Demanda

For Thanksgiving, we went to a friend’s house. She had a four-year old daughter who was grooving on me.

“Demanda, this is how you do it,” she said, showing me how to cut up Play-Doh.

“Did you call me ‘Demanda?'”

“Yeeeeeeees.”

Her mom said, “It’s ‘Amanda.’

Good Man laughed, “No, it’s Demanda.”

Good Man has been calling me Demanda for a few weeks now, which is why it was so funny. Such an intuitive child!

When

When

When your students beg you to write
and leave the classroom talking about writing…
When they email you at night to brag about their plot,
and participate in online forums with other young writers
(which is not a part of their grade)—
When parents say to you, “he won’t stop writing”
and you overhear “sometimes you just gotta kill a character to make it good”
and “who told her that the bell rang?
Who ruined it for the rest of us?”
When students who have struggled to write a paragraph spin plot,
and other teachers ask you what you’re doing,
because your students won’t (can’t?) stop talking—
When students tell you their characters were in their dreams…
You know you hit on something powerful

***

The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program is going along fabulously in my classroom and I am so happy I decided to give up control over my writing lessons this month to actually let students write what they want.

Next month, when we start revising and editing and shaping their wild ideas? I might regret this. But right now, my classroom is full of wild wonder. It is such a contrast to the testing-numbers-ranking-filing that we are expected to do. When the computers come out and the tap-tap-rapping starts, a weight is lifted, and the room is filled with an eager, excited energy.

I went into teaching for this.

“What’s Wrong With That?”

Student: Hey Ms, so can I tell you about my [NaNoWriMo] story? It’s about a unicorn who hates corn, so he changes his name to uniapple, because he loves apples. Then he starts dating the apple man, who sells him apples, but they break up. So he starts dating the guy who grows the apples, but they might break up, too.

Me: The uniapple is male? And so is the apple guy?

Student: Yeah, what’s wrong with that?

Me: Nothing, I was just checking that I was getting it right.

Student: So he dates the apple growing guy, but then…

***

I feel like I witnessed a tipping point last night, and I am so proud of our country.

The House Built for a Cat

This house was built for a cat. Or, rather, this house was customized, post-build, for a cat. There is a cat door (now closed off) in the basement door. There is a hole in the drywall of the basement, near the stairs. On the other side of the hole is a cat perch. There is evidence of a pass-through hole from the living room to the basement stairs.

And the hole in the closet floor? The one I thought was for some old heating vents or something? Well…

***

My mom came to visit last week, and we needed to find out something about trash and leaf pickup. The second page on the drop-down menu on the city’s website is ADOPT-A-PET. I clicked on it on a whim and found Trouble, a 14 year old cat.

“Oh! We have to get him. If he don’t adopt him, he’ll die alone, in the shelter!” I said.

After some tears (I have too much jeong) and a day of thought, Good Man said we could get a cat if I let him get whatever tiny dogs he wants this summer—even a shaky dog. (Shaky dogs sort of freak me out.)

I said I thought that was fair, and Good Man laughed, “That was my plan all along!”

We met Trouble on Tuesday, after Frankenstorm Sandy blew through. He seemed friendly enough, if not a little shy. He had been in the shelter for nearly four months!

We adopted him Wednesday, took him home and…!

In three minutes flat, he disappeared in the house.

We searched all over. All of the rooms, all of the floors, including the basement. I was panicked, concerned that we had left the kitchen door open, and that he had darted out the door. A black cat, out on Halloween?

Finally, I calmed down enough to notice little kitty pawprints in the dust of the closet.

Pawprints

“He went down the hole!” I said. “Oh my God, what if he’s trapped somewhere?”

Good Man poked around the hole with a flashlight and got dusty, but didn’t see Trouble.

Dusty Good Man

We searched downstairs and I finally saw a lone, furry tail.

There He Is!

It turns out there is essentially a tunnel built into the ceiling of the basement. I truly think this was created for a cat!

Slinking Along

We left a trail of treats outside of the hole. Trouble jumped out, and we thought we had won! We ran back upstairs and Trouble jumped back into his hiding spot. For the next few hours, he jumped out just long enough to grab the next treat before hiding again.

Silly Trouble!

After a few hours Trouble did come out and start marking us and the house as his. By the end of the night, he was purring (which Good Man had never heard!), cuddling, meowing, and eating.

But Good Man really wants to change his name. “Names are too important. They have consequences.” He’s thinking Black Jack instead.