Before Alex was born, we worked on transforming the empty room in our house into our baby boy's room. My sister-in-law helped us design our bear theme- she painted bear faces and paw prints in an alternating pattern around the middle of his room. At my baby shower, I was gifted a hand-painted bookshelf with bear decals on it. A chocolate brown chair that reclined was where I sat, reading to Alex before he was born, from the books we'd been given. I sat there and talked to him and planned and dreamed.
After he was born, the chocolate brown chair in the teddy bear room was a favorite place to hold him, cuddle him, sing to him, be together. I can close my eyes now, and picture his soft head cuddled into my neck. As he grew, and the crib got traded for a bed, the chair remained. It was my place to sit to read to him at night, to hold his hand, to talk through the events of the day. I would stay until his breathing was rhythmic and I knew he was asleep.
As Alex nears ten years old, we knew his room needed to change. Teddy bear faces were not as appropriate now for our soccer-loving boy. The teddy bears and paw prints were painted over as we upgraded his room. The chocolate brown chair was removed. The place I sat for years, before Alex was born and through his babyhood, toddler years till now..... gone. More than even the bear faces and paw prints, I miss that chair.
In the space where it sat, we will get Alex a desk. He is growing up. Keeping the bears and the chair would not change that time is moving on, each day older, each day more independent.
Now, when I read to him at night, I perch on his bed. I don't linger anymore- he used to want me to sit in his chair for a while after reading to him. He liked the company. But no chair, so now I go and he adjusts to going to sleep all on his own. And I kiss him goodnight, turn off his light, and walk out the door.
Isn't being a parent learning how to do this, over and over again? Learning how to let go when you want to hold on? Dreaming them into existence, then watching as they create their own way, dreaming their own separate dreams?
At doctor's I am off charts
Mother told that I'm too heavy
My sister needs to gain weight
I am given low-fat shakes
She is given high calorie ones
Elastic on my sleeves is snipped
My arms are too fat, apparently
"Pretty Plus" jeans are not cute.
13-14 years old:
"New You" program makes new me
125 pounds looks good on me.
Weight starts to come back again
Nutritionist says cut all the carbs
Lose 30 pounds in 3 months
I can't resist carbs forever though
New teacher/ in my 20's
I am stressed- I will eat
Everyone is paired off but me
Bridesmaid's dress in size 20: horrified
Weight Watchers helped me lose it
Feeling more confident- met my husband
Honeymoon breakfast buffet piles on pounds
Friend thinks I'm pregnant- I'm not
Trying to get pregnant- not easy
Flat Belly Diet- lost some weight
Joyfully pregnant- eat whatever I want
215 pounds when I deliver baby
New nutritionist- time to lose again
Starting to lose then pregnant again!
Lose, gain, gain, gain, lose, gain
My Fitness Pal tells me truth
I am eating too many calories
1200 a day brings on loss
1200 a day is freaking hard
I deserve to reach my goals
2 steps forward, 3 steps back
Progress not perfection, little by little
Not a sprint, but a marathon
Must believe I can do this
Feeling the failure of the past
Does not serve me well today
Keep going, keep going, keep going.
We are from face masks
From hand sanitizer and plastic gloves
We are from the silent streets
Learning behind iPads, and chrome books and laptops.
We are from car parades
With streamers and signs
Honking horns and waving to send our love.
We are from daily press conferences
“New York Tough” as we burrow in our homes
From Zoom meetings and Google Meets
Sweatpants and pajama bottoms
Lagging wifi and Zoom fatigue.
We are from “quarantine hair don’t care”
We are from haircuts from home
Dark roots and feet desperate for pedicures.
We are from the last paper towel roll on a shelf
Like hitting the Mega-Million in the lottery.
We are from temperature checks
From standing six feet apart
We are from plastic shields and fear.
From “Don’t touch your face” and “Wash your hands.”
We are from depressing news reports
Maps lit up in red and numbers climbing
We are from conflicting information, anger and grief
Of all that we’ve lost
On the way to where we are.
This week, I am taking part in the Long Island Writing Project's Mini Summer Institute, via Zoom. I LOVE the Long Island Writing Project and always feel home there. Not only do I feel deeply valued and respected, I always learn new things and meet the most passionate and interesting educators through these workshops.
One of our "assignments" this week was to create a Flipgrid video where we introduce ourself and share 3 different artifacts that tell about who we are. This is brilliant and I have learned so much about the different participants by watching their videos. I've been trying to make connections when I reply to each person- to let them know who else in the group also has a dog, or loves nature or has twins. It's been so interesting to see the themes of what is shared and to get to know people in a new way.
In my third grade classroom, I often started the year with students bringing in a bag of items that represent themselves. If we are in a hybrid model or remote, I will absolutely plan to have students share their items via Flipgrid. This activity allows each student to think about himself/herself and tap into identity. By sharing his/her identity with the group, we can build community around shared interests and also establish who is an "expert" in some areas.
Connections are so important. As I think of the next school year and the challenges we will face, ideas that allow students to share pieces of themselves and get to know each other are so worthwhile.
How might you help your students share their identity and build community if we are in a hybrid model or home for remote learning?
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski