5

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I don’t want to let October go by without addressing the emotionally confusing fact that my girl has turned five. F-I-V-E.

On one hand, watching her learn new things every day is seriously the thrill of my life. When they’re toddlers, sometimes you feel like you’re throwing knowledge down into the abyss, do you know what I mean? I’ve sung the ABCs a gazillion times with Bo, and somehow he still thinks it starts ABCDAFG. Will not be convinced otherwise.

But my big girl– she remembers almost everything, and I can see her little brain wheels turning all the time. I can’t wait to see her turn into a student and find out what it will be that excites her. The suspense!! It kills the teacher in me.

On the other hand, I am so not ready for her to grow up. Like when she uses her hands to talk, or when she bends down and speaks gently to her baby brother, or when she declares, I don’t have to be like my four-year-old self. I love all of those things, but I know this is only the top of the slippery slope into eye rolling and too-cool-for-schoolery.

If you had asked me three years ago what I thought about my girl aspiring to be a ballerina princess fairy when she grows up, I probably would have vomited in my mouth. But now, on the verge of real live big-kidhood, a ballerina princess fairy sounds lovely and sensible, like girl who will never leave her mama.

And that sounds pretty good, too.

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O Captain, My Captain

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The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;

From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.

~Walt Whitman

I learned just two weeks ago that my favorite high school teacher was terminally ill.

How much longer? is what I wanted to know.

And though I didn’t have to wait too long for my answer, I am grateful that I had enough time to write him one last letter.

His influence on me through the years has been enormous, but just lately, I’ve been thinking most of all about what made James Cockrell such a great teacher. Here in our small part of the world, the most common question the parent of a four year old is asked is (SAY IT WITH ME, PRESCHOOL PARENTS!):

Where are you sending her to school next year?

To which I mostly just shrug, and say honestly: I don’t know.

James Cockrell was a simple man, in a simple town, doing a simple (but not so simple if you do it right) job, at a simple public high school, and yet he was able to accomplish much because of his passion for his subject, for his students, and for teaching.

And yet, when faced with a lot of complicated, problematic, and/or expensive options for educating our three children, nothing is simple.

I do know this: I want my children to love to learn. When they’re done, I want them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished, because it was hard and they did it anyway. I don’t want it to be easy, and I don’t want straight A’s.

I want teachers who light fires.

Preferably on the first day of school. With candles on an A/V cart and a copy of the Illiad.

I don’t think that’s asking too much.

Early Riser

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I was sitting on the floor of the kitchen this morning at 6am waiting for my coffee to brew.

I guess normal people might think it’s odd for a grown woman to sit on the kitchen floor. But I’m kind of wary of normal people anyway.

So there I was, sitting criss-cross-applesauce, checking my email on my phone, when I heard the thumping of feet getting closer to the door. I could feel ire rising to my throat: WHY DO THEY WAKE UP SO EARLY? CAN’T A MAMA JUST GET A LITTLE PEACE IN THE MORNING?

The swinging door opened halfway, and Bosey stuck his eyes and nose around the door, his hair sticking straight up in the back.

I started my usual response: BO. IT’S NOT TIME YET. GO BACK TO YOUR BED AND WAIT FOR YOUR CLOCK TO TURN GREEN.

He blinked in the bright lights of the kitchen, not worried about the time, or his clock, or the fact that I was not yet caffeinated and therefore not fit for human interaction.

What do giwaffes eat?

Leaves, I said. Go back to bed.

He blinked again. Ok.

The door swung shut behind him.

Ugh, I love him. Even before my coffee.IMG_3684