Sunday, September 20, 2009

On my birthday...

As the leaves begin to fall, as my birthday approaches, as the seasons change I move into an intensely reflective mode. What do I need to shed as I begin a new season, my own personal new year.

The easiest place to begin is my closet. Out of date, no longer trendy pieces along with items that advance my age need to be removed, i.e that electric blue knit top from H&M. I also need to get rid of items that no longer fit.

I need to get rid of that memory of what I used to look like as well as the accompanying insecurities of my present self.

I need to get rid of the clutter (in fifteen minute intervals daily). That which surrounds every tangible surface in my house and that which clouds my head. In the same breath, I need to not worry so much about a clean house.

I need to get rid of wasteful time uses in the guise of vegging out or connecting.

Of course, I could continue to add to this list and then I'd end with I need to get rid of ways to make myself feel bad about myself. So I'll stop with just a few manageable items and move onto what I need to accumulate.

I need to buy myself some new shoes for the season.

I need to take what is rightfully mine and not feel guilty for taking off on my birthday and enjoying a massage and lunch with myself.

I need to take more pictures of my children, the trees, and I need to hop in those pictures even when my hair is a mess, my face is fat and I'm not wearing lipstick.

I need to not wait until a nice round number to do something great for myself on my birthday. Any birthday will do, any day will do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On questioning myself as a teacher

Every year I feel as though I'm doing something right and then again I feel as though everything I do is wrong. I am cloaked in the aroma of breast milk because my wonderful students seem so needy. From asking questions that I've already answered multiple times to sharing with me that they think they are pregnant.

At first, I felt honored to be that trusted adult who they needed in their corner. I thought, I'm doing a good job of showing a glimmer of humanity in action; compassion, care and concern. But somehow it has grown into a draining experience of having to address students as they shout out their needs (absences, reading comprehension issues, I didn't do the original assignment, can I turn it in now). I want them to think that no question is dumb and feel as though I'm accessible. But I'm not sure that I am accessible because I think some questions (and their answers to questions) are dumb.

I think my students have been systemically robbed of good educations; they have been reared to accept and demonstrate learned helplessness. I believe the problem in part stems from internalized racism that shouts, "they can't do any better, let's give them word finds" (yes, a colleague of mine has done that).

I'm at a loss as to where to go and what to do on a daily basis. I sometimes have successful lesson plans and sometimes lesson plans that lack rigor because my students haven't learned how to think critically and/or construct cohesive sentences.

I want to be someone they can trust, but the HIV diagnoses, pregnancy scares, abortions, cheating on boyfriend/baby-daddy has begun to become depressing. What am I not doing that I can't run interference and help with prevention?

I want to be that English teacher who introduced them to their favorite author, helped them become critical readers and started them on the path to writing well. What do I need to be doing as a teacher to address their academic shortcomings and impress upon them the intellectual and emotional value of reading literature?

Friday, September 4, 2009

On feeding

I fed my baby on the kitchen counter this evening. About a week ago, he lost interest in baby food. So hubby read somewhere to give baby's taste buds a rest for a week. Well, I'm overanxious and want baby to be healthy, so a little shy of a week, I mix some squash with cereal and give Ezra a taste. He bites. So for fear of losing his interest, I plop my 20lb six month old onto the counter to continue feeding him. I'm holding him with one hand and feeding him with the other. He isn't grabbing for the spoon and he keeps opening his mouth widely for more. I'm a happy mama.

All is going well until he realizes there are interesting things behind him: a nice crinkly pretzel bag that makes great noise, daddy's knives, and a toaster. I'm sure at that point most mothers would have come to their senses. But I'm hanging on, because all I care about is this child finishing his squash. My child knocks a knife out of it's slot, but he's still eating and I'm not moving him to his high chair. The pretzel bag hits the floor. We're still going. The baby has found the thankfully unplugged toaster and gives it a kiss.

We finish the whole container, with no more cereal additions, and I text hubby the baby ate his squash. Then I clean up the squash lip prints from the toaster, and replace the knife. I'm sure these are the kind of actions that DHS likes to investigate for, but I'm thinking job well done mama, baby is eating again.