Out on the ocean

Last weekend I wrote these words:

“Some mornings I wake up and despite not being quite fully rested and knowing I have a complicated day ahead, I still manage to feel …..not just happy, not just optimistic, not just content, but full of grace.”

This weekend I am adrift on the ocean having just been released by a 4 year old pirate patrolling the seas of my creativity and successfully absconding with every last notion of grace and poetic thought left in my pockets!!

But – avast ye mateys – do not despair for me!   It’s the weekend – and I am safe from pirates on the high seas for a little while.  I’ll retreat to the holds of my own ship and restock my pockets.

24 hours later

yesterday I wanted to quit

16 children under the age of 5

only 5 of them have ever been in a school situation before

4 of them have to be reminded to go to the bathroom…..often

one pooped in his pants yesterday

I don’t have a changing table so I’m cleaning poop off a standing child

Not fun

no matter the thoughtful and repetitious demonstrations about how we care for our classroom supplies and how everything has a place and doing a little clean up before we move on

It’s a forever lesson I know….

We’ve only been in session for 4 days but we’re still figuring out the wrinkles in our schedule

so despite poopy pants and getting 10 feet of train track back in a box and tiny pills of playdough off a table and scraped off the bottom of shoes we have to get to lunch at a specific time or our window for a somewhat sedate lunch is gone like the wind….

we barely made it yesterday

and everything I know about teaching young children was not happening

we washed our hands with baby wipes  – big no-no  …..we were flying down the hall pulling kids sideways, they are screaming with delight – not okay in a school building …..and we are plopping kids on stools and plunking food on their plates and commanding them to eat – quick – because the bus will be there in 25 minutes

and when I finally buckled the last kid into those twisted and complicated straps on a hot and sticky bus I went back to the classrom and put my head down on the desk and thought to myself “how am I ever going to make it this year!”

but 24 hours later after going much more slowly through a day and checking in with James at least 10 times today about what to do if he has to go poop

I made it through another day

and I don’t want to quit

because I was a good teacher today

and I know why they give me 16 kids under the age of 5

because what I do will help the next teacher

with 24 kids under the age of 6

what I can do….

I can’t help you get your 3 year old to bed at a decent hour in order to be ready to wake up for the bus.  But – if you wake him up and put him on the bus I can get him good and tired with a full day of preschool so that maybe setting a bed time is easier for you.

I can’t help you solve all the problems of sibling rivalry and the chaos it creates in your home but I can help your preschooler practice good social skills with peers and teachers and maybe bring some of those skills home.

I can’t potty train your preschooler but I can make sure they visit the bathroom with all their friends and get a constant visual of “how it’s done.”

I can’t be there when your preschooler comes home with paintings or tells you all about their day or shows you with sheer joy how proud and capable they feel because of their school experience but you can.

labor days

Saturday I began some work on my computer – taking photos off my IPad, loading a CD to copy some music for my class.  But then ITunes wouldn’t work.  Oh yeah I updated to Windows 10 and I bet no one is playing nice yet.  Well I used all my computer skills – and I have become pretty savvy – to see what I could do to work around that but alas, I had to call Apple support.  I spoke with Zane first and he even created a link to see what I was seeing on my computer.  But he ended up having to fetch Ramona, a bigger boss I think, and even she had to admit it was probably a case of Microsoft needing to catch up.  So I decided to cease and desist for the rest of the day.  But 2 hours went down that rabbit hole.

Meanwhile my husband put together two tricycles purchased for my preschool classroom with only a few cussings at the “distructions” and one washer left out by mistake.

Sunday afternoon I decided to tackle my clogged dishwasher hose.  This involved a snake, disconnecting two pipes from under the sink, 5 tools, lots of grimy gunk, cuts in my hands and water on the floor of course.  But 2 hours later I was doing a happy dance in the kitchen feeling like Rosie the Riveter and running my dishwasher.

Monday I messed around with a scrapbook and some knitting and did laundry.

Guess which Labor Day I enjoyed the most?

What are WE doing?


The lost girls of Nigeria

A three year old boy drowned in the sea

We turn them into Jesus

and then we turn away


Registration day for preschool is a complicated day for everyone involved.  The purpose of the day is to get the necessary registration paperwork filled out by parents to enroll their child in all the systems of school.  Health screenings are also done so the health and social services part of our contract can be fulfilled with fidelity.  The fact that kids come to this day with an entirely different agenda means there’s another layer of interaction that is fun but challenging for teachers and parents.

Parents are focused on reading and writing.  Kids are in a brand new place with toys.  The fact that other adults are there trying to take data is just plain inconvenient but we all do our best to make it a positive experience.

Example #1

J.M. enters the classroom.  I, his new teacher, greet his mom and dad and him.  Dad tells him to say hi to me.  J. turns his head away – not in a mad way but just not ready to engage.  I invite him to look around at the toys and name things I see in an effort to catch his interest.  He spies a toy snake, makes a beeline for it and one of my colleagues is ready on the floor to play while I explain paperwork to his parents and get them started at a table.

Then it is a dance to give enough time to J.M. to play as well as get his height, weight, vision and hearing screens done – some of which involve leaving the classroom with yet another stranger.  Luckily I knew that tellling J.M. he could take the snake with him was a ticket to getting those things to happen.

An hour later the papers have beein filed, health screens noted and J.M. is parking that snake into a box and waving good bye to new friends.

Example #2

A teeny young mom and two girls enter the classroom.  Right away the 4 year old girl and her 2 year old sister are on the floor playing and exploring everything around them.  Their mom is much more reserved and watchful than her daughters.  She chooses a quiet spot to fill out papers and pummels through them with her head down.

Separating the 4 year old from the floor to get her vision and hearing checked is more difficult.  Unlike J.M. a transition toy is not the ticket, she doesn’t like the idea of missing a minute of play time. But she does it and comes running in saying “I’m back” as though she is reassuring us of her presence instead of the other way around.

Ending this hour is more challenging.  Her mom is holding her coat and folder and younger sister in hand and this 4 year old does not want to budge.  One teacher is on the floor helping her clean up and coaching her by reminding her she’ll be coming back to school and able to stay longer. I see that this little girl is starting to get wound up towards a melt down.

What to do! I join my colleague on the floor and start to whisper to this little girl face to face.  I tell her she’s going to have to go home but I want her to come look at my desk calendar and count the days until she’s going to be back. I ask her to draw a happy face on that day.  Then I take my permanent marker and make a “10” on the back of her hand to remind her of the date and then holding her hand I walk with her and her mom all the way to the outside door.

On the way she tells me she’s worried the “10” will wash off and I say it will take a few bath times before that happens and if it does I will write it again. I tell her I often make little stars on children’s hands and it is my way of writing secret messages just for them.

She’s not completely at ease leaving school but she isn’t crying and her mom is back in full control.



the prompt is “soft”

My first thought reading the prompt “soft” was the term “soft eyes.”  How appropriate.   As I begin my new school year and am sitting through days of reconnecting with peers and trainings and recalibrating for new learning, it is a good reminder to maintain soft eyes.

It is a bummer that when I Google this term the first thing that pops up is the title of an episode of The Wire but oh well, maybe now more people will become familiar with what it means.

Reading how it is used in horseback riding is interesting and similar to what I’m trying to do this week – keep my eye on what is in front of me while maintaining my peripheral vision.  The Urban Dictionary states flatly that soft eyes involves not to forgetting to see the forest when looking at a tree.

So my soft eyes are seeing the beginning of the school year and all the new relationships with students and families at the same time I am tediously compiling the paperwork needed to be filled out for each child.

My eyes are seeing the possibility of a new curriculum coming alive in my classroom and supporting my young aide at the same time I’m trying to decide how in the heck I’m going to store and organize the materials.

Soft eyes see a school staff taking baby steps towards a positive school culture even as they digress into their usual haggling of who is responsible for what.


It is supposed to rain tomorrow – we haven’t had rain for so long and we need it so badly.  My eyes are eager to see a wildly wet and splashy world and I don’t plan to focus for one tiny moment on anything narrow or small at all – like the fact I just washed my car…..


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