Saturday, October 11, 2008

It came to me in a rush. A memory that wasn’t entirely pleasant but it felt legitimate, not manufactured. Eric and I were crammed into the desks of my son’s 6th grade language arts class when it happened. Our son’s teacher stood at the front of the class earnestly describing the curriculum to a bunch of desperate parents. I listened and nodded like the other parents wanting to be reassured that my 6th grader was learning something, anything really. While my recent journeys into writing have taught me what Aristotle’s incline is, I was hopelessly challenged to understand the nuances of the Inductive paragraph that he was describing. Ok, truth be told I didn’t comprehend that part at all. But then he echoed something all of the other teachers had spoken of. The need for the child to appear at the appointed hour ready to work, prepared for class. I nodded vigorously, yes they need to come to class prepared, they should have their stuff together. I agreed with that part, felt that part may be the most important part. That’s when the memory exploded onto the scene, like a balloon popping, it was a surprise and not an entirely pleasant one at that.

I’m 12, crouched in front of my locker on the second floor of Greendale Intermediate school. My hair is cut short in curls and at the moment it’s about the only thing I can think of. I’ve had the hair style for less than 24 hours. Yesterday at this time it had been long and straight reaching most of the way down my back, now it barely grazes my collar and it is sprung into curls due to a bucket of chemicals that smell like chicken soup gone badly wrong. And while the drastic change had been something I had been committed to for weeks I was now feeling a tad queasy about the whole thing. Did I look better than yesterday? What did Andy think? How did the popular girls get their hair to look so good?

I can assure you that the very last thing I was contemplating was preparation for Mrs. Rudik’s social studies class. Nope, no sir, not a chance. My hair obsession lasted for years, in fact, I’m not entirely sure that it is over, although it no longer tends to interfere with my ability to prepare for meetings. Abstractly thinking about distractions I can’t decidedly say that I have moved past them. Today I was on a conference call and blatantly checking to see what the Dow had done. Down 687 points, damn, now that’s a distraction.

My son still hasn’t done his Inductive Paragraph, in fact he is sitting next to me now trying to pound through it while his sister works on her gymnastics skills. He has decided to write the paragraph about Chess. He started out focused on the history of chess which he knows little about and continually peppers me with questions. Straining to answer I think back to the show Chess trying to remember the opening song and then I remember this is his paragraph, not mine. How about writing about the Queen, she is the most powerful piece right? And you know a lot about the queen right? Write about that so I can focus on this blog entry. It seems that many of my distractions at this point in my life have legs. Beyond those very real, living, breathing distractions are the others that I haven’t mastered yet, like the DOW or my hair. Perhaps I've gained some control over those or I just might be a little better at hiding it.

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