I’d like to end on a high note, so I’ll tackle them in reverse.
The question, “What is it that you do, now?” at social gatherings is never easy to answer. If I had to pinpoint the problem, I’d say that the wide-eyed, eyebrows-raised, echoing-in-a-canyon emphasis on the word, “do” is what throws me off kilter. I suppose if I’m going to keep this up much longer, I’ll need to polish my elevator speech. The stammering and yammering about being “kind of” a writer is pretty pathetic.
My husband says I should have some fun with it and tell people I’m studying to be a lion tamer. The irony of that, of course, is that it would be easier to explain. At least people can imagine that whipping wild beasts into submission is a job that might be attached to an actual paycheck.
Anyway, enough of the negative stuff—now, for the best. This is simple: Time.
Yes, time to write. But also time to breathe, to live, to cook eggs for breakfast, to be a Mother Goose and walk to school holding a boy’s hand, one that is still small enough to want to be held.
I’ve had time, too, to get to know some amazing people whose impact on my son’s life might have remained a mystery had I not been given the chance to slow down and really see them—women like Mrs. C., or ‘The Dandelion Queen’ as I like to call her.
The Dandelion Queen does not spend her days in a luxurious castle on a gilded throne. She is a woman with a real job who can be found in a red brick school, at the end of a quiet street in a small town, sitting (when she sits) on a standard-issue rolling desk chair. She doesn’t have a golden Orb but she does have a computer and a mouse which is attached to a keyboard beside which dandelions pile up, one-by-one on a spring day.
To the rest of the world the dandelion is a nuisance, a weed. But to a child it’s a majestic yellow blossom, ‘The Wishing Flower’ as my son says. The Dandelion Queen knows this, of course, and as the children bring them to her she takes the time to accept each and every one—as a treasure from a treasure—even as the busy-ness of the morning could get the best of her.
What The Dandelion Queen lacks in fortune—you will not see “School Secretary” on The Sunshine List anytime soon—she makes up for in fame. With more than three hundred faithful subjects, whom she knows by name (first and last) she gets fan mail, lots of it, maybe as much per-capita as any Queen ever has.
And when you visit her realm, instead of hand-woven tapestries, you will be surrounded by a vast exhibition of crayon-on-paper mounted on cinderblock walls with a singular theme: “We love you Mrs. C!”
The Dandelion Queen has no crown but she wears a head-set—not exactly like a pop star on stage, but kind of like that. The hands-free device allows her to answer the phone while multi-tasking to the max: controlling traffic, making announcements and photocopies, sending emails, preparing documents, managing schedules, buzzing the door—which is now locked and monitored against unlawful intruders.
When the children suffer surface wounds on the playground, they make their way to The Dandelion Queen. The very young ones often have eyes filled with tears, but she patches them up and calms them down. There is no need to call mom—they have the next best thing.
Even the lion tamers have nothing on The Dandelion Queen. A lesser ruler would scream for Calgon, or some more potent form of bottled relaxation, to take her away from the constant demands. But not The Dandelion Queen. She never loses her cool.
When sleet and snow take the regularly-scheduled events of an elementary school and crumple them in a ball and throw them in her face, she works the lines of communication with grace and good cheer. Her kindly electronic edicts are sent far and wide, offering hope and inspiration.
“Think sunny thoughts!” she says, and so we do, and then the sun comes out, as if by her suggestion—such is her magical power.
As the school year draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. C.—The Dandelion Queen—and all the other unsung heroes like her. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty for our children. Thank you for the band aids and the kind words and for all the other things you do for our kids that most of us never see.
May you have a beautiful summer—God knows, you’ve earned it.