Last Things

He’s missing all the lasts.

Last spring musical (and many associated events with that).

Last student council events and meetings.

Last lunchtime pick-up basketball games with friends.

Last day of class.

Last school picnic.

I’m normally not into the graduation sign thing, but given all the last things he’s missing, I ordered the sign this year.

This afternoon, for possibly the last time, I exceeded the speed limit on the school’s back driveway to pick up that sign for my front lawn.

Normally I’m not very sentimental, and I tend to shy away from social events associated with school, but I’m feeling sentimental today.

He’s my last kid to attend this school, and he’s made the most of his time there. He’s lived through a total reinvention of the school when it became an independent Catholic school in June 2018. He took on a leadership role in the student council and played the lead in the spring musical last year (and was supposed to do that again, before the coronavirus brought the students home from school and effectively closed down the stage).

I am hoping that the prom and graduation (now scheduled for midsummer) will get to take place, so these 52 kids who have been through a lot will have the chance to properly say goodbye to each other.

As for me, I may have said my goodbyes at 40 miles per hour in the back driveway this afternoon. Just in case I don’t get the chance to do so this summer.

Rainbow over the back of the school, April 2016. Copyright Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

#Worth Revisit, Goldfish Edition

This morning I got a text message from my husband, who’s on his way to work (he carpools, and it’s not his day to drive):

“the one goldfish may have died.”

These carnival goldfish from a parish festival last October haven’t been looking too good. And I’m a little squeamish for this sort of thing. Always have been, ever since that time when, on my birthday, I was setting the table for dinner and I stepped on a fish that had jumped out of its tank.


Let me just say that there is no way I’m doing a well-being check on a carnival goldfish.

But there’s a funny memory of dead aquarium fish, and that’s the subject of today’s edition of Worth Revisiting.

From November, 2013:

Friday will be a challenge:  I’ll have 3rd grade, self-contained. I don’t think I’ve taught a self-contained class since I substituted during my college days. I’m used to kids coming and going every 45 minutes.

Here’s what happened the LAST time I taught a self-contained class. (Remember, I was still a college student.) It was a 3rd-grade class at the parish school where my uncle was the pastor. When the morning bell rang, I went out to the playground to collect my students. We entered the classroom and the kids got busy with their morning routine…until the kids whose job it was to feed the fish noticed that the class pet had gone belly-up in the aquarium. Pandemonium ensued, with all the girls shrieking and all the boys yelling, “The fish is dead! Can I flush it?” In the middle of all that, my uncle strolled by the classroom.

worth revisitCheck out the rest of the Worth Revisiting posts, co-hosted at Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You!

Small Success Thursday: One Week Down

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxThursdays at begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!


I figured out that I can READ while I use the exercise bike at the gym. What with the blaring pop music, I can’t read nonfiction that requires thought, but it’s a great opportunity to get some “fun” reading done–and I don’t even notice the time going by.


The first week of school is in the books! Little Brother seems to be settling in to a good morning and afternoon routine, despite constant interruptions from his friends who get home almost an hour before he does and can’t understand why he’s not finished his homework yet.

Play Later signI might have to hang the “Play Later” sign up if this continues. (The other side reads, “Friends Welcome.”)


Last Friday I subbed in the fourth-grade class. I’ve known most of these kids since they were in kindergarten, and they are not without their quirks. I consider it a success that I got through the day without losing my mind, even with all of these roadblocks:

  • it was a beastly-hot day. My classroom was 88 degrees all afternoon.
  • I had lunch duty. Outside. And there were no “specials” so I had no prep period.
  • One child narrates her way through the day and insists on showing me EVERYTHING. Including her tin of 5 lip balms, which she wears layered.

Actual conversation with a fourth-grader:  “Is today Back-to-School Night?”
Me: “No, that’s Wednesday.”
Fourth-grader: “The other Wednesday?”
Me:  “Uh….”


SCBS 50th cake 1The school celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and on Tuesday the PTA brought in enough birthday cake for every student. I learned about this on Monday night, and within an hour I was put in touch with the Mom In Charge Of Cake, who graciously provided me with cake mix and frosting labels at school on Tuesday so I could calculate the carb count of Little Brother’s slice of cake. (They also had separate treats for gluten-free, dairy-free and food-coloring-free diets. WTG, PTA!)

And not a success but an observation:

13 years ago today I was teaching first- and second-grade Spanish at a local elementary school when the Twin Towers came crashing down during the 9/11 attack.

Today I will be substitute-teaching in a third-grade classroom so a teacher can attend a 9/11 memorial service with her family. And I am thankful that, since I work at a Catholic school, we’ll be able to openly pray today.

Share your Small Successes at by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Diabetic Negotiation

Little Brother almost always eats the same breakfast:  an everything bagel with butter and two scrambled eggs.

This morning he was looking for something different.

eggo chocolate chip“I got some chocolate-chip Eggo waffles at the store,” I said.

We checked the label. Two waffles have 31 carbs. Four waffles have 62, which is almost exactly the same as his bagel-and-eggs combo.

“I’ll have four waffles,” he decided.

I asked him if he wanted any eggs, reminding him that without them, he might find himself hungry later this morning.

“There’s protein in the waffles,” he said. “It comes from the chocolate chips.”

This Couldn’t Wait for Thursday

I think I get to call it a “Small Success” that I didn’t completely lose my mind when:aXE

  • Little Brother stepped in dog poop while wearing his fairly-new soccer shoes
  • He brought the befouled shoes into the house to ask me what to do
  • I handed him an old toothbrush for the scrubbing job, instructing him to dispose of it outside when he was done
  • He brought the dripping-wet shoes back into the house…
  • …intending to spray them with Axe to make them smell better
  • I got him some paper towels so he could leave the shoes on the porch

And through all of that, I remained calm and did not yell, shout or go all Screaming Meemie on him.

I’ll have to think of something else for Small Success Thursday, because this one just couldn’t wait.

A Marriage of Left and Right

sweet and spicy asian chickenWhile putting food on his plate at dinnertime tonight (we eat buffet style), Little Brother dropped a piece of chicken on his foot.

Fortunately, he was wearing socks and I was able to remove the chicken before the sauce soaked through the sock and burned his toes.

He ran upstairs for fresh socks as the rest of us sat down to eat. Returning to the table, he remarked, “It’s a good thing I didn’t get food on both my socks. I had this other sock in my drawer, and it’s the same as the socks I was already wearing, but I couldn’t find the wife…”

A Scathingly Brilliant Idea. Not.

fifa world cup brazilLittle Brother is a soccer fan. This morning he announced, “Mom, the World Cup is going to be in Brazil next year! Can I go?”


I thought his request was funny, so I was telling Middle Sister about it. She replied, “I’d love to go! I’d bring my friend. She speaks Portuguese. And I’ll learn how to ask where the bathroom is. I’m pretty sure it’s almost just like Spanish.”

“Right. The last thing I’m going to do is send the two of you and one other teenager to Brazil.”

Little Brother, for whom Hope Springs Eternal, had a plan. “Wait! Aren’t you and Dad going to celebrate your 25th anniversary soon?”

christ-the-redeemer-statue-brazil“No. It’ll be 23 in January.”

“Oh. Well, I have an idea! You and Dad can go to Brazil on your honeymoon!”

“And I’m guessing that you and Middle Sister would be the chaperones?”

“Well, no. We would go to the soccer game, and you and Dad can go visit that big Jesus on the mountain. I thought of everything! It’s a great plan! What could possibly go wrong?”