Mary Beth Writes

 This was a small but telling moment in America this morning.

I volunteer at an elementary school a half hour walk from my house. I go twice each week to listen to individual 3rd graders who could use a nice grown-up listening, slowing them down, asking them what they just read, smiling at them for all the things they do right and words they pronounce correctly. We go to the school’s library, they pick where we will sit (red chairs, or blue, or yellow...) and I sit next to them on a very small chair. I ask questions, they tell me what they think they just read. I have been in fascinating conversations about George Washington, tigers, and what it’s like to eat oysters.  It’s a challenge to tell a kid what oysters look like if you prefer to not say snot.  (Older volunteers have high linguistic standards…) I said tan jelly.

This is more fun than kittens in hats.

Today, while sitting with a skinny little kid who LOVES basketball but was, I could sense, getting a little bored with the talking tree (so was I) – the fire alarm went off.

It was on the wall right over our heads and BOY was it loud.

My kid jumped up and headed straight for a back door in the library I had never noticed. Another volunteer stood up and followed his two little girls. The kids knew exactly where to go and what to do – back of the playground, stand in a line with the rest of your class. All the teachers had red “Emergency” knapsacks on their backs (are they hanging by the doors? I had never noticed them before) and were beginning to count the kids from their classes. When they had the correct amount, they held a sign that signified that. The principal was watching; this drill was accomplished in under 4 minutes.

We skedaddled back inside.

Here’s the thing. Because it had been raining this morning, I drove instead of walked. Because I had my entire purse with me, I plopped it in the back of the car and walked into the school without ID or phone.  While we were hurrying out of the building I didn’t know if this was a fire alarm or something else – would they sound the alarm if there was a shooter?  And then I freaked a little, quietly, inside myself, as I realized I didn’t even have my damn phone. 

Whatever would happen, I wouldn’t be able to document anything. If I needed to call someone, I couldn’t. 

And that was my “small but telling moment in America this morning.” 

If you are going into a school, you should take your phone.

This is nuts.

Comments

Oh wow. Gave me the shivers a little. Oh man ——- our children are living with these times. Sure wasn’t like when we grew up. Bless them all
Mary Beth's picture

Back then the NRA was an organization that promoted marksmanship and hunting skills.

Sadly, this IS the new reality that children in schools and others elsewhere face and it doesn't need to be this way. We need to wean legislatures off the NRA and repeal citizen's united so The Mighty Dollar doesn't cloud the judgement of those that should be making laws that protect us and not the gun lobby. Sensible gun legislation does not mean taking away guns from law abiding citizens - it means eliminating military style weapons that should only be in the hands of the military or law enforcement; increasing background checks on ALL gun and ammunition purchases and universal gun registration. More guns means more opportunity for guns to get into the hands of those that should not have them. There are real solutions to the "gun problem" in America if only those with the power to make real change have the courage to do so.

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"Brotherhood" by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr - A Book Review

10/13/2021

“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

Thanks & Now Let's Do Pups!

10/13/2021

 Thank You!

I sent our collated list of “Ways to Help My Community” to the Third Graders this morning.  Laura has already shared it with them; I just received this from one kid. This was really cool and helpful thank you for coming back to me so quickly well you always respond quickly like all the time and also I like hiring (hearing) from you always make me smile from writing to pictures I love them all.”

3rd graders on Community Building

10/12/2021

... 

I’m just back from volunteering in the third grade.  I’ve done this for five years; Laura Zahn who is this class’s teacher, plus her friend and fellow teacher Mara, have become among my favorite people in Waukesha. 

My Relationship with a Door 10/5/2021

Dear Friends,

I seem to be out of Deep Thoughts lately. Not sure if this is apparent to you but it is to me. This is not exactly a problem but keeps me guessing what in the world I should be writing. Or - since “should” is a sometimes toxic and generally unhelpful word – these days I am not sure what you want to read and I want to write.

So maybe I’ll just write you a quick Dear Friends. Sometimes relationships are just about checking in.

Up North 9/30/2021

Here’s why I’ve not posted anything in nearly two weeks.

Last week Len and I took a trip to Duluth, MN and Ashland, WI. We hiked seven hikes, met new friends, ate too much. (We didn’t eat IN restaurants. We ate take-out dinners while sitting in our car overlooking Chequamegon Bay.) We marinated in the breezy Up North rhythms of woods, streams, rivers, and Lake Superior. 

Then we came home to all that stuff one does up returning; laundry, groceries, and bringing in the Big Dozers to deal with cat litter boxes. 

Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

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