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01 October 2008

It's been a long time since I've been here... and I can honestly say that it's not because there hasn't been anything happening. In fact, it's the opposite - too much happening, too much to take in, too much too much. But I'm here now and I suppose the old adage of better late than never could fit. A couple of weeks ago there was a fall festival in our small town and part of the festivities was a baby contest. I didn't put my kid in and it wasn't because I didn't think she was cute. No, it was more about my own insecurities, about someone else judging the outside, about someone possibly, impossibly, unfathomably, perhaps even having an inkling that my beautiful child could even remotely be less beautiful than another's. And I couldn't deal with that. And I think that's the same road my blogging took. I couldn't write unless it was important or unless I had a great prose with a great ending. I couldn't wait to see the numbers of who might stop by to see what I had to say. Needless to say, my writing wasn't about my writing anymore and the fun left. So, like my refusal and sheer satisfaction received from not putting my child into a judging frenzy, my writing too lies here in all its imperfections with a bold old, in your face, screw you because it's not about you. It's about me.

It seems like everytime I get on this I react like an old man and wonder where the time could have ever gotten to. And while it may be a geratric question, it is still and honest one and the answer still eludes me. I have no idea. I swear I turned around last week and I just got married. But here I am, October 1st on a wednesday night in both shock and awe and a side note of holy shit thrown on the end. Because, really, holy shit it's October 1st.

I started my student teaching the last week of August. It runs for 15 weeks, which takes me till around the 5th of December and there is no part of it that is for the faint of heart. But I'm learning. I'm learning that I love it more than I can put into words and the very things that exhaust me and send me to bed early are the exact same things that make me get up and look forward to the day. All my years of tutoring are paying off in working with kids with needs... and not just the needs of needing a teacher assistant or not being able to read... but needs that say I don't have anyplace to go for another two hours, can I hang out here kind of needs. The unspoken ones that speak volumes. I learned very quickly that while I can work my guts out to make change within young lives, the reality of many is that I can't change home. And while it was a tough one to swallow, it made a lot of sense and helped me to stop chasing my tail. I can clap and cheer and support, but life is still life and, sadly, sometimes life overwhelms us all. Anthony is in grade 11 and reads at a beginning grade 1 level. He knows about 32 out of 400 sight words... the, a, at... all the ones we take for granted. One night I was out for a walk and he was sitting outside. He wanted me to meet his little sister. She's five months old and he says that he can "keep her calm when she starts to screech". His mom met me at the door and he introduced me. he said "she helps me at school" and she said that she hoped I knew that he had to be modified, that he didn't get it, that he was stupid. And I stood there trying to not look stunned because Anthony didn't look stunned. he didn't look offended or hurt or even upset. He just calmed his baby sister and smiled. I said my good evening's and continued on my walk, trying to understand and appreciate when "stupid" became the dirtiest, vilest word I had ever heard. Because I will tell you this: Anthony isn't stupid, he just doesn't read or write very well. But he gets that when you read to him out of a book about a character that is "different" or one who doesn't fit in in all the ways we think someone should fit in, he gets it. He gets that he's different but not once has it stopped him from trying or doing his best to encourage. And the kids in his class see that. They see that his heart knows and his head is working on catching up. I think about Anthony a lot because he gets the things I sometime miss.

On other fronts, I started journaling again. I kept a journal for years, but somehow let it drift to the wayside. So I picked it back up and started jotting again and it feels really good... like I found an old pair of sweatpants that I was sure had gotten thrown out, only to find them and discover they still fit. And in it I've let myself go, to write once again for an audience of one. My sanity. In there I have managed to sort out that Peter has lung disease but he's ok... that our daughter is a year old... we have a new home that we will settle into in december, and all the little details that pass in and out of me everyday.

And I'm still tutoring. Kali-jo is in grade 6 and comes every monday and wednesday night. She's a beautiful girl who doesn't know where or how she's supposed to fit, and wonder's who she's supposed to be. She and Dakota, her hockey buddy friend, arrived tonight. He didn't have anywhere else to go and it was cold and he wondered if he could hang out with her and listen to her read. It was 7:30p and neither one had eaten. Fall is here and the night's are getting a frosty bite to them. He was feeling it. So in they came, Kali read and they both munched on popcorn and some carrots and informed me that pickeled eggs were their favourite and did I ever make them? Yes, I said, I did make them. Would you make me some? And it was one of those stupid questions what was so not a big deal but at the same time was a monumental one, huge beyond belief kind of big deal. So I said sure and it was immediately followed by a when. I had already been cooking and puttering around so I pulled out a pot and put the eggs on to cook and got the pickling stuff together. They watched and lingered and neither one wanted to leave. And it hurt my heart that there weren't mother's wondering where they were. But then I reminded myself that life was funny and seen differently through different eyes and if I was in their shoes maybe I would see through their eyes. I guess you could say that I've learned that I can't change the world... but I can make my little nook a little more bearable.

Ava had chocolate cake to celebrate her first birthdays. I'm a firm believer that chocolate cake should be used in moments such as birthdays, holidays, and really, Monday mornings. I would say she agrees with me. We had to fill the tub twice. Icing is tricky.

Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

Mary Anne Radmacher.

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