Practicing in Public

September 1, 2018

TODAY’S PROMPT (For September I will be using 5 unrelated keywords.) son, piano, sympathy, tired, market

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I sat at the kitchen table that night as rain hit the window pane and lightening interrupted the darkness of the sky. I stared out the window more than I worked on grading the grammar papers in front of me.


Jake’s fingers on the piano keys struggled to beat out each scale – five times each.


“Try it again,” I called out.


Jake hit the irritating keys slower and harder.


“Gently, Jake, gently.”


I looked at the top paper. “Liked – ran – swing – grabs. Wrong.” I marked the offending answer with red check and wrote the correct verb form in the margin. “Grabbed – placed – sung. Wrong. Sang – gave – spoke – rested – came.” I wrote, in red, 8/10, 80% at the top of the page and recorded the score on the computerized grade program.


I set the paper aside. “One hundred forty-nine left.” I continued to the semi-recognizable tune of “Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star” that my son was attempting to play. I sympathized with his struggle, but my struggle was with these papers.


My eyes closed as I listened to the notes in the air. ‘Oh, how I wish I could be playing the piano right now.’ I escaped everything when my fingers hit the piano keys, everything.


“Mom, I’m done. Can you sign my practice book?” He dropped the notebook it in front of me without looking at what I was doing. “Can I have a snack?”


“You just ate dinner. How on earth can you still be hungry?”


“But Mom…”


“Don’t you dare whine at me tonight. Cut yourself a piece of zucchini bread. And while you’re at it, cut me one as well.”


I looked down at the stack of papers. “Did you really practice for 30 minutes?”




I looked at my stack of finished papers. One paper sat in my finished pile. ‘Have I really spent 30 minutes staring out the window? What the Hell is wrong with me?’ I turned my attention back to the ungraded stack as Jake sat a plate in front of me and sat down with one for him as well. He had slathered both with butter and peanut butter.


“You look exhausted, Mom. How many more papers do you have to grade?”


“Far too many.” This stack was one of three. Three stacks of papers multiplied by 150 eighth grade students. I cut a piece off the bread and stuffed it into my mouth. “I think we need milk with this.”


Jake jumped up and filled two big glasses.


I clicked my pen off and dropped it and the papers into my brief case. ‘Grading can wait. Jake will only be young for a short while. They can fire me if they want to, but I will spend my evenings with my son.’ I closed the clasps and set the case on the floor.


“All finished for the night?”


“Yup. Is your homework done? No, wait, I really don’t ever need to ask that, do I?” I ruffled his hair.


“You work hard, Mom. I work hard.”


“How about we watch a few cartoons before your shower?”




“Sure.” We set the plates in the sink and headed to the living room. I curled up on the couch and Jake snuggled in to me. As Scooby solved the crime, Jake began to snore.


When the cartoon ended, I picked Jake up and brought him to his room.






“Did Scooby catch the bad guys?”


“He sure did. Now get some sleep. You can take a quick shower in the morning.” I pulled the covers up and kissed his forehead.


After turning off the television and lights, I crawled into bed myself. I was exhausted and when the alarm sounded in the morning, it would all begin again.

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