Inner Instinct and the Watchful Learner

This is a thought unraveling, in process of assessment with no clear direction or decision…yet.

I am thinking about about boundaries and communication and requirements.

The discussion of Nature vs. Nurture is one I have with myself a lot. Yes, I have discussions with myself.

When I look at what I want for my children or my students or my world around me, I realize that one of the true ways to get a manifestation of my hopes and dreams is to live them out loud. Totally easier said then done.

I am not here to tell anyone what to do. I am trying to makes sense of my options and choices by sharing. Recently I got silently upset with someone I care for deeply. I say silently because I didn’t react, yell, or comment on what happened. I got quiet with myself and really thought about what happened and how I felt about it and how I wanted to respond in my future speech and actions.

So, imagine this, a couple of kids are playing outside. They are hiking with some adults but no one is hovering or meddling with each other’s commune with nature. Sounds great, right. One of the kids finds a frog or a toad – not positive on its classification. That child is delighted and giddy. The child picks up the frog/toad. It jumps from their hands to be picked up again. The other child is overjoyed by watching this and picks up the animal. After a few brief moments of examination and appreciation, the frog/toad is released and hops off. The children skip along the trail. One child reaches into their pocket and produces a carrot stick for themselves saved from their snack break as well as a carrot stick for the other kid. One adult is thinking, what a fantastic moment of being resourceful and sharing. Wow, look at these kids. After walking for two minutes or maybe less, the other adult turns exasperated, “I just wish these kids would have the sense to wash their hands before eating when they have been handling a moldy toad. Seriously. They could have taken water from their water bottle and rinsed their fingers. It’s so disgusting. “

Okay, okay I am sure by now you realize that I am the Wow look at these kids adult. When this other person said that to me, instead of engaging in a discussion or possible argument, I sat with it. I thought about what they said. I kept coming up with this: how can anyone expect those kids to “have the sense” to wash their hands if they haven’t been taught to do it? Why spend time teaching kids to connect with nature if you will secretly be angry that they are connecting with nature? If they don’t see or feel the slime on their hands, then what would make them immediately think they need to be clean(er). Unless those kids have an internal instinct or need to be cleansed of any grime before handling food, they are in the moment. The frog/toad thing was so two minutes ago. They are in the sharing carrots and skipping on a trail moment now. I had a silent commentary delivered to this person that perhaps they need to be more proactive in modeling and instructing the children IN THE MOMENT of better hygiene. I thought about saying this and then I stopped. I thought about all the time I get frustrated with my kids, my students, other people. I then wondered am I clear with my needs? Am I modeling what I hope to see from them or myself? Am I complaining about something that I am not willing to redirect? Maybe I can check that before I jump into a possible verbal tussle with someone else. So, this is where I am. I am finding ways that gently in the moment I can show myself and my children choices of behavior. I can reinforce the good and try to let go of the not so good. Also this moment of reflection brought me to a place of being all I can be and not trying so hard to help some other adult be all I want them to be. They are on their own journey and sometimes I need to let go of trying to be on the same path.

,Have you ever held hands with someone and then there is a pole, a ditch, a thing in the path that will prevent you from walking as you were holding hands. In order to keep holding hands, someone needs to go around or maneuver. Sometimes you can lift your joined hands over something but other times, someone has to move. What happens when one person is clutching the other person’s hand and always doing the moving, dodging, ducking, leaping, scampering to keep their pace or let the other person have their bramble free stride? It isn’t okay for one person to have their unmoving way of walking and still get to hold hands. I for one have been in this place more times than I like to admit. I have shuffled around obstacles for the sake of others so many times I have lost not only my footing but my sense of direction. I am not interested in doing that anymore.

So now I am thinking about what my watchful learners are absorbing from me. I want to feel more confident that I am living the life I imagine for myself and them. I am still churning this around in my mind. Allowing my kids to have their internal, instinctual way of doing and thinking about stuff all the while I can live, show and be a version I am proud they can learn from too.

Town Pool

July 2017!

A couple of days ago, we had a wonderful day spent at the Town Pool near my mother’s house. We are visiting for a a couple of weeks and sometimes we trek over to the town pool rather than spend the whole day at home in my mom’s pool. The town pool has diving boards, a sprinkler park, and water slides. It is a really nice facility and the population who uses it is diverse. It has a very laid back atmosphere while still upholding top notch safety regulations.

While we were there, a little girl was wading in the water near us. My mother and I were in the kiddie section with my little guy watching my daughter go down the water slides. This little girl was bobbing around and hanging on the ropes looking a little lost or bored. Eventually she spoke to my mother and told her that she didn’t really know how to swim. My mom had a lovely chat and while I was helping my 2 year old float and kick, my mom convinced this girl to paddle around and gain a wee bit of confidence. It was enough to ignite some life into her smile and also glue her to our family for the day. Shortly after this, it seemed every where we turned, there she was. My daughter played with her and swam, but this little girl really didn’t know how to do much but float and dunk her head under water. They had a hard time choosing what to do because my daughter, although a year younger than this girl, is a strong swimmer. The girl’s mother came over at one point wading through the water only to inform the girl that she was going to go over to the deep pools with a friend and she should just have my mom and I look after her. I was stunned. The woman made no attempt to even introduce herself to us or even speak to us, but hooked her daughter to us.

We did look after her. We included her into our conversations and played in the water. However, when it was time to get out to have lunch, I felt torn. I wanted to invite the girl to our table and blankets to eat. But something about it felt strange. I do this a lot. I take on other people’s stuff, or even other people without thought or question. However, I have committed myself to taking on MYSELF more than others and this felt in violation of that concept. I am grateful for my ability to pause and get lost in thought. It allowed the Universe to step in to guide me. The little girl waved and made her way through the sea of swimmers to find her family. I saw her across the pool deck seated slight away from the swarm of family surrounding bags of snacks and accessories. She waved again. I waved back. Moving forward and touched by an invisible strand of human connection. I am reminded that not everything NEEDS to be defined, solved, or analyzed.

Love Letters

I didn’t know I had a really good idea about connecting families, stories, and souls until I charmed my way into Tanglewood for free one evening with a couple of new friends. I was on a little weekend getaway by myself. This is a very new experience for me and I must say it is wonderful. I met some ladies staying at the same place as me and we were just down the road from Tanglewood, the Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On a glorious Saturday evening, we decided to hike down the road and sit in the parking lot to have a listen. Instead, I calmly marched us right up to gate and explained we would really like to come in. As if I was Obi Wan waving my hand in a Jedi mind trick, the security guards produced tickets and opened the gate. Voila. My new gal pals were giddy and convinced I am a witch. I am not a witch. Not in the least.

Our evening was delightful and as we laughed our way into the night, we began to swap stories and anecdotes of our personal lives. During the show I had been writing in a journal and one of the ladies asked me about it. I told her it’s my daughter’s book and she looked perplexed. I began to tell her the method to my madness. I found myself revealing a passionate writing process taken up by my family. I hadn’t set out to boast, expose, or instruct. However, we spend a short while walking and discussing the beautiful gift our family has created. One of the ladies asked me if I would mind if she shared my idea with some new moms she knows. She said it was something she wished she had for herself…I told her to share it with everyone. It was then I knew I should write this down and give it to you.

When my doctor told us we were pregnant with my oldest child, I began writing in a journal. This was a bit different than a personal journal because it was written to my baby. I just let myself stream of conscious work out whatever was happening for me. I knew enough of myself to not create any harsh deadlines or rules. When I wanted or needed to say something I wrote it down. When I was worried, I wrote it down. When I went to the doctor or had a discussion with my husband, I wrote it down. Not every day. I have several journals filled now and my daughter is currently five. I tell her anything. I talk about stuff that might be hard to say or I don’t want to forget. Sometimes I tell her things that are trivial. I just write. Someday I will give her these books, they are for her.

Much to our delight and surprise, when my daughter was two and a half, we found out we were pregnant with a little boy. I wrote about it in his sister’s journal. I felt sad I wasn’t making one for him. I gave it a lot of thought and knew what I am honestly capable of and two emotionally raw and real journals is NOT practical. I decided to write him a letter on the day he was born, March 17. Then I made a deal with myself that I will write him a letter on the 17th of every month until I can’t. He has 30 letters tucked in a box so far waiting patiently for his reading pleasure. They are not all long and some are written on cards or even postcards. They are my monthly check ins with him, with me, with us. It fills me with joy simply thinking of it.

The third part of this ritual came from my request but is not carried out by me. Right before my daughter was born, I was filled with the hormonal charged nesting and sentimental swirl that many mamas experience. I began to become nostalgic for my own grandmothers who both died many years before this. I had questions and requests for stories that could not be satiated. I came up with something I longed for, something I can’t have for myself, but wanted so dearly for my kids. I asked my parents and my husband’s parents if they would be interested in writing a letter to their new grandchild. I let them know it wasn’t mandatory but would be greatly appreciated. I asked them to consider for my daughter’s birthday every year they are alive to include a letter, a year in review from their perspective. I let them know I am not going to read these letters but shall have them kept for my kids. They will have a letter for every year they share this Earth with their grandparents. To my surprise, they now also do it for my son. My mom has included recipes and pictures I think. The letters come with their birthday presents specially marked and someday they will be able to reconnect regardless of distance or existence as I say. I was really touched when my husband decided that he would write a yearly letter to the kids on their birthdays as well. He gets pictures printed and includes them with his “Year in Review”. They must be the luckiest kids I know. Just imagine having letters marking your journey along with your grandmother’s journey from her perspective.

That’s all it is. A writing commitment of love. Now, I have heard many a mom rant that they don’t have time to scrapbook or lament how  they kept baby books for the first few months until chaos of life took over. Trust me, I am not super-pintrest-coupon-hacking mom. I made a commitment that was honest with what I could do and it has become so rewarding and magical. Think about it, can you take 10 minutes to write a card one time a month? Or perhaps spending a little longer on a letter but once a year is more suited to your lifestyle. We are caught up in the memes, tweets, and insta-gratification of our digital lives. How nice would it be to cosy up and read a letter to you from someone you love that you have missed for oh so long?

So that is my great idea. Take what you want, change it, make it fit you, and give a bit of yourself.

June Poems: #2

I watch her sleep

envisioning the stretches

the changes

that will happen

over time.

How will she look

in ten years time?

If I am too busy

it will feel like it all happened

in a blink.

For now, I soak up

that angel skin

and soothing snore.

Take a deep breath

and pray for more.

Money talks

opposite of spoiled

I just walked away from another conversation about money, kids and savings. So let me take this opportunity to talk about a book I am reading and recommending.  It seems like recently I am going about my day and all of a sudden I find myself talking or thinking about this book.  I have been reading through it in pieces but I am now recommitting to giving a page to page read and review. In case you can get a copy before I finish…it is facilitating amazing conversations about money in my every day life. Get it. Read it. Let’s talk.

After Kindergarten Screening

I am having my lunch and reflecting on Tuesday’s exciting and emotional event. Kindergarten Screening…I was calling it Orientation but I found out yesterday that I get to go to another visit/orientation in August. This was a chance for some of the teachers and psychologists at the school to meet & greet the families. They also separate the kids from the parents to check on some skills before placing them in classes.

This did not go as well as I hoped.

I am staying positive and open to learning more about my child and our journey together. She is magical. When she was born 4.5 years ago, I knew I was on a journey of empowerment, discovery and humble love. J has always pushed y understanding of self and a women’s role in this world. Because I want to provide a healthy happy life for her, it is causing me to examine the way we treat women, girls and children.

This is all material for some other blog posts, but what I can say now is that her time at Kindergarten Screening was emotional, enlightening and a little difficult. When we arrived we were instructed to wait in the vestibule with other families. We did not have to wait long and the staff at her new school are very kind. However, immediately after being escorted into a busy hallway, we were told we were being split apart from our kiddos. They would go one way, parents another. Juliana was trepidatious about this and didn’t want to go. Understandable so as it was her first time in the building with a lot of people she doesn’t know. I had to accompany her at the start. She was shy and nervous. They jumped right in to reading a story. A story she knows by heart but she clamped down and would not respond. She is reluctant to share herself with strangers…again I do NOT see this as a detriment. However, since my little girl came into this universe, other people have made us feel that this is not normal or not ok. (Again, I will write about this again another time) We worked through a couple of sad, teary and tough moments. I was able to pull myself away and go find the other parents.

Her school is lovely. I was sure to watch the interactions between the teachers and Principal. I wanted to see if I could sense any clues as to how things really are when families are not watching. We had a great visit from the PTA rep and we were encouraged to make little cards that will be given to our children on their first day of school. It was fun. I had this little voice or tug inside that kept me connected to her. I was sending out my energy throughout that building letting her know she is loved.

They conducted some “testing” with her. I did not get to see what they did or how she responded. Chances are, if the teacher did not take time to let her get warmed up or comfortable, she may have done nothing. It is a little sad to think J will look as if she can’t do certain skills that are actually easy for her. When I was still in that room with her she was refusing to write her name. Meanwhile, she can spell and write her first, middle, and last name.

Oh well, we have to let go, right? My husband and I are realising that she will come across to others a certain way in the beginning. But on her terms, in her time, she will let the world bask in her light. She will shine.

 

Before Kindergarten Screening

It’s a big day in our house. I am taking a half day at work on Tuesday for Kindergarten orientation. I am probably more nervous than my daughter. I am actually surprised at her excitement. I would have thought she would be terrified. She is a cautious and shy child. She can transition well from place to place, activity to activity. However, transitioning from person to person is where she struggles. She is not immediately trusting of people, which can work to our advantage in life. J is very bright and loves to learn. I am hoping that this next phase of our lives is met with enthusiasm and joy. She has such a thirst for knowledge. I know that the drone of routine can be beneficial but also stifling. I want my daughter to love school. Not just because it will make life easier for me, but because I think one of the greatest qualities a person could posses is a love of learning. I know that learning doesn’t only happen at school – but if she hates school, it may turn her off to learning in general.

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.)

The haves and the have nots

I’m attempting to infuse “I know a bank” into my classroom lessons. It is difficult because currently we were required to do other things. I have been more diligent with weaving the Shakespearean lines into my second period class than my first. I didn’t think much of it. I’m realising that it has caused tension and slight disappointment. My students from the second period will request more shakespeare. Some of them met my daughter earlier in the week and referred to her as “the little girl that knows shakespeare”. They tried to chat and have a connection. While some of my students in my first period seem apprehensive about continuing because I have given more to my other stidents. I step back now and realise that this not only is what happens to young students and shakespeare but to young learners of anything.

If we disproportionately provide exposure to education, experience and passion for learning, we train one group to feel inadequate, indifferent or deficient.

(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.)

Originally written 14 April – sorry late posting some entries.

And so it begins…

If you have read previous posts of mine, you know I am reading Ludwig’s book “how to teach your children shakespeare”. I am slowly working on midsummer with my four year old. It is so much fun. When we were in Home Depot on Saturday, we went into the garden center. Juliana wanted to find the flowers mentioned in the poetry that she knew. She asked what is ‘quite overcanopied’ thinking it was a plant. I told her it was like plants growing over your head like a tunnel or umbrella. She jumped in the trolley as we walked through aisle of fruit trees because they were ‘quite overcanopied’! It is incredible what we are doing. 

Last week, one of my colleagues was telling my class about the bunny banner my girl made. She told them that J named the bunnies after some of my students. I told them I read the roster and she picked random ones she remembered. The class wanted to see pictures. I showed them. Then I had a video of J reciting I know a bank. I showed them that and told them what it was. They were impressed and competitive. They decided that if she could do it- they could do it. I told them I haven’t finished the book. They don’t care. Right there. Right then. We scratched a portion of lesson and I know a bank where the wild thyme blows went up.

They are hooked. One line and it’s theirs. Someone makes sure it is written on the board everyday. Tomorrow I need to give them line 2. They are craving it. Somehow I have made reciting Shakespeare addictive. I’m the best drug dealer that school has!!!!