Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Take 'Em by the Hand

Well Spot, I had a strange opportunity to sit in on a conference for a student that I am only partially attached to academically speaking. I found myself thanking my lucky stars for my own upbringing, and for the fortitude I was given in order to stay the course in raising my own kids. (The situation and the student will obviously remain unnamed and somewhat changed in order to protect those involved, but truly this type of conversation comes up vs. active parenting. What's the choice?)

After an hour of talking around the problems, I really wanted to cut to the chase. Instead I kept myself as quiet as I could, offering my opinions in a more limited way. Boy! That sure was hard for me! So, dear's the skinny on what was going on inside this head:

1. Raising kids IS hard! Those long nights awake, the diaper rash and the chronic teething are only the rehearsals for what gets even harder later on.
2. need someone to tell them they're wrong once in a while, so they can learn to fix it and make things right.
3. Kids need consequences to match actions/inaction.
4. Kids need forgiveness and a chance to grow into their adult shoes.
4. KIDS NEED LOVE AND ATTENTION, and not just when they're little.

Fourteen hour work days preclude the in-the-moment possibility of parenting. And an occasional Sunday afternoon really doesn't get the job done. In truth, the next time you look, that little boy/girl will be towering over you and waving good-bye. But! Kids are always willing to take us back in, even when we've gone down the wrong path for a very long time.

What I really want to tell them is to just go see The Blind Side. What a great movie! I had my doubts, but then I realized with great satisfaction that I had been empowered to parent because I was parented in a powerful way. The Blindside teaches a valuable lesson. Parents need to be present, tough and caring. They need to see their kids all the way through. No child should ever be the extension of a parent's dream. Kids are entitled to dreams of their own. But most important of all, parenting is never something that can be perfected. Parents are human and kids are too. (Parenting is the one job on earth where humility becomes a way of life!) In the end, it is does conquer all!

What lessons have you learned in your adventures with children?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day to the Perfect Pooch

Spot, you are a mighty festive fellow! I know you can't wait for all the treats and goodies, the wonder of the day. It's St. Patrick's Day, a chance to sport your green (it's mandatory...don't mess with me on this one) and have a few good laughs along the way.

You see, Spot. My job is to educate you, and the district expects me to inspire you as well. To me? There's nothing more inspirational than a few good laughs, a little adventure, and a story or two along the way!

We've been studying African folktales...and you might wonder, Spot, how I'm gonna make that leap. But you see, Spot? Story is never really a leap at all! We are much more global than we think. Take for example, Anansi. Who can't love that little guy? He's often described as a rogue, a clever trickster and a thief. Anansi has moved from Africa to the Carribean Islands, and then right here to America as well. When the first African Americans set foot on our soil, we know they were stripped of their culture and their roots as well. Those roots ran deep, though...and story continued to grow. Anansi, the trickster and Brer Rabbit are practically kissing cousins.

So...when it comes to that tricky leprechaun, we needn't look far! The leprechaun was simply a two foot man, dressed like a cobbler. His attire, the hat, the leather apron and the buckled shoes come from his roots as a peasant in the hills of Ireland. And just like Anansi, you'd best not take your eye off him, Spot! He's a tricky little fellow. He'll make off with the gold before you can say...Irish soda bread!

Tomorrow, Spot? Come in with your brogue and your imagination too. We'll be speaking and writing the language of the fairies...and feeling a little magical too! (Now that my friend, is what inspiration is all about...a little laughter, a lot of fun and a few sparks flyin' in the air!)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seeing is Believing's one that'll make you laugh. Ralphie again. I know, he looks a little different when he's sitting up, all poofed and pampered. Well, Ralphie came in all wide awake and raring to go this Monday morning. I almost fainted! In fact, I took him over to Mr. N and introduced him as the new student! Here's why:

A) I think he grew six inches over the weekend (and now the sweatpants are 12 inches too short).
B) He was wide awake...I mean--first time ever (before 10:00) this year!
C) He was proud as punch in his brand new glasses, greeted me immediately...of course, fishing for the compliment, which I gladly lathered on.

All during the mastery tests, he was adjusting them and then looking my way and smiling! He couldn't get over himself!

Then today? glasses and back to his old sleepy-eyed self. Head down on desk, dejected again. "What's up, Ralphie," I asked. "Where are your glasses?" He shrugs his shoulders (hands in the sweatpants pockets, as usual), and says, "I don't know." Since he's totally chagrinned, I leave him to himself to regroup.

But! Today's READING Comprehension II...if ever there was a day to have the glasses (that I've been begging for since the beginning of the year), today was the day! I can't help but watch him with his head about an inch from the table reading each of the passages. Later on, after the tests are away, and the funk has lifted, he tells me he thinks they're at his grandmas house, but he's really not sure at all.

So Spot...hats off to tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see what it brings! Don't you forget your calculator,'s a "yes-yes" day! (Yes-calculator, and yes-rulers)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Annual Yearly Progress?

SPOT! We've got an EMERGENCY! Call the office, and tell them there's a BREACH! We've got a D-A-O in Room 229. What? A down and out!

Ralphie came in today in his rather short little sweat pants, his Monday uniform, and his usual Monday mug on too. His eyes weren't even at half mast. They were completely closed! I think his mom must've opened the car door, pulled him out and pointed him in our direction.

We had to force him to his locker to find two number two pencils and an independent reading book too. When he came back, he didn't have that book, but he did have a plan. Ralphie was going to sleep for as long as he could get away with it. And today? Well, sorry there little fella...we are legally responsible to measure your annual yearly progress today! If you've got a pulse, you're here to be tested.

We started with jumping jacks, then we did a few twirls, shoulder rolls and squats. We soon found out that Ralphie can do all of that and more with his eyes closed. I was getting worried, Spot. But then? I put a booklet in front of him, and he picked up his old number two...and by golly, that boy was reading and bubbling and really, really serious about it. You see Robbie has a nose for that test! He knows his annual yearly progress. Later on, he put his head back down and dozed off again. But I didn't mind that at all. Mondays may not be Ralphie days. But when it comes to the CMTs, that boy can sure get it done!