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.

Love in my cup

The other day I was attempting to have a cup of tea, while it was still hot, and attempt to relax.

I sat on the sofa admits the madness of my life. Deep breaths in and out. Smile. Smile. Smile. Smile.

After my tea, I was in full tilt mama mode. In the middle of juggling too many things and thoughts, my daughter started jumping up and down. She ran to me with my cup. I had left it on her play kitchen.

“Look Mama there’s a heart. For you mama”. And there it was, in the bottom of my tea cup. Must mean something, right?

4 Lines!

Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?

One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.

I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.

We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.

Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”

Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.

I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.

swoon.

My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.

The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.

We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.

 

 

Delicate Balance

On several Channel Markers in the Indian River, Florida, families of Osprey make their nests. It is a beautiful site and if you are fortunate enough to be able to ride aboard a boat, you may get a very close look at the parents and babies in these nests. Be warned that the parents will rise, squawk and push their shoulders forward as if they are about to take flight – aiming for your face. Please go slow or idle for a few moments and then move along. These birds are majestic, fierce, delicate and sweet all in one moment. Their nests are very large intricate installations of art in some very precarious places. Two of the nests we photographed were built atop channel markers that triangular. It seems impossible that these enormous woven nests can dangle atop the peak of a sign…and yet they do with such stability and strength that I was left in awe.

Isn’t that what we strive for in our lives. We have somewhat messy lives, homes and hearts that are held together by available scraps and hope. I looked at these Ospreys and thought of myself. I was reassured. I feel like my life is a bit tattered, thrown together and teetering in the wind. I saw them working as a team to protect, build and feed and fly. I have a new vision of my sometimes chaotic and unraveling life. I am that Mother Osprey. I am proud of my nest  with its moss and twigs fluttering in the breeze. I protect and cherish my children and work with my husband to keep the balance, keep the strength, keep the majestic power of our lives.

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest

EJECT

Recently my good friend has been struggling with his communication, his interactions, his relationship with a woman he was dating. This whole process from the moment I found out he was dating this woman has been strained and stifling for him and well for his friends who watched this emotional destruction. I have been supportive and nonjudgemental as long as possible. However, the past few weeks have had me speaking firmly to him. I have condensed my ideas and advice into one word: EJECT. It has become a mantra as he vents. we say “eject, eject, eject. ” I think this helps us both feel at ease as we help him have permission to walk away.

This has been a very insightful and rewarding experience for me – helping him to close the door on an unhealthy relationship. I recently did the same in my own life and it was excruciating. I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for years. I became a different person when I was with this friend. I became someone I did not like. During the thankfully last tumultuous spat with this person, I found myself exhausted, fearful and almost emotionally paralyzed. Another close friend tried to stay impartial but very graciously said, “it doesn’t have to be this awful. You are not this person with anyone else. Its time to stop. Its OK. You are not a bad person if you recognize you cannot change the toxins but it is bad if you keep ingesting them. It’s OK – hit the eject button.

I did. Without a lengthy goodbye or discussion. I just did it. Eject. I walked away and closed a door – whatever metaphor you want to put on it. I was sad and torn. I didn’t get a chance to tell this friend my side of anything or hash out my feelings and frustrations. I didn’t respond to accusations, blame or delusions. I didn’t try to compromise, console, or attack. I just hit eject. It sounds like exactly the wrong way to do it but it wasn’t. Sometimes it is better to just stop. Another great person in my life said, “The thing about banging your head against the wall is how good it feels when you finally stop.”

So recently I found myself stronger and more insightful and humble. I was able to tell someone else that although it can be draining, embarrassing and horrible to be entwined in a toxic relationship, just know that it is ok to simply hit the eject button. Eject, eject, eject. I care very much for my friend and it is difficult to watch him caught in a whirlpool of toxic faux love. I know I can’t tell him whom he should fall for or date. I support him in his decisions but I also can’t stand by and watch someone else diminish the person I care for and admire.

He has hit the button.

He now is more direct in his statements. Owning his actions, his feelings and contributions to all of his relationships. It is amazing how wishy-washy and self deprecating he had become. (It is very reminiscent to what I was doing all the time not so long ago.) I am very reflective of how far I have come this year in my own self worth and appreciation because I am able to help someone I am friends with let go of a demon. Eject. Eject. Eject.

I know I will come back to these realizations for me and in helping him. It is now empowering because I am coming out of the haze of defeat and guilt. I am emerging into a new phase of loving myself and honoring the good that I put out in the world. I hope I help my friend get there too.