Forever is composed of nows.
Sam asked me, “Mom, did you hear about the ketchup incident?”
“No. What’s the ketchup incident?” I asked, pausing as I chopped the onion to start dinner.
“You’ve gotta hear this. Today I was opening one of those ketchup packets, you know the kind that say, ‘tear here then squeeze’?”
I nodded, a smile tugging at the corner of my mouth.
“Well, I had to get ketchup for my hamburger, which I had to eat because you forgot to pack my lunch because Dad went to work early, but that’s okay because it turns out I like school hamburgers. That’s not the ketchup incident, but that’s an aside to the story. Teachers don’t like asides, but I think sometimes they make the best part of stories. But not this story. This story is good on its own.”
“So, the ketchup incident,” I redirected him.
“Yeah. I tore the corner off at ‘tear here then squeeze’ and I was squeezin’, but nothing was coming out. It was stuck. So I squeezed harder and just like that, the whole back of the packet burst open and ketchup came flying past my ear and hit my friend — splat — right in his face!”
Sam’s eyes were wide as he retold the story. “We were both laughing, because it’s not like anyone can ever plan for a ketchup packet to burst open on the wrong end. Except some of it went past his face and hit the grouchiest teacher in the school.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“We tried not to laugh, but I still got five minutes on the wall at recess. It’s not a big deal, though. I know there are some people who just don’t understand ketchup incidents.”
I laughed at his story and the sincerity in which he told it. Sam returned to building Lego creations. I went back to building dinner. His words hung in the air. Some people just don’t understand ketchup incidents.
Finally I asked, “What do you mean some people don’t understand ketchup incidents?”
He snapped another brick into place. “Oh, you know, Mom. Sometimes people forget how rare it is for a ketchup packet to burst from the back. And what are the chances it whizzes past my ear, but hits my friend? And he thought it was funny! It’s not every day that happens.”
“So ketchup incidents are the things that don’t happen every day?”
“You got it. I like those stories.”
“But not everyone does.”
“No kidding. That’s why I ended up on the wall, but all I did was replay the ketchup incident in my brain movie.”
Sam is right: it’s the ketchup incidents that make life worthwhile. Rare stories happen daily in our classrooms. We get to choose to deem them as hindrances or as celebrations. It’s about accepting life as it’s given and recognizing that even in the midst of mishaps, it is still worth it to celebrate the ketchup incidents as they happen.
This week we look at welcoming families and guests in schools. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Ayres is a full-time writing coach for Wawasee School District in northern Indiana. She blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes and is the coauthor of two books available through Stenhouse Publishers.
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Jennifer Schwanke has tips for making Family Literacy Night fun and relevant at every grade level:
In this essay from the archives, Lisa Koch gives a poignant parent’s take on her child’s struggle with reading levels:
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan have created a Pinterest board on adult/child relationships in children’s books:
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Prolific children’s book author Laura Purdie Salas explains The Secret to Magical Author Visits, with many tips and examples from her writing friends:
Justin Stygles decides he needs to completely rethink the role of classroom aides by Integrating Paraprofessionals into Reading Workshops:
In Channeling Monet, Andie Cunningham deals with the tension of welcoming an unhappy parent into her kindergarten classroom:
New PD2Go: Karen Terlecky coaxes Richard to cut extraneous material by highlighting the strengths of his writing in this video from her fifth-grade classroom:
This video and workshop guide support Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.W.5.5: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
That’s all for this week!