Friday, April 15 2022

meetings, touring rodneys school, and a lady in our bushes

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday.

We continue to ease into spring. I'm grateful for the sun, bright blue sky, and nice weather. But great weather aside, we're having a strange morning today. Marissa left right from dropping Rodney off at school for an agility trial with Ziggy. Minnie is pretty pissed off about it.

I get that she misses her sister, and she might be a little annoyed that she couldn't take a nap with mom this morning, but I don't see how it's fair that she takes all this frustration out on me. I was in the shower, minding my own business and just trying to warm up for the day, when Minnie nosed her way into the bathroom and started to berate me. Short, choppy, angry barks with her nose pressed against the shower door. After giving me an earful, she stole Rodney's plastic paddle ball toy and destroyed it. She yelled at me while I was getting out of the shower and getting changed. She yelled at me while I walked down the stairs and took a seat at the computer.

Minnie's not having a great morning. But we'll get through it. Being the youngest child of our family, I think she just needs some attention. At the time I'm writing this, she's curled up in my lap under my elbows. She gruffly sighs every few seconds to remind me that she's still pissed, even though she's comfortable.


Pardon my reach, Minnie. I need a sip of coffee.

Sip. It's been a long week, and it's good to finally arrive at a Friday. My little training session also went well. I dutifully reviewed all my slides, and I didn't even notice the edits. However, the group was much more talkative this time around. We split the engineering training into three sessions, but more recently we split it up into two days. Back when it all happened on the same day, my third session occurred in the late afternoon. As a result, people were usually too tired to ask questions, content to let me ramble uninterrupted through the hour. I sort of miss those days speaking to a tired, complacent audience. But now that we split the training into two days, my session happens first thing in the morning for most attendees. Now my explanations provoked questions, my answers provoked follow up questions, and my clarifications provoked discussion. But everything was fine, because I too was riding my morning wave of caffeine. The moral of the story is that if you have to hold a meeting and you don't feel like answering questions, schedule it in the late afternoon.

The work day went by quickly, especially after scarfing down those leftover fajitas in the fridge. The big event of the day would happen after work. Marissa, Miles, and I would accompany Rodney to his spring Parent-Teacher conference, and we'd also get to see the inside of his school for the first time.

Can you imagine the sense of power Rodney felt leading his parents around the building? I didn't even know how many floors were in the building. We fully relied on Rodney to lead us to our appointment in his teacher's room.


We found his teacher sitting at a table in the corner of the classroom. Rodney let himself in like he owned the place. Following introductions, we didn't have a lot of business to discuss. She told us Rodney is known around the school for his enthusiasm and positivity. She showed us some evaluations from last October and this past February, so we could see his progress. We used the rest of the time looking around his classroom, trying to associate the things he's told us about in stories.

"This is our job board," said his teacher. "Right now, Rodney is the supply manager."

"Pencil sharpener," said Rodney, like he was correcting her. "And next I get to be door monitor."

The topic of his napkin drawings came up. Marissa and I like to use a sharpie to doodle on his napkin every night. For a while, we've wondered if Rodney shows anyone, or if he just has a laugh to himself and crumples them into the garbage can.

"Oh no," said his teacher. "It's become a thing. The whole class looks forward to it now. We look at it every day."

While we were talking, Rodney disappeared into the back of the room, returning with a round orange stool. He plunked it in the middle of the colorful patterned carpet. "This is the wobbly seat," he said. "There are three of them and we have to take turns."

Before I had a chance to ask about the wobbly seat, Rodney demonstrated its namesake. "Look - it wobbles."

Marissa and I each took a turn on the wobbly seat. I didn't see the appeal, but then again I'm not a kindergartener. Still, Marissa and I decided to pay our respects to the wobbly seat in the next issue of Rodney's napkin doodle. Knowing the whole class looks at these drawings, we feel extra pressure. Rodney's actual lunch is more of an afterthought - the real work goes into appeasing our readers with the humor and wit they've come to expect from his napkin drawing.


Rodney's teacher suggested he take us on a grand tour. Before we left, she handed him a new label for his locker. That would be our first stop.


Rodney opened his locker for us, satisfying our long-standing curiosity around what exactly a kindergartener keeps in his locker. It was completely empty, except for a change of extra clothes kept in a labelled ziploc bag. "So they really just need to open it if they shit themselves," I whispered to Marissa.

Rodney showed us the nurse's office. But before he reached the door, he gestured to a decorated hallway and reminded us, "you can play fun games here, if you want."


Our last stop was the library. The librarian warmly greeted Rodney from her round desk in the middle of the room. The two chatted like coworkers.

"Rodney brings back the coolest books," commented Marissa.

"He's a big fan of... uh... novelizations of super hero movies - especially ones that he's never seen," I teased.

"Yep - Rodney likes the pop culture section," nodded the librarian. "We don't really enforce things like reading levels. As long as the book is appropriate, I let them take whatever interests them. The goal is to have them leave the library like this."

The librarian grinned, pretending to hug a book to her chest. Rodney nodded in approval.

"Sometimes Rodney asks me for topics. Then I have to actually to my job and find something for him," she laughed. She and Rodney showed us the fiction and non fiction sections. "These books are true. These are made-up," Rodney explained.


Touring Rodney's school touched me. I knew he was well-liked, but I didn't appreciate how plugged in he was to the community. I didn't realize his social skills were so developed. It made me feel appreciative of the school - they've built a special place, and we're grateful for his time there.

One last chuckle before I sign off - we'll call it the Friday moment of zen. Pulling into the driveway, we saw a well-dressed woman clambering around our front porch, struggling to regain her balance. "Who is that lady in our bushes?" I asked aloud in our driveway. The woman seemed very flustered and embarassed, and I have to admit that it made the weird moment even funnier to us.

It turns out it was a lady who showed up to buy Marissa's planters she put on Facebook market place. She noticed the wind had knocked our spring wreath off the door. She climbed down to get it and tripped into our bushes. Unfortunate timing that we pulled up in that exact moment. It sounded like the kind of awkward encounter that would happen to me.

That's what I got today. Happy Friday, everyone. Go sit on a wobble seat, and have a great weekend.