Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A Good Book
Okay, I confess:  I'm selfish.  I went in to visit my kids at school today to check in on them, to see what the room looks like (still pretty clean - very impressive, Chris) and to find out exactly how much room that tent takes up.  But mostly, I went for a pretty selfish reason.  I wanted to feel normal.  It was so nice to hear their voices (and sign with them), and see their faces and to say things like, "I'm looking for a group that is ready to come to the rug."  Or, "Student X, where are your glasses/hearing aids?" or "We all listened when it was your turn, now be respectful and give so and so your attention."  It's like putting on your favorite pair of sweatpants after wearing pantyhose all day long - so comforting and familiar.

Since they already know the facts of what's going on with me, I was glad we didn't have to devote all of our time together to cancer talk (like Coffee Talk, but instead of Mike Myers in a wig, it's Mrs. Blitstein in a wig).  They did have some questions for me, mostly about the hair.  I wore my blonde wig and one child initially thought my hair had grown back (she was a bit disappointed when I revealed it wasn't really my hair).  Another child had never heard of a wig before and expressed concern over what might happen if I dropped something and had to bend down to pick it up.  Wouldn't the wig fall off?  Of course, I demonstrated that the wig was on pretty tightly and unless a tornado came through the room, would not going anywhere.

I think they mainly focus on the hair because it's something they can see and connect with.  They don't see me on my bad days and they can't touch with their hands this disease that is taking me away from the classroom.  So they ask lots of questions about the hair.  Has it started growing back yet?  Will it be red (like I've always wanted)?  Do I have a red, curly wig?  Does the purple wig look natural? 

Instead, I brought a picture book to read aloud and use to discuss author's message.  A lovely book, called, The Snail and the Whale, by Julia Donaldson, it's a sweet story about a snail who wants to travel the world.  The other snails think he's being ridiculous, but he manages to hitch a ride on the tail of a humpback whale (you see this rhyming thing, right?).  After seeing the world's natural wonders, he realizes just how small he is. 

But when the whale gets distracted by speedboats (those rotten humans), and ends up beached in the bay, the snail goes to get help from the children in the nearby school.  They get the whole village to help keep the whale cool and wet until the tide comes in and the snail/whale team are able to swim safely back to the dock.  There are so many positive messages in this story and the kids picked up on almost all of them.  Nobody noticed (and actually, me included, until this most recent reading) that it took a village to save the whale.  The snail was small, but determined and knew when to ask for help.  It really does take a village. 

Thank goodness I didn't cry while reading the story (fun fact: I majored in Children's Literature and still feel pretty good about that decision).  The kids are wonderful and all are wearing (along with the teachers) lime green ribbons (for lymphoma awareness) made by one of my fabulous students.  And yes, I cried when I found out she had done that.  I do feel like they haven't forgotten about me, even though I know it's silly for me to worry about being missed.  Selfishly, I went to school for a 4th grade pick-me-up.  Something about the innocent questions, hearing the important news of their lives, and the smiles on their faces makes me so happy, and I was reminded why I went into this "business" in the first place (cause let me tell you it ain't for the money).


At long last, coming up on my last dose of magical poison, I just want to get it over with.  I want to get in there and kick the s*%t out of this tumor.  I am pumped and I haven't even put on Wicked yet. 



  1. An award-winning day for the most amazing teacher...I know we're closely related, but YOU ARE AN AMAZING TEACHER. clap clap clap for your performance, and for your dedication, again. You are an EDUCATION NATION best example.

  2. Couldn't have said it better, Yona! Yes, Mia, I love the kind of teacher you are. You are what I wished all my teachers were. Although I did have one or two teachers like you, and to this day, they are still etched in my memory, and think of them with gratitude for what they taught me. Maybe they are the ones who inspired me to keep learning. You'll be back in action soon, a life time to inspire little minds. Rabia