Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“But Piglet is so small that he slips into a pocket, where it is very comfortable to feel him when you are not quite sure whether twice seven is twelve or twenty-two.” -A.A. Milne

The things that comfort us!  Quick list of a few of my own:  every picture on my refrigerator; the baby undershirt and shoe kept in my underwear drawer; a rock from Lake Superior.  More later...

As adults we know how and where to find the things that comfort us - if only inside our heads until we get home from a rough day.  And each one of our "things" is entirely different from anyone else's because these are the special things that remind us of who we really are in our own unique life stories and experiences.

But what about kids and the things they keep for comfort?  As a classroom teacher of 6th grade deaf/hard of hearing kids, one thing not on my list of priorities was making kids clean out desks.  Not saying it shouldn't have been, but it wasn't.  Besides particles of food that might spring legs and crawl away,  there were often things inside those desks that must have provided just a bit of comfort:  a special pen or pencil, a favorite book or picture or photograph. 

Makes me think of what soldiers kept in their packs from the book "The Things They Carried," by Tim O'Brien.  The physical and emotional "things they carried" told an unforgettable story about war.  Maybe, on an entirely different level but still worthy of our attention, the things in each kid's backpack tell us something more about that unique child's special world.

I'm remembering a student who came to school each day from a homeless shelter and never  - except for an occasional laundering by one very sensitive social worker - removed her parka while at school.  Obviously this girl had emotional issues, but her "thing of comfort" was taken seriously.

So once again, and ever since Mom read these poems and stories to me back in the early 50's, the words of Winnie the Pooh resonate....especially when "I'm not sure twice seven is twelve or twenty-two!"

P.S.  Other comforts in my world:  my garden, a cancelled check in Mom's handwriting; gifts from my sisters, sons, friends and Jim; oh, and wine and popcorn.

P.S.S. Take an inventory of your special things - it's a good week for it!

Happy Thanksgiving,


Saturday, November 23, 2013

"What do you say?"

Over and over again young parents encourage their  little ones to say either "Thank You," or "Sorry" - long before they understand the meaning of the words.  A favorite memory is when my 2-1/2 year old had just received a wonderful gift and I  prodded him with, "What do you say?" 

He looked up - happy for the gift and totally uncomprehending of the language and said ...."SORRY?!"

This is the week for "Thank You's" and Thanksgiving.  Hopefully you find as many things to be grateful for (and not much to be sorry about)  - as I do.

 If you need to take a day off early in the week,  Click Here for the full day of activities!

Be well today and always

Monday, November 11, 2013

"and, Oh Auntie Em, there's no place like home!" - Dorothy Gale of Kansas

I went to two of my "growing up" homes last week in Illinois....the first in Jacksonville where my grandparents lived and where later I went to college, and the second in Western Springs, where my family lived for 6 years.  Throughout the week and through many wonderful conversations with my sister and friends, I rediscovered (for the trillionth time) the values and traditions that shaped me.  Some of these were embraced and some quite determinedly rejected - but all in some way a part of who I became.

My grade school friends and I visited our 6th grade teacher, Mr. Shinn, who still lives in Western Springs.  Even now, 54 years later, he remembered a little something about each one of us - not about our academic ability or behavior - but who our families were, our friends, who we really were. 

Anyway, I thought about my own teaching career and how my connections with home and parents effected my work with kids.  If I didn't know the family very well - I really never knew the student very well,  and the school year for both of us was somehow less successful.   The "Mr. Shinn" connection isn't easily formed with families in shelters or dysfunctional homes, yet knowing where and how a child gets his world view can tell us how he or she learns.  I'm grateful for the teachers who took the time to know a little about my family, and me. 

So - I'm home again after visiting the other "homes" I once knew. 

Be well today and always,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." -Lewis Carroll

Of course!  Our imaginations are as rich as we let them be - the more impossible the notion - the more fun the possibilities.  The most fun part my own childhood was pretending to be something else....something wild, something glamorous, something outrageous.

And children's literature enriched our imaginations.  Words on the page rolled around gently, whether they made practical sense or not, and the illustrations enchanted us with bold strokes and colors.  Better for me as a kid than visiting art museums.  Everything needed was right there in a book -  full of "impossibilities" to chew on.

Things have changed in a lot of elementary classrooms.  Someone has determined that reading instruction should focus on nonfiction, practicality, all the facts.  I guess we can't appropriately measure and assess a child's storytelling skills, but we can easily score the number of facts learned.  Well, all I can say is it's a shame.

Just for today, I think I'll imagine a world where every kid reads and everyone finds the fun in "believing six impossible things before breakfast."

Be well today and always,