Sunday, June 14, 2015

Twenty Years of Public School

Benjamin, our youngest, graduated from high school today, June 14, 2015. This was our fifth graduation at Lakewood High School.
Benjamin, our final high-school graduate.
As we’ve been going to last minute senior meetings and functions, and seeing the same people we’ve seen for twelve years, my husband Murray tells them, “We’ve had kids in public school for twenty years now, and we’re tired of it.”
Are we? Am I?
I’ve been trying to bring back memories of all those years, and more and more have sneaked in.
The whole family with Sarah, who graduated from high school in 2010.
We lived in Kansas for five years and never had a close tornado until the last few months. We heard the warning that people should find shelter and made our way into the storage closet in the basement.
Of course, Murray had to go upstairs and take a look, and he found the school-bus driver sitting in the bus outside, waiting. He brought her inside to sit in the closet with us until everything was clear.
One of the most fun things I remember from the early years is sitting on the trampoline by the front door, waiting with the kids for the bus, and reading some of our favorite books—Narnia and Little House.
We’ve always told people that if they have a baby on the birthday of someone in our family, we’ll buy the baby a savings bond for $100. Sarah’s first grade teacher had a baby on December 17, Benjamin’s second birthday, so she collected.
When we lived in New York, the three middle kids were walking to school one day. Either Caleb’s or Sarah’s cane fell into a grate, and Rebecca decided to try to get it out with the other cane. Surprisingly, that one got lost in the grate too.
When I went back to work, and Murray got to be the stay-at-home parent, I moved to Cleveland about ten days before the rest of the family. Caleb said, when he came home from school one night while I was gone, “I don’t know what to do with my backpack.” (Since I wasn’t there to look through it with him.) Over the years, I’ve loved that I could actually read some of Caleb’s and Benjamin’s school papers, because they were in Braille.
We moved quite a bit in the early years, and all the kids but Benjamin did a lot of school jumping. Through moving and then searching for the right school for her once we were settled, Rebecca has a special memory of fourth grade. “I was the new kid four times that year.”
For the twelve school years I worked, Murray had responsibility for almost all of the kids’ needs. He talks about when he’d go with Benjamin to preschool meetings and get-togethers. “It was me and the other moms.”
Murray also got to handle most of the homework. He journeyed with the kids through Algebra II and geometry. We won’t even discuss how far I could have gotten.
The kids had fun projects. Murray says one of his favorite was helping Benjamin with a report on the Wright brothers and everything that went into getting a first flight. When Benjamin studied the history of the typewriter, I had my Mom send my old manual typewriter for him to take to school on the day of his presentation. Rebecca wrote a report on the safety of the subbasement in their school.
Our pet box turtle—Murray named him Scumbo—spent Rebecca’s fifth grade as the classroom pet.
In Sixth grade, Caleb won the “All Around Best Student Award.” As a senior, Sarah received the Wellesley College Book award, recommended by her teachers.
Other great memories. When I got home from work on Rebecca’s first day of high school, I jumped on her, hugging her and wailing, “I remember the day you were born.” She wrestled with me until we were both on the floor, then said, “You are so weird.”
Caleb got his guide dog, Esther, when he was seventeen. Every day of his senior year in high school, she attended with him. So of course, she walked with him at graduation too. He bought her a graduation hat for dogs. She didn’t like it much, but she’s a good sport.
Ping-Hwei decided he wanted to color his hair, like other kids in high school did. He wanted red hair, like Murray’s. Ping-Hwei has black hair, so Murray colored it white, then red. It turned out to be more orange, but Ping-Hwei smiled and went to school.
When Rebecca was in seventh grade, she had her head shaved for a fundraiser for research on children’s cancer. The school allowed her to wear a head covering for a while, but the first day after, she went to school bald.
Band, orchestra and choir concerts, IEP and other school meetings, football games the eight years Caleb and Benjamin were in the marching band. I confess—I only made it to a few of the football games. We were in the audience this year when Benjamin’s Academic Challenge team was on TV.
Now the older four kids have jobs, and Benjamin will start college in the fall. This chapter in our lives is over, and I’m not sure I’m glad.
But knowing our kids, I’m sure more exciting chapters are still ahead.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Abi of Cyrene

I want to recommend another book by one of my critique friends—ABI OF CYRENE by Mary Lou Cheatham. Check it out on

This excellent story is told by Abi, the wife of Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross. We share in the true-to-life struggles between a husband and wife, the growth of a woman’s faith as she finds her own relationship with God, and a heart-squeezing look at the crucifixion of Christ. I am looking forward to reading it again.