Bookcase Browsings #5

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Girl Sick in Bed (1937) — from Norman Rockwell’s American Children by Marian Hoffman

 

Kids are home, or at grandma’s. Teachers (including substitutes like me) are home.  It’s not a vacation but I am seeing some of the upside. Yesterday as I walked Ruby in the neighborhood I saw two young teen girls walking a dog. I’m pretty sure I recognized the dog, which means these girls were probably staying with their grandma. I saw two tiny boys walking with their grandma. On two roads where, in six years, I’ve never seen a kid, I saw boys on bicycles. Seeing all these kids makes me happy. I know they are home for a very uncomfortable reason, but it is heartening to see them getting the sunshine and fresh air that is so good for us.

In chapter two, Sick Days, of  Norman Rockwell’s American Children by Marian Hoffman, the picture above  is accompanied by a story. Here is an excerpt:

“During the time Julia was sick, Joanna stopped by after school to drop off the day’s homework. Julia wondered why she still had to do homework when she wasn’t allowed to do anything else. “

I’ve seen a gazillion different takes on what kids should be doing during this time. I understand that not all homes will be concerned about the kids’ education while they are home. Some are just wondering how to survive the financial crisis. My opinion, as a teacher and mom and grandma, is that I’d much rather see a kid on a bicycle, or reading a book of their own choosing, or just hanging out with grandma, than plowing through a bunch of meaningless worksheets. For highschoolers, maybe they do need to keep up with some of the academics.

As a sub, a sort of “fly on the wall”, I can tell you that there is so much wasted time at school that if you added it up it would probably be about as much as the time these kids will be home. But the time at home will be better spent.

 

Adventures in Subbing #7

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Usually I love subbing. I post funny or sweet things that happen on twitter with the hashtag #ilovesubbing. The last few weeks I haven’t been able to do this. I have not faced such disrespect in a classroom as I have on this particular job. So, instead this is what I ended up tweeting in frustration:

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So, I’m counting down – 9 more days. But I got to thinking, there have been a few, very few, good moments in between all the stressful hours.

Like the  eighth grade girl who came up and presented me with a bracelet she’d made me out  of purple thread. I had her tie it on for me and I’m still wearing it.

And there’s the sixth grade girl who has given me a bunch of hugs. I needed every one of them.

And the seventh grade boy who shared some banana chips with me. He also talked to me about how he takes medicine to help him focus and how he can go for days without eating. The boy who sits next to him is almost totally mute. I do my best to give him attention so he doesn’t fade away into the middle school dust.

There is a website where you can watch live video feed from cities all over. I watched some from New Orleans the other day. People wondering up and down Bourbon Street in the last day of Carnival celebrations. They all dress crazy and act like they are having a grand time, but it looks so empty. Then, I stand by my door in between classes and watch the kids wander up and down. Both of these are loud groups of people. The difference is that when the warning bell rings, the middle schoolers make a run for it. The people on Bourbon Street wander aimlessly until the sun comes up or they pass out – whichever comes first. They never hear the warning bell.

 

 

 

Career Day

 

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“The children warm in bed at dawn will leave
And take your heart and go to worlds you do not know.”
From Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

 

Yes. They will leave one day; mine surely did. They all took little pieces of my heart and they scattered. At one point I had four children in four different states, but now it’s down to three states.

I’m in Florida right now with one of them and his wife and my grandchildren. Grandchildren who are warm in bed at dawn, sometimes right next to me, but not for long after dawn. If it’s a school morning they are drowsily stirring. If it’s a weekend they are watching the clock for 7:30 so they can have “screen time”.

Today was a little different. It’s Career Day at school. E wanted to dress as an architect. He filled his button-up shirt pocket with pens and carried a clipboard with a drawing he made last night. He designed a skyscraper with a few special features. He was so excited that he was up, dressed, and eating cereal when I walked into the kitchen with his sister (who was going to be an artist). I love to see this fire in him. The joy of being a kid isn’t always easy when it comes to school.

I do not look forward, for myself, to the day they, too, venture off with pieces of my heart. But, for them, I pray whether architect or soldier, artist or stay-at-home mom, they go with God.