You Win Some

Equinox Autumn, 4”x6”

The day before we left for the hospital, I took down my show at the Oldcastle Theater. I try not to count my chickens before they’re hatched at art shows, but I will admit I was surprised that only one item had sold (I am definitely getting too big for my britches).

they’re 100 different ways to rationalize the results-for the good or the bad-but I’m still looking at it as an overall positive experience. The person curating the show was very nice to meet, and a few people who hadn’t seen my work saw it and sent encouraging feedback.

This is me blowing sunshine. It’s finding the good where I can. And the good is that the paintings will make people at home happy for a little while longer until they go to new homes. They’ll be going up on Etsy, a few at a time over the next few days. There they will remind me to get the brushes out and make some new pieces to keep them company.

Blueberries before Breakfast

The Big Guy discovered the treasure last night and sent the boys into the weeds with a bowl to retrieve it. Official sources say we may never know how many perfect plump berries were “accidentally” eaten on their way to the bucket, but the troops were able to bring back enough treasure for dessert. We have ours over Wilcox Dairy Country Cream ice cream. It’s local, so between the blueberries and the old-timey flavor, I’m pretty sure it’s approved on some diet plan.

Widgets and Wonders

The senior class graduates Saturday. The fifth grade, the elementary school’s senior class, celebrated their ‘moving up’ to middle school a few days earlier. Thing2’s graduation to the next step of his education was a huge milestone for us. It’s the first time in twelve years that we won’t have a child in elementary school. But it’s not only our perspective that made the afternoon unique.

The Big Guy and I each went to schools with thousands of kids. Graduation at mine lasted almost two hours because we had to wait for hundreds of kids to accept their diplomas. I knew the principal’s name, but I doubt he knew mine before he read it on the slip attached to my diploma. We were widgets, school was a factory.

At Thing2’s ceremony, there were songs. The music teacher handed out awards to the kids who had done chorus and band. The teachers from each 13-kid section handed out academic awards, and then, at the fifteen-minute mark, it was time to hand out the ‘diplomas’.

The principal started with a gentle reminder of the rehearsal instructions the kids had received earlier, producing a chorus of giggles from the risers behind her. She started to read out a name and the first boy climbed down to accept his certificate, but then she stopped.

“Wait a minute Mr. Smith,” she said, holding up her hand and seeming to wipe a speck of dust from her eye. The grinning boy froze, watching her as she stopped to tell the parents a story about his first day at preschool. It took less than thirty seconds, and the entire diploma handoff took less than thirty minutes for all thirty kids, even though, for most of them, the principal paused to recount a special moment or running joke.

Even for a small state like Vermont, we know our school system is on the very small side. It’s small enough that, despite ranking second in the state, there’s been a push from above for improved efficiency and lower costs by consolidating with other districts. Our district has strenuously resisted that push, and much of the resistance has focused on the school’s academic achievements. The district has also conducted more than one study to justify its existence financially.

It was Thing2’s commencement that reminded me that, in education, value can’t be determined solely by efficiency, or even scores.

The principal and teacher to student ratio won’t be any different on Saturday when Thing1 is climbing the risers. The high school principal has taught each of the kids, has coached many of them in little league, has been a presence in most of their lives for the last thirteen years. The teachers have been coaches, are parents of their classmates.

The whole ceremony, if history is any judge, will take 30-45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, however, will be packed thirteen years of phone calls and parent-teacher conferences, of field-trips and spur-of-the-moment meetings to talk over a parent’s concern, of newsletters and community service days, of nurses calling to make sure everything’s still alright, of teachers saying ‘he can do better’ because they absolutely believe that their students can. Those 45 minutes will be the result of thirteen years of creating young adults invested in a community that they know has invested in them. They will be the results of a community saw something more important than widgets.

It saw the future.