Monthly Archives: April 2014


“You didn’t even let me finish what I was saying…”

“Well, Mom, I don’t care what you were going to say.”

Ouch. That is pretty much it these days. Letting go.


Predictably, that is how I start to feel about my class every year about this time, and I believe it is how they feel about me– substitute “Mrs. Skubik” for “Mom” and you probably have the reality in my classroom right about now. We are almost done with our tapestry. It has been woven with care, stiched bit by bit, embellished… it is nearly finished. It will be torn to shreds in a month or so, never to exist again. Its threads and tatters will weave themselves into each of our lives, but it won’t ever be the same. I mourn that each year. I celebrate the possibilities–relish them in the beginning, and when we are near the end, I grieve. This used to catch me off guard my first few years of teaching, but no more. I get ready for the pain, I start to back off a little, I begin to let go of them. So it hurts less, I tell myself.


It’s the same in my home. Also time to let go. The tapestry of my mothering, of our parenting, the fabric of our life together so far– about to be torn. College is on the very near horizon. Last months of high school. Everything is changing. She is SOOO ready to cut these ties. She is soooo ready to take what she needs and head on out to start her own masterpiece. She has already started it of course, but the college life break is so big, so new for all of us.

Everything I have wanted for her is coming true, but I didn’t plan on the pain. It caught me off guard. Well, not all of it. I knew it would hurt when she moved out, but I didn’t think she would be moving me out of her life. Literally. Don’t say that isn’t true, because it is. Of course I will always be a part of her life, but not in the way I have been for 0-18. For childhood. I don’t know why I didn’t see that coming, but I didn’t. It is the way it should be, a young woman has to find her way into the world on her own, with her own voice. She is ready to do this. I am proud of the person she is. I admire her.

But why does it have to hurt so much? Why does it require a heart of steel? Mine isn’t up to the challenge right now. Will it ever be? Could it ever be?

I wish I could take a cue from my teaching life, but it won’t work. I can’t back off. I try, but I get pulled back in right away.  Mental gymnastics! Why are they involved? I am not as agile as I need to be. Because as soon as that little gem of a conversation was over, the next line was, “Can we go to Target and pick up some bathing suits?” And she meant it- like it would be fun to hang out with your buddy! “Let’s go! And maybe we could stop at Starbucks!!!!”

Really? ‘Cause ten minutes ago I sucked.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Little Creeper of Doubt

“Mom, when you read your students’ writing, it sounds like they’re high.”

Uh…thank you?

I could have asked, “HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT SOUNDS LIKE?” but as a senior at a large suburban Los Angeles high school, I’m pretty sure she knows exactly what that sounds like. Anyway.


The other night I was reading through some of my students’ on demand pieces of short realistic fiction. My daughter got within range, so I said, “Hey! Listen to THIS one!” I was soooooo excited to read them! It was head and shoulders above past years, and I wondered why. Then I remembered that we were doing this unit much later than usual, and they had nearly eight months of reading, close reading, signpost reading….you know… under their belts. It shows. They are using voice in a way that makes me salivate to read more! They are purposeful, insightful, forceful. They are using writing as a way to express their lives and hopes and struggles.

On the day my mini-lesson involved thinking about issues and struggles in our personal lives that we could use for a story idea, we had an interesting discussion. Many of my students brought up the issue of living in two homes, and listening to heated arguments between two parents on the phone. I was touched with how honest they were, but mostly I was moved by how their shoulders let down a little when they realized that other people have some of the same worries they do. That is, of course, the beauty of fiction. It gives us a way to work through our own lives, to experience our own fears and to celebrate our own triumphs- indirectly and safely. To realize we are not alone. The fact that they were getting this, at nine years of age- well- that is why I do what I do.

Thus, the celebration of their voice, their passion, their commitment to writing fiction that tells important stories.

And then the little creeper of doubt and worry that has been nagging me for a few months now showed up again. How will they “show” on the new Smarter Balanced tests? How will these computer graded tests possibly capture and appreciate their work? Their growth? Their honesty and brilliance?

I am really really really worried. Everything could be at stake. Everyone is watching. And I don’t trust the process.

And still, they write about a child who figures out a way to escape the pain and anger in his or her life. They explore the territory of their hearts without really knowing it. They trust me. And they keep writing.

I can’t wait to read how it all ends.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized