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Archive for February, 2016

The Return of Deborah-Sensei

I moved to Japan to teach English a week after graduating from law school.

I enjoyed meaningless videos like this.

OTOH, I enjoyed making meaningless videos like this

One of the very first things I did in Japan was to learn a verb song to open up my little kid classes. By the time I’d sung the song 100 times, I never wanted to hear it again. I kept right on singing it, though. The kids loved it!

When I moved back to the United States, I never wanted or expected to sing it again. Occasionally little bits of it would flit through my head before I swatted them away and thought, “Never again!”

But this morning, my toddler saw his older brother marching and said, “Marching!” I immediately started humming the song. Read more…

A light for Eva

I talked
about death
with my son, Li’l D,
two years ago.

Two months ago,
he overheard me talking
quietly with his dad
about a mom who
lost her kids and
asked, with
trembling voice,
“Did the baby
die?”

I opened my mouth
to speak, but I had
no idea how
on earth
to answer.

My husband
squeezed
my knee.
“Tell him,”
he encouraged. Read more…

The truth in wrinkles

I took a picture
of my godmother laughing
with my older son, and
told her how much
I loved it.

She was more critical,
seeing not her laughter,
nor her abundant love,
but the lines
on her
face.

“That reminds me,”
I told her, “of a time
I saw Mom gazing at
her reflection in her
bathroom mirror.”

My godmother
interrupted me.

“You’re about to do
that thing where
you make me cry,
aren’t you?” Read more…

Categories: Family, Love, Personal Tags: , , , , , ,

Not a diversity character

I enjoy being
surrounded by
diverse characters
both in fiction and
my personal life.

The diversity is
in the totality,
not the individual.

I am less
comfortable
with individual
diversity characters,
or individual characters
who are individually “diverse.”
The fact of their individual diversity
signifies that there is a normal,
a baseline, and they
are not it.

I, an agnostic woman
with fair skin,
am not a diversity character.
My husband, a Christian
man with darker skin,
is not a diversity character.
Our kids, young
Christians with
skin of shades
in between ours,
are not
diversity characters;

but together, by virtue
of our individual experiences
(including, not exclusively
derived from, those experienced
by virtue of the shades of our skin),
we are a diverse lot.

The diversity is in
the totality, not
the individual.

The creator
who fails to
understand
the distinction
will surely,
inadvertently,
show it, and
in the process
alienate portions
of a population
so more diverse
than the creation
reflects.

Categories: Reflections Tags: , ,

My heart’s / right there

This old

This old

The book I’m reading sends me back in time. One moment, I’m in its pages; the next, I’m seventeen years old and racing down Eugene’s 18th Street on my boyfriend’s bicycle, headed for another Certified Nursing Assistant shift at a nursing home long term care facility.

I loved working there. I loved the moments in between tending to people’s physical needs where I got to hear who they were. I listened to what they could tell of their stories and imagined a million other stories between each of those.

My favorite lady, E, could not speak. She’d ask me questions by pointing at letters printed on a laminated piece of paper and listen raptly as I told her about my family, boyfriend, and dreams. She was sad for me whenever I seemed down, and told me with concern etched on her face to please take care of myself.

Another lady once expressed sadness about how seldom people visited her. I threw my arms around her to show my sympathy, only to realize I hadn’t applied deodorant that morning. “Oh, my!” she said, laughing as she pulled away. “I may be sad, but my nose still works just fine!” Read more…

Failing

This morning, my six-year-old son asked if he could stay home from school.

I asked him why.

“I’m stupid,” he told me.

“Oh, sweetie. You’re not stupid. Why do you say that?”

“I do everything wrong,” he replied before rolling over and burying his head under a pillow.

Trying to conceal how stricken I was, I said with as much calm as I could muster, “Sweetie, the fact you feel that way means something is wrong, but it isn’t you. It’s in you being forced to ‘learn’ through worksheet after worsheet that prepare you for test-taking instead of helping you learn by real world exploration and play. At my iob, they understand everyone learns different ways–but most of all by really doing, not by doing pile after pile of repetetive worksheets–and they encourage that! But then I send you to school, and you are expected to be like everyone else and learn like everyone else and show your learning in the exact same way. Teachers lose when testing is everything. Parents lose. Kids lose. You aren’t stupid, sweetie. It’s adults who are doing everything wrong, and I am so sad you are suffering for it.”

I only barely did not cry, a fact that has barely remained true throughout the morning so far.

I must work. My law degree and bills won’t pay themselves.

I like working. I don’t feel like I’m abandoning my kids when I am doing something that challenges me and they love what they are doing.

But when one of my kids is miserable and my short-term solution is “just keep sucking it up as best you can, mmkay?” then I feel like I am abandoning.

That it’s not my child who’s failing, but I who am failing him.

Three Things Thursday: Ponies, unicorns, and better things still

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