18 Days 'Til 40 (Pushing A Little Too Hard...Cough, Cough)

I got to my classroom visit a little late today, mostly due to my inability to run up flights of stairs as quickly as I used to. The stairs at the kids' school are small and I can usually take two or three steps in one stride. But after trying to conquer the first set at my normal pace, an itchy cough began to rise from my lungs and up through my mouth. Blech. I had to pause and compose myself, and waited for the scratchy feeling to die down. Deep breaths, eyes closed, my right hand clutched the bannister.

Right then an image of my grandfather flashed in my head. He was a heavy smoker who developed emphysema when I was about 7 years old, and often had coughing fits while walking up a flight of stairs. Despite the fact that I do not smoke, my coughing fit made me feel like I was going to die. I dramatically thought to myself, "I am my grandfather; it has come full circle," and raised my chin to acknowledge my fate. But then the coughing fit stopped and I opened my eyes, only to realize that a few teacher's aids had peeked out of the copy room nearby and witnessed my ancestral channeling. I felt silly and started to walk up the second set of stairs s-l-o-w-l-y.

When I finally got to Masana's classroom, the kids were quietly waiting for me and probably heard the coughing from all the way down the hall. But despite the need to take another moment and calm down, I took off my coat and immediately started my presentation. Masana, slightly embarrassed at the sight of her wheezing, manic mother, stayed in the back of the room and out of eyesight.

But I didn't embarrass her. In fact, by the end of the hour Masana was beaming. While I do care if the other children are engaged and focused, I truly measure the success of my classroom visits by the reaction of my own kids. And seeing Masana smile proudly made me feel like I conquered Mt. Everest.

I go back this Thursday and next Tuesday to finish the paper quilt. And I'm bring my sewing machine Kenmore with me. Oh, Kenmore. Behave!