Saturday, July 23, 2011

Full Circle

I spent a few days last week with our oldest daughter and her amazing son.  I know there are many mothers out there whose children and grandchildren live far away.  I am one of the fortunate few who have my family close enough to spend time with them on a fairly regular basis.  Our little man is growing up so fast and his mom is growing with him. 

Christine (our second child and oldest daughter) was born independent.  She didn't love nursing nor sitting on laps cuddling.  She was very much an "I can do it myself" girl right from the get-go.  While this was sometimes challenging when she was little (and a little more challenging when she wasn't little") we wouldn't have had it any other way.  She is who she is and her strength has stood her in good stead many times in her life.  It wasn't a surprise when she left home soon after high school and began to travel the world.

When Christine became a mother our relationship began to change and grow as well.  We see her and Kai (our grandson) often because this is the way she wants it. We feel so blessed that she makes a point of spending a few days with us when she can so that we know Kai and so that he knows us.  We feel blessed that we live close enough to pop in there when she needs a hand or to just hang out with them when they have the time.  It feels good when she asks us for help:)

As Kai grows Christine grows with him.  They have such a great relationship and it's beautiful to watch them together.  There is structure and there are rules, as there should be, but their relationship is mostly about fun and about exploring the wonder of the world around them.  Kai is an explorer.  He explores music, dance, sports, bugs, plants, rocks, animals, art, language, numbers and everything else in his world.  He is a daredevil child full of energy.  He never does anything half-heartedly.  Christine (and her husband Marc) are proud of Kai and he knows it.  While I don't know much of Marc as a child I see a lot of Christine in her little boy.  He is strong and independent just like his mom.  I have always been proud of Christine but I must say that my heart fills with love and pride even more when I see her with Kai.  She is a great mom and I feel fortunate to be able to share the world of motherhood  and grandmotherhood with her and Kai!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hot Summer Nights in the Fraser Valley

H - heavenly stench coming from fields freshly covered in manure:)
O - Oh what a beautiful place we live in! 
T - Travelling the countryside on my bike 'cause the roads are flat:)

S - Screeching birds scrambling from the trees as I ride by
U - Under the shade of a big old tree drinking ice water from my thermos
M - Monstrous shadows beginning to stretch longer and longer
M - Millions of mosquitoes coming to feast on me as the sun disappears:(
E - Exercise is so much easier on these long summer evenings
R - Ribbit, Ribbit, Ribbit.  Hope they're eating mosquitoes:)

N - Noticing all the sounds and smells and sights around me
I - Incessant balls of cottonwood floating through the air-a summertime snowstorm
G - Geese and ducks and red-wing blackbirds make such different sounds
H - "Hellos" from people enjoying the evening on their front porches
T - Taught wires overhead filled by blackbirds all in a row
S - Summer is MY time of the year!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From Dusty Boxes to Emotional Memories

I got an e-mail at home yesterday from the secretary of the school I worked at as teacher, counsellor, vice-principal and principal.  For 20 years this school was my "home".  She told me it was time for me to come and take away the "stuff" I left when I left the school 2 years ago.  If you know Sheila, you know that you don't mess with her when she makes a "request".  It was time.  She had taken all my "stuff" from the back room where I had stored it not knowing when I left if I would be returning.  So many years at "my" school.  So many roles. So many projects.  So many wonderful students.  SO MUCH STUFF!

I wasn't quite sure where to start so I picked the boxes that I knew were full of files I had collected.  Some of it dated back to my teaching practicum. For the first few years I taught in tentative positions which sometimes involved teaching many grades.  After only five years of teaching I had taught from Kindergarten right through to grade 12.  Having "stuff" to take to a new position each year was very important.  However, I haven't taught Kindergarten since that first year and for most of my classroom years grades four and five were where I spent most of my time.  Most of the files were safety nets "just in case".

The files were easy to throw out.  They were lessons passed on to me.  Some were useful in the early years and some were never useful.  I just couldn't throw out the work of people who had so lovingly passed them on to me as I began my career.  At any rate, they were all full of worksheets and projects which I had used sparingly or not at all and they hit the recycling bin at full speed.  Next were the binders.  I'm a very organized teacher and my binders covered all of my subjects from September to June for a number of years.  I loved going through them remembering how much enthusiasm and time had gone into preparing lessons that I hoped would engage and challenge all those eager kids.  The challenge then and now was to keep them eager:)  I was proud of many of my projects but what really moved me were the student samples that I had kept to go along with the lessons. 

The student samples I kept reflected so much effort, so much creativity, so much care and time.   Many projects included a self-evaluation and peer evaluation.  These students were so proud of their accomplishments.  Their peers were so supportive and appreciative in their comments as well.  I was flooded with memories of students who had put their hearts and souls into these projects.  Their strengths shone through, in their work and in their evaluations.  The artists, writers, fact-finders, problem-solvers, mathematicians, scientists, musicians, athletes, comedians, anthropologists, organizers, challengers and so many more came into focus as I sorted through their work. 

There was the illustrated poem done by a young boy who got to school too late every day to get on one of our two computers.  He showed a full parking lot and the clock showing 8:35.  The details of his agony were everywhere; in his pictures and in his words.  There were many books of photographs the students had written beneath chronicling the many events of the years they were there.  We did a wonderful project on heavy machines while the school was under construction.  Our yearly trip to Green Point to gather moss, lichens, pine cones etc to picture frames with was a highlifht reflected in pictures.  Each of those picture frames included a class picture and each student enjoying their day at Green Point.  Three years ago a young man came into my office at Kent School to show me that he still had his picture.  His son had just been born and he had come to introduce me to his baby.  He talked about how much fun he had had at Green Point that day and left his picture with me as a gift.  I came across a Gold Rush game board that was so beautifully done I just couldn't throw it away.  That young lady just published her first book:)  The number of amazing works I came across today could be a book on its own.  I wished I could get in touch with each child whose face crossed my mind today.  I wish they knew how they had touched my heart and made me proud to be a teacher, not just "then" but today as well. 

I am quickly coming to the end of my career.  I probably have just a couple of years left before I transition to that next phase of my life.  I came to teaching late but I came passionate.  I am proud to say that I still have that passion and I know after today that the passion comes to me from the students.  The kids I taught this year challenged me, entertained me and touched my heart the same way that first class did 22 years ago.  I am so glad Sheila called me.  My day was full of plans before that e-mail but not one thing I would have done today would have been as enjoyable and as emotional as going back through 22 years of memories of such wonderful young people and the amazing work they did.  I wish I could say thanks to each and every one of them and to let them know that I think of each of them often.  Thanks kids!  Thanks Sheila!