Teach Me Teach

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I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.

Roberto William

roberto baby

He was born with an abundant amount of hair. From the beginning I knew this small boy-child of mine was, and is, mine. He definitely possesses my looks, so I say. Everyone else seems to think he looks more like his dad. “Think what they want,” I tell myself. “He’s me.” Not only was the dark, newborn hair like mine, except for the fact that Roberto’s would stick up straight like blades of grass, but as the years passed, more and more of me – shrug it off-one day at a time-go with the flow-if it can’t be changed then move along-attitude flowed out of him. The way he thinks. About the world, and the people in it. Of course, his eyes match mine, only his somehow look more brilliant, and the shape of his face is definitely inherited from me.

Aside from Roberto’s mostly not completely predetermined mom’s DNA personality, he is himself. His own unique person.

roberto youngster

One of the most obvious stand-out physical attributes he has are his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. The stops and stares began way before he could understand the compliments people tossed his way, admiration of his Paul Newman eyes. “He has the most beautiful eyes…,” they’d say. I agreed with all those wow compliments, yet I always made sure to tailgate them. “He also is such a nice boy, and so smart, too.” I didn’t want him to grow up thinking it was his handsome face, his pretty eyes that would take him safely through life. No. I wanted to ensure he knew how to stand strong. As a person. Less so as a look. As he grew, began to understand what people were saying to him, he also began to roll those baby blues. He’d heard enough. He wished he could paint them brown. Just to stop people from saying anything.

When he was about four and a half years old, I would drag him along with me to watch his only sis cheer for the local pee-wee football team. I soon realized that it wasn’t a drag for him, it was the beginning of a booming talent. Entertaining people, without trying to.

While the little girls were dressed to the tee in their white and dark blue cheerleading outfits, standing in front of all the adoring parents, he stood off to the side. Far enough away so that the crowd didn’t spend their time confused wondering if he was part of the cheer squad yet, close enough to copy exactly what moves the girls made, the shouts they cheered.

Roberto stood there. Or, no he didn’t. He really moved to the music. He never just stood. It was the girls who should have been pumping up the crowd but it really was him who brought smiles and laughter to the field on those fall mornings. The cheerleaders spun, bent, jumped, shouted, tossed, ran, raised arms, clapped. They did what cheerleaders do. Cheer.

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So did he. He cheered. Wearing his jeans and a neatly tucked in t-shirt. Little did anyone realize that during practices, before the big game, he was watching every move. Every must do it right move. He practiced. And practiced some more.

He was the entertainment. Sometimes even more entertaining than the game itself.

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Not much later as a group of girls danced to the Spice Girls in the garage, he would take over the show. Steal the limelight. Not intentionally, he just did. He was Mr. Personality. When the youngsters decided to perform for the other families in the neighborhood he was center stage, singing and dancing. The girls dancing and singing behind him joyfully laughed along with everyone else.

roberto's shredded pants

I remember once upon a time, Roberto was just a young 6 or 7 year old, when he decided it would be cool to shred the bottom portion of his jeans. Let his personality take over, I believed. Creative, artistic, funky jeans were all the rage for him that year. So creative. So cool. So him. He wore them everywhere. I thought it was fantastic. His ingenious idea.

bano roberto

The garage bathroom door needed to be painted. “Let me do it,” he said, the lilt in his words told me it was really a question. I took the door off its hinges. Removed the doorknob. Lay it flat on the ground. After I painted the background an ocean blue and let it dry he began drawing using a pencil. For whatever reason, I never asked, he drew a picture of his dad and his sister holding hands. He wrote the word el baño on the top portion. For his dad. He speaks Spanish.

Roberto has always been an interesting character. A unique one. Someone everyone should be so lucky to share their life with. I watch him. Admire him. Am proud of him.

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As a young adult now, he truly does appreciate his good looks, his big blue eyes yet it’s his kindness, his spark for life, his energy, his personality that he really likes about himself. I do too. While he is lovely to look at, it’s his concern for everything that I am most content with.

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My Daughter, My Friend

Elizabeth Cecilia

me and liz, 2011

“Who are you looking for?” the unfamiliar preschool teacher asked me. “Elizabeth,” I responded. Miss I can’t remember her name checked me out, looked me up and down, and stated rather bluntly, “Are you her babysitter?” Surely, you pale-skinned and overly-done blond-haired person belong to some other kid, she seemed to be thinking. “I’m her mom,” I said, with a smile. “She’s mine. Definitely my daughter.” Elizabeth ran toward me wearing clothes full of dirt, her dark hair dangling into her face, her small hands pushing it away. Elizabeth’s olive-toned skin glistened in the sunshine.

elizabeth, baby girl

The first time I took Liz out into the world it was her spirit and her happy smile that caused people, generally women and young kids, to claim “She’s so beautiful” and “She must resemble her dad”. I laughed and wrapped those compliments around my expanding heart and admitted that, Yes, she got her father’s Honduran looks. Little girls and boys would hold Elizabeth’s hands, touched her baby-soft skin and coo to her. All she had to do was smile and the people fell in love.

little liz

When Liz grew into a toddling child I had purchased a variety of my style clothing. 6 outfits in all. I figured if she didn’t look like me, maybe she could at least dress like me. I put one outfit on her after another. And click click went the camera. There was something dark-purple with polka dots and lime green tights, pin-striped blue-and-white overalls, a light pink like cotton candy sweatshirt dress, a barely there pink jumpsuit, a second jumpsuit, this time green, and turquoise shorts topped with a tie-dyed all the rage t-shirt.

Well, in the end, dressing like me didn’t pan out too well because as she grew older, I quickly discovered, for the most part, Liz’s choice of clothing is the opposite of mine. I wear jeans, t-shirts, and either a sweatshirt or a cardigan all the time. My hair is always pulled back. She prefers dresses. She allows her hair to flow gracefully over her shoulder.

I like the comfort of tennis shoes. Elizabeth? Heels.

How about when it comes to exercise? I love, and I mean love, to wear baggy too big for me workout gear. Liz? Well, of course, everything is fitted nicely and looks so modern. So hip.

So, it may seem that Elizabeth and I are different. In looks, sure. Clothing, yeah. Mostly. But in how we feel about each other. We are equals. I love her. More deeply than she will ever know. She loves me, unconditionally. Faithfully. This world is a better place because Liz is in it. Her smile enhances life as we know it daily. Elizabeth is my daughter. Elizabeth is my friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

I brought you home with me, 27 years and seven months ago. I held you in my arms while you slept. Fed you when you cried. Bathed you, soothed you. Your smile has grown with you, never wavering. You have maintained a kindness I wish the whole world could embrace and make their own. When you were a young girl, you would hold my hand – knowing I would always be by your side, guiding you. You looked up at me with a love I had never known before, a love only a child can give. So innocent, yet full of life. As you grew into your teens, you continued to open up to me, let me be a part of your life. You trusted me, I trusted you. I cherished the fact that you would come to me, talk to me, tell me everything knowing I would help you figure things out. You, Elizabeth, have made mothering a wonderful experience for me. I am very proud of the road you travel. The calmness you possess. The friendships you hold close. The love you share. Everyone should have an Elizabeth in their life.

I Love You truly,

MOM

P.S. Hug me all you want. Warmth is a wonderful feeling.

A Girl and her First (and last) Bottle of Wine

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16. years. old.

Yep, sixteen is the age I was when I learned wine just didn’t work for me. You see I vomited, threw up, barfed after an afternoon of overindulging in drinking wine. At the beach. Under the hot sun. With my sixteen year old friend. We were having fun. Working on a tan. Well, she was. I was working on a sunburn. We were just lying there, on the Newport sand, on top of some colorful beach towels. Extra large. Lots of space. We talked. We laughed. We drank. Wine. Red wine. Without much food. My friend had a handle on it. Took it slow. Unlike me. I drank from that bottle as if I were drinking water. I didn’t know that I should slow down. That I would pay a price later. All I knew was that I was feeling pretty cool. Drinking wine. Underage.

When the upchucking and the hangover finally left. Left me alone. To have headache-free days. I knew that was it. I would never drink wine again. Couldn’t stand the smell, or the taste, of it. And all these years later. I still hate the smell and taste of wine. Don’t drink it. Not even when everyone else around me is enjoying a glass. All because I foolishly drank way too much wine when I was sixteen. Drank too much while simply having fun with my friend, at the beach, getting drunk.

#selfie

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I learned early on, without being told, that I had to look out for myself. To be independent. Somehow I knew that if I wanted to get anything done, I had to do it without help.

I was the tenth child born into my family, so my arrival was most likely nothing too exciting for my nine brothers and my teenage sister. They most likely had other things on their minds, something else besides another baby in the house.

As I grew, I learned that anything I hoped for had to happen because I wanted it to occur.

I remember being young, but old enough to ride a bike out on the street, in front of the house. One day, I experienced my first flat tire, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. None of my brothers was around to help, or just didn’t feel like it, so I searched high and low, looking for a patch kit to repair the inner tube. Right there, in that garage of ours, and using my common sense, I managed to pry the tire away from the metal rim by using a flathead screwdriver, pull out the tube, fill it with air, dip it into a container of water, and look for bubbles. I then patched the hole, returned the tube to the inside of the tire, secured it to the rim, and filled the patched tube with air. The tire was bolted back onto the bike’s frame and I rode off. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing something I knew nothing about. I felt very independent and at that moment realized I didn’t need anyone’s help, with anything. Me, Daphne Anne, was very capable of getting things done.

My independence deepened, which affected the way I molded my life, when I found my first job, at age 16. Like any young kid wanting to work, I wanted my own money to spend the way I chose. But more so, I assumed I must have been a financial burden to my parents, and I wanted to ease any stress they may had been feeling, having to find extra cash for this or that. Therefore, I, first and foremost, will always depend on me and rarely ask for help. Which many might say is a fault I should ease up on. But, I’d say, it’s a personal fault I can deal with.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

A Boy, A Girl, Their Aunt, and Some Barf

The phone rang. My mom answered. All I could hear was my mom’s  side of the conversation. She said, “Uh-huh…Yeah… Oh, sure.. When?… Alright… Ok… They’ll love that!” Then she hung up. Aunt Marge had asked my mom if my brother Andy and I, ages 10 and 13, respectively, could take the train down, to visit her and my uncle for several days.

Aunt Marge and Uncle Bill lived in a gated apartment building, in a small, but elegant living space. The fridge was full and the TV was turned on. One night they had plans with friends. Not us.

“Kids, Uncle Bill and I are going out tonight for a few hours. Will you be alright on your own?” our aunt asked.
“Yes,” we both answered, politely.

As the front door closed behind them, Andy and I immediately started antagonizing each other. We knew each others weaknesses. Scary stories and scary movies. We told each other gruesome tales and watched even more frightening thrillers. Suddenly, and I am not sure why it happened, Andy felt sick. Maybe it was because we just told too many, over the top, could be real life stories, or simply because we overate all the junk food we could get our hands on.

“I think I am going to barf!” Andy choked out.
“Hurry! Go. Go into the bathroom!” I demanded.

He threw up, that’s for sure, but not directly into the toilet bowl. His aim was awful. Vomit was everywhere. On the seat, on the floor, on the lovely bath mat.

“Ugh! I feel gross!” Andy moaned, his face cherry red. His eyes teary.
“Ewwww!” I responded with the only vocabulary I could think of.

Then I walked him to the couch, sat him down, covered him with a blanket, switched the channel to a comedy with the laugh track on full blast, and plopped myself onto the opposite end of the sofa. An hour had passed when I heard a key jiggling in the lock.

“Hello. We’re home!” Aunt Marge exclaimed.
“Oh, hi,” I said. “Andy got sick. He threw up.”
“Are you okay?” she seemed concerned, walked over to him. Felt his forehead.
“Yeah. Daphne was telling me scary stories. I guess they literally made me sick!”

I laughed, doubled over, cracking up, admiring my little bro’s sense of humor.

Aunt Marge walked into the bathroom. “What the ____?!” Well, she didn’t really say a bad word, but she said something with an angry tone.

“Why didn’t you clean this up?!” She was staring straight at me. The older kid. The one who should have known better. The one who should have known to scrub away all the bits and pieces of Andy’s regurgitated food. The one who should have understood the value of cleaning up before the owners of the pristine apartment returned home after a fun night out. Without a word I shrugged my shoulders, opened my eyes wide, and pinched my lips together. I had nothing to say.

Later – minutes? hours? days? – after Andy and I had returned home, Aunt Marge called the house, talked to my mom. All I could hear was my mom’s side of the conversation. “Uh-huh… Yeah… Oh… Alright… OK… I will tell them…”

“Aunt Marge says she thinks you are a brat,” she told me. “And that you lack common sense.”
“Really?” I was actually surprised, and hurt, because never in my life had I been referred to as a brat. I sighed, felt tears pooling against my lower lids. I told my side of the story.
“Being a brat doesn’t sound like you at all, but I do understand Aunt Marge’s point of view,” my mom stated. “Sadly, she says no more visits for the two of you. None.That’s it. Done.”

Andy and I lowered our heads, ashamed. We felt dumb. But then we looked at each other and tried not to laugh. But, laughter ruled. And, thus, we let loose.