Sunday, November 21, 2010

growing up?

I had to take a few days to gain some perspective on a few things that have happened this week, and now that it’s behind me, I had to write about it.  I’m not going to tell you the details of what happened; just that what came out of it was the realization for me that not only am I an adult, I’m responsible for other human beings and the reckless, goofy, boob flashing (sorry dad) days of my past are just that – the past.  I feel a little conflicted about this. I mean, I know I’m a grown up, but at what point does being grown up equal boring? At what point does being grown up mean wearing mom jeans and driving a minivan? (I know I’m probably offending some of you out there, I apologize, it’s just my feeble attempt at trying to make a point)
Clearly, I’m going through a time in my life where I don’t want to lose my identity as “Kate” and yet, some of that identity is tied up in where I was ten years ago, or even earlier.  I can’t quite get past the fact that I have two little girls who look to me every day for guidance, rules, examples…and yet, I still think fart jokes are REALLY funny, and talk of body parts sends me into pre-pubescent fits of giggles.  I’m sorry. I just can’t help it.  My girls are getting older, and with that, there comes more responsibility on my part to show them what is acceptable behavior, not only for myself and for them, but also for girls in general.  What does that even mean? Frankly, I’ve never been one who feels comfortable with “acceptable behavior” – just look at my hair, my tattoos, my multicolored Chuck Taylors and my off color sense of humor.  How do I display what should be while not losing myself in the process?
One of the things no one tells you when you become a parent is how much of yourself you will lose in the day to day stuff.  That one day you will wake up and grab the keys to your minivan and wonder where the girl went who said that she would NEVER drive one.  You will go shopping and grumble under your breath about the rise of jeans or the length of skirts.  You will get your hair bleached blonde – something that used to be fun and part of your persona – and afterwards, you will look in the mirror and wonder if it’s just too much anymore.  You will hit your mid to late 30s and you will wonder where the line is between the fun girl you used to be and the example you are setting for your own young girls.  I guess in the end, I don’t know why it’s not ok to share my love of fart jokes, crazy hair and off color humor with my girls – because, really? What is life without some sort of humor?
I’m trying to maintain some of that humor these days.  I’ve realized that life is too short to worry that much about what is the right or wrong thing to do.  A former student from my preschool passed away this week at the age of seven.  Seven.  And I can’t even imagine what that is like for a parent to deal with - that is another story altogether - but I’m guessing that at the end of the day, even Cameron would tell us not to worry as much as we do about all the details of right and wrong.  Because, in the end, the fact that your child can tell a wicked fart joke probably means less than the fact that he or she was loved unconditionally – crazy hair and all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

getting sucked in

Last year we bought a Dyson.  It rocks.  Like, perhaps the best gift I’ve ever given myself that I can write about on here.  Today I was running it, as I tend to do every single day…we have a giant hairy black lab beast who sheds and brings in mud clumps and just generally tears up the house.  Anyway, while I was sucking up dog hair and tiny Barbie shoes, I put my hand on the hose attachment to check the suction.  Why?  Because I’m like a moth to the flame, I guess. I don’t know why, I just did.  And when I did that, I had the sudden thought that I might get sucked into the vacuum.  That thing means business!  And then, I started to wonder, would being sucked into the vacuum while three girls are screaming (yes, three – I watch 5 and 5/8 year old Stella after school along with the regular suspects) be such a bad thing? 
Like, really.  As I was cleaning I started thinking about literally getting sucked into the vacuum and out of the madness of every day life.  Sad? Probably.  But mostly I started thinking about my happy place.   Could I be transported there? The dock that was recently built over the rocks on the shore of Jekyll Island where I sat and read for hours on end this summer. That happy place.   My literal happy place – the place where the children don’t wake up in the morning screaming, or walk out the door to go to school screaming, or come home from school screaming, demanding snacks and shows and puzzles and a swimsuit to wear (yes, it’s November) because she is playing beach.  Don’t I know??!!!
Some days are just like that for me.  The hope that something swoops down from the sky and hoists me up and out of here sometimes is completely overwhelming.  I’m not going to lie, there are days I sit in the car in Lucy’s school parking lot and I think, “I have to go in there and pick up not one, but two 5 year old girls.  I have a 3 year old in the backseat who is already unhappy about just being 3.  Life is full of wonderful stuff, but HOW did I get here?”  And not, “how did I get here” like I don’t enjoy my life – please don’t get me wrong.  It’s just that some days I honestly have to remind myself that I’m someone’s mom. Certainly I’m way too young and hip for that, right?!  RIGHT?
Huh. As it turns out, the answer is nope.  Not young or hip…just cranky and busy and recently noticing dark circles under my eyes.  Some days I’m just the dust waiting to get sucked into a different, alternate reality.  And that’s ok, really.  I mean, really. Life is wasted on the young and the hip.

Monday, November 1, 2010

a little self reflection is never a bad thing

There isn’t a day that goes by in my teaching this year where I don’t use something I learned this past summer in the Greater Kansas City Writing Project's summer institute. I think it’s both a blessing and a curse, if you will. A blessing because I am MUCH more reflective about my teaching practice – I want to really think about what I’m doing with the children and why I’m doing it. I guess that is also where it’s a curse, because I am so much harder on myself this year than in years past when it comes to what I’m doing! Today I reread the burning issue paper I did in the SI because I’ve been trying to write a piece for Teaching Young Children magazine, and I wanted to write about the experience I’ve had bringing what I did in the SI to the classroom. Reading it, I was thrilled because I have done SO much of what I set out to do, from giving the parents a blank book and asking them to be a part of the journaling process for the kids, to being intentional when we read books about discussing who the authors and illustrators are.   Last week, I was doing some paperwork in my classroom while my assistant teacher did circle time where she was reading to the kids. She said who the book was written by and started reading. Little Alta, who is three going on 33, said, “WAIT! Miss Linda! But, who is the illustrator??” and in that tiny moment, I wanted to cry.
This year has been really challenging for me so far. I’m not sure if it’s just figuring out how to juggle a full time job while having one child with me and another one at a different, new school, or if it’s the challenge of teaching in a multi-age classroom for the first time. I’ve had a hard time finding a groove, but I feel like now I’m starting to do just that – yes, I know it’s November! I often beat myself up for doing TOO much reading and writing and perhaps not enough of the hands on, manipulative or scientific stuff. I wonder, am I losing certain kids along the way? And the answer is complicated. I think I’m reaching my kids in the best ways I know how, and being more reflective now gives me a different perspective, maybe even making me hyper-aware of what I include or don’t in everyday activities. Like I said, it’s both a blessing and a curse!
I no longer have to wonder how to answer a parent’s questions about how I teach reading and writing – in fact, I overheard a coworker saying a parent asked her about that at conferences and I was quick to point out all that she does in her teaching already – for TWO year olds, nonetheless! One look in my classroom – or on my classroom blog (something else I would have NEVER thought to do before this summer) will give anyone that answer. I’m proud so far of what we’ve done this year, but I know that every year beyond this one will be shaped by what is working, or not working today.