Fridays are my favorite in this season of life. For many reasons…

First of all, I feel accomplished and content having completed my lesson planning for the week! I only teach my Advisory Group and one period of 9th grade History, at the end of the day on Fridays. This last week, I felt so engaged, relaxed, and connected with my students as we discussed the consequences of the Black Death/bubonic plague in 14th century Europe and then played a card game to simulate the spread of the plague. They played along wonderfully and I soaked up the fun teenage energy on a Friday afternoon!

I enjoyed little moments of connection with several students, talking about figure skating, witty expressions, and the Senior Night Basketball games the day before. Typically when students leave the classroom, there are a few who say “Thank you, Mrs. Bonilla!” This last Friday, it was a chorus of “thanks yous” as the students left the classroom, and I was moved by the tenderness of the moment.

The main reason Fridays are my favorite right now is the routine Sienna and I have of going for a late afternoon drive. During the pandemic, when there wasn’t much to do, the kids and I started taking long drives through the back roads of Rancho Santa Fe to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. It’s a beautiful drive through exquisite houses and horse ranches with a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean at the end!

Mateo’s sports practice schedule has helped facilitate our drives. His coach is a parent at our school, so he purposely schedules practices on Fridays, to avoid conflicting with the heavy homework load! Dennis and Teo hang out on Fridays after school while Sienna and I grab our Starbucks treats and go for our drive.

Sienna is 14 years old and, right on time, has discovered the joys of pop music. On our drives she plays DJ and introduces me to new songs. I’ve been an Ed Sheeran fan and she loves him too! Lately she’s discovered Ruth B., Ariana Grande, The Weekend and Justin Bieber. I’ve definitely thought “What are kids listening to these days?!” on occasion, but generally I’m enjoying the music. It’s very insightful to hear what she’s listening to and it opens up conversation about lyrics that may not be totally appropriate.

These times, alone with my sweet daughter, are so precious. During the week, she likes to keep a healthy distance from her mom at school. Our agreement is, in exchange for giving her space at school, I get to hug and cuddle her at home whenever I want! (Kind of.) Honestly, we are both quite busy during the school week, so catching up on Fridays feels particularly special.

Lately it feels like I’m watching the kids grow and change right before my eyes. The more I sit back and listen, the more Sienna shares (or, as she says, “talks my ear off”)! Listening to her explore ideas, consider how she behaves, and generally contemplate life is such a joy. Hopefully our Friday drives will be a steady routine through her teen years.

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