An embarrassing realization…and the right expert–Slice of Life Challenge Day 8

slice-of-life-badgeThese are the things that make me late.

I was sitting in my office cranking out reports on our new universal screening results, feeling productive. Ten more minutes until I was scheduled to be in a classroom to read with a certain little face that lights up.

Don’t ask how I came to notice it; that detail is lost to history because the shock of the discovery brought instant focus to what came next.

Back up with me for a moment. I learned to sew when I was younger and from time to time I am inspired to sew again. Last spring I made several skirts for myself. I’d been nervous about actually starting to cut the pattern (in case I got it wrong), but I dared and I did. This is my favorite resulting skirt. It looks like work clothes, but since its flannel, it feels like comfy clothes. Which brings me back to cold, wet, dreary today…

My mind snapped to attention as my fingers ran across the fabric. I expected a smooth, soft expanse of flannel, but this was NOT. What was this? No. It couldn’t possibly be. It was. A three inch hole along one seam.

No! This is not good. I’m at school! I don’t have extra clothes here. Could I borrow something from the nurse, I wondered momentarily? A picture of my little toe sticking out of a pair of Dora sweatpants fluttered into and out of my imagination. Nope. The elementary school nurse is not a source of emergency clothing for grown ups.

At this point I could feel the adrenaline surge as I imagined walking into a classroom only to have the hole get worse.

I could staple it. That would preserve my modesty for today. But it would ruin my favorite skirt. I needed help, fast.

I can go see Donna. Our school secretary can find solutions to everything. Plus, she runs an after school enrichment sewing class. Maybe she has a needle.

Donna saved the day again. Not only was there a needle, there were three sewing machines just down the hall. One of them had thread that matched the colors in my skirt. Bonus.

Ok. For any of you who have used a sewing machine, you typically sit in front of it, with pieces of fabric pinned together inside out, easily maneuverable so you can make a straight, invisible seam. That was not going to happen since I was still wearing the skirt.

Imagine, if you will, standing in front of the table in the computer lab, with a chunk of your skirt compressed under the foot of the sewing machine. You can see the foot pedal through the hole in the computer table, the one meant for power cords. Balancing on one foot, looking over the top of the sewing machine to where the seam of the skirt is held in place, you press gently with the other foot to start the needle pumping…


I don’t have scissors. If I stitch myself now I’ll be stuck to the sewing machine two doors down from the nearest help.

Scamper back to the office for scissors. Reset the precarious position: skirt under the foot, balancing, peering over the back of the machine and through the hole to the pedal. Go.

Well, it’s not pretty. I’ll have to carefully pick out these stitches tonight when I get home to my jammies and my own sewing kit. But at least I don’t have to worry about splitting the seam in front of anyone today.


Today’s lesson could be: come prepared. But I think it’s actually: Know the experts around you.

Donna is always expert at solving problems, but she was uniquely able to provide the solution to this embarrassing sewing emergency. At home I have go to family members for different needs. At school are we recognizing and validating all the experts among us? Do we know which teachers in our buildings have a special knack with diffusing tense situations or crafting read alouds? Do we know which of our young readers and writers have a know how that they could lend us or teach their classmates?

It just might save the day!

5 thoughts on “An embarrassing realization…and the right expert–Slice of Life Challenge Day 8

  1. Three sewing machines down the hall? Whoah. Your story reinforces what many of us know: the true power center of any school is not with the principal — it’s with the office staff that keeps the place running, through all sorts of unexpected crisis, such as ripped clothes.


  2. How many times have cray things happened in all our lives? This was a great morning read for me as I felt I was right there as you panicked and then found help. When you began the challenge of backward sewing I was right there with you.. The visual you described on the actual sewing was pitch perfect! Thanks for an early morning chuckle


  3. I thought at first how amazing that you had sewing machines these days but then I remember I always had an old machine in my elementary classroom that we used for the odd project and after school class. And yes, knowing who to go to is very helpful. Glad she was there for you!


  4. This post does such a great job of capturing the panicky unexpectedness of a situation you never want to find yourself in, Katie! Glad you were able to think your way out of it by leaning on an “expert among [you]”!


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