Ed note: Beware. This is a throwing-grammar-to-the-wind and amusing myself with run-on sentences kinda day. You’ve been warned.


Hi, you.

How are you?

Yesterday wasn’t easy, was it? It never is. I hope you managed to take some time – time for you, time with your loved ones, time to tell them how much they mean to you. Neat thing about that, by the way — if you didn’t, you get another chance today.

I hate to say this, but I’ve come to sort of despise September. It’s just too much. The wholesale changes, the transitions, the new teams, the meetings – holy God the meetings, the back to school picnics, the open houses, the Can you? Will you? The Could you pleases?

It’s too much. It’s just too damned much.

I have stories for you. They’ve kind of been piling up while I wasn’t paying attention.

I want to tell you about the girl in Brooke’s adaptive dance class. The one who is sixteen. The one who, as soon as we walked into the studio, had questions. “When’s your birthday? How old are you? Who is your favorite Disney princess?”

The one who had questions that made sense to my girl.

“March 31st, 9, I like Cinderella, Belle, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.”

The one who, when Brooke began to wander, gently corralled her back into the group.

The one whose favorite princess is Jasmine.

The one whose presence in the class, along with a twelve year-old girl who lit up the room, might just be as big a gift to Brooke as the class itself.

Her people.

The ones who asks questions that make sense to my girl.

I want to tell you about Katie. About how she’s elbowing her way into independence. About how she’s finding her way. About the crossroads of insecurity and conviction that is middle school. About how much of the fear of middle school I’ve realized really was – is – ours, not hers. How I’ve decided that people have to stop saying to her, “Oh man, middle school .. it was HARD .. but .. “

Middle school was hard. For a lot of us. But it may not be for her. Last year was hard for her. This year is new friends, new faces, new things to learn from brand new teachers and new clubs to join. Middle school might just be her ticket OUT of hard.

I want to tell you about Brooke. About how I walked in the door the other night just as Luau was setting a timer for her to begin her reading. And how I wanted to shove that timer where the sun don’t shine, but how I was just walking in so I had to see what was going on before doing any shoving to sun not shining. And how he said that it was just, ‘ya know, for the log book so she could record how long she read for,’ and how that really didn’t make me want to put it where the sun don’t shine any less because really? The log book?

And how he coaxed her to read when she obviously didn’t want to, but not just because she didn’t want to but because it was just too much at the end of a day of Too Muches. And how I still couldn’t say anything because I’d still really just walked in but how that wasn’t going to be the case for very much longer.

And how watching her negotiate her way out of reading was sort of awesome and a little hilarious and really kind of made me proud of my kid in exactly the ways that you’re probably not supposed to be proud of your kid but how, well, that kind of happens a lot on this particular journey, doesn’t it? Like celebrating the first lie. Cause that’s big. And awesome. And wrong.Yeah, wrong. Uh huh. Sure, we can go with wrong. (But big! And awesome!)

So how when Luau pressed her, she finally agreed to read Oliver ‘with her mouth closed’ and with the ‘words INSIDE her head’ and how I knew she was full of crap and how well, that was kind of awesome (in a .. um .. wrong sort of way, of course) but still awesome and how I watched her flip the pages over one by one and I knew she wasn’t reading and then the second that she closed the book and Luau said, “Can you tell me something about the book, Brooke?” she said, “I don’t remember.” And how that shouldn’t have made me smile, but it did, mostly because by now he’d abandoned the timer so I could just watch without having to shove to don’t shine.

And then how he was still determined to get something out of her so he asked just one more question – this one about the book’s title character, Oliver, the elephant who apparently wanted to dance. Cause why not? So how he said, “Brooke, can you tell me just one thing about Oliver?”

And how she looked down at the book and then up at the wall just behind him and said slowly, articulating every word, “His name was Oliver.”

And how I couldn’t help it; I laughed. And how when Luau looked at me and said, “What do you think we should do?” I said, “NOTHING.” and he said, “What do you mean?” And I said, “We should do nothing. We should send her up to shower,” and how he said, “But what do we put in the log book?” and how I said, “A sticky note that says, ‘we’ll discuss at the conference’ because it’s just too much after a day of Too Muches and holy God, babe, promise me no more timers.”

And how he did and so we’re going to sit down with her teachers today and talk about why the log book might just not be the most effective way to get our kiddo to read.

Oh, and I want to tell you about Jennifer. About how she might just be my new all-time favorite human. How she just has this awesomeness about her – this light, this wisdom, this hard (God so, so hard) earned perspective on life. How she gets what matters and really, really gets what doesn’t and how awesome it is just to be around her and bathe in her awesomeness. And yeah, how after being with her you find that the only word you have left is awesome.

And I want to tell you about a million other things. But I can’t cause I’m out of time.

But I’m going to sneak just this one last thing and then end abruptly and it’ll be a little awkward, but I just have to go, ok? I’m going to tell you how we all have to remember that time slips away so much faster than we think and that even when the days are long, the years are short and it can all – ALL – be gone in an instant so we really have to spend every damned second as if it were our last.


Ed note: All done with the throwing-grammar-to-the-wind and amusing myself with run-on sentences. You can exhale now, Mom.

22 thoughts on “stories

  1. Seriously September is crazy!! So much going on with kids and oh yeah I decided to go back to college and am enrolled full time..I don’t know what I was thinking 😉 I detest the stupid log books, though here they are just called book slips. I am a complete rebel about it and have refused to participate since Kindergarten for Nolan who is now in 7th grade. Also off topic,but will you be there on Sunday at the marathon? I am going to cheer my little sister on who decided to do it on April 2 because of my link to yours and Luau’s blog. We are ” Team Coco” and have shirts that say that,so perhaps we will see each other:)

  2. I can so relate! I had an awful IEP meeting yesterday and it was full of so much negativity…… It is so painful when a child who succeeded so well in elementary school with a one-to-one, is then left in a nowhere zone….It is horrible to hear, well, we have no programs for your child, and this leaves one with the only choice a mother can make, and that is to quit my job and homeschool my son. It is so wrong to isolate a child who loves kids and people. Makes one wonder what is going on in this world?

  3. Thank you Jess. You’re posts about Brooke always make me feel so, well, normal! We are struggling with the “you have to read 30 minutes every night” regimen here. Kylie is not interested. She would rather go to bed early than have to read when she doesn’t want to. My negotiations with her are failing. My next idea is to let her read some stuff online since that’s where her interests lie – on the computer! Our girls are so much alike except for the fact that Brooke actually likes girly things like dolls and princesses and dresses! Kylie likes dinosaurs,

  4. Great stories. I have to give a shout out to log books and timers. These things did help my son do many things. If it has to be logged he does it. If it doesn’t he won’t. If there is a timer he knows that he only has to do it for say, 10 minutes, if there is no timer, in his head it could go on forever. He is older now and he still uses logs, but not timers. I realize this may not be effective for Brooke, but maybe give it a chance?

  5. I love this. Particularly this: “And how watching her negotiate her way out of reading was sort of awesome and a little hilarious and really kind of made me proud of my kid in exactly the ways that you’re probably not supposed to be proud of your kid but how, well, that kind of happens a lot on this particular journey, doesn’t it? Like celebrating the first lie. Cause that’s big. And awesome. And wrong.Yeah, wrong. Uh huh. Sure, we can go with wrong. (But big! And awesome!)” The amount of times I’ve had to run out of a room to go laugh at something that shouldn’t have been funny but just WAS is unbelievable 🙂

    BTW, I have Brooke’s 9 year old, born on March 31st birthday twin here in NY. His name is Brandon. Hope we all get to meet someday :0)

  6. Well, unforturnately we use the timer… Every one of our team of therapists says it is a must with our little one, the psych, the primary care doc, the OT, the speech path… all of them…the only ones that haven’t recommended the timer are the teachers and assistants at school because they know all the specialists are ON IT… and boy do I wish we could throw it away sometimes….

    But, I will also say this…For our family it’s about making every second count… when the time is up, it is up…. over… and you can’t get it back… time is a precious gift to us all…we want our little one to grow and thrive and make a difference in the time she has been given whether it’s doing homework, reading, playing, etc…. unfortunately time marches on and leaves us in the dust…. I want her aware of how precious time really is to all of us…. and hec just this morning we were talkng about how God didn’t promise us tomorrow, only today… so time really matters…

    So maybe, just maybe you can view the timer as a “necessary” tool in your toolkit of life, WE DO…. and if NOT ~ THROW IT AWAY with reckless abandon and do what is best for YOUR little one… because in the long run it’s all about how we teach our kids to navigate this world… however we do that.. with love, devotion, time, and MORE LOVE.

    Blessings to you!

  7. The timer is new for my little girl too…just started kindergarten and came home telling me about “sit in the chair…and something about a timer.” when I asked the teacher at open school night…..she said they are using it as a strategy to get her to complete a task she doesn’t want to do. As in, we need to work on this one more minute..then you can be all done” My baby tells me now ” I don’t want the timer”. :(. Mommy doesn’t want it either….and I find it highly concerning that the did this and didn’t tell us about it until I asked. Thank god the speech my baby does have contains lots of echolalia…because she tells me everything that goes on…even if she doesn’t realize it!!

  8. Hi Jess, I’m sorry that things have been tough. September and the change in routine has always been a tough month here too.
    I came across a posting about another politican who has his own “explanation” for why women have disabled children. I posted it on my FB acct but don’t have an audience like you do. I didn’t know how to send it to you other than as a comment to a post. Please delete if it’s not appropriate here and please share if you can. Thanks!

    “On Thursday, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) spoke at a press conference against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a women’s right to choose, saying that God punishes women who have had abortions by giving them disabled children.” go to for more

    • Dawn, that story is horrifying but it’s also from Feb of 2010. Not sure why it’s making the rounds again since it’s nearly three years old, but you’re not alone in sharing it now.

      • Jess, I guess I was so appalled by the comment that I didn’t notice the date. Thanks for pointing that out. I think it’s making the rounds because of it’s an election year and because of the ads about Planned Parenthood. Thanks!

  9. You had me at “run on sentences”! And yes, it call be gone in an instant, so why bother with timers that are just too much!! It’s so hard sometimes, but there are far worse things that I am afraid to even imagine! And your new friend is such an inspiration for sooooo many reasons, thanks for introducing her amazing family to all of us…. LucktoTuck!

  10. Great stories! 🙂 And I hear you on the school assignments. I sent my son’s teacher an email today saying we were not doing the spelling homework…it’s meant to be fun and creative but ends up being illogical and painful. He’d rather just write down the words and be done. You know what’s best for your kids.

  11. Great great stories. Brings back memories. Good ones and bad ones. “Mommy, not the timer, please!!!” Hated that thing. It was a punishment, not a tool. I threw it in the garbage after I talked with his Sped teacher. Apparently, his “GenEd” teacher had been using it for time-out because she didn’t think he could understand the concept of sitting in a chair and thinking about what you just did. She didn’t think anything of my son. She had no time for him. He was just a distraction in her very organized classroom. And he was out of there within the week. And she no longer teaches 2nd grade. My son is an 8th grader now but hasn’t been in public school for a year. We have been in Seattle Children’s Hospital on and off since January of this year. This time for 2 months going on forever. He has Crohn’s and has had several surgeries to alleviate the disease. Hopefully we will be going home soon and he can go back to school, which is loves by the way, and get back to life. Thank you so much for your stories. They make me laugh and cry and remember the good times and bad, which is what we all need to do once in a while. Thank you.

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