Note: I’ve gotten numerous requests for more posts (a positive thing, and thanks to those who’ve asked), but I’ve been trying to figure out how to best make that happen and not lose my mojo here. As I’ve said before: my Big Picture (BP) goal is to focus on my novel right now and get it ready for an agent/publisher to see and finally figure out, once and for all, if I can get it published. The blog, has turned in to a wonderful, “come hither” temptress that calls to me each day and teases me to punch out something about the things that are currently accruing on my: Blog Posts List. It’s exciting to be writing this much, and the instant feedback and gratification of posting the blog is fun and motivating. However, each post takes anywhere from 2 hrs to 2 days to write, depending on the topic and where I’m at… so three longer posts per week, could become a real time suck, that keeps me away from that BP. So, I’ve set a new goal: I will produce 2 longer posts per week (which has been my average thus far) and will consistently post a shorter post, each Wednesday, called The Middle. These will be on various subjects, but brief (a challenge for me!) observations or thoughts. That should allow for daily efforts to edit the manuscript, work on the blog posts and still make sure there’s milk and essentials in the frig. We’ll see how this goes…
Head to Your First Period Class:
Just came back from “Parent-Teacher night” at my son’s school. I should say: my son’s and my two foreign exchange students’ school. We didn’t plan to have any exchange students this year, and how this occurred, transpired over 48 hours. We got an urgent call; we met as a family to discuss it; agreed to “welcome” two kids in “urgent need” (theoretically, a temporary arrangement) and two and a half weeks later I am back to three kids at home. The nest barely got cool. Admittedly, these weeks have been wonderful, and they are now mine, as it would be very hard to turn either child over to another family at this point. For the sake of continuing privacy, I will call them China and Denmark. China is a 16 year old boy and Denmark is a 16 year old girl. China is struggling with English and is clearly over-whelmed by all the enormous cultural changes, and trying to adjust to not having to go to school for 15 (yes, fifteen!) hours a day. That is actually a thing he is trying to work on: not studying so much! Denmark’s English is excellent; she is savvy and sharp; she loves American humor and sarcasm (thank God!) and is mostly missing good Rye bread. Not the rye bread you might imagine, but a heavenly bread that Danes make like no other… I miss it too. We agreed we’ll share my final loaf (hand delivered from Denmark by dear friends, a while ago) for Christmas.
So I went to the high school tonight to meet EIGHTEEN teachers! (<–By the way: just try and figure out that bell schedule. English, Chinese or Danish, it’s a bitch.) Of course hubby was out of town, over night, for meetings–which involved an awesome restaurant in Seattle, lots of wine and a nice hotel… free of all kids– while I ran from room to room introducing myself, checking in and explaining the situations of each of “my kids.” I went with all three schedules printed out; I organized my time so that I could speak with the necessary teachers and I tried to at least touch base briefly with all of them. From past experience, I knew that two were not worth my time, and several I was very grateful to see or meet! For the first time in ages, Little Man has AWESOME teachers: ones that are passionate, devoted, straight forward and interested in seeing my boy succeed. With his learning issues and ADHD that is a tall order, but these amazing teachers warmed my heart with their assurances and insights. Sniffle, sniffle.
I felt the same anxiety that I imagine many students (especially foreign students?) feel trying to find all the class rooms, in the odd labyrinth that someone thought was a good idea in 1966, when the school was built. I felt over-whelmed as they laid out the endless assignments, due dates and expectations for this coming year and I noticed all the things my children must see each day, and wondered how they feel when they see some of it: posters that various teachers choose to display; slogans on the board or walls, long lists on white dry erase boards (there are no chalk boards today); family pictures displayed; school spirit posters in halls… all of it. It takes me back and turns me inside out, all at once.
The English teacher that Little Man and China both have, spoke so fast and so “highfalutin'” that I was confused in minutes, not sure I could pass the class and totally exhausted when I left. I came home and asked China what he hears and feels when she is talking and he admitted, with his sheepish grin, that he can not understand “MOST of what teacher says.” I promptly wrote a note to his counselor and suggested a change. We laughed as we realized this will be his 5th schedule change, as he tries to find a comfortable fit between his actual abilities and what he can understand when those subjects are in English (ie: the kid can do AP Calculus, easily, but can NOT understand the English math terms and was spending hours just translating. Now he’s in Pre-Calc). At the end of this fast and furious night, racing from hall to hall and teacher to teacher, the most important thing I came away with was the sense that this is really tough: High School. Remembering it through the somewhat rosy lenses of old friends and “good old days memories,” I forget sometimes how hard it was to keep up with the assignments and demands of school, knowing that it was all leading me toward an even bigger challenge: college and “real life.” Tonight I came home with a bigger dose of empathy and compassion for all three of my kids (as well as the two already in the college trenches) and the realization that they need as much support as I can offer. Guess I learned something at school today.