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Each year, in the last week of January, the school where I teach enters into a period of controlled chaos -- a celebration of who we are.

Parents and grandparents come to school each day to eat lunch with students.  We host a community open house that showcases student work and achievement.  Our upper school students take part in a science fair, judged by a small army of volunteers who come in from the larger community.  We hold a "read-in" where bigger kids read with younger kids.  There are all sorts of silly dress up days -- crazy hats and crazy clothes and comfy clothes day.  The culminating event, on Friday afternoon, is always a volleyball match between the 8th grade class and the faculty/staff.

It is a hard fought battle every year, and it has a very long history.  We ALL keep track of who wins and who loses.  Winners get bragging rights.  Students look forward to their year from the time they are in kindergarten.

Those of us on the faculty, scramble every year to put together a team.  Most of us play volleyball once a year -- this game.  We don't practice.  We have no coach.  What we have is experience, patience, and a gentle and durable affection for one another.  I always joke that we should have team tee shirts that say, "Old Age and Treachery Will Overcome Youth and Skill."

On February 5, I will turn 59.  I have creaky old, arthritic knees.  These days, the knees function because I regularly visit the orthopedic surgeon's office for cortisone shots.  I did that on Monday.  Always, for a couple of days following the shots, my knees stiffen up and ache, and I worry that they may never bend again.  I struggle up and down the stairs at school like a little old woman of 90.  On Wednesday, I was seriously wondering if this year I would have to sit out the game, but by today, I was feeling pretty sure I could play -- at least for some of the game.

This morning, a coworker asked me if I was really planning to play.  When I said, "Yes," she said, "But, what about your knees?"  I told her that my knees were iffy, but that I was going to give it a shot.  "Brave."  "Gutsy."  That was her assessment.  "Nutty," is closer to the truth, I thought.  What I said, though, was this:

"There is going to be a day, somewhere in my future, when I cannot play anymore.  On that day, I will sit on the sidelines and cheer.  Until then, I am going to play -- for as long as I possibly can."

And so I played.  Made some good serves.  No diving for balls.  I do not hit the floor by choice.  The knees don't bend much, so no digging the ball off the floor.  And no jumping either.  I am pretty sure the jump would be fine, but the landing?  Probably not good.  So... I take what I have; what I can do; and put it out there in front of 400 screaming kids -- across the net from a gang of determined 14 year olds, and I play for all I'm worth.  I huff and puff and sweat.  I have moments of triumph, and some purely embarrassing times.  It is fun and exciting and affirming.  I play.



  1. Hurrah for you for playing. IT is what some of those kids will remember long after they have graduated and moved on......
    hugs abby

  2. I love this : "There is going to be a day, somewhere in my future, when I cannot play anymore. On that day, I will sit on the sidelines and cheer. Until they, I am going to play -- for as long as I possibly can."

    i think that can apply to so many things in life...


  3. I can remember a parent coming in mortified with kid in tow to have the child apologize to me. Apparently at dinner the night before he had said "Mrs W has old bones" LOL I still remember the mother's face. I gently explained that I DID indeed have old bones and the kids knew it.. it was ok - perfectly ok to talk about it ...............

    So good on you sue for continuing to prove that even with old bones we can play and laugh and struggle and have fun !! That's an important lesson for everyone...............

    Now the burning question is ............. who won the game???!!!

    1. LOL, morningstar! This year, the faculty won. Last year, the 8th grade wins. The truth? We have a grand time, and win or lose, we all win together.

    2. hey you!! Happy happy Birthday to you!!! I nearly missed it :( Hope you had a wonderful day.... and hoping all your birthday wishes come true :)


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