The Kindergartener’s Rules


My Daughter-in-love,’facetiming’: “Katelin, tell Buni where were you today.”
K, eating spinach: “We went to Miss’s X class. She is going to be my first grade teacher.”
I: “That’s great, Katelin. You are going to be in first grade on September. Did you like Miss X?”
K: “She told us the rules. If somebody get’s in your face, you stretch your arm and say, ‘Stop!’ Walking steps and no bad words. “
!: “Those are good rules, right?”
K: “No bad words, Buni. Not even the word ‘poop.’ ”
The End


Reasoning with a Six Year Old


Two weeks ago, Katelin comes to see me.

“Hi, grandma Buni. I have this for you,” and she hands me a red paper heart she had made at church.

“I appreciate your gift, but I can’t receive it.”

Wide eyes. “Why?”

I try to stay serious. “I have the feeling that you like it too much to give it away.”

“Please, take it. I would love you to have it.” She places the precious piece of art in my hands.

“I will treasure it,” I say and hold it at my chest.

Last week.

Katelin comes for a visit again and sees the valued heart on my table.

“I’m sorry, Buni, but I have to take it back.”

I mimic stupefaction and let myself in the chair.

“You can’t do that.”

She picks it up and reassures me, “Next time I will give you something else.”

I massage my forehead with one of my hands.

“But I like this heart so much. You gave it to me.”

She hides it at her back.

“I’m sorry. I really need it, too.”

I shake my head and take a deep breath. The little girl tries to comfort me caressing my cheek.

“Don’t cry, Buni. I’ll bring you something really pretty next time. I promise.”

When she leaves the house, she forgets the gem on my table. Can’t wait to see what she does when she comes back.




Miss Morgan the Teacher – from Mystery Serious


There was no doubt that Miss Morgan was one of the most sophisticated teachers in the school. But not that first morning after the winter break. It was early, right after 7AM. Leaned on the building’s wall, the security guard took a sip of coffee from his paper cup when he saw the teacher coming from the parking lot. She stopped for a few moments to take off one of her shoes and shake it. Then she put it back and continued her walk.

When she came close to the building, the woman stiffed her neck and lifted her chin in a try to show self-control, but she couldn’t foul the guard.

“Morning, Miss. Is everything OK?” and he opened the door for her. It was his first time talking to this teacher. He felt it was his duty to ask such a question.

The woman didn’t look at him, motioned her head instead of greeting and moved forward without a word. A strand of hair loosened from behind her ear and covered her eye. When she pulled it back, her hand was shaking.

“Do you need help, Miss?” the security guard insisted from the frame of the door pointing to the heavy bag the woman was carrying. But he got no answer.

Miss Morgan stepped in her classroom and turned on the lights. Her heart was beating franticly. Yes, they were there in her school bag. She dumped them on her desk and slowly took a seat in her chair. While staring at the pile, a stream of sweat had covered her forehead, but she didn’t care to wipe it off.

All her students’ tests were there, ungraded.


Meanwhile in Orange County, CA

images (11)No, I’m not in a “Fast and Furious” mode, I’m a mom of elementary kids.

It’s good that you don’t need to listen to our morning conversations, but our neighbors have no choice.

  1. You better get up of your bed when I say so because I just had my first coffee.
  2. No, I don’t know where you left your homework last night.
  3. Too bad that you forgot your new snickers on the lawn and the sprinklers went off. You’ll enjoy wearing the old ones.
  4. You and your brother can use the same sink to brush your teeth. And no, we don’t do it over the dishes in the kitchen sink. Since daddy is in the second bathroom and you know how peculiar he is to read the news while on toilet, we don’t disturb him. Men need to stay informed.
  5. Do I yell? No, that’s my voice when you don’t answer in the beginning.
  6. Cheerios it is. No, we are out of the cinnamon ones. You know how much your grandma likes them.
  7. It’s the last day for what? Let me talk to your father. “Darling, do we sign her up for her modeling class? No?” Dad said “no.” I know it’s frustrating, but you can join the reading club.
  8. Ready?
  9. I can’t find my phone.
  10. I found it.
  11. Buckle up. No, I didn’t bring your backpack.
  12. Who let the dog out?
  13. Darling, tell grandma the baby needs a bottle. Yes, I will take her to the doctor’s appointment after I drop the kids off. And yes, I’ll pick up your shirts from the cleaners.
  14. Hi, sis, I’m sorry I can’t talk right now. We are late for school, but I’ll call you later. He said what? Ah, men! Hold on, sis, and I’ll call you back in ten.
  15. Hey, you, in that red Honda! Move on! I usually don’t honk, but people can be so insensitive these days. Well, I didn’t know it’s Mary’s mom.
  16. You, guys, be good. I’ll miss you. (Not.)

(17. I’m a bad mother.)

  1. What? You told me it’s pajama day. No, I’m not bringing you new clothes. I’m sure everybody will love your Spiderman pattern.
  2. Starbucks, here I come. I wish they’d have a bed for moms. And a glass of wine.
  3. On the road again.

The Goose Egg

It was in the ’90s when I got a phone call from a well known teacher from another city. He was putting together a small team to follow an invitation from some schools and churches in the Republic of Moldova. We were to teach a seminar to the teachers there.

I said “yes, I’ll go”, and short after that, the four of us took off in a car.
It was a long ride from the West side of Romania to cross the border in the East to Chisinau, Moldova. The roads right after the Revolution in Romania were pretty challenging, but we made it safe. It was interesting how during the Communism in Moldova, the main roads didn’t go through the cities or villages. They were guarded by forests on both sides of the ways, to keep the eyes of the intruders away from the hard reality of the population there.

We met tens and tens of intellectuals, people with a sweet heart, humble, but full of knowledge. They listened to us and we listened to them, sometimes in tears.
The last night before leaving their country, we were sheltered in a school principal’s flat. We got there late and went directly to bed. Next morning we met his wife and children around the table for breakfast. It was a time experiencing dear friendship, sharing out lives and praying for each other.

In the end, right before leaving their home, the woman of the house handed us a gift. It was a goose egg and a pickle to take to our families in Romania. That was all what they had to bless us. I was crying inside. These beautiful people didn’t want to send us away empty handed.

When I reached home, my children and I sat at the table around a goose egg and a pickle.
Sometimes it’s not so much about the gift, but the heart behind it. We were blessed.

Ten Cherries – Stay Sane


There was an old building across my school. The wall’s paint was faded and shriveled, with grooves in the bricks.

My friend Cristina moved in that building that spring. When our classes were over, we walked outside the school building together and crossed the street straight across from our school’s gate. There was not so much traffic on the road in that part of the world in the 60s.

We were in fourth grade.

At the end of April my friend told me that the cherry trees in her backyard were full of flowers.

Everyday Cristina and I talked about the cherries and how big they were, and that I was the only friend invited to the feast.

At the end of May, Cristina told me that her cherries were yellow and that that was their color. She also mentioned that she had already tasted them and they were almost ripe. So, we decided that we were going cherry picking the following Saturday after school.

School on Saturdays ended at 11AM.
My mother was working the second shift and she had to leave for work at 1:10 PM.
I lied to my mom to cover my bases. I told her that we had choir rehearsal that day and that I would be late.
And she believed me.

The excitement of eating cherries didn’t let me sleep well the night before. When I left the house at 7:30 AM, I forgot my snack on the kitchen table.

Our teacher, Mr. Grozdan, had some paperwork to finish and he asked me to coordinate my classmates and have a contest. I rapidly put together a list of questions, split my colleagues in two groups and we played. When the bell rang at 10:50 AM, Cristina and I were out of the door. We crossed the street and my friend pushed the blue gate to her apartment building.

There were small residences surrounding the courtyard, with drying lines by the alley and a few trees. Somebody peaked at us behind the kitchen curtain and Cristina looked at me and tapped her lips with her finger. We continued walking slowly by the open doors. A man with an old shirt was finishing smoking. He tossed his cigarette butt on the ground and went inside. Before passing by another open door I saw two hands holding a washbowl coming behind the door’s curtain and discarding some liquid outside. When we walked by that apartment trying to avoid the nasty pool, a woman poked her head out to see who was there.
I didn’t care about the neighbors as long as the cherry trees were waiting for me.

We stopped at Cristina’s door and she opened it.
“Come in! We’ll pretend we stay inside.”
But we sneaked in the common backyard after a few minutes and closed the gate behind us.
There were a few rows of vegetables on a small portion of the ground, an area hardly disputed between the neighbors every year. I looked around but I couldn’t see any cherry trees.
My friend kept walking to the end of the garden where there was a big pile of tainted canisters and bins, and broken bricks.
And then I saw.

A few cherry trees were lined up on the other side of the fence.
That was the most magnificent view I’ve ever seen.
I dropped down my backpack and climbed the pile of old stuff to reach the branches. Some noise was coming from under the trees on the other side and I looked over the fence. Two men with long sticks were already picking the fruit. My whole body froze. I made a sign at Cristina and she climbed the rotten things next to me to watch. We couldn’t get the cherries.

I dared to pick one piece of fruit from the branch I was holding still, when one of the men saw me.
“Hey,” he called.
Frightened, I loosened the branch and ran down the hillock to grab my backpack and leave.
“Hey,” the voice continued,” come back. I have some cherries for you, girls.”
Cristina was still up there creeping between the wood slats. She stood tall then and gazed over the fence.
My heart was racing. I climbed the old stuff again and waited.
“Do you have a bag or something?” one of the men asked. We didn’t. Plastic bags were rare.
I emptied my backpack of my school stuff and handed it on the other side.
They didn’t fill it up, my backpack was big, but one of the men had to climb up the ladder to hand it to us, because it was pretty heavy.

Cristina and I sat down on the pile of trash and ate.
That was my first time when I ate cherries and I was full.