Beauty, Middle Fingers and Parental Pause

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Middle Finger Graffiti in Berlin Elevator in Wedding Photo Credit: Iwan Gabovitch

The sun was setting.

Dinner was done.

Nina (my 6 year old daughter) rocked in the back porch hammock with quiet confidence slathered all over her smugly smiling lips as her 3 year old brother Jurian bathed in devastation.

Jurian (through buckets of tears): Nina told me I am not beautiful.

Me: Nina, how would you feel if Jurian told you you were not beautiful?

Nina: I would put my middle finger up at him if he said anything about how I looked.

Me: Nina?

<<Pause>>

<<Pause>>

Me: What I meant to say is please don’t try to hurt your brother’s heart on purpose. I think his heart is hurt. And yes, if someone says something about how you look, I do think you should tell them that’s wack. That’s right.

It’s moments like these when I hear the record screech to a halt. It’s all quiet and I can hear myself repeating a 100 year old script I likely heard from adults my whole life who heard from adults their whole lives and so on – that “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” aka golden rule logic. In many situations, it doesn’t actually work out that mathematically, nor should it. And there are probably so many moments like these when I don’t hear myself being heard by someone else, but tonight…tonight…I did. And it gave me (thank god) a little pause.

30 seconds like these make me feel like I’m raising another generation. My mother probably had these too. They were probably about things I’d consider small now in my 40s, but I truly believe it’s events like these that bear weight as we move forward in the world. Here she is. At the age of 6 she has used her words to bring her brother to tears; words she knows and has heard should hurt feelings. Perhaps they’ve hurt her feelings before as well. I can recall many a tearful recounting of “someone said I wasn’t a pretty girl because I wasn’t wearing a dress” or “they said I was ugly because I didn’t have long enough hair.”

Today, after a couple of years of tears, she is building up that steely armor. That woman who won’t take shit for her looks or hear people telling you how you should and shouldn’t dress, sit, stand, talk, think, feel, and basically exist as a powerful person in the world.

I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I’m proud to endorse my daughter putting her middle finger up at anyone who has something to say about how she looks.

It’s not traditional research, but it’s worth a read…Reasons Moms Who Swear are the Best F*#$ing Moms and gave me the fire to post about this tonight. #goodcompany

Tweets, Teacher Talk & Winnie the Pooh

 

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Image Credit: Thoth God of Knowledge

 

Last night I wasn’t feeling so well. It had been a long week and it was only Wednesday. I had been working late every night, getting up early, and couldn’t see an end in sight. I still don’t, but Iwoke up to a loving colleague tweeting about a remarkable student post about classroom work in my course. It’s not often that you get tangible, detailed, positive feedback at 6 in the morning. Let’s just say it was well-timed and the day continued to surprise as I had a rousing conversation about Minds Online with SEU faculty, several students came and engaged in the English Eddies Teacher Circle (along with venerable AISD 2013 Teacher of the Year Sarah Dille and her colleagues Ginger Gannaway and Janie Lewicki) and I arrived home to a swarm of smiling children who wanted to read Winnie the Pooh and go to sleep. Kind of a dream.  Feeling grateful. Going to bed.

Getting Ready, Getting Excited…Getting Scared?!

20140805-221038-79838743.jpgI’ve been working feverishly on syllabi and thinking about all the interesting ideas, activities, and projects I want to engage students in over the coming semester. All that being said, I look at my notes and my documents and my designs and feel overwhelmed with all the new I’m going to be learning along with all the new faces and places I’m going to be meeting and exploring. It is all I can do to keep myself from sitting on the couch and staring into space at all the new.

I suppose this is the month out/night before school jitters that I’ve learned to expect and almost appreciate. Once I get in the swing of things, kinks will work out, surprises will emerge, and there will be a new beginning again. If only I could keep all that perspective at the forefront of my thoughts enough to quiet them and capture a worker-bee-like buzz.

Things I do to chill myself out in these moments of pre-semester jitters:

1. Log in to Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp.

2. Check texts, email & write friends about totally unrelated writing, research, and life projects.

3. Blog.

4. Review a new book I’d like to use.

5. Make todo lists of tiny things I can do to move forward when I’m overwhelmed or brain dead.

6. Search for chocolate.

7. Calendar things.

8. Go to bed.

9. Take a shower.

10. Go for a run.

My first school picture (as a teacher)

 

20140724-224522-81922400.jpgHere it is, as promised: me my first year of teaching. These kids are 27 or so now, so I’m guessing no one would recognize them. I don’t even recognize myself! But I remember my pride standing there beside them in our auditorium that smelled like the cafeteria because it was both. It was a year full of make-it-work moments with no texts to start and ex-adult vocational education facilities. At least the table saw from the shop room wasn’t in my room. I should have sung more with them. But we did listen to cal tjader play the vibraphone a lot. And I realized that I needed to learn Spanish if I was going to commune with families and caregivers. This year was the beginning of many things. I hope to carry that curiosity and make it work past into my new academic year.