It was a really good weekend. We stayed close to home. My little boy is going through something right now. Some sort of transition which just breaks my heart and makes me so sad. There’s so much new independence with turning 4, he’s dressing himself, writing, starting to read, so so busy at school. I guess with that maybe comes fear? Plus he got really really sick two weeks ago and maybe had a hard time transitioning back into the routine. Whatever it is, a lot of old fears and anxieties are coming back, full force. We’re trying to breathe through it, but it’s hard.
But this post helped. So this weekend we stayed close to home. It was kind of rainy and cloudy so we spent time with his marbles (his new obsession) and in the garden just playing. “Bare feet?” he asks, his eyes twinkling. Of course. We checked out a yard sale, a quiet playground, but mostly just stayed home. He relaxed and didn’t seem as worried.
And we relaxed too. Whole Food sushi was the Mother’s Day dinner. (By the way, that’s a great alternative to ordering sushi out, cheaper and more choice.) We played outside in the evenings and he fell into bed happy and asleep.
Has anyone else experienced this almost-4 anxiety? What did you do? Just wait through it?
This is a surreal day. One town over there is a manhunt for a terrorist. Oblivious, I walked my child to school and I’m glad he is there, locked in and safe. My plans for the day are suspended and I am in my home listening to the news as I write this.
And I know, I disappeared for a long time. (A year?) It’s been a hard school year. My job changed and I have been wearing many different hats, teaching many different curriculums. It has also been the winter of illness. Between the three of us, someone has been sick for most of the winter and early spring. Right now it’s me.
And the writing job I had took up a lot of my time and maybe satisfied that creativity bug I was having. I also started some journals and sketchbooks as I saw Z drawing and writing (letters!) and was inspired to do the same right along side him. I moved inward instead of outward.
I’m not terribly sure at this time what I want this blog to be exactly. I’m not really a homesteader although I love reading those blogs. I’m not much of a photographer which I think adds a lot to a blog. So what am I?
But I have some ideas percolating that I want to share. Most specifically, designing a free writing curriculum, less based on graphic organizers and more on just creating, for kids with learning disabilities. And I want to show you the spaces we’ve created for Z around our home for writing and art which he loves so, so much. So I want to be back.
Last Friday I tried some Mindful freewriting exercises with mixed results. I had some pictures of the writing the kids did but WordPress doesn’t seem to want me to use them. Basically what I did was this:
I started off with the kids doing some “Right Now” writing exercises which is something I see on a few Monday blogs around the internet. They wrote sentences on what they were doing right now: thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, etc. You can see examples here, here, and here.
Then I gave them a big packet of journal prompts and story starters and told them just to WRITE. I didn’t care about grammar, spelling, how many prompts they did, how long they were, anything. They just had to write for the rest of the period.
So mixed results. The 8th graders loved it or at least did it and were pretty content. The 7th grade was another story. Half of them were fine and enjoyed it. Half of them sat and pouted and were kind of ridiculous. I mean, I was playing music, lights were off, few expectations, and they just couldn’t handle it. So I have to figure something else out for them, maybe a separation of sorts or two different activities. I would love to hear some ideas out there. How could I “structure” freewriting for these reluctant writers?
I don’t read that many blogs religiously, so it’s funny that two of the blogs I keep up with recently wrote about the same topic pretty much on the same day. Being present with your kids and feeling guilty when you’re not. It was interesting to me because it seems to be such a universal issue among vastly different moms and lifestyles. TheGirlWho writes from home and EarthMama farms and if you read the comments, they range from working outside the home moms to stay-at-home moms and everyone in between. We all feel it.
But when did we start or did we always? I really don’t think my mother worried about “being present” for her 4 kids. She just did it. And I know my grandmother with her 6 kids didn’t give a crap if she was present or not. When did we start worrying about this? And has the worrying been another distraction from being present with our kids? Have we become too “meta” about parenting? Or is wanting to be present a good thing?
I guess I thought that this guilty feeling was more of a working outside the home mom feeling because you are with your kids less hours, you feel like every minute has to count. But it seems like from these two posts and the comments that it applies to other moms as well. When did we start feeling guilty for thinking about the dishes or that book we want to read when we’re playing with matchbox cars?
The best moments I have are when I’m not thinking about it but when I’m lost in the tower we’re making or the picture we’re drawing. And sometimes, Z. is lost in his own play and I slip out of the room. Because he doesn’t need me to be present in that moment. In fact, if I was, it would distract him and he would lose what he was doing. So that’s the time I do what I feel like I need to do, like the dishes or knitting. And then I will hear the “A-Mummy?” and then I know it’s time.
Yesterday I read an article with my students about S.E. Hinton in preparation for starting The Outsiders. In the article she mainly talks about her process of writing. (The article is an old hard copy and I have no idea where I got it.) At the end of the article, she says that the way for students to learn paragraph and sentence structure is to read a lot so it becomes more a part of the subconscious. She also talks about how teachers can get students to enjoy writing, mainly by not grading so harshly and having students fix their mistakes because this is what an editor would do.
Now that MCAS is over for this year, I realized that I have a little time to get my students to enjoy writing, maybe by letting them write what they want to write instead of an “assignment”. I’ve also really enjoyed reading Soulemama’s and Earthmama’s “Right Now” posts. I did one yesterday for my own blog and I would love to incorporate that with my students. A more steam of consciousness, creative, fun approach to writing because they hate it and no graphic organizer is going to fix that.
Are there other ideas out there for teaching writing in a more enjoyable, less structured way? I kind of have free rein right now as we head into the end of the year. I was thinking of making Friday a kind of “Mindful Writing” day. What do you guys think?
I don’t know why I haven’t written anything substantial in almost two weeks. I’ve certainly started enough posts in my head. Work was rough before break and there certainly wasn’t time to dash off any deep thoughts. Without revealing too much, politics and parents are really getting me down.
Another problem is bedtime. Z. is going through this phase where he wants me to stay with him until he falls asleep. The virtuous mindful parent in me wants to honor this as this is what he needs right now and pretty soon he won’t want me around and I should savor this. The Ferber parent feels manipulated and that the kid is almost three and should go to sleep on his own after his proper bedtime routine. Either way, I’m not getting time to myself until about 9pm unless he’s skipped a nap. I just snuck out of the prison made of dinosaur sheets and Toy Story decals. I either wait until he’s sleepy enough and I can tell him that I’m just going to the bathroom or I get pissed off and snap at him everytime he giggles or I fall asleep. See my awesome options?
The thing is I don’t care what he does in there. He can have a keg party as long as I don’t have to stay until my bedtime.
On a better note, we has an awesome “weekend” away. (Chef’s hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). We stayed overnight in a hotel sans child (at my mom’s). It was my first night away from Z. Harder than I thought but incredible. The best part was after our amazing dinner, my husband put his arm around me and asked, “You wanna just get some beer and go back to the hotel and watch The Voice?”
Oh and we got blueberry bushes. More on those and the sprouting garden tomorrow. (I hope!)
I realized I have a hard time being needed so much. This past weekend Z was really sick and clingy. He wanted to be held constantly, wanted me to sleep in his bed, couldn’t seem to let me out of his sight. It was exhausting, I admit it. They “A-Mummys” were constant and persistent as he would catch me losing focus on him. There just wasn’t enough of me for him. The fever finally broke yesterday and he’s better now with the warm weather. Right in time for me to go back to work.
I’ve been trying to play mindfully with him and fight through my distractions. I love when I lose myself in the play, in the building of blocks and the doing of puzzles, and forget all the things I “have” to do.
Yesterday was our First Day. The first day we could stay outside until dinner in the yard instead of stuck inside counting down the hours after nap and before dinner. I think the heat and fresh air healed him. Tomorrow, I will take Z to our local playground after school and play until dinnertime and let him get reacquainted with the toys and sand there.
I’m taking some baby steps twoard my goal of writing for the education market. I’ve applied for some jobs here and there and I’m working on designing a position for myself here that’s more conducive to that. It feels good to take these steps instead of thinking about taking steps and constantly daydreaming. This is the time. It is my own first day.
My little boy says this all the time. “A-Mummy?” “Yes Z?” And then he shows me a new dance move or a funny face. Or sometimes he has nothing but breaks into a pose.
I admit, I find it frustrating sometimes. “Z, I’m right here.” I’ll say because it feels like the hundredth time. “I’m sitting right next to you.”
But am I? Am I really? Yes I’m sitting in the same room with him or next to him on the couch but am I involved with what he’s doing or am I eyeing the Athleta catalogue on the coffee table? Am I really building a tower of blocks with him or am I thinking about something that happened at work?
I think “A-Mummy?” is a reminder. A reminder to be mindful to really be with him. The times I am, I’m happiest and the most content so it is a good reminder no matter how frustrating. And sometimes it is frustrating, annoying even. For example, I feel no obligation to not take a break and do something else when he’s watching Thomas. I think he should be able to play by himself sometimes and let me make dinner. And I think that’s okay. But I need to remember when he is saying “A-Mummy?” over and over that he’s reminding me. I am first and foremost a mummy and I need to be present.
-He is so happy and content with something as simple as a red lollipop. He’s made the connection between eating meals and an after meal treat. Lately, he’s been choosing something so simple, a red lollipop. He spends hours with … Continue reading →