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Growing Up

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Threads in the Chaos

Exhausted, exhilarated, full of sugar. I'm not at a post-race celebration, but experiencing the aftermath of my trip to CostCo. The trip through the frozen foods section was particularly hazardous today as young mommies in workout tights shouldered against retirees making sudden leaps toward the kale. When people ask me what I'm training for these days my reply, "for CostCo" is deadly serious. Loading, unloading and putting away outrageous amounts of food is not a task for the fainthearted.

I do enjoy making some sense of the chaos and I'm basking now in the flow of a semi-cleared kitchen. Shining threads of order and meaning are hard to find in the chaos of this early week. For example, I returned to volunteer teaching of ESL at the Aurora Detention Center yesterday, and 60 men attended my first lesson. My eyes widened as I watched them file in, looking at the floor, the ceiling, and the tables - anywhere but my face. They are usually more nervous than I, though yesterday was a close contest.

Our class was interrupted by a town hall meeting in one of the dorms. B - 1 had to file out shortly after I distributed the stories, "The Thief and the Dog" or "El ladron y el perro." Discussion was stalled while twenty men left and our reading disturbed as they returned. A boisterous game of handball in the courtyard outside made it difficult for anyone to hear and the large number of students made personal instruction nearly impossible. At the end, as I shrugged my shoulders at the recreation specialist, she smiled and told me about a young man in B - 1. He had left to attend the meeting with his story in hand, and had studiously underlined all the unknown English words. He then made a list on his note paper and when he returned to class, he cornered her and asked to know the definition of each word.  A shining thread in the chaos.

It happened again last night after a hectic two-hour coaching stint with my new team. Many of the kids were new - like me - and we splashed, kicked, bubbled and silly-dove our way through the hours of introduction. I hardly knew which end was up on the drive home, and relied on Aden to keep me awake. When I said good-night shortly thereafter, she whispered in the dark, "you're the best Mom ever."  Confused, I asked why. "Because you're my swim coach."

A shining thread in the chaos. Sometimes it's all we need.

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