It doesn’t take Jedi mind tricks to persuade me; you might just say I’m easily influenced if I think your perspective has merit.

This weekend, we entertained some of our oldest friends from South Carolina.  It has been years since we spent substantive time together, and in that twinkling their children have matured into amazing young people, the oldest mere days away from high school graduation.  We’ve known these children since they were in utero and I enjoyed the eye rolls when I reminded Sam I used to change his diapers. 

Nothing like telling an 18 year old you’ve seen him naked.

You can imagine a visit like this includes a lot of stories; undivided, uninterrupted time lends itself to a fair amount of catching up (I wonder how many words were spilled in the brief time we shared).

One of the remarks Theresa shared clung to me like lint on black:  "Substituting at the kids’ school this year is one of the best things I’ve ever done."  I asked her to elaborate and without batting an eye, she fired off half a dozen reasons why.

Hardly a remarkable statement, nothing spectacular in her declaration, it was annoyingly affecting to me.

Over the weekend, my 7th-grader’s Science teacher suffered a great tragedy–the young man she’s been dating and with whom marriage was imminent, died in a head-on collision while driving home to Indiana to celebrate Mother’s Day. 

There are only two weeks left of school, but between now and then, there’s still new material to cover and final exams to take.  On the scale of "busy", May is on par with December, just without tinseled decoration and immoderate gift giving.  I suppose there are loose ends in need of binding before the kids are out for summer, and probably more likely, moms are rushing to get a lot done while their 8-3 isn’t filled with little bodies needing all manner of motherly attention. 

In other words, substitute teachers are difficult to come by at the last minute.

With Theresa’s words lodged in my brain like a bullet in Miss Kitty’s saloon, I toyed with calling Thomas’ principal to offer to sub this week.  Two years ago I subbed often, but never above fifth grade.  In my mind–and probably in reality–middle school was another animal, and high school?  Even more beastly.  This year I haven’t subbed at all; the thought of it alone wears me out (I think teachers are underpaid, and in today’s climate, have one of the toughest jobs out there). 

I brought up subbing to my oldest two–the same children who used to say they’d like me to home school so they could be with me all the time!–and their responses were rapid fire, none of it encouraging.  "But our friends like you now" (the implication being they won’t if I sub), "You don’t r e a l l y want to do that…?" (less a question, more a threat), and my personal favorite, the title of this post (that one goes to my high schooler).

Of course I responded like any rational mother.  I nodded politely and silently to them (after a few whining "But WHY?"s)…and yesterday morning marched my behind to the middle school office to offer my services before I chickened out

Guess what?  They didn’t need me.  Quick to act over the weekend, our principal had arranged a sub for the week (whew!).

Guess what else?  They called me ten minutes later to say, "Ooops!  We DO need you–Mr. Russell isn’t available Tuesday and Wednesday after all…"

As Thomas fell into the car yesterday afternoon, I was drama-king greeted with "TELL ME IT ISN’T TRUE…TELL ME YOU AREN’T SUBBING TOMORROW!!" and as I confirmed apparently his worst nightmare, he pleaded and wailed in the background, "Just don’t give ’em your ‘I’m not here to be your friend…’ speech!!"  That was followed by "YOU’RE SUBBING WEDNESDAY, TOO?" and him muttering various sounds of disconcertment.

Is it any wonder I dreamt about my car losing control last night, rolling backwards across traffic, refusing to go into gear–then worse "PARK"–and I finally had to open the door, jump out of the car, physically grab the door and pull to stop it with Super Human Mother Strength??   Seriously.

(If you read this today or Wednesday, I would be grateful your prayers and thoughts, not just for me and the students, but for Miss Phillips and her boyfriend’s family….)

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