meet pete part one

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The Saturday morning after my father passed, Karen and I gathered our courage and our children into our family room and prepared ourselves to explain to Maddie and Jake what had happened with my dad.

We thought it best to share the story with them as soon as possible. The kids were already playing and waiting for breakfast when Karen and I decided to talk with them.Both of them I know, in small ways, had observed and checked our comings and goings throughout the week with mild curiosity and a bit of concern. All the while much of the true knowledge of our reality was buffered by cartoons and video games, and hanging with their grandparents.

We had shared bits of my dad’s health story, without much gravity, to this point- and often Maddie would ask ‘when is Poppa Pete coming home?’ The hope in her question always lifted me and crushed me at the same time.

I began slowly, and simply relating the events of the previous night. And as expected my tears welled up, Karen’s were falling down her face, Maddie’s sobs broke my heart into even smaller pieces, and Jake held my knee with such force that I thought for sure there would be bruising. Tissues, hugs, more tissues and then eye contact with Karen happened and we have this moment like ‘okay keep going you can do it’… so I did.

Returning to Maddie I check in ‘what are you thinking?’ Maddie is staring and nodding like she is doing a checklist in her head ‘that I’m sad’ she says. Heart crushed, I breathe in – is this even possible I thought? More tears, deeper hugs, and several tissues later. I check in with my son.

‘Jake…what are you thinking’ ‘…’ he holds my gaze but no words come. ‘Are you sad?’ he nods. Maddie’s sniffling draws his attention for a moment. He looks back at me with those amazing deep blue eyes…rimmed with tears. I say ‘it’s okay buddy, you can tell me what you’re thinking..’ ‘if you’re sad it’s good to talk’ Maddie adds. A smile moves across Jake’s face. ‘Can we have waffles now?’

I laughed and in that moment I heard my dad. Jake’s honest question was so in the moment, so perfectly timed that it wrapped up our heavy conversation with the childlike glee that only comes from having waffles. And as my son pumped his fist in the air at the thought of breakfast… I swear I hear my dad saying…‘I’m okay, you’ll be okay too.’

Interim – Day 8 – release

Over a weekend I interviewed and successfully gained the position of Interim Head of Special Education at my High School. The position is short term, 10 days in length, but could be extended until the end of the semester.

I have been in Special Education for over a decade, but this is my first position of responsibility in this department.

These posts are going to focus on the ideas and questions that popped up on the daily.

Some got answered, some are still in process. Most questions I had some clue how to action, but even more have me chasing squirrels to find answers.

LIVING THE QUESTIONS [IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER]

How did I lead in the past 8 days? Where did I lead us to in the past 8 days? Why did I lead us to those places?

Was that department meeting a valuable use of our time? What adjustments need to be made to increase access, interest, and engagement?

What about the peeps that do not need me to lead them?

I have the itchy-sweater-feeling that I should be doing something right now.

Being present is difficult. How do I shake the feeling that an unknown deadline is looming?

Today was about connecting with my team. Damn it felt good to work on a thing together.