Not bad for a fat girl

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The Last Day of School

At 12:45 this afternoon another school year will officially close. The student work has been sent home, the desks have been washed, the report cards have been printed and stuffed in envelopes. All that’s left to do today is reflect on the year, participate in the annual 5th graders v. teacher’s kickball game, and watch a movie. It should be a breeze.

In my own childhood, the last day of school was an exciting day. image91jpg1I don’t remember too many particulars, but there may have been popsicles involved. I loved school as a kid, but I loved summer vacation too. The long lazy days, the weeks of summer camp, and the feeling of freedom were priceless. What kid wouldn’t love summer vacation?

Sadly, there are kids who don’t. These are the kids who aren’t going to summer camp. Their families aren’t going on vacation, and the feeling of freedom is more like a feeling of abandonment. These kids rely on school for structure, consistency, and in some cases, two meals a day. They are the ones that are quiet as the others buzz about their upcoming trips to San Diego or Wisconsin or Disneyland. Their grandparents won’t be coming to visit, they won’t be going camping, and nobody is going to sign them up for the library’s summer reading program. No swimming lessons, no soccer teams, no arts and crafts. These kids will watch a lot of tv and become bored quickly.

The adults in their lives have limited resources. In many families there are shortages. There are shortages of money, of time, and of energy. There are kids in households run by adults who are ill equipped to care for them. Adults with substance abuse problems, mental illnesses, and insane work schedules.  There are kids in group homes and kids living with grandparents and even great grandparents who simply don’t have the energy for them. I’m not saying these kids are unloved, most of them are, but their homes are often chaotic and unpredictable. There may be drug or alcohol abuse in the home, there may be violence. Kids see and hear more than we realize, and it affects them.

Most of my students are excited about summer vacation, and I’m glad. They have worked hard all year and they deserve some down time to just be kids with no pressure to achieve and perform. My wish for the summer is that all kids have fun and stimulating experiences with people who are genuinely concerned about their well being and are equipped to care for them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find my sneakers, I have a kickball game to play.

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Letting Go of the Wheel

My son is seventeen. Frankly it sort of hurts to say it out loud. It just seems like he shouldn’t be quite this close to adulthood.teen-driver

In many ways he’s your average teen and in other ways he’s quite different. For one thing he’s quite bright. He just “gets” things that it takes other people a great deal of time and effort to understand. He learns complex material quickly and thoroughly, and he retains it. He also has a knack for figuring things out on his own. As a result he does fairly well in school. When he remembers to turn in assignments. Or makes sure that he completes all parts of them. Or uses the format the teacher prefers. These are the types of things that challenge him. The trivia of life. Continue reading

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The Business of Writing

Jan 7. Beaver Pond Forest.ottawasgreatforestWriting, constantly writing
Get it Down
Draw it Out
Feel the words as they Flow
or Grind
or Pulsate
Breathe them in
Allow them to just be for a while
Exhale them
Bleed them if necessary

Sometimes it’s so easy
They flow from brain to fingertips
Other times they have to be pulled out
With a rope thick as my arm
A coil of dense wire
An impossibly heavy iron chain

Are those words inelegant?
Damaged somehow?
Or do those rough-hewn words hold their own poetry?
Different than the silky thoughts of their more manageable cousins

This business of poetry
It seems like a cheat
Just snippets of words
Punctuation optional
Just meaning, nothing more
Style be damned
Conventions? Not today

The writing is a pipeline
A conduit
A path
Sometimes paved
Usually not

Decayed in places
Pristine in others

Sometimes flat, cool, peaceful
Most times steep, rocky, even painful
Exhausting and all consuming
But in the end worth the toil

This place I go
Is sometimes Lonely
Desolate and Deserted
Disturbing even

Usually, though, it’s just Quiet
This place where hopes, dreams, wishes, and fears all meet

Like his forest
With the path grown over
It still exists but it has been neglected
However, neglect has not harmed it
It has preserved it
Kept it Sacred
Kept out the trespassers who don’t understand
Who don’t respect the Sacred
Who can’t see or feel or know why it’s important

Are my thoughts preserved? My fears and hopes, are they Sacred?
Or are they stagnant?
Do they develop and grow and evolve?
Am I walking in circles revisiting the same tired worn places over and over?
Like tracing a scar that has healed long ago
Or am I breaking new ground?
And if it is new ground, is it leading me in the right direction?
How will I know?
How can I tell?


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