|With my brother and sister at my high school|
My poor fourth grader got a bit of a lecture the other day when he was complaining about going back to school. I told him about kids in undeveloped countries whose parents cannot afford to send them to school. Many of them desire education above all else but are not able to receive it. Perhaps a bit of overkill for the poor kid, but I want him to appreciate that he has certain privileges growing up in a developed country.
2. Excellent teachers can change lives. My favorite years were third grade and fifth grade. This is an excerpt of a post I wrote last year in praise of teachers:
Mr. Sposito (third grade): Stan Sposito was, by far, the coolest teacher I had. It was his first year of teaching his own class (after student teaching in my sister's class the previous year) and the years were 1972-73, toward the end of the flower child era. He looked like he walked right out of Haight Ashbury into the classroom. Tall, suave, and hip. He encouraged us to call him Stan and allowed us to come up with our own names. (I was "Renee" half of the year, and "Maria" for the second half.) We had various "stations" throughout the classroom (like a library corner with rugs and pillows), which was revolutionary back then. For the school talent show, he divided us into girl and boy bands...and taught the boys sang "Go Away Little Girl" and the girls to sing "Beautiful Sunday." I LOVED third grade. We even had a class bunny.
Mrs. Pressman (fifth grade): Mrs. Pressman was young, classy, kind, and beautiful, with short blonde hair. Fifth grade was even better than third grade because I adored Mrs. Pressman. She encouraged my burgeoning feminism (by applauding the way I added "and women" to a handwriting exercise that spoke about the accomplishments of men). We had a Taiwanese student in our class that year, Phillip, who spoke not a word of English. I was touched by the way Mrs. Pressman went out of her way to include Phillip and encourage all of us to do the same. That year we had exchange students visit from Barrow, Alaska, and I had an eskimo girl come stay with me for a week. I remember doing lots of projects and events that year--such as a career fair (I was in the group of kids who wanted to be teachers for the deaf). Mrs. Pressman had beautiful handwriting. She selected the four of us who had the best handwriting (all girls, of course!) and sent us off with her student teacher to learn calligraphy. That was the start of my fondness for the art of lettering. I kept in constant touch with Mrs. Pressman until many years ago--I wrote to her regularly after she moved to Ketchum, Idaho (and stopped teaching to start a family), but sadly one day she stopped writing...I'm not sure why. The other day I came across a copy of On the Day You Were Born, which she had sent and inscribed to Christopher when he was a baby. I feel sad that I fell out of touch with her, and I do not know why. She was my inspiration to become a teacher.
|Kieran and Nicholas with Renay Schaeffer, |
who came to watch Kieran dance in August
(she continues to be one of his #1 fans!)
3. If I could live my life over again, I'd study more. I'm reading an interesting book right now, Naoko, a Japanese paranormal-type novel about a man whose wife and daughter are in a horrible ski bus accident. His wife dies, and his daughter survives...however, his wife's soul and personality have taken over his daughter's body. As they come to adapt to their new circumstances, she (Naoko) decides she wants to take her life much more seriously and applies herself to her studies like she never did the first time she experienced childhood. She strives to get into medical school and transcend the limits placed on females in Japanese society. Heisuke, the husband, has to cope with his sadness, realizing that his wife felt unfulfilled as a housewife...and also grieving the loss of both his wife and his daughter.
|Nadine's graduation from med school |
(we were all so proud of her!)
|Nicholas' first day of school (he started at Fulton Park Preschool|
because he missed the cut-off by 3 days)
5. Fall also reminds me of the NICU. Chris was born on August 23, 16 years ago, and he stayed until December 21 (117 days). We spent the entire fall going back and forth to the hospital a few times a day. The fresh, fall air...the falling leaves...they all bring back memories of those days in the hospital, fearing for our son's life...and we realize how blessed we are to have survived it all!
6. It saddens me to see how some parents place so much pressure on their children. I've never had much patience for parents who are competitive about their children's abilities or push them to achieve early (like the tiger mother and others like her). Like the parents who shun the play-oriented preschools because they want their kids learning Mandarin in preschool...or want them to be able to read and write by the time they are four...or build their child's bridge or diorama for them. Or the ones who have them in six activities at once and exhaust their poor kids. I know I would not fit in well on the east coast or in an ultra-competitive parenting environment. As much as I wish I had studied more as a young person, I know that this is not something I can push my children really hard to do (beyond the encouraging and support we provide). All we ask of them is that they do their best and work hard.
|Chris receiving an award from his math teacher last spring|
|Mom in my dorm room |
(first day of PLU, fall 1982)
|Kieran's first day of kindy|
|Chris' first day of kindergarten|
(with his preschool friend, James)
10. Mike is highly anticipating next Friday. Chris started school already last week, Kieran starts on Wednesday, and kindergarten starts on Friday. This will be the first time in 16 years that Mike has had five days a week to himself. Kieran was born when Chris was in kindergarten, and Nicholas was born a few days before Kieran started preschool. He is so ready for this! Here he is, doing a little dance:
Thanks to Monday Listicles (organized by Stasha at http://www.northwestmommy.com/) for the inspiration. Check out some more!