A new tattoo to illustrate the ineffable

“Wow, you had a tattoo before it was cool to have a tattoo,” said Mike, the guy planning my inking session said. He clarified, “Okay, tattoos are cool no matter what, but 20 years ago, there were only a couple of places in the city doing them.”  Tattoos have indeed become more commonplace, but when I got inked the first time, at Jade Dragon in Chicago, it was an assumption that bikers and loose women, gang members and outlaws, got marked. My first tattoo was a meditation knot for teachers — and I am one.  I had only been a teacher for a few years when I got that tattoo, and I suppose it was prescient since I have remained one for 30 years. That tattoo has faded and its lines have blurred with time,  but it serves as the seed from which my most recent tattoo emerges. My second tattoo, the one that I got in remembrance of my son, Declan, who died 48 hours after his birth, is something I have written about before.

While that tattoo was a mark of remembrance and solace, a mark of surviving and seeking peace, this most recent one is a mark of celebration and connection. For a long time, I’ve wanted to mark my body with my two children who we adopted, and this past summer’s trip to Vietnam with Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl provided the inspiration for the image that would connect me indelibly to them as mom.  The lotus flower holds symbolic value because it is a flower of renewal, rebirth, regeneration, and of Vietnam itself. A lotus will put down roots, grow in the murkiest of waters to become a beautiful flower.  Becoming a mother — putting down my own roots in the muddy and ever-shifting challenges has been beautiful. It’s the connection itself that has grown and become more beautiful with time, even when occasionally hit with an infestation of doubt.   I wanted to incorporate my kid’s names into the flower, to make the tattoo one that would link us physically despite our lack of biological connection.

When we returned from Vietnam, I ran across a lotus flower image, a photograph taken by Gorilla Girl in Vietnam.  Gorilla Girl drew anew that flower and invented the drawing that was tattooed on my body just before Christmas. Once the drawing was made by Gorilla Girl, the plan was certain and there was no going back. Because the drawing was her decision, she chose the mark she wanted to put on my skin. The mark that would link us, even though we don’t resemble each other physically. There’s something about the physicality of that experience of her pen on the paper, and the pen on my body that draws us together.

One of my good friends has a son in college, and she asked if I could send her a photograph of my Declan tattoo and my recent tattoo of the lotus flower. Her son was writing a paper for a creative writing class, and he decided to write about tattoos. He expressed what many seem to feel about a middle-aged woman with tattoos —  the judgment that he admitted marked me, in his eyes, as someone who made a drunken mistake as a college student.  After his mom told him the real story, he wrote that he felt shame for making such judgments.  It’s true that women have long been “marked” when they choose to ink themselves. Tattoos are associated with a low-class sensibility, but as FC noticed, the beauty, artistry, and meaning of the tattoos that I’ll carry forever show something about being present in the world, about willingness to use art to express something that cannot be uttered sufficiently, to illustrate the ineffable. Why not make canvases of our bodies?

Coincidentally, I’ve recently finished reading The Book of Joan, in which, among other things, a future world exists in which all bodies are adorned with text, stories, images that link humans to the past, to works of art and literature no longer in existence.  I’m not sure how I envision the bodies, and perhaps in some ways, they are the grotesque imaginings of a dystopian reality (but one in which a woman exacts revenge for the scourge of destruction wrought by men), but for some reason, the idea of memorializing stories, whatever ones we choose, on our bodies strikes me as a worthy effort.

I’m not an artist, so the images on my body are my attempt to put beauty and stories in the world, at least in the brief time that my body exists in the world.  This body, and thus the art inscribed upon it, is temporary, but nevertheless, it tells a story.

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On a ride to nowhere

We are now entering the fourth week of schools closed, stay-at-home orders, and trying to flatten the curve.  Maybe it was the novelty of it or the challenge of reworking normal life, or maybe it was because my family is intact, together, and managing okay, but after four weeks, it seems like we’re entering a new phase. We’ve laughed at the memes, watched Sting sing “Don”t Stand So Close to Me,” thought about the poetic responses to the pandemic, and I even attempted (and failed) to binge-watch a Netflix series (The Good Place). But now I am wondering what this new life will leave us with on the other side. I think about these things when I am exercising, also an activity that has been changed by this new indoor life.

Initially, my aggressive approach to running (from zero to 5 miles in a week) felt good, but then my old ankle injury reared its ugly head, and I had to resort to my bike on its trainer in the dining room.  I’m skittish about hitting the road and face planting again, requiring a trip to the ER, and using up resources that need to be saved for those who fall ill. I’ve been down that road, and I don’t relish the idea of getting COVID from a bike accident. The bike accident alone was enough.

Biking outdoors is my preference despite my crash, and I love the open road, only a few cars, and the sounds of frogs, the wind, and the warmth of the sun. But, its been 40 degrees, rainy, and windy, and each day as I climb on the bike in my dining room, I crank up the music, close my eyes, and envision my favorite hill. My set up isn’t too bad, and I have windows to allow me to see the world, or at least my neighbor’s yard. So far, only once has my riding interrupted my kid’s zoom class — he kept shouting at me that he couldn’t hear the teacher, and then I realized that he was in a zoom. I had the volume way up, perhaps to “Beast of Burden” and the bike makes quite a racket on its own.

These days are strange ones, and somehow I’m not bored.  I guess I find things to do — working, reading, writing, cooking. Keeping after the usual chores. I don’t want to let these days go by in a blur, though. I want to pay attention. I want to use this time to re-think about a life that could be different. I’m sleeping later because I am not getting up at 4:30 to get to a spin class before school. I’m making food to give to neighbors. I’m actually writing, a little.

On my rides to nowhere, I am contemplating the past and the future, wondering about how much this enforced slow down might change us. Wondering whether we can re-emerge from our cocoons of silence into a world where we spend time in new ways, where we make a different set of priorities, where the workdays are 6 hours instead of 12 hours. It’d be a shame if we don’t come out of this with a new set of wings that will let us fly over the unnecessary and help us to pay attention to what really matters.





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The new normal: On returning from spring break in the midst of a pandemic

Usually, in my role as a 7th-grade Humanities teacher, I find myself stressed, unable to sleep, and furiously planning on the Sunday night before a return to school from breaks. This spring break is different, though. We return to remote teaching and learning, and these are untested and unknown waters. I find myself still anxious, still worried, but somehow also calm in the understanding that we have to give ourselves and our students time to adjust, and with that compassion, comes perhaps a sense that it will be okay, whatever happens. Though we are wading into uncharted territory, with patience, I think we will navigate this storm.

The excitement of seeing friends and colleagues after the break is lost in this new return to school via our laptops. In its place is a screen, posted assignments that ask kids to reflect, watch, read, and write, often in the isolation of their homes. However, some of them, like my family, will be working in the midst of a whole family glued to screens, working and learning from home. Despite our being together physically as a family, we’ll be separated by our tasks, by the screens that will literally block us from seeing each other.

Some folks are all jazzed about google hangouts and zoom meetings, and though I have tried it, I am way over it already. I don’t like the lag time, the missed mutterings, the wondering who will speak next, the feeling that our connection is mediated by this entity that is so inhuman. I crave the real connection to people, and even though I am by my nature an introvert, I certainly don’t feel more comfortable in conversation from behind this mask of the screen. I wonder what license kids will take in this virtual classroom, a space that they are probably much more comfortable with than their Gen X, Boomer, or even Millennial teachers.

I have a plan for my advisory and sent them a poem to ponder and respond to, and my regular classes are already working on Civil Disobedience projects, and because we knew this remote learning was coming, they opted to continue the work. I appreciate their desire to bring this project to fruition and hope that amid this pandemic, the idea of civil disobedience will make us think about how we actually begin to exercise our rights to challenge the status quo when we can no longer gather and when our movements are curtailed, and when it is much harder to collectively resist. Now, perhaps more than ever, awareness of the injustice that demands collective civil action is crucial.

We are not alone in our collective loneliness, but I think that we have also not really come fully to terms with what this means for kids, especially kids who are in middle and high school. Kids have been asked to sacrifice this moment of their lives – sacrifice team sports, field trips, class trips, the joy of learning and laughing and working collectively. They are sacrificing graduation ceremonies, proms, dances, and all of those rituals of adolescents that make the routines and demands of school bearable. We do (or at least I do) complain about their connection to screens, to Instagram and tik tok, but I do think that when they are in school when we can get them talking and working with each other, we can see a side of them that is universally adolescent. We can push them to be more compassionate, caring, funny, thoughtful, and reflective. All of that comes with the hard work of building a community in real-time and with real bodies, sharing a space and sharing experience. Our move to remote learning carries with it a move from physical space to a virtual world in which humans begin to shed some of their humanity. I suppose that is the danger, and the thing we have to resist, the hope that we can come together again in real-time in real space in order to bring back our common humanity.

So, once again I head into the night before the Monday that marks a return to school from a break. This one stands alone in the twenty-eight years that came before. I will commit to patience, awareness, and flexibility as I learn how to become a teacher for this time. None of us have prepared for this. All of us are expected, as teachers always are, to perform the Herculean work of holding the young, keeping them safe, nurturing them, providing them with challenges and opportunities. We’ll do the work.

I posted this poem for my advisory. It is a good reminder of what we need now.




The sparkling blue of Lake Michigan, in the summer sun, with a brisk breeze is enticing and inviting, and as I remembered that particular shade, I recalled the time our rental catamaran flung us into those blue depths. I’m not a sailor, and know nothing about how to control a sailboat.  I don’t know a thing about sailboat lingo. But when EE suggested, many moons ago, that HE and the two of us go sailing in Montrose Harbor on a perfect breezy summer day, I was in.  EE was a knowledgeable sailor, and would direct HE and I as we learned the ropes. He was confident in our ability to get the hang of it. It was incredibly freeing to be on the Lake, sun shining, spray in our faces, as we sailed away from shore. A sense of peace and calm was mine for a few moments, but soon, I began to worry about the waves and the wind.  As the breeze became a strong wind, we picked up speed and water sloshed over the pontoons. Just before we were thrown overboard, I shouted to EE that I thought we might tip. Alas, the boat veered so hard sideways that we flipped over, and HE and I were tossed, along with the trusty Captain, overboard.

We were much younger then, and despite the fact of our impending triathlon, impervious to small twinges of injury sustained in somewhat reckless endeavors. I did have a rather large and impressive bruise on my hamstring, where the boat must have whapped me on my way overboard. We were rescued and our boat restored by passing speed boaters.Our adventure over, I believe we laughed about the crispness of the cold water and the suddenness of our plunge.

In any case, I do wonder why those sorts of adventures are not the ones we take Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl on now-a-days.  Older parents that we are, we tend to more subdued kinds of summer fun, and my triathloning days are behind me now, at least for a while. Seems like the blue of the Lake, though, is something we should aspire to have more of next summer, as this one winds to a close. EJ keeps reminding me to savor summer, and this one has sped on much too quickly.  Perhaps some adjustments are necessary for next summer — adjustments that might allow for adventure in the depths.


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Where the children play

One of the joys of childhood is the freedom to swing high enough to touch the sky. I wonder, though, just how often kids are allowed this kind of freedom when I see articles about Helicopter parents who have traumatized their now college-age children.  Do we let children risk a fall and deny them this joy, or do we keep them safe, and provide only sanitized experiences?

When I read a short story called “Creature Features” with my summer school class last week, I was reminded of the freedom, and inherent risks, of my own childhood.  The story, a lovely gem by John McNally, in his collection Ghosts of Chicago, is told by an 8-year old boy, who loves the old Channel 9 TV show, Creature Features, and whose mom is having a baby.  The boy rides around the city on his bike, unsupervised, and collects large slabs of chalk thrown to him by railroad engineers from the many trains passing overhead on the viaducts that he climbs. He is left alone overnight by his parents when they are called away to help a neighbor, and he frequently stays up late watching the show, while his parents call it a night. His life is joyous, exuberant, and filled with adventure.

My students laughed, reacted with ohs and ahs, and clearly enjoyed this story, but as we talked, they expressed concern and amazement.  How could an 8 year old be left alone? How could he navigate his neighborhood alone on his bike? How could he take his dog for a walk alone each day? These are not things that have happened in their lives.

I’m nostalgic for this freedom, and McNally’s description reminded me of my own  childhood filled with freedom to explore, and the risk to get hurt.  Perhaps I was a little older than this protagonist, but I vividly recall building (or at least claiming)  a “fort” between the back-to-back billboards that overlooked the Cicero Avenue Bridge.  We climbed dizzying heights, and somehow populated the fort with old scraps of carpet, and various discarded junk that we found near the tracks below.

My sister often claims that all of us should have been far more injured than we were — and the cliche, of course, is prevalent among my generation that we survived against the odds. But as my 8-year-olds, GG and MM,  experience risk, embrace adventure, and play with the full tilt and dizzying joy of childhood, I hope I can ignore my protective instincts enough to allow them to take steps toward independence. I will try to keep the lung-filling joy of swinging high in mind when my impulse to protect limits not only their opportunity for joy, but also the small bruises that will teach them much about healing.

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Waiting on the Big Green Soup Pot

IMG_0499We’ve moved into a house from our condo, and it’s been a fairly exciting adventure, although it’s also been fraught with a few challenges. Despite the challenges, we’re slowly making headway on unpacking and organizing our lives in a new, more spacious, home, and we’re enjoying our tree-house like existence. Our home is in an old Chicago neighborhood, that in the words of my sister, “might as well be the suburbs.”  I have to disagree a little; it’s still not the ‘burbs, but ancient trees (or at least really, really old ones) adorn our front lawn and shade our back porch.

IMG_0498One of the things I’m anticipating is digging out my big green soup pot to make pho for our big Tet celebration, which does not happen until winter, so I’ll have to imagine the smells of the anise, cilantro, ginger, garlic and other spices simmering away for hours, and wait for that heady aroma to fill this new space with the chatter of friends and family. In the midst of the hottest day so far this summer, I am not sure why cooking soup comes to mind, but as we gradually unpack and unearth our boxed possessions, and as our home begins to feel more like us, I am eager to share it with others. I suppose soup can do that — bring us together to share in our good fortune.

Perhaps it is also the green of the trees that I enjoy everyday from various vantage points in the house that makes me consider the green of my big soup pot.  No matter the reason, though, I am waiting on the green soup pot to share the beauty of this place with friends and family who’ve not already visited.



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Lessons from the “boot”


Five weeks ago, I had surgery to repair a torn peroneal tendon and to fix a long-standing stress fracture in my left metatarsal. Running and my unique physiology have contributed to the damage, and I had similar (though less significant) surgery five years ago on the right tendon. It’s been, and continues to be, a longer road to recovery than I anticipated, and that I remembered from the former surgery. It’s got me thinking about what it means to need help, and to have to rely upon others for assistance, and to be patient as I wait for my body to heal.

I missed one week of school for the surgery, and was ordered to two weeks of no weight-bearing. Upon my return to school, I was on crutches, and the kindness of one of the school principals (a former fellow in surgery to the ankle) granted me a scooter, with which I “rode” around the hallways and my classroom. My students, 7th graders nearing the end of the school year, were remarkably helpful, patient, and kind as I returned to teaching.  They picked up some of the pieces, helping me move computers around the room, writing the homework on the board, and transcribing my daily writing prompts that guide our class. I was grateful for their help, but also realized that it was good for them to have some level of responsibility, to take on some of the work that keeps our class moving forward.

My own children have also been forced to pick up some of the pieces. My kids are eight, and they rely much upon me to fetch things for them, cook, make lunches, help get them ready for bed, among the many tasks that fall to moms. I enjoy taking care of them, but because EE has also been out of town this week, I’ve had to ask Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl to take on some of the work of making lunches, getting clothes ready for school, and cleaning up the kitchen. Gorilla Girl has done the lion’s share of this “helping” and she seems genuinely proud of what she is able to do independently. The other side of the story is Monkey Man’s lament, “I can’t wait for you to be normal again, Mommy.” This balance between doing for one-self, and having done for one is tricky; for eight year olds, it might be confusing. In they eyes of a child, the parent is the care giver, the one who is supposed to be strong and protective, so a wounded parent must be frightening at worst, and disorienting at least. I wonder, too, how much I was doing as an eight-year old.  Are my children more catered to than I was, than earlier generations were? Is my incapacity, even though temporary,  a blessing in disguise, one that allows them to stretch themselves a bit more independently?

Despite the blessings that the “boot” has provided, and the offers of help from friends and family who have borne the brunt of taking care of me, my kids, and our house move over the past couple of weeks, I do still feel the desire to jump back into action, to take care of all the things that are normally so easily accomplished.  However, I will have to exercise patience and humble myself before the will of my body as it heals and returns me to full mobility.

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Prom, 1984

In 1984, I was a senior in high school, and prom was looming on the horizon.  Yes, I was planning to go to college (at least until my mom suggested in frustration that I stay home, marry Terry, and have babies, but that is a story for another day), and I was working hard in school.  But, prom was prom.

I am one of those people who now shakes her head, and makes tsk noises when the cost of prom dresses and transportation becomes part of the conversation.  I am admittedly judgmental about the trappings of such an outmoded, clearly patriarchal establishment; and yet when it was my turn, and when I was 17, I bought wholesale into the rhetoric and hoopla.

With chagrin, I admit that I attended three proms my senior year; however, in an act of thriftiness, I did wear the same dress to all three proms.  Why not make the most of the outrageous cost of the dress?

I do remember shopping for the coveted prom dress with my mom at J. C. Penny in Ford City Shopping Mall.  My mom and I scoured the racks.  She was the one who selected the black taffeta dress with the pink rosette trim. When I think of it now, it seems ridiculous. How on earth could such a thing be attractive?

I remember trying on some dresses — rejecting the entirely pink dresses — and finally settling on this one.  It seemed a victory; the dress was something my mom and I agreed upon, a rarity in the days leading to my high school graduation. It was also on sale! I remember that some girlfriends bought prom dresses at bridal shops, and they paid much more dearly than I for the swath of taffeta adorning their frames.

The prom dress, for me, symbolizes the contradictions of youth.  I was fiercely independent as a high school student, obnoxious in my rebellion, certain of my righteousness–a firm believer in ERA, a fighter for women’s rights.  Yet, in this moment of narrowly defined entrance into womanhood, I was like crusader, galloping to my certain doom, assured in my heart of the adventure that lay ahead.  I participated in the activities of prom as if they were normal.  I acquiesced to the rituals of teenage romantic notions.

I am not blaming myself, nor my mother, but rather am reminded of the story  and meaning behind my dress. The connection to my mom,  in those hours of searching, brought us into a union that was not easily achieved for most of my senior year. We were on the same page for once.  We wanted a bargain, a dress that could withstand a few wearings, something lasting, something that we would remember.

Too bad I no longer have the dress — it would be vintage by now.


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Personal Art: Patti Smith’s Just Kids

booksI finished Patti Smith’s Just Kids late last night.  For a poet, Smith’s prose was decidedly banal, and though I admire her premise — a coming of age/muse and artist/love and friendship story — the memoir read more like a who’s who of rock n’ roll, art high society, and fashion than a heartfelt and inspiring tale of following one’s dreams.  I admire Smith and her work, and though I don’t know much about Robert Mapplethorpe (and oddly, feel that I still don’t, even after reading Smith’s memoir of her relationship with him), but wonder if Smith could have infused her memoir with more of what makes her tick.

Smith notes often the hunger, real and symbolic,  she and Mapplethorpe felt, the odd jobs that kept them going, two young kids newly arrived in New York City, desirous only of making art–being true to their work. Smith held many odd jobs to support herself and Mapplethorpe, but her move from bookstore shop girl to rock n’ roll band leader seemed quick, even without effort.  I am sure that Smith’s gradual coming in to her own, her creation of her poetry, and her development of her musical side, took time, but it seemed to happen almost overnight in the memoir.  Perhaps the rise did seem to Smith instantaneous, or miraculous, and thus her rendition that made the climb seem insignificant. Smith and Mapplethorpe shared an intense and profound love, and  a mutual support of one another’s artistic development, but without the poignant ending of the book, I might not have fully appreciated that relationship.  As Smith recounts Mapplethorpe’s death, she narrates a tragic story of loss for a generation of young men who succumbed to the horrors of AIDS. It is then that she seems to reveal more about her profound connection to Mapplethorpe.

My belief in artists, whether they are photographers, painters, poets, or musicians (or all of the above), to help the rest of us be centered, connected, and rooted in what is meaningful,  might be unrealistic.  I wanted not Smith’s list of who she saw and talked to each time she entered The Chelsea Hotel or Max’s Restaurant, but the story of the relationships and struggles that brought her to the poetry, the story of the inspiration from other artists.  To her credit, she does note that Jimi Hendrix inspired her, and that she recorded her first album in his studio, but beyond Hendrix as cultural icon, I was uncertain that Smith had much more relationship to him that I have — that is to say, not much. I suppose if I wanted to read her poetry, I should buy her collections of poems.  I wanted more of her creativity in the memoir than was offered.  What I got was name dropping, as JY noted, and a meticulously detailed description of what she and Mapplethorpe wore.  What relevance this had to her life, or to the story she wanted to tell, is debatable.

When I finished the book, I was dismayed that Smith did not live up to my expectations, and maybe that is not her fault, but rather my mistake.  Maybe I am guilty of the very trap that I warn my students about when we study history.  Our heroes and role models, the people we look to for inspiration, are only human, after all, and we have to see them for who they are as three dimensional people, not who we hope them to be.  Perhaps the banality of Smith’s story shows some of the mundane aspects of her life in New York as a young artist seeking meaning–the daily trek to work, the grind of city living.  The trouble, even with this interpretation, is that what she seems to be looking for is the right connection with the right famous person, the open door, that will allow her to express her work to a larger audience.  Even though what artists like Smith seem to express is not about commercial success, she and Mapplethorpe were seemingly drawn to the “right places” with the right people.

pattismithSmith does mention a few times that she was often misread — directors thought she was a lesbian and drug user and she was neither.  Because she dressed androgynously, she was misunderstood.  Perhaps Smith’s focus on her wardrobe illustrates how all of us perform various roles — we express our gender and sexuality by our choices about dress.  Maybe Smith’s focus on what she was wearing acknowledges this performance — that all aspects of how we present ourselves to others is performance.  Just as Mapplethorpe pushed the boundaries of art with images that crossed dangerous sexually demarcated lines, Smith was on the path to question other divisions of life in the 70s, and maybe dress was part of her performance.

What I do appreciate about Smith’s narrative is the insight into the world of the late 60s and early 70s music and art scene in New York, the intensity of the creative moment there, and the response to world events.  What I struggled with was the purported commitment to making art, but sometimes without the connection to its purpose in the world.  In this time of great protest and cultural shifts, Smith barely seems to acknowledge that as an impetus for creative output. Art, perhaps for her, is much more personal than political.

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The face of determination

Monkey Man heads to kindergarten in the fall, a year behind his sister and his chronological mates.  It was a decision that seemed right given his physical challenges.  In some ways, though, it does seems strange to hold him back from first grade, as EE says, “He can read, but he can’t pull up his own pants, so he has to stay in kindergarten.”  It is true that Monkey Man was an early reader, and he has become even more able.  It isn’t that he reads War and Peace or anything — more like Mutant Ninja Turtle comic books and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales — but he is reading. 

Despite the physical challenge of pulling up his pants with one working arm, Monkey Man often amazes me when it comes to facing obstacles with undaunted courage.  In particular, Monkey Man has become interested in running, something that he does quite slowly and a bit awkwardly.  However, he does not stop.  On the track with his dad, Monkey Man runs four laps, or a mile, staying in his lane.

Monkey Man imitated “running” on the treadmill recently at his physical therapy session.

Monkey Man’s most challenging run was at the Tryon Farms 50K/10K/5K and kids race.  He gamely set off with the other kids, hopping over giant weeds, negotiating forest and prairie trails. I was working the finish line for the race, and when the adult who led the kids off on the 3/4 mile run came back, with most of the other kids, but without Monkey Man, I began to worry.  Could he be down in the field?  Did he get lost on the trail, which was, to say the least, not well-marked.  I followed the course backwards to see if I could intercept him, and when I finally found him about a quarter of a mile away, he was tromping through tall prairie grasses that reached over his head.  I asked him if he needed help, and if I should stay with him.  His answer, “No, Mommy, I can do it by myself.”   Monkey Man finished the race on his own.  When he came across the line, to much cheering and shouting of the spectating crowd, I had tears in my eyes.  For a kid with the physical challenges he faces, including poor eyesight, his was the face of determination and fortitude grinning with pride across that finish line.

Since I did not manage to get a picture of the finish line, I found one instead of Monkey Man, using two hands on his mower, helping his dad. Another of his favorite physical activities.


When Monkey Man attended his first PE class late in the spring (as a trial run with the other nursery kids soon to be kindergarten kids), he responded, “PE is easy; you just have to listen to the teacher and then do what she says.”   His teachers had worried about how Monkey Man would navigate the challenge of PE next year, so this was a good sign.  Even Gorilla Girl noted that PE might be hard for Monkey Man since he has only one working arm, and sometimes they have to do things, like push ups, with two.  After watching with awe as Monkey Man finished the Tryon kids race, I know he will find his way.

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