Bad Dreams

This story is part of the Slice of Life Challenge on Two Writing Teachers. 

The call came again…

“Mommy,” his little voice echoing down the hallway to our bedroom. Every night. For well over a month. Waking me from a deep sleep that just could not be returned to.

As I padded down the hallway in the dark, I made my way to the side of his bed. His blue eyes, searching the dark to meet mine.

“Mommy, I had a bad dream.” he said sleepily.

“I know, buddy, it’s ok. I’m here,” I said reassuringly while every inch of my body wanted to say… “EVERYTHING IS FINE. THERE ARE NO MONSTERS. THERE IS NOTHING ON THE FLOOR. GO BACK TO SLEEP.” (I’m a girl that needs her sleep.)

“Let’s try something new,” I said.

“What’s that?” he answered with hope in his little voice.

“Let’s try blowing out your bad dreams.” I suggested.

“What does that mean?” he said.

“Watch,” I answered. I reached down and pressed my mouth to his ear. I blew in and said, “I’m blowing out your bad dreams.”

He looked up at me with a look of confusion, and hope.

I blew in both ears and then he asked, “Can you blow in good dreams now?” with 100% buy in to this new trick.

“Of course I can,” I answered with as much hope as I could muster at 3:00 AM.

I whispered into each ear, ‘good dreams’ and blew once more.

I tucked him in and went back to bed. Praying that this might be the solution.

The next night, my wise young son, looked up at me as I tucked him in and said,

“Mommy, why don’t you blow out my bad dreams now, and blow in good dreams so I won’t have any bad dreams tonight.”

“Wonderful idea, buddy,” and so I did.

And thus began the tradition that continued for years and years.

Through two children.

Until well past the ages of ‘bad dreams’.

That continues today as they approach 13 and 16 when they wake in the night.

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Food is fuel… nothing more, nothing less.

This has been my mantra for a few months now. Through some reflection and concern over my knee, I spent some time working on how to lose weight and get healthier.

One of the things I began to explore was my ‘relationship’ with food. I never really thought about it because I was never a person who ate a ton of sweets. Or who binged on whole bags of cookies or chips.  But, somehow, the weight just kept creeping on.

In my reflections, I truly felt that I was not an emotional eater. I felt like I didn’t really ‘eat my emotions’. Sure I enjoyed a good burger with french fries, but it wasn’t emotional.

Then I thought more. There are foods that I love. There are foods that I make for my children that show my love. There are foods my mom makes for us that make me feel loved. I know I’m loved regardless of the food, but food represents so much more to so many of us.

French toast for the boys on Sunday mornings. (Just like my mom always made… and still does)

Chicken stew, upon arrival at my parent’s house, any time we travel north.

Ployes, a French-Canadian bread product, a staple to many of our meals.

Poutine, the most delicious concoction ever known to man. (Can you feel the love?!)

So… as I thought more about it, I realized that I do LOVE different foods. But don’t we all? What is that thin people do as they look at food? Don’t they love certain foods? Don’t they ‘treat’ themselves?

Here’s the thing… I think they do, but not as frequently.

So … on a day to day basis… I’m sticking with the idea that food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. I’m going to fuel my body to feel the best I can. Yes, I’m going to still partake in indulgences (on occasion).

But maybe… just maybe… this time… it will work.

Dear Slice of Life,

Dear Slice of Life,

I must be honest here. I was truly afraid of you when we were first introduced. I watched you from afar. Read your posts year after year. Every March. Every year. Then every Tuesday. Reading the wonderful work of so many talented writers. What brave people. What courageous souls to put their writing out there like that.

When Melanie asked if I would spend more time with you this year, I said yes, but really meant no. I figured I could come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t keep our date. Too busy. Too much home stuff. Too much. How does one even create a website? What would I call it? Too much.

Then I opened up my 2018 journal. And there on the very first page were my five goals for the year.

#1: Healthy Eating… working on that really hard. Since the end of January… no processed foods. no bread products. Feeling so much better.

#2: Reading… a book a week for the year. Not keeping great pace, but definitely reading daily and things are really moving for this goal.

And there it was #3… Write. Mocking me. Taunting me. I was writing… I would journal on occasion. That counts. (Who are you kidding?)

So I reflected and decided… this was it. If not now, when?

SO I did it. I created a website with a super unique name (not!), and just started writing.

Thank you Slice of Life for making me write. For giving me a vehicle to share my stories. For the kind souls who have commented, provided feedback, and helped me to grow as a writer. For the ideas that I can bring to my classroom to inspire my student writers. For giving me the courage to share my writing with my loved ones.

Oh and can you thank StaceyBetsyBethKathleenDeb, and Lanny? I know they are the driving force behind the writing of so many Slicers. So many people putting themselves out there.

One last thing…  Melanie.  You see, I’m not sure how to thank her properly. The fact that she believed I was good enough. The fact that she kept coming back, trying to convince. The fact that she commented day after day. The fact that she stopped by so frequently over the course of the month to check in. She is pretty awesome. But you already know that. You can give her a big hug for me, will ya?

So, I was wondering, can we set up a standing date every Tuesday? I know you are seeing lots of other people, but I am willing to be one of many.

See you next Tuesday.

xoxo
Peg

6th grade Social Studies

6th grade… our final year at Dr. Levesque School, but as I sat in my 6th grade classroom, I didn’t feel any real connection to the school.

We were still ‘guests’. We were the ‘St. Agatha kids’ who came over for two years to finish out elementary school. We were the kids bused for over 20 minutes to someone else’s school.

Our teacher, Mrs. Michaud, stood in the front of the room droning on about something to do with Social Studies. Maps. Countries. Something important I’m sure. Her glasses sliding down her face as she spoke fervently.  Her white hair showing the years of dealing with 6th graders. She was a fan of Social Studies, but not so much a fan of kids.

My seat, now in the back of the room, was perfect. Close to the window to gaze outside. Easy to pass notes to my friends. And of course, easy to have a quiet conversation.

Here’s the problem. I’m not quiet. I am a talker. No surprise to anyone. It is just who I am. Since the beginning of my school years (and beyond). Likely on every report card given to my parents. Likely the comment must stated to my mom and dad at parent conferences.

On this particular day, she was droning a bit too much and for too long. Looking at us every once in a while. Seated in rows and rows of desks. Notebooks open. Taking notes. Listening, daydreaming, trying to stay awake.

In that moment, I leaned over to my friend Mark. You see he was the cute boy. He loved the Patriots. He had dark brown hair and big brown eyes. Downright dreamy for a 6th grade girl. As I leaned in to comment about something I am sure was hysterical.

I heard the word ‘ENOUGH!’, heard the gasps, then felt the slamming of something on the side of my head. I turned as the chalkboard eraser hit my head and chalk dust rained over me. Stifled laughter could be heard from all the seats around me.

Shock, humiliation, and embarrassment filled me. I looked up at the board as I wiped the chalk dust from my face.

“Are you done?” she asked.

I nodded and hung my head down at the desk. She resumed her lecture as if nothing of consequence had occurred. I looked down at my notebook as the humiliation turned into anger. Suddenly, I felt the tap of a hand on my arm.

“Can you believe her aim?” Mark whispered.

A smile crept across my face as my red cheeks faded.

“Yeah, who would have thought?” I answered, “Careful, you could be next.”

**The irony of the fact that I teach 6th grade Social Studies is not lost on me. However, white board erasers are far lighter and not as powerful.**

I did it… with lots of reservation!

Earlier in the month,  I wrote about Making my writing public 

On Wednesday, after weeks of time and thinking, I did it. I emailed my family and dearest friends and invited them along.

For those who told me weeks ago to share it, you were right. (I’m not big on saying that… so that’s huge!)

For those who sent a kind word or text yesterday… thank you. It is not easy and it feels very boastful (which I truly am not)!

One of my close friends called and said, “Will you write differently now that your audience has changed?” And that gave me pause. I said I didn’t know. I suppose writing for the Slice of Life on Two Writing Teachers was about getting my writing public, but sending it to strangers is very different than having those I love read it.

Did I retell stories with an author’s embellishment? Do I remember events accurately? Will someone be offended by something I said? It brought a whole new set of thoughts into my head.

So I thought about it… and I think… deep down inside… I knew that I would share these stories with the people who are closest to them. I would share them to let them know how important these events were in my life. I would share them to preserve the memories now before more and more memories take their places.

So yes, I am thankful that I pushed send on that email yesterday afternoon. I am grateful to those who reached out with kindness. I didn’t do it for that, but I am appreciative of the touching sentiments.

 

A butcher… not quite… but just enough!

Here’s the thing… my husband hates Peapod (home grocery delivery) and as you might guess, I love it!

I love the ability to grocery shop in my pajamas.

I love being able to pick and choose my groceries without someone lurking behind me.

I love looking for sales and deciding what we’re eating for the week.

And for all the things I love…

He says, he will grocery shop.

He says, the prices are more expensive.

He says, I buy more, spend more, and waste more by using them.

So we agreed to disagree when he decided that he would do the grocery shopping from now on. Now, he is great in that way. He does laundry. He mops the floors and vacuums and even dusts (with his sleeve, but hey, it’s dusting!) He even cleaned ALL the bathrooms during both my pregnancies as we learned very quickly that I could not clean bathrooms due to my immediate fits of vomiting upon entering.

But back to Peapod…

Last weekend we were in Delaware and there was no time for grocery shopping, so I convinced him to let me do Peapod. He agreed (reluctantly and with great hesitation, but he saw the wisdom of my ways.)

When the groceries arrived, one of the boys unpacked and said,

“Mom what is this?! It is a beast” in a tone of both horror and excitement.

I turned and saw a large part of a pig on my counter! No lie! It was supposed to be pork shoulder for pulled pork. The thing was enormous. Beast was the right word to describe it. I threw it in the fridge for fear my husband would see it and I would get the ‘I told you so’ PeaPod speech.

Monday morning: I decided to toss the whole beast into the crockpot. Slight problem… the whole thing was LARGER than the crockpot. And I mean, by a lot. My youngest was having breakfast and asked,

“Mom what are you going to do with that thing?”

I had no answer. I looked at him blankly, but as I heard Stephen getting ready to come downstairs, I hurriedly wrapped it up in foil and threw it into the fridge.

Fast forward to this morning, I was up early. Made my way downstairs. Pulled the ‘beast’ out of the fridge. I was not letting this thing get the better of me (or my husband, for that matter!)

I sharpened my carving knife. And I went to work. I swear if anyone had ever told me that I would be carving a pork shoulder on my kitchen IMG_5828counter… I would have laughed, but I was able to get big beautiful pieces of pork.

By the time everyone came down, it was in the crockpot, the remnants were disposed of… IMG_5829

and pulled pork is what’s for dinner WITHOUT a side of ‘I told you so’. And Peapod lives to see another day!

 

No business…

You see… I had no business being there.

My SATs were not high enough…

My grades were strong but I barely broke the top 10% of my class… in a small high school… in a rural town… with no AP courses offered or significantly advanced classes.

Sure, I did quite a few extra curricular activities… sports, student council, and other things.

Yes, applying to a Catholic college, as a girl who spent a good portion of her life at the Catholic church, didn’t hurt.

But, as I walked on to the campus, I knew I wanted to be there. I had to be there.

So when the acceptance came (to my sincere surprise) and my parents overlooked a generous scholarship to our state university, and packed me up and sent me 10 hours away from home, I knew I had to do everything in my power to do the absolute best with this opportunity.

And while I had to be there… there was more than one time that I thought… I shouldn’t be here.

You see…

I didn’t have a lot of money…

I didn’t have all the right clothes…

I didn’t fly through classes with straight As…

I didn’t go to fancy locales for spring break…

I didn’t ‘summer’ on the Cape, Nantucket, or the Vineyard…

But what I did do…

I worked my tail off… in my classes and in work study jobs.

I searched for my ‘people’ in a sea of 10,000.

I took every opportunity including teaching in the inner city of Boston.

I went to sporting events, and school dances, and parties, and enjoyed every minute.

And then… after four years… I drove north and cried for three straight hours until I got to my brother’s house.

You see… I believe… that it was my business to be there… to meet my best friend, to get an education at a teacher that would open doors for me… to love a place just like it was home.

To my youngest…

Many say that parents often wish their children will have children just like them. So perhaps they can experience the ‘joy’ of raising them.
You see, I’m not sure that my mother ever said that to me (or anyone else for that matter); however, I do know that God saw that it was very important to give me a child- Just. Like. Me.

We have the same blue eyes.

We have the same love for our friends.

We enjoy snuggling in bed to watch tv.

We are fiercely loyal to those we love.

We love a neat room with all things in their place.

We don’t go anywhere without a book.

We love strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

But yet… we also…

Lose patience when things don’t go our way.

Struggle when others are unkind.

Wish everyone would just do it our way (since it’s the right way).

work hard on school work because it doesn’t come easy.

say things we don’t mean and wish we could take them back right away.

feel things intensely.

show our emotions when we wish we could keep them inside.

And so, I thank God every day that he blessed me with a child. Just. Like. Me.

 

 

 

Learning to drive

The first time

On a lake frozen through and through.

In a blue pick up truck

following the paths of snowmobiles.

In the dark of night, while my legs stretched as much as they could, to reach the pedal.

The excitement of driving at only 10 years old.

Passing between the store and the house beside it.

Up to the street.

Look left… look right… look left… look right

Not a car in sight, but you can never be too sure.

Cross the road diagonally to our driveway.

Going up and pulling to a stop.

Put the lever in park. Breathe out.

Jump out… run up the stairs… excitement filling every inch of my body.

“I’m home,” I call to anyone who will listen.

“Where is your father?” my mom asks looking for him behind me.

Searching the porch.

Searching the driveway.

Searching the truck.

I turn to see her face and a slow grin spreads across mine.

“He’s in the fishing cabin… I came alone.” I say with a pride I am not sure I have ever felt before.

I skip into the kitchen to get water and snacks.

After all, I need to head back. He’s waiting for me.

 

Chalkboard memories

In Kindergarten, biting Mark to get the rag to help with Friday clean up. (seriously, what was I thinking?)

In 1st grade, wearing a store bought princess costume. (I insisted that my mother stop making me homemade costumes- what a mistake.)

In 2nd grade, losing my Dr. Spello book. (but not really because the teacher had misplaced it and kept me in for recess for one week until I found it.)

In 3rd, a cancelled birthday party due to a blizzard on my birthday. (November 1st… thanks Mother Nature!)

In 4th grade, tearing down Montfort School. (A sad time for our community, our school, and every one of us)

In 5th grade, having Mrs. Pelletier as a teacher. (A definite inspiration to me to become a teacher myself.)

In 6th grade, getting hit in the head with a chalkboard eraser. (I was talking- no surprise to those who know me.

Memories of moments from my childhood… they stay with you for years to come… important to remember as we work with children each and every day… we never forget.