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  • Kristie Sharp Williams

It's Orange Goldfish

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

As a way of introducing themselves to a new teacher, Caleb’s class was asked to illustrate their families as fruit trees in a drawing, with each piece of fruit representing a person in the family (if I’m understanding it right). Caleb told me that he drew six pieces of fruit, then wrote the word “ripe” next to the one that represented Eli. Out of the mouths of babes, right? He said, “Do you get it, mama? Ya know, because Eli finished his life first, he was ripe first.” Yes, I do get it. What do you say to that, except nod your head, and then hold it together as you continue washing the dishes.


The kids started back to school Thursday, with it being Hg’s last first day. When she was a baby, our church had a “Mommy and Me” class that I kept getting invited to. It’s where you go with your kid to class, and participate with them by holding their little hands in yours to clap along with the songs, or take their little hand and pat the Bible. It is a precious class, it really is.

But, for me, not really my parenting style. I would say, “I’m really more of a ‘Teacher and You’ kind of parent, is there a ‘Teacher and You’ class?”

When Hg started first grade, Eli would have been two and Abbey four. I went to the orientation at school one evening like I was asked to, turned in supplies, showed Hg her room, met her teacher, found her cubbie, her desk, etc. She had been to kindergarten there, so it wasn’t a new to her.

So, the first day of school, I drove up for carline, and all these other cars were parking with moms getting out, straightening hair bows, and putting backpacks around shoulders, holding hands to walk their kids in. I had not even put on a bra. Eli and Abbey were strapped in their car seats. It had not crossed my mind that I would be expected to get out of the car (with the other two in tow) go into the school again after I was just there two nights before for orientation. To me it was time to drop and go. So, I felt bad, and as the only car in carline, I told Hg that I could not get out, but for her to come around to the driver’s side, thinking that I could at least give her a big kiss in front of everyone. So, she did, and I opened the door. I pulled her in close, smoothed her hair out lovingly, and slobbered her up good on her chubby cheek. And, told her to have a great day, I would see her in the afternoon.


She took a step toward the door, and said, “I can’t remember which room it is. I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.” I bent down where she could hear me, gently pulled her close and began to stroke and smooth her hair again as I spoke, “Remember, it’s got fish on the door. It’s Mrs. Sutton, the same first grade teacher from last year that you’ve seen on the playground.”


Looking up at me through squinted brown eyes, she said, “I don’t think I know her. I don’t remember any fish.” Looking around at all the moms walking in hand-in-hand with their little ones, I said through a grin, “Hannah Grace, it’s easy, it’s orange goldfish. The only door with fish.”


She cocked her head and said, “I don’t understand are the fish gold or are they orange.”

My strokes now pressing more heavily on her little head as I continued to smooth her mashed locks while I spoke through my teeth frozen in a grin, “They are orange and shaped like goldfish, regular plain fish that are the color orange.”

“Oh, yeah, like the smiley goldfish I eat,” she said. I said, “Yes, yes, go, scoot, look for the ‘snack that smiles back’.”


“But what if I get lost?” I said, “Hannah Grace, please, just go inside. It’s one hallway, just keep walking straight, and if you get to the water fountain, turn around because you missed the fish. Just keep going up and down until you see fish, or until Mrs. Sutton sees you walking past the room a bunch of times and realizes she needs to pull you in.” She said, “I don’t know…” I said, “I can’t come in, you’ve got to go find it. You’ll be fine,” and I gave her a little nudge out of the way of my door, and watched her march in looking at each classroom door as she passed for fish.


It was a frustratingly funny moment, burned into my memory because of how clueless I was to the mainstream mothering thing, and how Hg was so Hg even then. How many times has that conversation, in essence, happened these last 12 years and will continue to happen. “I can’t come, you are just going to have to do it.”


She is excited for her senior year, I hope it will be everything she’s hoping it to be because she deserves it. We took most of her senior pictures at the beach.

My kids love school, and we love the people at our school. It’s not perfect, by any stretch, and I get frustrated with lots of things about it, so much so that Caleb even shadowed at another school last year. But, many more pros than cons still at this point, and no school is perfect. I hope the school year goes great for all here, prayers for it be so.