In Response to: 34

In her story “Eleven,” Sandra Cisneros writes, “What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t.”

When you’re 34, there are a lot more years, Russian nesting dolls, settled comfortably, one inside the other.

You wake up, and you no longer expect to feel different. In fact, you tend to see the day of your birth as any other inconsequential day in a normal week. Except maybe, if you’re lucky, there’s cake.

Age is nothing but a number, that’s what they tell us, yet we use some numerical value to standardize our humanity. It starts early: by one, we should walk. By five, able to recognize a plethora numbers, words, shapes, and colors. Expectations abound. By 18, we should be in college. By 30, we should be married, maybe even with kids.

By 34, what should I be doing? It’s only milestone is simply making it. At 25, you can rent a car. Until retirement, each year ticks passively by. If I don’t celebrate my birthday, when do I get to start celebrating what I have done in my earthly journey?

I guess I like Whitman’s take on identity: I contain multitudes. I’m 34, and with that number comes experience and humanity that cannot be contained merely a digit indicative of our planet’s revolutions around the sun.

Last summer, I had the privilege of teaching Young Writer’s Camp with the San Diego Area Writing Project. My co-teacher, Monique, a wonderful woman with years of teaching experience under her belt, led our writers through a poem focusing on age. What does it mean to be (insert age here). Being the models of writing that we are, we both engaged in the process beside the students.

Working with a room full of adolescents and talking about age puts things into perspective: I am the oldest person in the room. All day long. At 34. Teaching certainly has a way of forcing you to acknowledge your age, while simultaneously exposing you to a proverbial fountain of youth. I can stay up with the current trends, even if I’m too “old” and “uncool” to participate. Like I need to play Fortnite?

Monique guided us through the process of drafting our number poems, and I found myself drifting through a sea of thoughts. Below is my draft:

34 is…

Asking how I got this old, and having no reasonable response, all the while offending those who are older in with my “youth,” while also validating my oldness to those younger than me

Being Ezra’s father, Louanne’s husband, and sometimes Joe, struggling with my identity more than ever – by now, I should have this figured out

Near the same age as my mother and father when they had me, an age I used to think was old, but now is just as old as I am

Calling people kids who are young adults, validating that I’ve left that era of my life, no longer being carded, occasionally being called “sir,” and vigiant in the gray hair war

Aching in parts that never before ached, my body folding in on itself, instinctively protecting me worldly harm or imposition

Forgetting where I put my phone, my keys, my wallet;

Forgetting faces and places from my past

Forgetting where I wanted to go

Forgetting what I wanted to say


Achieving goals and finding worthwhile ones to make, less hurried for the future, more sure of what’s at stake

Choreographing a dance of planning and flexibility, having complete control, and responding to my environment, being both parent and teacher, simultaneously the two

Trying fewer things because there seems to be fewer things to try, and less motivation to do so (because I know what I like)

Living in the moment because this quells my anxiety of what’s to come, taking deep breaths, appreciating my surroundings, and grounding my feet – less flighty, less fearful, more present

Being angry at the lies I was told as a child, but perpetuating the myths of my youth: cue Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, so as to not rob my child of some birthright

Already regretting things unsaid, places unvisited, deeds undone

Wise enough to use the time ahead to render wrongs right, and (begrudgingly) accept those I cannot

Having more old friends than new, more “old” friends than young

Starting to lode people. some figuratively, some literally – myself, entirely, having to visit by way of plane or car or gravestone

Learning to hold tight, say I love you more, mean it always

Painfully sensible, practical to a fault: a Suburu and sunscreen, fewer drinks and better calories, others needs before my own

Watching Netlix and what I eat and my son grow

A suntan line beneath my wedding band, years of marriage, more of togetherness, forgetting where I being and she ends

The right side of the bed (and arguments) and never going to sleep mad, growing older and better and intertwined

Experiencing the shock of preferential shifts: thinking lame what I used to find cool, and cool what I used to find lame

Not midlife, because I refuse to believe that I’ll meet my end before times two, too much to see, too much to do

Is better than before, and still incomplete

34 is: just for now.

In Response to: Being a Loser Teacher

This loser teacher has plenty to say.

Public educators are anything but losers.

In some ways, Trump-the-lesser’s comments make me realize the power we educators have. That power must be intimidating. I can influence any student in my classroom with my own beliefs, and yet – here’s the kicker – I do not. Children will listen to what I say because, in some ways, they have to, but I never take advantage of the vulnerability possessed by those who fills the seats in my classroom. My duty remains to be unbiased, although, admittedly, it has become increasingly difficult to be in 2019. Some things, in my mind, are not political issues, but rather human issues, and merely claiming allegiance to conservative or liberal ideals is a cop-out, a need to label an amalgamation of ideals, categorically systematizing complex feelings into a singular word. In my profession, I maintain a level of professionalism that is not demonstrable by the Trump clan, but this isn’t about pointing fingers.

Why is it that, since I may not align myself ideologically with the Trump administration, that I am, in turn, a socialist, with some sort of deep-seeded, covert motivation to brainwash America’s youth? On the  contrary, I want to do the opposite: build capacity for self-determination and idealization. It is possible, in this political climate, to be anti-Trump and even be a Republican. In fact, those are my favorite kind of Republicans.

Does it seem to anyone else that, by asking young “conservatives” to take “it,” whatever it is, to schools, that Trump is trying to do the kind of manipulating that he is claiming teachers do? Should I feel threatened or maligned?

In my own family, I endure passive-aggressive taunts about “piece of shit” liberals, as though my humanity warrants debasing as a result of some personal belief I uphold. Those who hurl these insults forget who I am because I simple disagree with them. That’s a sign that we now live in an America where you get to sling profane remarks at those who do not think like you do. More frustrating, possessing one liberal idea suddenly earns me the label of card-carrying liberal – or, in Trump’s assignation, “socialist.” Whether I am a liberal or not, the scarlet L is emblazoned upon my chest. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to lump all teachers into the generalized category of “loser.”

I now wear two Ls.

It’s so important to label the “other” demeaningly, to make him or her appear threatening. This is covered in the syllabus on day one of Despot 101: how to rule like a complete and utter dick.

We, as teachers, affect infinity, and the utter trepidation that the 45 posse feels originates from a megalomaniacal need to self-preserve. Educating the youth of today to be the adults of tomorrow means we teach critical thinking, analysis, and a radar for bullshit agendas that do nothing to progress the common man or woman. Now those people may have something to say during the 2020 election.

The majority of my teaching time, I do attempt to brainwash my students: to see the importance of education, to recognize  their own self-worth and abilities, and to engage in their own learning process, seeking to tap their intellectual curiosities and capitalize on their interests.

I’m such a loser.

Anyone who understands what it means to be a teacher, and by that I mean a good teacher, realizes that socialist-like principles guide the inner workings of classroom dynamics. Students do take ownership of our intellectual and educational enterprises. Additionally, they should control both the means and the pace of production. Most importantly, everyone involved must buy in to the same belief system in order for it to function successfully. Of course, working with, as in my case, 36 moving parts, often makes this idealism remarkably challenging, but the sentiment is there: we put the students in the drivers’ seats. With them in control, I don’t have time for my “socialist” maneuverings, politically. Quite frankly, I have better things to do.

When Trump said, “You know what I love? I love seeing some young conservatives, ’cuz I know it’s not easy,” he is doing what we loser teachers do: connect. We know it is impossible to make progress without rapport. You cannot suggest learning – nudge students towards content objectives – if you cannot prove you care, relate, or “understand.” Once you do that, you can present your key points, as Trump did: “Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.” What’s suggested here is Trump’s pathetic attempts to Dylan Thomas young people, make them rage against the dying of some conservative light, eclipsed by “socialist,” loser teachers.

But I will not go gentle into the political night. Professionally, I am charged with immense responsibility, and, quite frankly, am tremendously insulted by the blanket insult put forth by the privileged Trump. Besides, I know he’s not not at all in touch with the kids I teach, in spite of saying, “I know it ain’t easy.” Does he? Does he really?

The teachers I know are far from losers. We are defenders of the most vulnerable of populations, crusading voices of the marginalized and muted, mentors of the most oppressed: children. We are those that spend hours thinking about the lives of those we teach, in the hours when we should be thinking about nothing else. We, the losers, are trying to make every child feel like a winner, in spite of their backgrounds, ability levels, or motivations. When people ask me why I teach, I say it’s to prepare future voters, and this has never been more true than now.

Your insults, Trump, are weak sticks to pair with your small stones. Please:

Call me a liberal.
Call me a socialist.
Call me a loser.

Just make sure that, in the same sentence, you are also calling me a teacher.

I know it ain’t easy.

In Response To: Candy Land

In a workshop exploring equity and access, I was instructed to play Monopoly with five people. The spark of my competitive spirit lit, I engaged in battle mode. I frothed. I raved. I had to win. There was a catch, however. An obstacle to victory. An intended trip-up: each person got to “enter” the game at a different time, and I wasn’t first. Two people started the game and got to go around the board one full time before the next group, in which I was placed, was permitted to join. There was a third group, but by the time I entered the game, I had a singular, selfish objective: gain control, and make each member of the privileged, first group pay through the nose. And, that’s exactly what I did, showing no mercy to either the group that entered first, or the poor, underprivileged people who were last to enter the game. I was on the come up, and no one would stop me.

I’m one competitive bastard.

The activity’s message was not lost on me; life is easier when you “enter the game earlier.” You are given access to opportunities that others are denied, and achieving some level of success is far more likely, yet the activity didn’t provoke sympathy or understanding from me while playing. In fact, it had the opposite effect – I overcompensated, became aggressive and protective, and felt compelled to achieve in spite of my diminished privilege. My need to achieve outweighed my sensitivities.

My competitive spirit is not very attractive

Apparently, this intense drive to win is genetic, and I’ve unleashed a monster unto this world. My apologies.

My passion for competitiveness was likely sparked by my parents – unintentionally – who encouraged me to play board games or cards, and I have fond childhood memories engaged in this type of play. So many of today’s toys are attractive because of their flashy, techy components: the lights, the sounds, the remotes. Admittedly, toys are much cooler now than ever before, but their prescribed purposes may, at times, quash creativity or the potential to interact. Simply put, I have a place in my heart for simple games.

Keeping this in mind, I decided it was time to introduce Ezra, now almost four, to board games. I have to admit, I don’t love the backbreaking nature of playing with a low-to-the-ground child. I’ve spent more time on the floor, bent into awkward yoga-like positions in the past four years than all my previous years combined. Pushing trains, digging in the dirt, or rolling microscopic cars across hard-on-the-knee tile have taken their toll. Board games mean sitting, an added bonus to playing with my child.

Ezra has an ability to sit and stay on task for longer than some of my middle-school students, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. He will sit through a movie, stay still for meals, and push his Thomas the Train (and three dozen friends) around for an unexpected amount of time. Being an only child, he is capable of playing alone, but, at his age, still likes to interact with me, which puts him in a very exclusive club.

That’s how I came to buy Candy Land.

Maybe the mentioning of the game conjures up nostalgia for you: the plastic, gingerbread figures attempting to traverse the colorful board, pitting players against each other in a race for sweet, sweet domination. The instructions are simple enough: choose a card, go to the designated color or candy. Winning, and the emphasis here is mine, seems to be based entirely on luck – luck, I’ve learned, I don’t possess.

In addition to having another way to bond and spend time with my child, I thought, in my limited parenting wisdom, that a child’s game like Candy Land would be a practical learning experience: my child would learn that games like this could be fun, but he’d also learn how to lose with grace – but that would require him losing. Seriously. If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. If I were a batter in baseball, my average would be terrible. I suck at Candyland.

Since we began playing a couple of weeks ago, I think I’ve won, maybe, ten times. We’ve played, I’d estimate, over two hundred games, and Ezra hasn’t had much opportunity to learn how to be a gracious loser let alone a humble winner.

Each game varies in its sequence, but most end my loss. “Daddy, I go first,” Ezra directs, and foolishly, I let him.

So as to not spoil him, I urge a reminder. “Ezra, what’s the rule at school and with other kids?” Hoping to emphasize a pillar of sportsmanship and healthy play, I await his response.

“I take turns,” he answers (correctly).

In the version of Candy Land we own, if you get a single blue on your first draw, it takes you across a lovely, dulcet river, advancing your gingerbread of choice quickly. Of course, you could also select a candy card and be transported magically to the matching space. The worst card to draw first, the single red, moves you a measly, single space. Sometimes, I get lucky, accelerating my traversing of the board on a sugar-fueled path to destiny. Most of the time, I slowly crawl, a few spaces at a time. My child, by leaps and bounds, kicks my sorry ass, all the while chanting something to the effect of “I’m definitely going to win this time!” or “I’m gonna kick your butt!” in a not-so-adorable, sing-song voice of mockery.

The sad thing is, he’s right. He usually does kick my butt.

The worst is the last leg of the board, the spaces following the ice cream cone. For some reason, no matter how quickly I reach the top of the board, as if by some act of destiny, my acceleration slows to a crawl, single space cards being my luck of the draw.

“You’re going to get the peanut!” Ezra curses me, sending all sorts of toddler bad juju my way.

Rounding the bend to the final spaces (the ones where, unless you draw a single card, or a candy, you are pretty much guaranteed victory), my need to win kicks in, even if it means defeating my own child.

He has to learn to lose, I think to myself. At this point, though, I’m not convinced it’s for his social well-being or for my own ego.

But, alas, the Candy Land gods are unkind, and they don’t smile down on me. In their cruelty, my journey does not receive their blessing. I end up marooned on some licorice island, denied a turn only to watch Ezra’s always-yellow gingerbread man leapfrog over my frozen green one. Or, inevitably, I do select the peanut card – or the peppermint –whichever card sends my spiraling backward in a collision course with defeat, and he’s smiling the whole damn time, smug little person.

Maybe it’s my losing that brings him joy. Maybe it’s the fact that I take time to play with my kid. Maybe it’s a combination of both, but I do end up a bit sore after losing, convincing myself that if I had gone first, I would be the supreme, ultimate Candyland victor. Instead, I am just the model of gracious defeat, consistently reinforced by the sheer frequency of my losses.

It’s just a game, I tell myself. Besides, I may win next time. Yeah. Right.

The bitter sting of defeat is often cooled by the joy our time together brings. Thinking of being a kid, I recall more the joy of winning than the pain or losing and although I am sure I pitched a fit (or ten) about losing, my competitive spirit has never been quelled.

Little does he know: Monopoly is in his future, and I will show no mercy.

In Response To: My Kid’s Gun

‘Tis the season, to be jolly, but let’s be real: parenting at Christmastime is difficult. Between meeting the unreasonable demands of hostile toddlers to splitting yourself between familial obligations, holiday get-togethers, school pageants, work parties, and countless white elephant exchanges, there is only so much of to give. We have become more hostile and stressed than we should be during such a festive, garland-filled season.

Merry. Flipping. Christmas.

But there are the moments that make the holidays magical: the twinkling lights adorning the street, even your neighbor’s house, the one with icicle lights year round. Then there are the intoxicating smells of Christmas dinner wafting through your home, seasoned with care, nostalgia, and anticipation. If you’re so lucky to have a child, his or her tiny, crooked smile and laughter overheard (while savagely tearing through wrapped packages, strewing debris promiscuously throughout every room) makes the hustle and bustle to make it all happen worthwhile.

Experiencing all the hoopla through the eyes of my child has reawakened my inner kid, and the sheer, unbridled joy shown by my son Ezra makes all of the stress slowly seep away. That is, until the moment when he opens that present.

We all know that present, the one that causes you and your spouse to look at each other, communicating through eye contact and brow raises alone. That present is larger than you can think of space for, and the behemoth size of the bag or box or crate it comes in chills your bones more than the winter weather. That present requires those batteries, the ones you know you don’t have. Nobody has them. Hell, they’re the ones you’ve never even seen. You’re pretty sure those batteries are the same ones that control pacemakers or hearing aids and of course, they neither come with the item your child cannot wait to play with, nor can they arrive in the two days you’ve come to expectantly demand from Amazon Prime. Maybe that gift has so many flashing lights that it is accompanied by a seizure warning, worse yet, it makes a variety of sounds so loud, yet has no obvious volume control (short of a hammer). That present is the kind a parent would never, under any circumstance, buy for their own child let alone buy for any other similarly-peopled household. This is an unwritten compact between parents who wouldn’t dare bring such an apocalyptic item upon one another..

That present makes you silently plot the death of the person who so kindly gifted it unto your wide-eyed and grinning human-in-training. May that death be slow and painful, like watching Frozen for the thousandth time.

There are those presents, however, that don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned above, presents so off-putting that you cannot immediately react because you weren’t prepared to do so. That present, for me, is a gun, and my kid fucking loves it.

Granted, no one bought my son a new Glock or Smith and Wesson, but a toy gun, one that, with the exception of color and material composition, looks an awful lot like an average handgun.

I married into a family of law enforcement. My father-in-law is a respected, retired detective. My brother-in-law currently patrols the city, actively keeping citizens safe. Needless to say, possessing and properly handling guns is an occupational must for them. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for them as people and professionals. Since retiring, my father-in-law has become a bit of a gun collector. Personally, I respect his right and want to own a gun, but the collecting thing never really makes sense to me, especially since few items in his hoard are of actual historical significance. People collect stamps. People collect baseball cards. People, apparently, also collect things that can kill other people.

On Christmas day, we gathered at my in-laws’ house for Christmas dinner and the opening of presents, my son and his cousin running and playing as children do, nosing through the gifts patiently perched beneath the tree. Once dinner is inhaled, the present portion of the evening’s program can begin.

I must admit, being an adult is not nearly as fun as being a child, for many reasons, but Christmas is pretty much the ultimate experience for little ones, especially those who can keep themselves entertained by crumpling up tissue paper or ripping wrapping paper into minuscule shreds.

At some point, while enraptured by all the festivities, I lost track of what gifts had been opened by whom. Piles of half-open boxes lay separate from crumpled paper and other casualties of Christmas. Suddenly, my son runs towards me, beaming, brandishing something in hand.

“Look what Uncle Nick got me!”

Handing it over, I incredulously nod. “Yes, well, would you look at that!” I look over at my wife, whose nervous smile enjoys my son’s pleasure, while simultaneously bites back some other emotion, one not yet clear to me.

My son trots off, and as the present unwrapping winds down, he begins to shoot his new, toy gun at the furniture. The dog seeks cover. This is when I have to become a parent I didn’t know I’d be: one who must decide if my kid will be one who plays with guns.

The toy itself, some may argue, is innocuous; it doesn’t shoot real bullets, and it wouldn’t easily be mistaken for an actual gun. It is not metallic, and in the hands of my toddler, it looks harmless. What immediately concerns me is the message it send my child: guns are something you can play with.

No son, no they’re not. Not in our house, at least.

What bothers me the most about the situation is not even the gun, but rather the complete disregard or consideration of whether or not such a toy is even okay to purchase for my child. Before you buy my kid a gun, please ask.

Because my wife and I reached some unspoken agreement that we would deal with this later, Christmas evening not the exact moment for such a discussion, my son carried on shooting away, terrifying the dog and me alike.

After saying our goodbyes and loading up my car, I look over to my wife in the passenger seat and say, “You know that’s not coming in our house, right?” And it didn’t. Well, it did, but only to be immediately and casually discarded into the trash, unbeknownst to my unsuspecting kid.

My wife and I had never had the talk as to whether or not such a toy would be something we would allow our child to play with, but that talk never happened because buying a toy gun is simply something we wouldn’t do. Obviously, that didn’t exclude the purchase from being made by someone else, someone who didn’t think before buying my kid a gun.

This isn’t from a place of anger, and I’m not suggesting that it’s purchaser is some malevolent being. This isn’t intended as a challenge to second amendment rights, but rather a parent’s concern about the messages that are sent to my child, messages that are out of my control, unintended, and, in my opinion, harmful. Handing a toddler a gun, toy or not, makes his hand comfortable with holding such an object, a hand that, at nearly four, is just grasping how to hold a pencil, a much more worthy function of muscle memory. Seeing his little fingers wrapped around the gun’s handle, watching his posture shift as my sister-in-law coached his stance, hearing the plastic “click” of the trigger, I realized that his isn’t a toy at all. This was an end-run around gun safety, means for desensitizing my child towards gun violence.

Not in my house. This is not something I just want my kid to “play” with.

Before you buy my kid a gun, think of the kid he is: he loves Thomas the Train, Paw Patrol, books, and music. A gun would never be on his list. Before you buy my kid a gun, think about the message you’re sending. Before you buy my kid a gun, ask me if I, myself, own one, or am comfortable having a conversation with my toddler about the perils of weapons, such as, you know, death, or at least, physical harm.

The day after Christmas, our house a disaster zone of toy box carcasses, battery casings, and a handful of tools, my sleepyhead of a child asks for his toy gun. His mother, sitting him down, explained to him the perils of guns and why, we, as a team, had decided his gun was better off  gone.

“But it was mine!” he wailed, and somewhat rightfully so. “I wanted it!”

“I know you did, bud,” I tried consoling. “But there are so many other things that make better toys.” But, it was of no immediate use. Of course, that lesson may have been lost on him in that moment, him feeling only the sting of parental deception. Soon enough, the hurt fades, and we are on the floor, together, pushing around some other newly-received toy.

This Christmas tale is not one of toddler woe, however. It is a tale of parental unity in the face of an unconsidered obstacle, a story of prioritizing our own familial ethics over a “harmless” plaything, that toy we didn’t know we didn’t want. Without a doubt, there will be some horrifyingly annoying thing that my kid will unwrap in the future, a masterpiece of flashing lights and whizzes and bangs and screeches requiring microscopic screws, D batteries, a circular saw, a strong alcoholic beverage, and the patience of a saint to assemble. I’ll take that toy, even if you don’t ask me before you buy it.

In Response to That:

We know the scenario: the teacher asks a question. The students raise their hands. There, front and center, waving hand right to left, is me. I know the answer. I have a response for that.

This routine repeated throughout my educational journey. Whether in sixth grade, answering questions about ancient Mesopotamia or Hammurabi’s code, contributing to a class discussion on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in high school, or interacting during a seminar at university, my participation bordered on obsessive, and my seat remained front and center. If a teacher or professor were to ignore my obvious desire to respond, my posture would shift: I’d begin to slump in my chair, disengage from the flow of discussion, and doodle in the margins of whatever paper lay before me – well, until I could raise my hand again.

I’ve also been on the other side of the raised hand. A major, contributing factor to my becoming a teacher was my love for school. Some people follow their passions. Some people take risks, venturing out into the real world with a hope and a dream and some coin in pocket. I took a route that reflected my need for a sense of security and protection of my self-esteem. School was the thing I had always been good at, so I selected teaching.

From a very early age, much of my healthy ego was developed through my interactions with teachers and my classmates. My passion for learning was fueled by my academic achievements, and those achievements were fueled by my passion. Being a super competitive, overachiever type, school gave me a platform for my intellectual curiosity. This reciprocal relationship made being a student enjoyable for me and with each task assigned, I made the best effort to “autograph my work with excellence,” a phrase often used by my sixth-grade teacher, Ms. Poe. That saying became a mantra for me, and I have repurposed it as a phrase I use with my own students.

The classroom is a place where I always felt my shine, and my childlike eagerness to be an active participant certainly hasn’t dulled with age, except now I find myself being more reactive. A raised hand isn’t always a sign of critical thinking, but rather a signal to enter the conversation, a way of saying, “I’m here, now you better pay me some damn attention.”

Nowadays, finding myself triggered to respond by any number of stimuli is not uncommon, but I raise my hand, so to speak, by picking up the proverbial pen.

My daily life is filled with catalysts for commentary, and I’m still that precocious kid trying to find some way to enter a conversation that either already exists, or should. As a teacher of writing, encouraging my students to find inspiration in their daily lives, for substance and content, is my job, but I embody the practice I expect, writing beside my students, serving as a model of the writing process. Regularly, there are any number of scenarios worthy of my attention, and I seem to have a endless supply of fodder to cultivate thought. Whenever anything seems noteworthy, I think to myself: let me respond to that.

For example, there are innumerable occasions on which I am unprepared, or unable, to write. So many distractions clutter my writerly path. Being a parent accounts for much of my writing content, my small human-in-training serving as chief muse. Raising a toddler requires a lot of reacting, but he’s also the rodeo clown to my bull. Parenting is survival, and I want to document its finest moments for posterity: the tantrums, the laughter, the remarkable shit my son says by which I am caught completely off-guard. I want to talk about that, document it with the discipline of an archivist. Yet, time is a slippery fish.

Teaching adolescents also provides for an endless pond in which to throw a line. Almost daily, there is some tasty tidbit dying to receive some social commentary: the fickleness of teenage love, the “it” dance of the minute, or the memes. So. Many. Memes.

And then, there are adults.

Spending the vast majority of my day interacting with people under the age of 15 makes me hyper-aware of my surroundings, and the snatches of adult conversations often pique my interests. Inevitably, something someone says or does beckons my response, and I constantly find myself scribbling down things, thinking to myself, “I want to respond to that later.” Usually, later never comes. Derailed by one thing or another, all those precious moments for pondering become merely static on a screen.

Until now.

Sitting in front of my laptop, my purpose becomes clearer. The world is my classroom, and my readers become the teacher, asking endless questions. Here I am, again front and center, waving my hand back and forth, waiting for someone to call on me. When they do, I will have something to contribute, and  I know just how I’ll start. I’ll say, “Let me respond to that.”

And, I will.