The First of Many

Tomorrow VERY early, Victoria and I are leaving to visit my alma mater “near the foothills of the Ozarks.” It is homecoming, and I’ve never attended–but it’s a great time to make a BIG impression on The Girl. My freshman R.A. and her daughter are going with us. It’s amazing to me how God takes people and places and arranges them in ways to make beautiful lives and friendships–opportunities and blessings. Thus it was in the fall of 1987 when Rhonda Chappell was charged with watching a wing of first-floor, Cathcart freshman girls. I have NO DOUBT that I was her favorite freshman EVER–what with my loud voice and water guns and lack of housekeeping abilities. Low and behold if about 12 or 13 years after that, I ran across Rhonda and her family–which happened to contain a daughter right about Victoria’s age. Ruth and Victoria HIT. IT. OFF. Like peas and carrots to quote Forrest Gump.

This weekend will be full of not-so-subtle brain-washing about where to attend college (alhtough they can TRULY attend where they would like. . .but we hope it’s HARDING!!!) and LOTS of Girl Power as I also get to see Stephanie and (my friend) Carolyn and her family. I will be missing a senior girl from church and my Momma who couldn’t make it. . .but they will be in our thoughts while we are there.

Now. Time to pack. Yikes!!!!! It’s been a busy week, but the leaves are turning colors in central Arkansas, and a cold front is headed that direction!!!!!

In the mean time. . .

Just do it.

I love to write. It’s not that hard for me. I am able to fire off 500 words in nothing flat. So how come I’m not blogging? I have all manner of stories and thoughts and things practically running laps in my brain. Hmmm. . .that will be something to ponder later.

Tonight, I read Stephanie’s blog post. She is kind of doing a post a day type thing–and she really IS doing it. I love it. I always know whatever is there, I will be happy that it is waiting for me to read.

So. . .here goes. My daughter is getting entirely TOO lovely.
Seriously.
I know this happens, and I embrace it. . .but seriously.

On another note, Thad is growing too, but he still does stuff
like playing “The 1812 Overture.”
On his teeth.
With a comb.
Also seriously.

Tomorrow I get my very first student teacher ever. I have fixed her a spot to land and a little basket of goodies, and I hope she’s ready for the likes of me. She will not see an immaculate classroom that stays neat all day or is even neat when I leave it, nor will she see a refined educator, but she will see REAL teaching–the good, the bad, and the junior high. Her name is Wendy. And since I found out (last Friday) that she was coming, I have thought back to the lovely soul that mentored me; Mrs. Ballard.

She was 42 and pregnant with her first baby. (It just struck me that I am 43–thankfully not pregnant, but marveling at how she did it.) She also had gestational diabetes and had to watch what she ate. I mainly remember her eating tuna sandwiches and carrots when what she wanted was a package of Nutty Bars and a big glass of milk. I also remember her eating a lot of Tums. (A proclivity that I shared with my own pregnancies–the Tums–not the tuna.) Because of the change in her diet, she had actually LOST weight during her pregnancy, and her maternity jeans had gotten too big, so she wore regular jeans with a rubber band through the button hole, looped around the button. I was amazed at this trick and appalled that I did not know about it sooner. She was sweet and dear and kind and PATIENT above all else. She went into pre-term labor three weeks before I graduated. The School district in Searcy played a little fast and loose with my up-coming certification and just let me act as the sub for the remainder of the year. That amounted to three weeks without pay and two weeks with.

I will never forget the day I took the kids on a field trip to somewhere that was more than an hour away. At one point, I looked around the bus and realized that besides the driver, I was the only adult on it. And I was really just a kid atop an adult shaped step-stool at the time. It scared me half to death. What kind of IDIOTS turned me loose with their children and allowed me to take them somewhere in a motor vehicle? I very nearly had a panic attack right then and there. . .but I couldn’t, because I was THE ONLY ADULT ON THE BUS!!!! Frightening.

(Seriously)

I went to see Mrs. Ballard one night after her baby was born. It was spring. She and her husband lived out in the country, and he had just tilled their garden to begin planting for the summer. The dirt was rich and black–fragrant, slightly damp and loamy–the dirt of my childhood. I couldn’t resist. I didn’t even ask permission. I pulled off my socks and shoes and went running through their freshly turned up garden in my bare feet. They stood and laughed at this crazy woman-child.

And then, I went in to see the baby for the first time. A beautiful little girl. She was tiny. I marveled at her too.

Mrs. Ballard had a BIG basket of goodies for me full of awards and post-its and colored Sharpie markers and stickers and an EZ-Grader that I have to this day. (It says “Miss Watts” on one side and “Mrs. Langley” on the other. I also used the pretty Sharpies to draw balloons all over it.) In her sweet generosity, she gave me the stipend (pittance more like it) that she received for having had me in her classroom as an additional student. She said she thought I had earned it more than she had. That is SO not true. Obviously, I will never forget her. She’s been on my mind.


A very PATIENT advising teacher, a very tiny baby, and a very young, IN LOVE WITH TONY LANGLEY, “Ignorance is Bliss” me. With dirty feet from running through a newly tilled garden.


Not long after–still young–still IN LOVE–still ignorant, but not blissfully so anymore. *Sigh.* My first class of kids. I am taller than them, but that is about it. I remember EVERY ONE of their names.

Prayers for Wendy as she begins her Adventures in Jr. High, and prayers for me as I do something new yet again. The learning? It never ends.

Seriously.