Friday, December 28, 2012

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't

When I was a young B├╝rschchen shamelessly tooling around Long Island in my lederhosen, HBO showed The Christmas That Almost Wasn't constantly.

The infectious and annoyingly creepy theme song still worms its way into my brain every so often.

After endless repeats I started to hate that movie.

We weren't even supposed to have HBO.  At the time I was making a big fuss about going to see the movie Benji.  My dad told me we could either see Benji or get HBO.

I chose Benji.

We got HBO.

I never did get to see Benji but I did see the terrifying horror flick Beyond the Door and The Christmas That Almost Wasn't about a hundred billion times.

With all the talk of the Mayan calendar and the end of the world it seemed as though this might actually be the Christmas that almost wasn't. Thankfully, like in the movie, Christmas did come to all of us down here in Whoville!

I am also hoping that, like the movie, we are in for a change of heart and a happy ending.  Dear Shirley MacLaine believes the end of the Mayan calendar signals a shift in the collective consciousness towards a point of oneness wherein mankind begins to truly care for one another.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Either that or extra terrestrials will make themselves known.

I suppose that would bring us together too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Time and Passion

It's astounding.

Time is fleeting.

I've got to keep control!

I have been bemoaning my time crunched state of late. Envious of those friends who are full time doctoral students pursuing this degree without the demands/distractions of a full time job (or a 4-hour daily commute) while I barely have 10 minutes during the week to devote to my studies.

I witness these intrepid souls sailing through their doctoral programs, happily completing their course work and comprehensive examinations (comps) in only 2 years to become doctoral candidates obtaining ABD (all but dissertation) status.  It took me 6 years to achieve that milestone.

I wonder if I will ever finish.

Time is ticking and I am constantly reminded by my advisor that I am operating within strict time constraints.  Why, oh why, can't I fly over the rainbow to an alternate universe where I can devote all of my time to completing the arduous task before me?

I feel sorry for myself every so often but then I remember why I am not like my studious friends.

It is because my passion does not rest with this achievement.  My passion is teaching.  My happiness resides in the day to day interactions with my students.  My spirit thrives in the small moments; the beaming smile of a proud student, a warm welcome each morning and by being so moved by a child finally learning the alphabet--after much struggle--that I start to cry (this actually happened on Friday).

I could never be completely satisfied or altogether happy being a full time doctoral student but I am content being a full time elementary school teacher.

So I inch along.  Step by step. Year after year.  One of these days I'll get there.  Perhaps.  

Comparisons are inevitable, but as my friend Arielle discusses on her blog, they are simply "not good". We are all on our own journey. I like this path I have chosen.

"Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures" 

-Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, Lecturer and Teacher

Saturday, December 22, 2012

One of Those Days

Curious George and some bejeweled snowflakes
we made in art class.
Teaching kindergarten is wonderful indeed but rest assured it is not all bejeweled snowflakes and cake pops.

Every once in a while we'll have "one of those days" when it feels like a comedy of errors is unfolding before my disbelieving eyes.

Happily, those days seem to usually occur just prior to a vacation which provides ample time for everyone to recover and return to school energized and refreshed.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Picture the scene...I am sitting on the rug with the children.  Each student is seated in a large circle working on putting magnetic letters in alphabetical order.  I notice one little girl is staring off with an odd expression on her face and holding a tissue to her mouth.  I ask her if she is okay and it is then that I notice that she has thrown up a bit.  Her mouth is closed and her eyes are wide.  It seems she is afraid to move.  We help her over to the garbage can where she continues to get sick.

By now all of the other children are gathering around and I feel like the traffic cop from Frosty the Snowman.  What did I just witness?

She goes off to the nurse who contacts her mother.  However, it takes a while for mom to show up so we bring her back to the classroom where she falls asleep.  When her mother arrives she awakens and steps into the small coat closet to retrieve her backpack and coat.

Time passes.

She is taking an awfully long time to get her backpack.  I step over to the closet and now it is my turn for the wide eyes and odd expression.  She has gotten sick all over the closet.  On coats, backpacks, a pair of gloves that were not put away properly (which prompted me later to offer the oft-repeated words of wisdom, "This is why you must put your gloves away!  You never know when someone is going to throw up on them!"  Isn't that a saying?).

Everything stops.  Everyone freezes.  She looks at me.  I look at her. I give some confusing directions.  "Don't move!"  "Come here!" "Wait! Hold on!" "Okay, um...okay, let me see." My co teacher Michelle calls the custodian but in the meanwhile I am trying to clean up this poor child.  I ended up cutting off her outer shirt because it wouldn't go over her head without making a bigger mess.

While I am doing this our custodian appears, assesses the situation, dry heaves and tells me "I can't clean that!" We both laugh.  That laugh when nothing is really funny but laughter is the best option.

In the midst of this the boy with the soiled gloves starts crying because we had to throw them out.  The girl whose coat was splattered is crying because now she can't go outside during recess (we called her mom and worked it out).  Another girl--whose stuff was not affected--starts to cry also and a few girls begin to shout that she is only fake crying.

Michelle is busy spraying Lysol, bagging up clothes and changing garbage bags.

Finally the mom, who was no help whatsoever, takes her daughter home.

The afternoon was smooth by comparison.

Get well soon little one!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fighting Back with Kindness

Samantha wrote that her superhero, Flower
Girl,  would fight bad guys with
flowers.
(Click on the picture to make larger.)
Words cannot express the loss, anger, helplessness, sorrow and pain brought about by the unfathomable events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

As the horror was unfolding that morning I was sitting in my classroom surrounded by the happy smiles of my kindergarten students.

We were playing an alliteration game using Pam the pretty pink pig purse in a safe, cozy, welcoming environment.

It's difficult to imagine the horror that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School but it is also difficult not to think about my precious students.  The children I have the honor to teach.  The children whose parents have entrusted them to my care.  The children I have grown to love.  The children I have dedicated my life to teach.  The children I promised myself I would always respect, listen to and protect.  The children who have helped define who I am.

Life seems especially fragile at the moment.  And things don't make much sense.  But today I saw a video entitled "A Few Minutes of Perfection" and besides pushing me over the emotional edge, it helped me begin to find a way to heal.

Kindness is the way to fight back.  That makes sense to me.  And I know that when my students enter the classroom tomorrow kindness will be the order of the day.

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