When my daughter, Adeline, was in preschool pick-up time was noon. The exact same time the second grade was coming back inside from recess. I was new to the school and didn’t know anyone except her teacher. There were always parents coming and going but I wasn’t comfortable with that setting yet.
On the first day of school I took my eighteen month old son and we set off to pick her up. My son is not one to be friendly with strangers – he never went to daycare or really had anyone watch him except my family. We made our way up the stairs (which if you have ever had a one and a half year old takes FOREVER) and patiently holding the door was Mrs. Monica Duddington (the second grade teacher) as we passed by my son stopped and on his little toddler legs ran as fast as he could over to her. He held his little arms up gesturing that he wanted her to hug him. I smiled and she scooped him up and they had this moment of trust pass between them. I was completely awed.
As the year went on he would seek her out every day for a smile, a hug or if she had time a little chat. We never discussed books, just small chit-chat about life and the goings on at school. But, just as Quinn enjoyed her, I always hoped we would see her too.
At the end of Adeline’s second year we found out Mrs. Duddington was leaving. I was pretty sad, not only would she not be teaching my kids but I wouldn’t get to see her every day. She promised that she was going to be around; subbing and making the time to see the children and that made me feel a little better, but anyone who knows what it’s like to lose a great teacher/wonderful person knows how I probably felt.
Then the most amazing thing happened. November of 2013 Sarah sent me to a query meeting held by the Oregon chapter of SCBWI. I was reluctant to go, sitting with a bunch of strangers and making it known to the room that I am attempting to write is a little nerve wracking.
As I walked into the room a very familiar laugh filled my ears (anyone who knows Monica knows that laugh). At first I couldn’t place it but as I turned toward the sound my eyes landed on none other than Mrs. Duddington!!! I almost jumped out of my skin. She was here, in a writing group, with an empty seat right next to her!
I almost knocked the chair over as I sat down and we quickly got caught up with each other’s lives. It turned out the entire time we were laughing and chatting at school we had the same interests outside of that setting! I told her about Sarah and our book and she told me about her brand new contract for her first ever book! By the end of the meeting we had decided to meet again, this time with Sarah too, and see if we could start a small critique partnership.
A few weeks later the three of us met at a coffee shop and by the end of that first meeting we knew this was right!
The laughter hasn’t stopped yet.