tightening their laces and won’t go to bed and when they finally do?
“Mama? Can you wake me up early, just me, so I can have time with just you tomorrow?”
I don’t tell her I was planning to come in early to make up for my lack of planning time today. That I’m behind… That I’ll always be behind.
Because behind every moment of being behind, there is a cat’s silhouette in the morning window. A curious face peeking out of laundry. A beautiful sunset waiting to be written about. A child’s voice asking for love.
My love for them began before it began. Before they were mine. I was theirs. Every last waking minute. The good, the bad… The blurry.