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Surprise! First day of school

I blink my red puffy piggy eyes. Either I am allergic to something or just haven’t adjusted to the dryness of the prairies. I didn’t get a good sleep. I was up late chatting with my fellow. He asks “Do you travel like this often…?” I joke, “Oh, in a few years you will be tired of me and then you’ll welcome the breaks when I’m gone.” He doesn’t smile. “We know that isn’t likely”, he says. True. Somehow I already know.

Nora wakes me up early rifling through her suitcase, “Mommy you haven’t packed me enough socks!” “Nora, it is seven in the morning, can’t you see I’m sleeping?” She huffs, “I guess I’ll have to wear dirty ones!” “You wake me up rudely to complain about socks you haven’t taken the time to find?! I just did the laundry! And why are you getting dressed so early?!” I finally open my crusty eyes and see she is wearing one of her “back to school” outfits as she hangs her head a little sadly and tiptoes out the door. Of course. She will have to go with my sister to drop the other kids off at school. My nieces are so excited to see their friends and find out who their teachers are this year. They’re wearing their bright clean Vans with purple shoe laces, they have stocked up their new lunch kits and they’re armed with perfectly sharpened pencils.IMG_1597

I roll out of bed, the house now empty, feeling bad for not being sensitive to Nora’s feelings of being left out. It doesn’t help her to know all of BC is on strike. She’s in Alberta where the kids get to go to school. I pour myself a coffee and find a stack of paper and a pen. I have to watch my penmanship as I write out the instructions. Wow. My writing hasn’t been this coherent in thirty years. “dear Nora, here is your school lesson for today…please have this done by the time I come home.” I ask her a bunch of questions about provinces and natural resources, give her a list of multiplications and such and finally I ask her to write a story.

“Think of something that is a big surprise for your character. We always learn something when we are surprised. We learn how to be a better human. This is what a good story is all about.” I leave a stack of clean new paper for her on the kitchen table and some brand new pencils. “Love Mom”

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