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Sole turn…

November 8, 2010

“When a girl like Shendel invites you for tea,

she is simply not making noise with her tongue,” Lipsa said after a while…

“That’s not the type of girl that Shendel is…”

I took the bread she offered…

“I’ve known Shendel longer than your step-mother has,” Lipsa continued,

“Who do you think nursed Shendel???”

“You???” I asked…

Lipsa nodded…

“Her mother had no milk…

I know this girl from her first moments in this world—

as I know you, my little bird—

and I can tell you that if Shendel Entelman invited you to tea it’s because she meant to have you…”

A warmth filled me so completely at that moment that I no longer even wanted my second slice of bread…

“When will she have me???” I asked,

“After she’s married??? In her new house???”

But Lipsa simply shrugged her shoulders and said,

“When the time is right,

she’ll have you…”

— in your mouth is lovely by Nancy Richler

One of the things Little Gem always takes,

a moment,

to do,

even when I’m telling her to hustle,

because I can hear the school bus coming around the corner,

is to flip the piece of paper on the sign on her door,

to indicate whether she is IN or OUT…

I’ve asked who she does that for,

because I know where she is,

and what she tells me is this,

Oh Mama,

I’m doing it for myself…

On occasion people have said to me,

Your children are lucky you’re a teacher,

like my chosen profession gives my kids,

a leg up on something…

The only thing I can think it has given them,

a leg up on,

is seeing someone doing what they love,

and standing up for what they believe in,

come hell or high water…

Sometime last week I was chatting on the phone,

with a speech and language pathologist,

from my former district,

about standardized tests,

which work from a base,

to a ceiling,

and back down again

with no attention to dynamics,


or expansion,

of the individual,

in relation to everyone else…

This smart woman is retiring next year,

and has run the gamut,

in her work supporting children’s expression,

and communication,

in our public school system…

She describes herself as an iconoclast,

and she isn’t afraid to expose the corruption,

of test scores,

as mandated by the Ministry,

for building faulty towers…

She sees her client as the student,

and the student is who she is in service to…

No one else…

This is rare vision,

in a legislated,

union versus management structure,

where the interests of the client,

are so buried in rhetoric,

and ego politics,

we can’t see who they really are anymore…

Two ends of a spectrum,

so far apart,

in agendas,

the rainbow is lost,

in the bargaining storm…

I remember overhearing two colleagues—

a vice-principal,

and teacher-librarian—

discussing one of my sideways glances…

One said to the other,

She looked at me over by the microwave,

when I must have made an off the cuff comment,

and I was seared on the spot…

I’m still reeling from the exposure…

I laughed,

and reminded them that I can’t help myself,

the look comes naturally,

and it is designed to hold accountability,

for tax payers’ expense,

and student experience…

I sent the look to Gordon Campbell,


quite a while ago…

But we tend to take our sweet time,

for things to sink in,

especially when we’ve had one too many,

pina coladas,

on the big island,

of deception…

So far,

there is no provincially administered test,

to blow,

for integrity,


or sanity,

in between .o5 and .08 of truth,

BEFORE taking office,

and crossing the yellow line…

But it’s only a matter of time,

before the right technology,

moves from the drawing board,

to the tazer…

I intentionally experimented,

with NOT giving my children,

any formal reading,

or writing instruction,

other than them seeing me do it myself…

And tonight,

while I was washing Little Gem’s hair,

in the claw foot tub,

thinking about how the wax seal on the toilet,

had gone again,

and I need some help with the repair,

before my bathroom falls into my kitchen,

she said to me,

Mama, what’s faith???

Is it believing???

Like I have faith in YOU…”

I said,

Yes, that’s exactly what it is…

What made you wonder,

about faith???

She said,

I was thinking about my friend,

and her middle name…

And what faith feels like…

Now could you get me a towel,

for my eyes…

I need to wipe them dry,

so I can see you,

all the more clearly,

my dear…

Only shooting stars break the mold...

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