Jigsaw Shakespeare

 Before we were released for Spring Break, I felt it was important to check in with my students and our passage from Midsummer. Now, it is not in our curriculum, unit plans, and it is not necessarily linked to anything we have been working on. It is simply something I love that I am sharing with my students.

I spent some time writing out the lines of “I know a bank…” on colored strips of paper. I had them with me in class and a couple of my students were intrigued. I put all of the strips in front of this group of five students. I did not arrange the strips correctly but had them scattered, out of order. I gave them the challenge of putting it all together. I was immediately surprised and delighted by their fervor. They put together as much as possible and then questioned me, “we don’t know what comes next, we didn’t learn all of this.”

I had given them a couple of lines we hadn’t done yet. They were perplexed. I told them to figure it out. Look at what they were given and break down the ideas, the code. I told them to look for things they know. I was shocked that they started discussing meaning of words, rhyme scheme, and flow. It was incredible. They did it! They put it together without me ‘telling ‘ them. Then the most amazing thing happened, one of the students went to another group of four kids and challenged them to put it together. I was exhilarated and proud. They were not only engaged in shakespeare’s words, but they were utilizing higher order cognition and having fun. This five to ten minutes was some of the best educational experience they would get for the day. Thank you Shakespeare.

(If you haven’t followed previous entries, I am using Ken Ludwig’s “Teaching your Children Shakespeare” book in my practice at home and in the classroom.)

My rainbow

  

It has been an exhausting day. I am running on very little sleep and suffering from back pain. My infant won’t nap and both kids want my constant undivided attention. They are so beautiful and wonderful yes. However in my sleep deprived over worked exhaustion, I am finding it difficult to stay positive. 

Several times today I had to close my eyes and meditate. My daughter would then say “Mama are you ‘breathing'”? We have clearly been in this place before. This place of Mama about to lose her mind, go off the rails but attempts to model meditation. It is not always successful. In fact I feel like lately I have been more irritable, short tempered and fatigued than ever well except for when I was in first trimester with Colin. That was tough. 

Juliana is trying so hard to Be a good listener and helper today. Yet in this quest she has also not stopped talking. Not for one second. I’m in sensory overload.

I was determined to get Colin down for  his morning nap and we were already at noon and I had no success. I was rocking him, singing, everything. Finally, Juliana stopped talking. She came over to me at the buggy as I was wheeling him back and forth hoping it would work. She put her hand on me and said ” mommy, I believe in you…and Santa.” 

I lifted my head to the heavens, closed my eyes and cried. She wrapped herself around my leg and squeezed. This little person has the ability to send me to places of rage, frustration, and fear. She also has this prophetic ability to say things that rock my shell of doubt and negative thoughts, make me vulnerable and joyous for her wisdom. Love. 

I’m in the car. She and her brother are sleeping. We got that morning nap in for him. Then later went out to the store. Colin didn’t fall asleep until moments before getting home. When I got into the driveway, Juliana said “Colin is asleep. Mama please drive some more so I Can nap too.” 

Wow! Didn’t think I could get that lucky and then I started driving. Less than 2 min away the heavens opened and it poured. I would have been attempting to get a toddler, bags and an infant down 80+ steps in torrential rains. We drove slow and she drifted off. I did a big loop of country roads for only 15 min when the rain stopped and the sun burst through. I saw this rainbow and took a picture for Juliana. I want her to see the magic when she wakes. I sit now and soak in the magic of my sleeping children. They teach me when I let them. 

New Age Problems

On a long road trip our family is put through exhaustion and boredom. We share stories, laughter and tears. We have snacks, diaper changes and scenery changes.

On another ride from FLorida to New York we decided to stop in North Carolina for a night of rest. My three year old was screaming at me every time Kung Fu Panda disappeared. It was on ABC Family which means…commercials. She flipped out.

I tried to explain. I gave up and stared at her in amazement. My daughter cannot understand the concept of commercials while I still get amazed by pausing or rewinding ‘live’ television. We are in such completely different technology worlds.

She HATES commercials. I guess that is a good thing as it will hopefully limit the impulsive shopping requests.

Madness at the Library!

This is a ridiculous story. Seriously, I can hardly believe this happened to me.

Yesterday it was quite cold out and our three year old was wanting to play. We had had a tough morning of battling the three-nager power struggles. I decided to take her to our local Library. This is something we have been wanting to do and haven’t since the birth of my son five weeks ago. My daughter loves book – she really LOVES books. She loves going to the library and bookstores. We haven’t been to our local because it was under renovations for a long time. This was an exciting adventure.

When we arrived, the library was not busy. There was only three people using the main library and another mother with her daughter in the children’s library. My little one and I went to a table and immediately set up shop. We got lots of books and started to read. She invited “grumpy” over to join in – a large stuffed version of the character from Snow White. eventually J went over to the table with wooden toys to play with the other little girl. Making friends at three years old can be exciting and terrifying – hell it can be like that at any age. Soon the girls were laughing, playing, and then began a round of “chase” using the wooden dinosaur and giraffe supplied by the library.

I began a chat with the other Mom and I too was excited at the prospect of another friend. Her daughter is the same age. We both have babies as well, mine 5.5 weeks, hers 6 months. We asked the girls to practice their quiet voices a couple of times when they squealed in delight. We encouraged them to take some books and read together. They did this. They took some books over to a corner and sat and pretended to read. It was so cute.

However, there was a staff member at the library who began a tyraid that I will never forget. This woman came out of an office and stormed over to myself and the other mom. SHe scolded us saying the girls were too loud and the screaming would have to stop. Now by this time another little boy and an adult had arrived. The little boy was chasing the girls as well and yes there was some screeching. All in fun. They were pretending to be the dinosaurs and animals in their books. We asked our girls to be quiet. (mind you nothing was said to the young boy or his father/grandfather)

The staff member came out later when the girls were quietly reading and approached my self and  my new mom friend M. This staff member thrust a puzzle piece at me and said nothing. I was confused. She shook it at me, I took it from her and she gruffly told me it was for the table. M reassured the woman that were planning on doing a clean up with the girls when we were ready to leave. Staff member acknowledges this by thrusting another piece of puzzle at me. Then she says “Oh and they left books on the floor.”

I am confused. Aren’t we supposed to be excited that children love books and not just TV? If you are employed by a library system you know how desperate we are to get children engaged in our public library systems. Also, if children are reading a book don’t freak that it is out of place. I turned to my new friend and said, “this is why people go to Barnes and Noble. You can read anything, stay as long as you like, play with the toys, move books around and you’re not even forced to buy. Why go to a library?”

We had a chat about how our town offers very few programs for kids. We both agreed that neighboring towns offer so much more in camps, activities and programs. It is sad tat our library was closed for a long time to renovate and you can’t see any difference.

Soon the staff member came out again and approached us. She yelled. Yes, she actually began to raiser her voice. She said that our children forced everyone to leave the library. No one wanted to be there because of them. SHe was full on leaning in, pointing and yelling. Out of the fecking blue. M politely told the woman that there was no need to yell. This apparently upset the staff person more. She stomped around slamming books. She went after my child. J was in their little corner where they had been reading. she was waiting for her friend and the staff person start to approach her. She was menacing and told my daughter to go that mommy needs her.” I harshly told the woman to stop and went to collect my girl. I was only 10 feet away. I explained that the lady was upset and we should leave before Mommy gets upset too. While I did this the staff person went verbally after M. She yelled at her that she couldn’t do her job and put books away because we were blocking her path where we were standing(apparently excuse  me is not in her vernacular). She screamed at M that she couldn’t get her work done in her office because our children were so loud. I said these girls are only three and she should check herself as it was getting very scary and hostile. She yelled that we should complain to her supervisor. M asked her her name and the woman screams “Majorie” then slams her office door.

We collected the girls and tried to nonchalantly exit. I was flustered because I had told my daughter that we would take books and a movie out. I also needed a new card. I was so riled up and afraid I would escalate things further. M said she had to return some things while I left. Thankfully I had thought to give her my name and info so we could meet again. I was so upset. As we were leaving my daught said” that woman has a bad attitude.” Yes, J, yes she does.

We arrived home and I tried to tell my husband what happened. I was repeatedly interrupted by my daughter who told Daddy that a woman yelled at mommy and was scary and mean. J was upset that she can’t go back to the Library but I reassured her that we will go back. I immediately go on the phone with my Town Supervisor. I felt horrible that I left my new friend there. I just new my limits and I knew I would get “ugly” if I stayed.

Later that evening I received an email from M. Her accounts of what happened after I left the library are here:

It was nice to meet you and J today at the library.
That librarian, Marjorie, was truly off her rocker! After you left, I went in to return books and she came in yelling about us to the other librarians. I asked her if she was so concerned about the noise, why was she being ten times louder than the three year olds.  She went into the back office and said she was filing an incident report about us.  The other librarian asked me if I wanted to fill one out too so I did. While I was standing at the desk filling out the form, she kept shouting and screaming in the back office, slamming things down, and actually started hysterically crying!  I heard her say “I’m going to beat the shit out of her!” about me all while I was just standing there filling out the report.  I asked the other two librarians if they heard that and they both acted like they hadn’t because I could tell they are afraid of her.  Neither of them would make eye contact with her and one of them suggested that she go home so she could calm down and she said that was exactly what she planned to do because she couldn’t take this anymore and that the “library wouldn’t exist without her” and that she “barely gets paid anything”. She then stormed out of the library crying. The other two librarians both suggested that we report the incident to the Director, K M.  I filled out the report which will be given to her and here is her email address in case you are interested in reporting Marjorie as well. I wrote on the report that I was shocked that the library employs someone who is so clearly mentally unstable, especially to be working around children.

Ridiculous right?! I have emailed the appropriate person. I have left a message with my Town Supervisor. I am going back to the Library. And be ready folks, I will record any and all encounters with this Majorie if needed. This happened…At the LIBRARY.

Love each moment

My little one is sick. She has a cough, sniffles and is generally miserable. We are cuddled up on the sofa watching some movies. I am holding her and doing my best to be patient that she is reluctant to eat and refuses medicine. It has been a trying weekend with her attitude and now I feel sad because she may have been beginning to feel under the weather.

However, when I think about the tantrums or the refusing medicine, I thank God she is here , no matter how difficult she may be at times. On my drive home from work, I listened to the news and reports and reflection about the recent terror attacks on school children in Pakistan. It is devastating. Just days after the two year anniversary of the school children killed in Newtown CT. My heart aches for the families and the state of the world.

Violence, terror and crime fills our daily news and lives. I look at my little girl and I am filled a desperate hope that she will be safe, healthy and happy for a long lifetime. I cannot imagine how families cope with such loss. My life is full of joy and purpose because of my daughter. She is my reason for living as a better person, every day.

I pray for peace. I pray for those families in Pakistan that they find a way to cope and find inner strength. I pray that terrorists and criminals no longer harm innocent people. I pray that my daughter can be safe and maybe even sheltered from this devastation. Every parent should have years and years of “I love you Mama”.