Starting Over Again

I went to a parents-teacher meeting this morning.  It’s the first time in more than 30 years that I wasn’t the teacher.  Both schools that our four kids attend had their first meetings of the year.  Margarita went to the ‘high school’, Mari went to Luís’ class, and I went to Adriana’s.

Like every scheduled event, we didn’t get going for 50 minutes after the 8:00 a.m. starting time. I found I barely fit into the desk I chose and should have opted for one of the “Little House on the Prairie” benches-for-two.  I hate to sit for any length of time anyway, so I walked around the school to kill as much of the wait as possible.

I stopped to check on Luís and found him cleaning out desks with another boy.  María found a young girl to sit and gossip with.  I exchanged greetings with Luís teacher and moved on.

Through a 7th grade window I spied my niece Naomi with her mother, Ingris, and her student-aunt, Elsa.  I found the door and gave my two-year old doll a big hug.  She found a desk to sit at and pretended to write by tracing her finger over someone’s long-ago carved name.  I had a teacher’s sense that it was time to return to Adriana’s classroom

The teacher, Juanita Cazún, had an eleven point agenda on the board.  She followed it to the letter.  She greeted us and we praised God for our blessings.  We chose a nominal board of directors for the class, 1-A, as proscribed by the Ministry of Education, and she gave us the pertinent information regarding uniforms, materials, attendance, class schedule, homework,  housekeeping duties, and the director’s desire to keep toileting to the two recesses in the 4 1/2 hour morning shift.  It all seemed to go quickly and I felt relieved.  I needed a haircut and a bus ride to Chalchuapa for a few things, so I was eager to get done. But Juanita had a surprise.  She pulled out a five-page stapled memo with rules.  She went through the obvious comments on what kind of behaviors were unacceptable: writing or carving on desks and walls, throwing trash on the floor, disrespecting others, and so forth.  She spent an inordinate time recounting the principal’s anti-class time bathrooming.  It came with a demonstration of kids entering the class after recess with their legs crossed or dancing to show their desperation.  I love drama.  She gave us a few laughs.

I entered the watch-checking phase of the meeting and happened to see Adriana at the door.  That meant her mother was somewhere on the campus.  María stopped at the door to have Naomi wave to me.  At last, my beautiful wife entered.  She poked my belly and hugged my arm in passing to an empty seat as if to tell all the other mothers, “He’s mine, girls”.  She knows how to make a man feel loved. 

As Juanita was winding down, Margarita, never bashful, made some excellent comments which filled me with pride.  She’s a smart lady.  Still, I excused myself and made for the door and Hna. Mari, my barber.

As I walked the couple of blocks to her house/shop, I thought of how good it felt to have the opportunity to be dad again.  The more I do with and for Adriana, the closer we grow.  It felt good to sign the pre-printed attendance sheet.  It had Adri’s name, and Margarita’s maiden name, her National I.D. number and a space for a signature.  I added “de Brown” to her Olmedo and signed in bold letters “Roger William Brown”.  I had already turned in the notice of meeting slip with my name and Resident I.D. number.  It all felt good.  I am part of something really beautiful.  I got a hug from Adriana as I left.  I got a big one earlier when she and Margarita were going to their 7:00 a.m. meeting for Juan and María.  I am so happy to be part of her life and she is becoming more a part of mine. 

I’ve been deciding not to take on any more responsibilities outside the family than the ones I have now.  Participating in my kids’ lives, being home with Margarita so I can care for her…and she for me…is what I want to do.  Time is precious.  As I’ve come to terms with my age, it’s become golden.  I don’t want to waste a minute of it.  This family is a treasure from God.  Being able to start over is a super blessing.

Our beautiful niece, Naomi


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