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  • Dear Dad,

    I woke with a start today, awake before I was ready and so started swaddled with the clinging stuff of dreams and unuttered thoughts that had risen in the night.

    Now, at school, I spent hours writing and rewriting a letter to a parent about a FaceBook chat gone amok between seventh graders over the holiday. Searching for tone and diplomacy and a gentle but clear direction to a parent who is only asking for a pound of flesh in return for her daughter's pain. Another mom came in, all primed by the rumour mill, and asked a teacher what we were doing about it, the teacher had the grit and presence of mind to point out it happened at home, over the holiday and the real question was how parents and children communicate rather than on how the school will solve it for them. I wondered if people take the time to stop and realize the stories their words tell.

    But then, I went to grade 8 math and worked with three girls on parallel lines and angle pairs and they said Oh, is that how it works and we drew the pictures and looked at lines and rays and 180 degrees and they went ahead and ended checking each other’s answers and Breanna gave Nadia a high five, a math high-five now that is not something you see every day. Afterwards Breanna saw her test results on area and perimeter and though she's gone from single digit percentages to almost a 70% she only saw the number and felt it define her. I took her aside and showed her she only made two mistakes. She made them more than once but there were only two mistakes; careless multiplication and one kind of are problem she didn't understand.

    Oh, she said. I guess I did OK after all. she walked back to class a little taller and stopped in the door to look back. And I can improve, she added.

    Yes you can, I said and walked away a little taller too.

    So from the ridiculous to the sublime my day wobbles on a tilted axis, and I look ahead to the drive home through the early evening traffic, through the dust and deeply slanted sun, past the barefooted hawkers at the robots selling late season fruit, past the weary lines of labourers waiting for a bus, past and through the traffic waiting for the light to change, waiting for the break to come, past and through and thence to home

    And in all these quiet moments, my restless thoughts go flying home and wait for me to catch them up, while others, wing further, and further still, to you. I send them on their way seeking to give you a day of time, a time with me, as though I were there in a chair beside you, as I did when I was small and brought you pieces of my day and time seeking your smile and your hand warm and rough and strong in my hair.

    And I love you,

    ben
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