Abstract Children



I don’t have children, which is usually fine with me. Every once in a while, I think it might have been nice. Once a long time ago I had a dream of my daughter. She was freckle-faced with wispy blonde hair and we were standing on a cliff in the wind. My heart nearly burst with love for her. Sometimes I wonder if she exists in an alternate universe.

But most of the time I’m quite happy to be in this universe, psychically and emotionally independent. I greatly value my freedom, and I am just as glad not to have large pieces of my heart galavanting around the world getting hurt or getting into trouble. I have way less to worry about than parents do, and I’m grateful for that.

I joke about not liking children in general — they can be noisy and they are often covered in jelly or chocolate — but every time I get to know one as an individual, I fall in love. The love affairs started with the birth of my nephew and niece, continued as the children of my friends grew into beautiful, fascinating beings, and is now in full blossom as the oldest of my six grand nieces and nephews start their college days.

Children in the abstract I can take or leave, but children in the flesh make my heart sing. Not much makes me happier than watching little ones dance around our church sanctuary each Sunday, “making a joyful noise to the Lord” on tambourines and cymbals and drums. Even if they are covered with raspberry jelly and bits of doughnut.

A New Direction

So although it has come as a great surprise to me, I suppose an observer might not be at all surprised that I have chosen substitute teaching as the next step in my circuitous journey toward becoming my best self. It makes sense that I would eventually be drawn to spending more time with real, actual children, even though I am intimidated when packs of the older ones stampede down the hall, jostling each other and causing lockers to vibrate with their riotous laughter.

Yesterday, I began my new career at a nearby Quaker school by joining a class of 1st and 2nd graders that I’ll be subbing for next Thursday and Friday. Never having done the classroom thing before, I wanted to watch a real teacher in action. Ms. S was impressed that I volunteered my time to get to know the kids, and she was generous with her time in preparing me. I ended up spending the whole day with her fourteen students, rather than the three hours I had planned.

Stay tuned for further adventures in the life of a CIA clerk turned Sierra Club lobbyist turned freelance writer turned pastor turned teacher.

As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose!”

On the Journey


Returning to Reality (and Work)

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I’m at the office. The phrase sounds strange, after many years away from the work-a-day world. When I left my house this morning, there was way too much excitement in the streets. It made my head hurt. People walking dogs, watering gardens, picking up newspapers, emptying trash. Do they do this every day?

What time must these morning creatures go to bed in order to be of the house, showered, shaved, and setting off to work or school at 7:30 a.m.? I’ve been going to bed at 10:30 this week, knowing I need to be up by 6:30. Then I lie awake for three hours until it’s actually bedtime.

The New Reality

The New Reality

I haven’t actually “returned to work” yet, after my eight-year hiatus of caring for family members on their way out of this world and then dealing with all the crap they left behind. I’m just dipping a toe into work with an on-call administrative job. Sadly, reality — in the form of a new financial advisor — dictates that I dive in all the way.

“If you want to keep that house in New Hampshire, you have to go back to work, and soon,” says Reality. “It makes no sense to keep the place,” she adds.

Of course it doesn’t make sense to you, Reality. You are a financial planner. There’s no quantifying morning dew shimmering on meadow grass and Queen Anne’s Lace, or speckled fawns gliding through green ferns and goldenrod, or grand nieces and nephews laughing over S’mores at the firepit.

Sense is a relative thing.

So no, I won’t be selling my bliss if I can help it. And I don’t seem to be going to get rich as a writer. 

Instead, here I am, googling the difference between a CV and a resumé, sifting through years of old emails looking for contacts, and wondering if I can salvage any semblance of a wardrobe from the back corners of my closets.

Well, lunch is over — I’d better get back to the phones.

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