Tag Archives: childhood

Kids These Days

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Kids These Days (2015)

magic

Light as a feather, stiff as a board

Anything could happen child, anything could be.

My child today: my brown boy one day brown man-child

Days after news of school shootings. Weeks after and before another Black person slain

Talked about emergencies, running to his aunt’s house that is close to his school, knowing how to get there

I respond in jest: yeah in case something happens, like what? like alien invasion, bad robots, things like that?

He says that is not real

it will be a man with a gun that causes me to run he says.

These days,  is there still room for magic?

How do I let her in?
like a nervous alley cat?

Do I open a can of tuna, leave the door cracked and hope it will want my food enough to

wander in?

Please, I pray

For his sake and mine.

Won’t you wander in?

 

gorey

My Kindergarden Freak Out…part II

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I started drafting this post last winter… when I sill pregnant with Meena and overwhelmed with teaching full-time and juggling family life… as a result it sat in my drafts folder, but our recent decision to apply to an independent/private school sent me back here to finally complete this post!

Dec. 2014

Things with my son’s  school came to a head recently…I want to preface this my adding that I am currently 35 weeks pregnant… so the stress is not needed… after an awful situation regarding physically restraining my 5-year-old ( after he refused to take a time out), I had enough and pulled him out of that disorganized brand new charter and put him in our local public school.  Nothing unsafe has happened in the public schools and im grateful for the public oversight required of a public institution our taxes already pay for.

Welcome to my Kindergarden freakout!

Welcome to my kindergarten freak out!

The world of education has always felt contentious to me, but I never would have guessed that Kindergarten would feel like such a war! There has been a palpable difference between my teacher training and classroom experiences before and after the  “no child left behind” nonsense.

The problem is that it’s  policy makers and corporations making changes to education as opposed to the educators and professionals that studied human development and have experience with pedagogy.

As a result of our family’s experiences, I have become morally opposed to the way charter schools become approved in Rhode Island and I have always been opposed to “mayoral academies” and didn’t know we were stepping into that in the summer.

I am confident in my son’s resilience and flexibility and know he will be fine in most places. It’s not so much about what’s best for just my son, but now with baby #2 coming, for the whole family.  I don’t want to continue to feel this level of frantic confusion and stress so our local public school might be our best option for now. I have resigned myself to the notion that I (not alone anyways) can’t demand that a school stop using crap common core and bring back imaginative play, creative learning and recess. I cant on my own- force the public schools to stop teaching to the test and pushing screen time on students before they are ready.  I can’t force my own ideas about education on a system that puts business over what’s right for children.  This type of fight requires a collective of organized parents and citizens, one that will take time, will send us flaying and might falter, but might also ultimately win the type of education for our children that we can all be proud of.

Through this experience I have learned much- most importantly, I came out of this trusting my instinct even more ( a precious commodity these days I’ve learned) , being on my son’s side is really important being his voice and advocate, as my husband pointed out- we are his main source of support.

no child left behind

Teaching to the test-starting in early ed…

Is this what we are allowing to happen?

Is this what we are allowing to happen?

great piece on importance of recess:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/10/06/let-children-play-schools-must-relearn-importance-recess

My son learning through play during the

My son learning through play during the “good ol days” of Pre-K

Wise words

Wise words

learning at the children's museum

learning at the children’s museum

Fall 2015

Where we are now is out of survival mode but back in “where is recess mode”. I reached out to the PTO about the crazy amount of homework for st grades and only 15 minutes of recess but I feel like by the time we get enough parents on board my poor child will be in highschool! So he will be off to an independent school for 2nd grade… to be continued!

READ the 1st part of my Kindergarden Freakout HERE: https://nowapproachingprovidence.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/hey-where-did-childhood-go-my-kindergarten-freak-out/

Shells in the Woods

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“The only constant is change”

Ecological succession is a natural process, a progression.

I remember first learning about ecological succession in middle school science class.  We were taught that all environments; tundra, forest, desert, ocean are constantly changing.

Evolving.

Over time oceans can become desserts or swaps becomes forests.  It is the natural progression of life.  I always found it to be very fitting that I learned about ecological succession in middle school, a time of natural progression, especially for pubescent girls.   While my peers chatted about their first kisses, adorned themselves with makeup and tight shirts to show off rapidly emerging curves, I stayed in the background, hidden by baggy shirts and a tomboyish attitude.

I still spent my time in tree forts, exploring the woods behind our house, comfortable with the growing distance between me and my classmates experiences.  This was partly due to the fact that I wasn’t allowed  to do many of the things that other girls my age were doing; having sleepover parties, hanging out in the mall without an adult…all things that I wished I could do, but had to learn to not waste my time wanting.

My after school haunts changed when my mother and I moved to a different part of town the beginning of my 7th grade year.  There were new    woods to explore and new kids to meet. 

To pass the time, my new friends and I used to walk through all the backyards in the neighborhood, oblivious of property markers or boundaries.  This one particular backyard I remember led into a small patch of woods, cut in the middle by a narrow brook.  We would spend time getting dirty, jumping across slippery rocks, making up stories about the creatures that surely lived in this patch of woods.

A lot was going on that school year.  My best friend since elementary school moved away to another state.  Her sister was being sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend and when she mustered the courage to speak up against him, the family moved away and he went to prison.

My mom and I were constantly moving around.  Although never to a different school, the different neighborhoods meant different kids…all with their own territorial dramas and suburban dilemmas to get re-accustomed to.  My mother took back her on again, off again husband, Richard.

I remember Richard as being funny, interesting, and charming.  He taught me how to catch fish and played the harmonica in his rusty pick up truck.  Richard was also an alcoholic and out of work chief.

Their arguments were vaguely interesting.  I would turn my radio up and get back to my homework.  Another normal routine.

Some time in the winter he disappeared, took off again.  My mom told me he left her a note.  He ran off with another woman but promised to still complete her citizenship papers.

I was having a difficult time acknowledging that things change… even me.

That spring, I turned thirteen and started my period.  The melting snow receded, revealing white shells at the edge of the forest. I  almost walked right over the  shells but my  friend stopped me and picked one up.   As she excitedly passed it around to the other kids, she exclaimed this was a sign this forest was once a river.  I walked around the shells disheartened.  I was tired of change.

I saw adulthood like I saw my mother;  overworked, limited, bound to some invisible force … she was working full time and on her degree at night.    The more I learned about it meant to be a woman, the less I wanted it for myself, I wanted to fend off  the adulthood disease as long as I could.

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I very rarely saw Richard drunk.  I just occasionally heard him stumble home late at night.  There were a few nights where I was a witness to the emotional and at times physical abuse.  But I avoided talking about it or asking questions since I was trying to stay as far away from that adult world as I could.

One day in early spring, I came home from school to a barely legible handwritten note.  The chicken scratch read:

I’m sorry. I still love you but I can’t do this anymore.  Don’t worry, I wont mess up your papers.

~Richard

It was a note much like many others he had left , only this time I was the first one to see it.

I called my mom at work.

“Did you have a good day at school?”

“yeah,. school was fine.”

“A lot of homework?”

“Richard is gone.  There is a note.”

“What?”

“Does this mean we have to move again?”

This was also the point where I remember bursting into tears at the mere thought of another move.  This was the first time I let me mother see me react.  I felt like so much was spinning out of control as I came face to face with the shaky balance between dependence on others and my need for independence.  I was face to face with realities of the adult world…and it wasn’t pretty.

That was the last time.  After four years of leaving and staying, of moving and packing, she didn’t go back to him.  Little did I know, his departure, and my mother’s new beginning, left an opening, a space, for me to enter adulthood with less fear.

      Later that spring, I took one last a walk to my usual spot.  We were moving again, but it didn’t feel so heavy.  I rushed to the spot at the edge of the woods where we noticed the pile of blanched shells in the woods a few weeks back.  this time, the leaves were a deeper green, the spot, increasingly  hidden by the growing foliage.   I pulled some branches back and there they were.

The shells in the woods.