Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Giving Tree

...and the boy loved the tree.

The other day one of our school's fifth grade teachers asked if he could do a lesson with my kindergarten kids and his fifth graders. I was not allowed to be present for most of the lesson, so I don't know exactly what went on while I was out of the room, but I can guess.

He read to them a story by Shel Silverstein, titled, The Giving Tree.
If you've never read The Giving Tree you should. It's a story of unconditional giving, a concept that is difficult for some adults to understand, much less a child. 
I'm not really sure who learned more that day, the fifth graders who listened, and helped my kids to understand, my kindergarteners who might have learned a little something about being selfless, Andy who now realizes he could never in a million years teach kindergarten on a regular basis, or me.

Now I'm sure you're wondering what I possibly could have learned if I wasn't even in the room. It took some thinking on my part, because at first I was really just glad to have the break from my class for a few minutes. But then I was presented with a gift. As part of the lesson, my kids wrote me thank you notes.
Thanking me for everything from giving her a smart brain, to extra recess, to stickers to marshmallows. Lots of kids thanked me for marshmallows, but more about that in a minute.
One of my favorites came from a little girl who just a few days before asked me, "Mrs. Collins, are you TRYING to be the meanest kindergarten teacher." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but then I got this from her and it made it all better and I have to admit, I got a little weepy.

The next day, I ran into Andy and told him how I thought it was funny that so many of them thanked me for the marshmallows. I've taught these little ones so much this year, and all they remember is the marshmallows?
And then he said to me,
"Lisa, Twenty years from now those kids are going to remember the marshmallows and you'll know you made a difference."

So who learned more that day? 

I think I know the answer.

I'm sorry!

It has been an interesting year with my kindergarten kids. 
I started the year with 11 boys and 5 girls. So from the very first day the room was full of energy. I love little boys, I have three of my own. I love that they can disagree, fight it out, and can be over it in less than five seconds. I love the way they laugh at silly things, like the word "poop" or a huge forced burp. 
So when I get my class list at the beginning of each year, I don't roll my eyes at the number of boys, I just roll with it.
My girls this year were high energy too, and fed right into the boy silliness, but there is one difference. Girls carry grudges. They can be mean to each other. Name calling, cliquey, tattling, and competitive. I do my best to teach them tolerance and compassion, but to be completely honest, this year was a bit of a struggle behaviorally. 
So on Thursday, when things didn't go so well at gym, the principal kept my entire class in for recess so they could write apology letters to the gym teacher and the bus driver who takes them to gym each week.
Here's a little sample...

Somehow I think he's missing the point as to exactly why he's in the office.

You are NEVER bad, you just forgot!  Screaming is never good, and neither is being disrespectful!

And there is nothing worse than a "system that's out of control".

That Smell!

I walked into my 8 year-old son's room this morning to check on his progress as he was dressing for soccer.
The smell knocked me over. It smells of "sweaty boy". If you 're a mom of even one boy you know the smell, here I can multiply the smell by three, no make that four. Because husbands never really grow up either and clearly have smelly potential.
Little shares a room with Medium so not only does the room smell like a locker room, it looks like a locker room. Gear bags open, cleats in a pile, wet soccer socks, soccer ball, yesterday's clothes, track spikes on top of the bureau, last night's towel hanging off the bed get the picture. 
So I had to call him on it...

Me: This room is a mess. I know what you're doing after soccer.
Little: I know mom, it's always a mess, we're guys, that's how we roll.

We're guys, that's how we roll?

Maybe, but not in this house Buster!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sing, Sing a Song

Today's question of the day was, "What's your favorite song?"

I got some very interesting answers considering these are 5 year-olds...

"You Got It All" by Bow Wow
"Rock Star" by Hannah Montana
"I'm Out" by the Naked Brothers Band
"Apple Bottom Jeans" by T-Pain
"We are the Champions" by Queen 
"Viva la Vida" by Cold Play
"Single Ladies" by Beyonce

Now I like some of these songs, in fact, I have some of them on my ipod, but they are all pretty grown-up songs, with some very grown-up content. Sometimes I just shake my head.

Thankfully, I also got these answers...

Humpty Dumpty
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Kiss Your Brain and
The Sponge Bob Song (which by the way, I have not been able to get out of my head since he mentioned it!)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Sponge Bob Square Pants!
Absorbent and Yellow and Porous is he
Sponge Bob Square Pants!

But the best answer came from Flower Child.
Me: "Flower Child, what's your favorite song?"
F.C.: "Little Sweet Angel of course."
Me: "I never heard that song, who sings it?"
F.C.: "Me, I made it up! "
Me: "Of course you did!"
F.C. "Can I sing it for you?"
Me: "Oh, I really wish you would"

Later this afternoon, Flower Child came to me quite upset. She said, "Mrs. C., Bobby said I was cold-hearted and evil."
"Flower Child, I can't think of anyone I know who's heart is more full of love than yours."

And if you don't believe me, here is her song...
Sweet Little Angel,
You are so sweet,
You are cute from your head to your feet.
you're sweet because you're full of loooooovvvvve!

If that's cold-hearted and evil, then I'm missing something!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I will follow you...

I write because I can. 
My blog gives me an outlet for my inner novelist. I don't profess to be a writing genius but I think I can hold my own out here in cyberspace. There are so many bloggers out there so much more talented than I, but I am proud that I've collected a few loyal readers who stop by from time to time to catch up on what I've been up to. 
I've made a few cry, a few laugh, and I'm sure a few have just shaken their heads and said, "who is this crazy teacher who thinks she can write?" 
Hopefully there aren't too many of those and even if there are, there really is only one person I really write for and that is me!
I do like it though when family, friends and even complete strangers leave comments about something I've written. 
People blog for lots of reasons. Some are artists, or photographers who use their blogs to showcase their work. Some like my friend Michele over on I am Derby, who has more talent and creativity in her little finger than I could ever hope for. 
Some people use their blogs to update their friends and families. Like  Chris and his wife Erin who just had triplets, my friend Maria  on What Did You Just Say?, who's son I had in kindergarten, who by the way has a really great sense of humor, or my brother  on John's Ramble, sharing his thoughts about politics, vacations and junk food. I apologize in advance for his political views!

Some, like me just want to put their thoughts down on "paper". Some like my friend Andy, on Slow Down you Move to Fast, or Caroline , Ms. Picket  , or Rocker Mom,who I don't know, but read whenever they post something new.

Some blogs are purely for entertainment purposes. Like Cake Wrecks, or Awkward Family Photos, both side-splitting, tears-running-down-your-face, pee-your-pants-funny!

So check them all out, leave a comment, and if you write one, let me know because if you follow me, I will follow you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Watching the World Go By

It was a really warm day today. I am not complaining, this is my favorite kind of weather. Warm is pleasant, cold is painful. My moods come and go with the weather and with the seasons. 
It is warm in the house though, and it's a beautiful night so I thought I'd take the blog out to the front port and watch the world go by.

I live on a pretty busy street with lots to look at. Like the guy who just ran by  in a tie dyed t-shirt arms raised and shouting as if he just crossed a finish line. 
My street can be pretty noisy sometimes, but you get used to it and pretty soon you don't even notice until a Harley drives by, or a Fire truck races past siren blowing telling the cars at the green light not to go.

I have pretty nice neighbors. The boy across the street who would shoot hoops all day every day if you let him, the meteorologist who loves a good storm, the Greek man and woman who leave fresh garden vegetables at our back door, and the little girl who wants to play with Little so badly that she'll even agree to play Jedi.

I live around the corner from the college campus. Busy place. Students walking by with back packs filled with books and futures filled with promise. Cars coming and going. Since when could college students afford such nice cars?

I watch people drive by. Some talking on phones, some eating, some smoking. Are any paying attention? 

A car beeps, "Hi Mrs. C!" Not sure who that was, but it's hard to be incognito when you live in the same neighborhood where you work. I don't mind, makes me feel like a celebrity. I'm sure I'll go into work tomorrow and some little child will say, "I know where you live!" 

Lots of songs to hear as people drive by. Music so loud I can feel the vibration, some songs I recognize, some just sound like noise.

Oh, another beep, and this time a "woo hoo!" Nice to know I still got it! 

The traffic is slowing, and suddenly there aren't quite so many cars on the road. I can hear the birds better now. The breeze is blowing gently, I can hear the kids playing in the back yard. The sky is lighter blue than it has been all day, with just a hint of yellow at the horizon. I can smell the lilac bush as the breeze blows it's scent in my direction. I take a deep breath and close my eyes filling my brain with sweetness. I wonder what the evening will bring. It was a busy day here on my street, but now I'm enjoying the quiet, waiting for the first star to appear in the sky, waiting for the next wave, the next smile, the next song, the next "woo hoo"!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

L is for Little League

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I am a baseball fan. Yes, I am fanatical about my Red Sox, but the truth is, I really do like baseball. The warm summer nights, hot dogs, the crack of the bat. I love it all.
But Little League baseball? Not so much.
Yes they are adorable in their little uniforms, and their too big batting helmets. The look on their little faces when they finally get that hit, or cross home plate for the first time, or make an out is priceless. 
There is so much good about Little League baseball. They learn team work, team spirit, how to be gracious winners and how to lose gracefully. For the most part the coaches are great, occasionally I see and hear things that make me cringe, but thankfully so far those moments are few and far between. 
Little League parents are interesting. I know I am a Little League parent, but my strategy is to sit quietly and watch. Take it all in and say nothing. 
Little League has a whole bunch of different rules about when to slide, how many bases can be stolen, how many runs can be scored in an inning, all in the interest of the safety, enjoyment and emotional well-being of the players.
But what about the well-being of those watching? In the spirit of that, I have a few of my own rules...
1. games will not be played if the temperature is lower than 65 degrees. This is a game for warm weather, if a winter coat and blanket is the game!
2. games will not be played if there is even a hit of rain in the air.
3. bad grammar, such as the use of double negatives, and the use of "aint" shall not be tolerated.
4. smoking around children is NEVER okay!

I know my list is a short one, and really it isn't about me. So as long as my son wants to play, I'll be there with my blanket, my winter coat, gloves and umbrella and I'll cheer wildly because it's all about him and this little game called baseball.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Starving for Attention

I was sitting at my "teacher table" today during literacy centers and suddenly realized how needy the kids seemed to be today. Was it because they didn't get enough attention all weekend or was it because they haven't seen me in two days? Either way I decided to try a little experiment.
I wanted to see in five minutes how many times a child would come to me to either ask me a question or tell me something "important". Because in kindergarten everything is "important".

So I set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes, grabbed a pencil and started writing. Here's what I got...

"I'm hungry." (twice)
"I have a mosquito bite and it really itches. Can I go to the nurse?
Am I all done?
I messed up, I need an eraser.
How do you spell zebra?
Why does he get to read a book and I don't?
He said Christian stinks.
Can I get a tissue?
Can I get a piece of paper?
How come he's using black on his rainbow, there aint no (insert teacher cringe) black in a rainbow.
In need a brown crayon.
I have to pee. Can I pee? It's an emergency. I really need to pee!
Jimmy's talking to me.
I need a germ squirt.
The caterpillars are upside down. Can I go tell Miss Frizzle. (named changed to protect the innocent.)
Mrs. C, there's drama at the art table!

Now I know this is enough to drive even the most patient of people over the edge. But you see, we kindergarten teachers have a special "patience gene".

So if I can provide a listening ear and make a child feel listened to and important, I will.

Because a little extra attention is good for all of us.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

M is for Mommy

I've been a mommy for 17 years. That's amazing to me because I really just brought him home from the hospital. I remember the moment they put him in my arms and even though we had never met, I knew him instantly. He seemed so familiar, so much a part of me. 
I remember being so scared. What did I know about taking care of something so little? I had someone to care for other than me and suddenly all my thoughts of self were gone with every little cry.
As I was wheeled out of the hospital I remember thinking, Are they really going to let me just walk out with this thing? 
I was no way near prepared for how tired I would be. So scared, tired, unsure. But 17 years and two more babies later and I can look back and know I did a pretty good job. They are healthy, smart, social, polite, athletic. Everything a mom could ask for in three sons. They really are good boys and I couldn't be more proud of them.
I love all three of you.
Now of course I had some help. They have a wonderfully dedicated dad. This has been truly a 50/50 partnership in raising these three. He is a mentor, he leads by example showing them everyday what a man should be. Loving, Hard working, dedicated and respectful. We have high expectations and I'm sure they would think sometimes too high, but I can't help but think we did something right considering the path they are on. We are blessed.
I love you.
 I am the mother I am because of the mother I have.
I always felt loved, safe, wanted. My mother and I never went through mother/daughter issues like my friends did with their mothers. She trusted me, gave me space, I had rules and I respected them so I had her trust. I know it's cliche but I can say my mother is one of my best friends and mean it. 
I am  proud of her. She raised my brother and I as a single parent yet we never wanted for anything. I'm happy that she's finally in a place in her life where she can enjoy herself because I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. 
I love you mom.
Some of the most wonderful mothers I know are my friends. They raise families, go to work, go to school, some struggle to pay bills, some struggle with depression, some are athletic, some are scary smart, funny, there are those that are well organized, some that live life to the fullest, some are secure with themselves, some question their parenting ability, some are single parents. But they all put their kids first. 
I love you guys.

 On Thursday night the wife of a friend gave birth to triplets. All beautiful and all very tiny. I have not been able to stop thinking about them and praying for them. So welcome to the world Sophie, Charlie and Maggie and Happy First Mother's Day Erin. Enjoy every precious moment because 17 years goes by very quickly!