Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Spirit of the Law #SOL19 #TWTBlog
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-17076,single-format-standard,ajax_updown,page_not_loaded,,vertical_menu_enabled,qode-title-hidden,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-theme-ver-13.1.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.5,vc_responsive

Slice of Life: Spirit of the Law #SOL19 #TWTBlog

I press my body against the truck to hold the door shut as my mom struggles to snap the lock closed.  Just as I hear the click of the lock, I hear the squeaking of tires turning into my driveway.  I turn my head to confirm what I hear.  I look at my mom.  We both push on the doors to make sure they are securely closed. My dad pulls into the garage, turns off the car, and makes his way out of the car.  I watch his face for signals of what he is thinking and how he might react.  His eyes dart between the U-Haul, my mom, and me.  No words are spoken as we each hold our ground in the driveway.  Finally, my dad shakes his head, mumbles something under his breath, and heads into the house briefcase in hand.  My mom and I exchange knowing looks as we share a quiet victorious giggle.  She then breaks the silence and calls to my dad, “You won’t have to carry a thing.”

My father had a rule. If you were going to pack it, you needed to carry it yourself.  This was true of my luggage on vacations, supplies on camping trips, and even for moving into my college dorm.  To this day, whenever someone offers to help me with my bags, I instinctually say, “No, I’ve got it” in fear of not living up to my father’s expectation.

I often wonder why my dad had this rule.  Did he just not want to carry my stuff?  Was he trying to teach me a bigger life lesson?  Was it random?  Thing is, there wasn’t much about my dad that was random.  He was decisive and clear in his actions and intent.  While I never had the chance to ask him why, I do find myself wondering about this rule often. Maybe he was trying to teach me that less is more. Maybe he was trying to teach me to be self -reliant. Maybe he was trying to teach me to be organized and prepared.  Maybe he just didn’t want to have to deal with a lot of stuff.

This memory of my mom and I renting a U-Haul to take me to college my senior year is one that comes to mind often when I think about this rule.  She too lived with the rule.  We knew I needed to bring furniture, rugs, lamps and such to college since I was renting a house with my friends.  My dad kind of transformed the number of bags you can carry rule to the size of the vehicle you could pack in rule.  We knew it would never all fit in our car.  I remember gearing up to talk to my dad and try to convince him to rent a larger vehicle.  I had done the research, saved money to pay for it, and devised a plan to get it packed and unpacked – without his help.  I also remembering my mom telling me we were just going to do it, “Sometimes, Clare, less is more and some things are better left unsaid.” 

Maybe they are both right.  Less is more.  It is up to one’s own interpretation what is less and what is more.  If I want to pack a lot of bags, then I am going to have to find a way to deal with it on my own.  That is my choice and my responsibility.  Both my mom and dad were teaching me to be self-reliant.  Both were teaching me that I was strong and prudent.  It’s just, they taught it in different ways.  My dad had a rule and my mom taught me how to deal with rules with the spirit of the law.  Both have served me well.  After all, I am a literacy consultant … how can I not travel with bags and bags of books?! 


Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.

  • Avatar
    Mandy Robek
    Posted at 11:08h, 21 March Reply

    My dad had a rule and my mom taught me how to deal with rules with the spirit of the law. – I love how you captured parents bring different strengths to the table. I have the same rule as your dad when we go to the pumpkin patch…you have to be able to carry it out on your own.

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 11:43h, 21 March Reply

    Both parents taught you about rules and shaped who you are today.
    The scene in the driveway alarmed me at first–I was afraid divorce was coming or something, but then, the giggling relieved me.
    Your planning reminded me of my younger son, who measured the inside of our Jeep to be sure everything he wanted to take to college would fit!

  • Avatar
    Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 11:56h, 21 March Reply

    “If you want to ski you have to carry your own gear” was the rule we instilled in our kids – mostly because we couldn’t physically carry three sets of skis AND our own. Of course there were those times… some rules are meant to be broken – especially when it involves kids books!

  • Avatar
    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 12:17h, 21 March Reply

    I have always thought that “Less is more” applies to so many circumstances. In education, it would be better if we went for depth instead of breadth.

    I love these memories of growing up and the insight you provide into your mother’s and father’s character and how they both shaped you into Clare – very distinct, spirited, intelligent, and optimistic. I love how you take a story like packing for college, reflect on the experience, and come away with universal life lessons. It is no wonder that you are great at helping teachers explain theme to their students. You see teachable moments and life lessons everywhere. It is an amazing talent, Clare, to discover the rich possibilities in every memory you cherish and the new experiences you have with teachers and their students, with friends, and with family.

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 00:53h, 22 March Reply

    I love this line so much: My dad had a rule and my mom taught me how to deal with rules with the spirit of the law.

    I think it’s a great life lesson to teach us all to pack what we can personally be responsible for. I like that as a concept A LOT! Your parents left a legacy of so much love and wisdom– it’s inspiring to read about them and think what I can learn and do better.

Post A Comment

Verification *