Being a Grandmother is GRAND

Bebe playing early morning Patty Cake!
Summer is here and it is affording me the time to really get to know my new granddaughter. She is now three months old and already starting to develop a personality.  

When I am with her, it’s hard to let go of the teacher in me: Playing patty cake and thinking about the importance of muscle tone and movement.  Singing songs and focusing on rhythm and rhyme and repetitive sounds. Reading books and pointing to the animals and faces and colors and shapes.  It is so much fun to see her come alive and react to all of these experiences and grow into a little person.

But teacher aside, this grandmother, or Bebe as I hope she will call me, wants to take off the teacher hat and simply be for her. Yes, I will continue to read and sing and play rhyming games, but I will also hold her and cuddle her and let her know most importantly that she is loved.  

And I get to repeat all this with my first grandson due in July! Lucky me!

Each Tuesday I write to help hone my craft and to belong to a community of writers. Thank you Two Writing Teachers.

Summer Promises

Many Saturday morning Dave and I would sit with coffee in hand and create / update our to do list for the day.  No matter how long the list was, Dave would always add some fun thing to the list:  Take a walk, catch a movie, order pizza, visit family.  Dave was so good at keeping us grounded and reminding me that it’s not always about how much we get done.

As I open the door to the summer of 2016 with school dismissal at noon today, I want to take my cues from Dave and remember to have some fun this summer.  I have loads of professional projects on the list but I also need to take the time to catch up on the things I don’t have time for during the school year.  So today I promise to…
  • Laugh with my children and new grandchildren
  • Enjoy more ice cream cones
  • Float on the lake
  • Read for pleasure daily
  • Stop, look and listen to the lake
  • Spend TIME with friends
  • Kayak in the early morning or sunset hours
  • Take more nature pictures
  • Write for fun

Wish me luck!

Today is Tuesday and I’m writing with the Two Writing Teachers and their wonderful writing community!

We Always Remember our First Grade Teacher!

Last week I held reunion for some of the graduating seniors of a class that I was honored to be a teacher to ten years ago.  Their high school graduation was a few days before and I thought it would be fun to gather together before they head off in their different directions.  We met for ice cream and conversation in the elementary school courtyard just outside our old classroom. This class had looped together for both grades one and two.  Looping classes are typically closely connected, but this class was even more so as we traveled together for the two year through the classmate’s cancer journey. They were a unique group, brought together through the tragedy of losing someone so young, but they clung to each other and were bound by the loss.

Seeing these students again made me smile as they retold great moments from the past.  They shared memories of being in their beloved room 5.  Like the time when one student was stuck behind the cubby doors and we heard this tiny quiet voice politely whisper: “Hello, is anyone there? Can someone let me out of the closet?”  We chuckled together thinking about seeing the little feet sticking out from under the doors and the smile on the student’s face when we finally opened to doors to let him out.

Or the time two girls were fighting over an alleged stolen prized possession (a stuffed animal of some sort). One girl became quite animated recalling the verbal accusations that were tossed around ten years ago.  She said she felt bad about the disagreement and her accusation that her friend had taken her toy, only to find out later the missing object was found at home. The story ended with an apology to her friend for the false accusation, ten years late, but never too late!  

We toured the school, dropping in to see their old classroom and trying out the oh-too-small tables and chairs. They quickly pointed out where each stick of furniture was placed around the room: The map painted on the wall, the mailboxes, the teacher’s desk, the reading table, and even the blue, red, green, yellow, purple, and orange tables.  What memories they had!  We walked to the cafeteria, the gym and even the office. Of course everything had shrunk in the ten years since they had been students there.

They parted after their two hour visit.  No one wanted to say goodbye, but we said our farewells, gave hugs to each other, and promised to stay in touch.

I waved goodbye and realized they were all grown-up.  I felt a profound sense of pride in the small, yet large part I played in their twelve years of education.  One mom noted to me that it was only me, their first and second grade teacher, who could truly appreciate how they’ve grown and how far they traveled, as only I knew where they started from and how far they had really come.  As I reflected on that comment, I instantly felt appreciative. I often judge that we primary teachers get forgotten in the high school graduation pomp and circumstances, but today I stand tall and know that we are never forgotten.  We too help lay the good and solid foundation to guide these students into wonderful citizens of the world.   

The Gift of Song and Tradition

My Best to You
May Your Dreams come true
May Old Father time
My Best To You – written in my mother’s handwriting.

Never be unkind
And through the years
Save your smiles and tears
They are souvenirs
They’ll make music in your heart
Remember this
Each new days a kiss
Sent from up above
With an angel’s love
So here’s to you
May your skies be blue
And your loved blest
That’s my best
To you

These are the words to a song that is quite well known to my family.  It is our anthem of sorts. Growing up my mother and uncle in their most beautiful and angelic voices would sing this song to us at various turning points in our lives: graduations, wedding and baby showers, wedding receptions, baptisms, and even funerals.  It was the song that you had a love-hate relationship with because it ALWAYS made you cry, yet the way the words were sung to you it was if you would be blessed with an angel’s love.

With both my mother and uncle deceased, my siblings and I have taken on the task of singing this song to our children at various points in their lives.  It is now our turn to gift our nieces, nephews, and children with these words of love.  Our children cringe when we mention the song being sung to them, but they humor us and listen and cry and then thank us for the gift.

My sisters and I had the opportunity to sing the song to my daughter this weekend at her baby shower. As I was singing I began to wonder if my children and nieces and nephews would continue the tradition we inherited from my mother. Will they see this song as silly or old fashioned? Will they choose to carry on the tradition as my brothers and sisters have? What will stop them from continuing on the tradition?

I just love tradition and it typically drives many of my decisions.  But while in school, I find making a decision based on tradition isn’t always the best approach. I need to continually think beyond this is the way I have always done things, and move towards what is best for these students in front of me right now. I need to consider how I can make the best use of the limited time I have with these children. I need to consider the purpose, the why, and the possible outcomes. Answering these questions will lead to solutions that make more sense for the situation and the students by my side.  

Traditions do have a place in my life. They give me a sense of stability and order. But sometimes, especially in teaching and learning, I need to let go of what I have done in the past and think more about the purpose in the here and now to make the decisions that will best help me and my students learn and grow.

I am participating in the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Thank you for the encouragement and support to write on a regular basis.