Monday, February 2, 2009

The Stage of Life

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and enter my little six year old mind. I'd like to see what I really thought of myself--a look that isn't later clouded by years of self-doubt and judgement. Was I filled with courage? Was I a loyal friend? Did I feel creative? Did I think I was smart? I have a feeling, in those very early years, I was a confident and excited little kid. It wasn't until about 3rd grade I started letting others dictate how I felt about myself, my idealism and sensitivity in equal parts getting the best of me.

Today, one of my 1st graders came to me and asked if I knew who picked out her clothes each day. Thinking, "your mom" as the logical answer, I feigned ignorance...
"Who?" I wondered.
"ME!" she said, with her finger pointing proudly to her chest. A huge grin on her face.
"I'm the fanciest person in my family!"
How awesome to think of yourself that way, I thought! It reminded me of Cece and her fantabulous line, "do fancy things for the world."

I have another little first grader who really, really, really wants to read. I don't know for sure what's held her back so far, but she is finally getting it and it is purely magical to watch. I'm constantly confronted with the complexity reading truly is. I've decided on a new approach to teaching/helping this little girl to read. It used to be, I'd meet with her and one other boy, we'd have a book and I'd read it "with" them first and they'd read it back to me. It was purely memorized on their part and they both put on a good show of pretending to actually read the words. My "new approach" is to meet with this little girl on her own, put a book in front of her, encourage her to have a go at any of the words that might makes sense to her and then get absolutely giddy at her every success (or, near success even! why not?). In turn, she just melts into smiles and giggles with each word she sounds out, getting a real word out of it all by the end of it. Watching her beam with pride at figuring out the word "the" or "boat" is worth every minute it takes for her to get it.This week, before we started in on the book (this whole new approach), I gave her a little pep talk about how I really thought it was time for her to read to me and she slapped her forehead and said, "no, no, i can't! i can't!" and I held her hand and got really close to her ear and whispered, "Yes. You can." She looked at me very gravely and said, "Can you read?"
I answered honestly.

"Can you read a LOT?" she said.
Again, I was honest.

"But once upon a time you were like me, right? When you were little, you couldn't read, then you could?"
Yes, I told her, that was true. And I told her it would be true for her, too.

"And, Miss Molly? Can you write?"

"Can you write a LOT?"

"Okay, okay," she was shaking her hands like she was holding me off,
"when we're done with this," she said, pointing to the book in front of her, "you'll tell me alllll about it."

It took everything in me not to crack up.
Where do we go in all those years of life? From a person who's lived only six years on this earth and experiences, what seems like, so much already to the adult we become? Now, I'm very happy with getting older, I don't really want to go back to being six again. I like finding out that I can survive the things life throws at me, I like striving for more, I like appreciating my little ole self (again?, or finally?).

Now, I just want to do everything I can to let these kids know they're the fanciest little beings to me! I want them to walk through life with-out a dip in confidence, without a whiff of self-doubt...
Ah, well, there goes my idealism talking again!


comfies said...

i gotta get back to your first grade class ASAP. i loved it so much there. and thank you for sharing these stories.

Tim Foil said...

I can't believe how good your photography has become!

Ellen Zachos said...

Hey, I recognize those cupcakes!