The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, June 4, 2010


So, I am feeling a little better about life in general today, so perhaps all I needed was a day to not be at work after a frustrating week (odd, considering I was only at school for three days).

I have such an amazing kid, and sometimes, just being reminded of what an amazing son I have is enough to change my perspective on life. (Now I just need something to remind me that my other 140 kids are pretty amazing too... they just aren't always up to showing it).

I have a great story to share about how Vinny cheered me up last night. So... he comes to me with a blue crayon and says, "Can I color on my face?"  I laughed under my breath but said yes and went on with what I was doing (busily putting away laundry). I mean, it is a crayon... what could he really do? (And I guess at least it shows something that he asked). He wandered around the house for a while then stood next to the mirror in my room still trying to color on his face and said, "This is hard." I replied, "That's because it is meant for paper, not faces." He walked out, and I assumed he had given up. I guess not, because he came back like this (look at his chin):

I ask, "Vinny, how did you do that?" He goes back into his room and comes out with a blue marker. Oh boy... hadn't remembered that he had access to those. They are just washable crayola markers, so it was no big deal, but just sort of humorous. Okay.... now why did he do that?  "Mommy, I'm a pirate! Arrrr!"  He was apparently making himself, "Blue Beard the Pirate."  Too, too funny.

Vinny started my day right today too, that's for sure. I got to sleep in a tiny bit (not too late- Vinny had to get to school), and I woke up to him sleeping by my side (he sleeps in his own bed but sometimes crawls in bed with us if he wakes up before we actually have to get up) looking so peaceful and wonderful. Then, on the way to school, he wanted to sing "You are My Sunshine" the whole way, but by himself- not mommy singing too. I used to sing him that song when he was a baby, so I was sort of touched that he knows and likes it. You know how little kids mix up the lyrics to songs?  Well, Vinny misunderstood the line, "You'll never know dear, how much I love you," and sang, "You are my mother, how much I love you."  My heart just melted... over and over again, the whole 40 minute drive to school.  :-)   He is my precious little angel and I love him so, so much! It is so very seldom (like once every few months) that I get to bring him to preschool that it was really a treat for me to do it. It is sometimes hard to kiss him goodbye (especially like today, knowing I was headed to the airport and would not see him for three days) and leave him in someone else's care for the day, but he was excited about the sea creature activity and excited about their field trip to McDonald's today, so it was not too bad. As much as I do not like that he spends so much time at preschool (long 10 or 11 hours days sometimes), it is nice knowing he is somewhere he will be safe and trustworthy... right?

Or so I thought. Until I was reminded of the hardest part of parenting... OTHER KIDS.  You can pick a great school for your kids; you can make sure your kid has the best teachers; you can filter what your kid sees and hearrs at home, and talk to teachers to be sure that their values are in line with yours or that they at least support yours in that matter; however, you cannot control your kid's friends. There will always be other kids, and they will have different parents with different values and different experiences, and those kids will go to school at your kid's great school and play on the playground with your kid. And you cannot control what those kids say or do. My very first day of working full time, back in 2008, I was reminded of that when my son's preschool director called me in the middle of his first full day back (he had attended the school half days while I student taught the semester before) to tell me that he had been bit on the face by another child on the playground. The director did the best she could, calming me down and telling me that it didn't actually break the skin but was pretty bad, and that the other student was going to be expelled from the preschool. I didn't make a big deal out of it, and I held my composure when I picked him up and saw the giant purple welt and teeth marks on Vinny's soft little cheek. It was a reminder that this element will always be out of my control.

Then again today...  after talking to Vinny on the phone and hearing that he had a great day at school, I was happy to hear about his great day at school and fun trip to McDonald's, although a little confused as to why he was calling the green crown he made at school a mask- he knows what a crown is- until a few hours later, Marc calls me and tells me that he was referring to it as that because another student at school called it that and said he was going to be a very bad character from a very rated R horror movie, that Vinny now seems to know a lot about and wants to copy cat, because it is an older kid whom Vinny looks up to. Ugh.

I am a very relaxed, liberal parent. I took my kid to see the movie Babies and was annoyed when other people in the theater were giving me strange looks because of the nudity. Whatever... they are just naked bodies. I let Vinny watch the Disney Pirates of the Carribbean movies, and I am totally okay with him wanting to be Jack Sparrow. I'm even going to let him have a Jack Sparrow birthday cake this year... but my kid equating this awful horror movie character to his beloved pirates... not okay. I really do not shelter my son much, and I will probably let him watch rated R movies when he is just a little older, but right now, I know he is far too young to understand the difference between fantasy "bad guys" like Captain Hook and Lord Farquad and the real bad guys, who murder and kill. It is okay to pretend to be Captain Hook, but it is not okay to pretend to be a serial killer...  but he really is too young to understand this, yet now this is a difference that, because my son has friends, we as parents have to try to get him to understand, far before it is time.

This is the part of parenting that stinks so bad... you get this false sense of security from all the precautious measure you take for your child, but realistically, there are so many variables (and so much evil) in this world. All you can do is be the best parent you can be, pray for God's protection and guidance, be ready to meet these challenges head on when they come, and trust that God, in his omniscience and goodness will be the ultimate Father for my child in His protection.

Ahhh.... parenthood.

Believe it or not, despite the phone call and said issue above, a day of just traveling and whatnot has actually gotten me relaxed and recharged enough that I am actually looking forward to meeting with these other English teachers tomorrow. What teacher wouldn't be excited about spending two days examining the best of the best projects from the best of the best English teachers at some of the best of the best international schools in the United States? For now, since what I really want to do is go in the beautiful spa that is just below my window, but I probably shouldn't do that... what I am going to do is take a nice bath in the wonderfully big and comfy looking bathtub in my hotel room. As much as I miss my family, there are some perks to traveling... like having a King size bed and tons of pillows all to myself without Marc to complain that my pregnancy comfort pillows are taking up too much space.  ;-)

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