Category Archives: Motherhood

A Living Continuation

“The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune of my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage.

I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died.

When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me.

I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as “my” feet were actually “our” feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.”

–Thích Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear

Gratitude

Despite the fatigue and pain in my body, despite the washing machine and the dishwasher being broken, despite the state of our country and the earth, I felt flooded with gratitude this morning as I took Claire to art camp for the day. I’m grateful for:

  • coffee, brewed strong and black
  • friends with kids who are willing to help fetch each other’s kids and take them places (it takes a village)
  • my husband’s reliability and humor
  • my daughter, who works so hard to find her way these days
  • the means to afford the repair bills, the art camp, the groceries
  • the spirit of animals, a chance to connect with pure consciousness
  • political resistance and the freedom to act
  • a chance to cherish life and death, creation, destruction, and renewal
  • all the mysteries of existence, the unanswered questions, and the chance to sit with not knowing
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Make It Spookyer

My teacher, Maezen, wrote this piece about her daughter and herself in October 2007: Spooked. Claire was only five weeks old at the time. Maezen’s daughter was in second grade.

Ten years later, I could have written it. Tensions rise and our anxieties chafe like flint and stone, and seemingly out of nowhere we have a conflagration that resembles war. Parenting is hard and humbling. Thank goodness for apologies and forgiveness. Thank goodness for atonement, which is also at-one-ment.

Over the past weeks I keep hearing from Claire that we need to up our Halloween game, that our decorations are friendly and tame. She wants spooky decorations. She says she needs to face her fear.

Not having a lot of storage for decorations, I wanted to keep the additions on the small side. And didn’t want to spend the money. So we went to a thrift shop. We installed our pieces. We painted the ghost with red for blood. I think we’ve upped our game pretty well!

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February Winter Break

Some years, our family will “go to snow.” Last year there was none, so I took Claire to Los Angeles to look at dinosaurs. This year, despite there being plenty of snow, we didn’t get coordinated enough to go. We don’t ski, and there is only so much sledding one kid and two parents can enjoy. This has made for a quieter, somewhat duller break. Yesterday, Claire and I took a three mile walk in our neighborhood. She was very resistant at first, but after awhile and my gentle insistence, we discovered the joy of being outside. Her eye caught leaf impressions in a concrete sidewalk. We visited a small pond near our house. We played a game where she ran around and my task was to try to get a picture of her. We talked about friendships, and spiritual beliefs, and how to handle frustration. And we got silly. It was good medicine.

turtle pond in winter
sidewalk impressions
claire february 2017
claire february 2017

Latest Work

For the last few weeks I have been working on a painting using a new type of canvas (to me) made of Belgian linen. It is incredibly smooth, and the paint glides on and blends beautifully. So I chose a palette and began to see what emerged. Two nights ago, I dreamt that I was pregnant. Most of the time I don’t recall dreams, so when I do, it has import. This dream felt so real. When I awoke, I was holding my stomach the way I did when I carried my daughter, feeling it taut and firm with life.

I finished the painting today. Sometimes when I paint I have an idea. Other times, as with this one, I start without an idea and work intuitively, without thinking and analyzing. Then I step back and see what I see.

This painting reflects a deep, intuitive exploration of the divine feminine within me and the earth. It makes me think of molten earth, the core of our existence. I also see a womb with an embryo, and an ovary, and the blood that makes the ground from which we arise.

I have gone through menopause in the past year, and now I am a crone. But while my physical body cannot create a human life anymore, I have graduated to creating life on a larger scale.

I want to thank my father for his recent gift that enabled me to purchase larger canvases!

praise her from whom all being flows / 24" x 36" acrylic on linen canvas

Praise Her From Whom All Being Flows / 24″ x 36″ acrylic paint on linen canvas

Santa Revelations

We knew this day would come. We didn’t think it would be Christmas Eve. Claire began articulating suspicions a year ago. This year her friend in class has been arguing for weeks that Santa isn’t real. So, she began asking pointed questions. But she would ask the question and immediately follow with a rationale for why it couldn’t be us, before I could answer. Knowing it was coming, I cribbed this letter from someone else. Today she told her dad, “Please tell me, I really have to know.” So the letter was given, and we talked after. There can be a relief in knowing, even though there is sadness. (Possibly more for me than her!) Claire took it all in stride, with a maturity that I see evolving.

However, she says she still believes in the Easter Bunny (because she has the proof of a letter from him) and Tooth Fairy (because what parent would want to handle a bloody tooth, and keep them?), and that dragons are real.

Baby steps.

santa revelations

Sources:
No Longer Believing in Santa

Mom Tells Son the Meaning of Santa

Meet Skittles

skittles the christmas spider

Skittles the Christmas Spider

And now, the Legend of the Christmas Spider

On Christmas eve, a long time ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year… Christmas day, the day on which the little Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner on the ceiling. They had fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

The Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the little Christ child’s visit. Then the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could wait until everyone went to bed and then get a closer look.

When the house was dark and silent, the spiders crept out of their hiding place. When they neared the Christmas tree, they were delighted with the beauty of it. The spiders crept all over the tree, up and down, over the branches and twigs and saw every one of the pretty things.

The spiders loved the Christmas tree. All night long they danced in the branches, leaving them covered with spider webs. In the morning, when the little Christ child came to bless the house, he was dismayed! He loved the little spiders for they were God’s creatures, but he knew the mother, who had worked so hard to make everything perfect, would not be pleased when she saw what the spiders had done.

With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, the little Christ child reached out and gently touched the spider webs. The spider webs started to sparkle and shine! They had all turned into sparkling, shimmering silver and gold.

According to legend, ever since this happened, people have hung tinsel on their Christmas trees. It has also become a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the Christmas tree.

Learning to Be an Includer

Experiencing bullying at school is traumatic. When a child comes from a loving, stable family with empathetic parents, it is still hard on a child. When a child comes from a family system that is authoritarian or neglectful, the distress is even worse; often there is bullying ongoing in the home as well, and the people from whom a child would get support don’t provide it.

As a parent, when my child encounters “mean girl” (or “mean kid”) behaviors, I struggle often with my own wounds from childhood. I did not have an empathetic, supportive family, because bullying also occurred within our home. All the parts of myself that I call “young stuff” — that didn’t get needed support — burst to the surface. Sometimes I parent from a state of panic and urgency. I’m working on this.

This article, Raising Girls Who Are Includers Instead of Mean Girls, felt timely and wise. I related to the author’s experiences in childhood and enjoyed reading how those experiences created in her a desire to become an “includer.”

She wrote a list of stories she hopes our daughters will someday say as they reflect on how we supported them during their struggles. I’m sharing here so I can return to it, to read and remind myself of my aspirations.

I hope all our girls will someday share stories like:

~ “My mom would listen to me as she stroked my hair, as she lingered with me and I shared what was happening and how I felt.”

~ “My mom wouldn’t jump in and try to fix it. She wouldn’t freak out and panic out of her own fears and hurts and unconscious stuff she was holding. She would sit with me and ask me for my ideas and what I needed. She would wait and listen – listen to what’s said and unsaid, creating safe space for me to navigate the inner landscape of my own feelings and heart so that the right actions for me to take would arise from within me.”

~ “My parents would advocate for and alongside me in situations that required adult intervention. They wouldn’t act out of fear or anger. They would wait and discern and pray and watch.”

~ “My mom wasn’t about ‘sweeping me up and saving me.’ She was about empowering me. She knew when to step in front of me and be the mama bear, protecting me. And she knew when to sit behind me or alongside me, abiding with me.”

~ “I learned to say, “THAT’S NOT OK!” and “Stop” and “I am walking away now.”

~ “I learned how to see clearly. I learned to not think there was something wrong with ME. I learned to not turn on myself but rather have regard for myself.”

~ “I learned to name with compassion – for myself and others – what is happening. I learned to name it, state it, and own my response.”

~ “I learned ways of working through difficulties with other girls and women in ways that honor and regard each girl and woman’s body, feelings, experiences and needs.”

~ “I learned to find my tribe of women. I learned to ask for help. I learned to be with others who uplift and honor each other.”

~ “I learned to speak up. I learned to speak up for myself and for others in the face of injustice – on the playground, in the hallways between classes in middle school, or in international peace negotiations.”

~ “I learned to be an includer. I learned to mindfully abide with whatever I am experiencing within my own inner landscape. And from such a place of inclusion, I learned to include and walk beside others.”

-Lisa McCrohan

Sometimes You Get What You Need

Sometimes when you’re eight, and you’re worried about people you love dying, and you feel small and vulnerable, and you’re congested and tired and not quite SICK sick but not feeling great, you start Monday saying, “I’m not ready for school! I can’t face it.” And sometimes Mommy listens to her intuition, and instead of worrying that she’ll set a bad example by saying yes to a day off, she decides instead to give her daughter a day of her full presence. To fill her bucket with cuddles on demand, silly hand games, book reading, exploring a tree in the front yard, and whatever she wants for dinner. And at the end of the day, when the girl turns out to have a low-grade fever, the mom feels vindicated for having followed her wisdom.

How to Handle Worksheet Homework

When your child greets you at the end of the school day crying, “I’m stressed! I have yesterday’s worksheet to finish and today’s and the spelling homework! I hate school!” — that is disquieting. After six hours of sitting (with 35 minutes of total recess) and doing what one is told, to end the day with anxiety is a recipe for learning to hate school.

I did not push Claire to do the worksheets, but she decided to complete them. They were easy — tracing and printing the letters C, D, E, and F, on two sides of a paper. Could that time have been better spent? Could she have played, or helped make dinner, or gone for a walk? Yes, but Claire was worried about submitting blank sheets. I asked more about how homework is collected. In past classes, all the folders were put in a bin, and a parent helper or the teacher looked at it. In this year’s class, the folders are kept on the students’ desks. At mid-morning, a student helper collects the pages from each student to bring to the teacher or adult helper to review.

This requires producing papers on the spot, in front of everyone; it will be obvious when a student has nothing to turn in. So, I created a document that we’ll staple to any worksheets, and Claire will have something to submit. (To save paper, there are multiple forms on one sheet.) We’ll circle all the applicable activities for that day.

Worksheet Alternatives

This post is also related to yesterday’s post, To Do Homework, or Not to Do Homework?

To Do Homework, or Not to Do Homework?

It’s the beginning of the school year. Several friends on Facebook posted laments about homework and their children’s resistance. So I thought I’d write my thoughts down. Some of these were extracted from a letter I saw on someone’s blog awhile back. But first, our history of homework:

In TK, the teacher assigned two double-sided pages of worksheets each week: a total of 4 pages weekly. Students took them home Monday and submitted them Friday. I stood over Claire’s shoulder and made her do them. This was a struggle. They also took home picture books to read and were required to do something creative (a drawing, a re-telling) for class. Claire did those willingly. We had to keep a reading log as well, which I managed.

In Kindergarten, the teacher sent worksheets home daily, two double-sided pages, Monday through Thursday: a total of 16 pages weekly. The teacher never looked at it, because I and other parents did homework check-in and corrected it. Claire resisted doing homework, and I began to question its necessity. By December, I decided I was sick of the fight and of being the bad guy, so I stopped pushing her to do it. Her learning didn’t suffer. The teacher chided her for not doing it, but I no longer felt a responsibility to enforce it. There was also a book project similar to the one in TK, which she enjoyed, and a reading log, which I filled out.

In 1st grade, on Tuesdays her teacher sent home a packet of 12-13 double-sided pages, which were due the following Monday: 24-26 pages a week. I told the teacher my position on homework — it’s unnecessary and busy work. She accepted that. However, I wanted to be a good class parent, so I started the year by pushing Claire to do it, and if I sat with her and scribed, she would. But there were still fights. About a month in we stopped doing it. Twenty minutes of reading daily was expected (but not a reading log), and Claire did this, as well as an online reading program called Raz Kids. With Raz Kids, her reading took off. She loved earning points to decorate her Raz Rocket, and that love flowed over into regular books.

This year in 2nd grade, Mrs. L sends home one double-sided page Monday through Thursday: so far, 8 pages a week. If there is class work that is not completed in the alotted time, that is sent home as well. Claire has done them willingly, without prompting or help. They are “busy work” sheets — tracing and printing letters, simple math, connect the dots. Teacher also sends a spelling word list with a menu of activities to do with the words to help them learn. I like the menu: there are options to write stories using the words, spell them with scrabble tiles, cut out letters and tape them, write the words with your finger in rice, etc. We’ll see how the homework progresses through the year. There will be a reading log, which I have decided to let Claire manage as well. If Claire begins to get frustrated and not want to do the worksheets, I’m inclined to let it go, unless she is struggling with the material.

I’ve become aware of something: parents have power and choice. Just because the teacher sends homework home (in the form of worksheets), doesn’t mean we have to force it. No one will give us a failing grade as parents; it won’t go down on our permanent records. And our children won’t fail, either. As long as they are making progress with what’s being taught in the classroom, there is no need to add to the school day with more worksheets. Enough is enough.

And here is the body of the letter I have at the ready, just in case. Feel free to adapt and use this.

Dear Teacher,

My daughter is excited to be in your class. She loves learning and looks forward to what the year holds. Each school year brings new routines, and I’d like to address homework. I’m reluctant about its use in elementary school for a number of reasons.

  • From the reading I’ve done, for young children (under around age 14-15 years) there is no scientific research that supports the inclusion of homework in their extra-curricular activities. Indeed, “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of [primary school] elementary students” (Cooper, 1989, p. 101). Cooper (one of the most respected homework researchers in the world) indicated that while he was personally pro-homework, there appears to be no academic advantage for children to do homework. In many studies the relationship between homework and “learning” (often defined as grades or standardized test scores) is negative.
  • My child is involved in a number of after school activities — chorus, art, and swimming — that enrich her life, teach skills, and generally make for full days. I would prefer she do these activities after a six hours of didactic learning and not stress over additional homework. We also believe that playtime and outdoor time is a form of learning and very necessary.
  • We have found that homework in the form of daily or weekly worksheets is a source of stress and strife in our home. Since she does worksheets at school, as long she is making progress, we haven’t pushed this. I have not seen evidence to support the belief that homework helps students develop the characteristics it is often suggested will be useful, such as ability to organize time, develop good work habits, think independently, and so on.
  • There are two types of homework we do encourage and require. First is daily reading. We read daily as parents to Claire, and Claire reads on her own. We don’t require a minimum time limit on the reading or dictate the number of pages to be read. This removal of autonomy turns reading into a chore rather than a pleasure. Nor do we push for her to record pages read or summaries of what she read. Reading is for leisure and enrichment.
  • The other form of “acceptable” homework is related to projects from school that interest Claire. We actively encourage research, projects, writing (stories, poems, essays, and speeches). This helps children in information gathering, critical thinking, logical formatting of content, and presentation skills. Plus it gets them actively “discovering” in their learning, and sinks much deeper than much other “busy” work.

We hope you understand that our position on homework is meant to encourage our daughter’s love of learning. Let us know how we can support this process at home.

Sincerely,

For a suggestion on how to handle worksheet homework, read this post as well.
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From this:

reading brown bear brown bear

To this!

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The Risk of Assumption

Last year in first grade, Claire adored her teacher. Her teacher was wonderful, warm, funny, and had high expectations. She loves kids.

At the end of the year, though, Claire began saying that her teacher hated her. This total 180 in her perception startled me. She also said she didn’t love her teacher anymore. Claire even told strangers — while being sworn in as a Junior Ranger, for example, when the ranger asked her if she liked school — “Yeah, but my teacher hated me.”

I met with her former teacher today for coffee, because we also became friends over the past year. This teacher was assigned to teach second grade next year, so there was a possibility that Claire would have her again. I told Mrs. G about Claire’s story, and she was surprised, puzzled, and concerned. Now, my girl can hold a super glue grip on a grudge, and I was puzzled too but had made a shoulder-shrug peace with it.

This afternoon I told Claire, “Hey, I saw Mrs. G today for coffee!”

Claire: “Why?”

Me: “Because we’re friends. I mentioned to her that you think she hates you. She was sad about that, and surprised. She said, ‘I love Claire!’ What could have I done?'”

Claire: “Well… I’ll tell you what happened. [pause] I told Mrs. G, ‘Next year I really hope I get a different teacher.’ And she said in a stern voice — but maybe it was just her accent — ‘Well, then I’ll make sure you’re not in my class next year.’ And so I thought she hated me.”

Ohhhhhhh! Wow! So I had the opportunity to clarify, and say that Mrs. G was actually giving Claire what she wanted. Claire said yes, she understood, but it was the stern voice. And I pointed out that sometimes people have a serious tone of voice but that it doesn’t mean they are mad. Claire is very sensitive to sternness — it makes her anxious and then she becomes defensive, or even goes on the offense, to protect her feelings. (Her assumption is similar to the phenomenon of bitchy resting face. Sometimes women are assumed to be angry, unfriendly, or bitchy because they aren’t smiling and sparkling. Here is something women with BRF would like you to know.)

After this, Claire said, “Tell Mrs. G I must have misunderstood. And that I think she understands that sometimes you have to move on.” I asked if she thought Mrs. G still hates her. “No,” she replied, “I think she feels loving to me. When can we have a play date with her daughter?”

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The Face of a Miserable Student

For the Love of Math

As a child, I loathed math. From the very earliest — first grade — it confounded and intimidated me. I felt stupid. My father, being an elementary teacher, sought to bolster my learning by doing flashcards for addition and subtraction. In order to perform and please him, and my teacher, I memorized the cards. I didn’t really understand 7 + 4 = 11. And so I didn’t understand the process of numbers. In later elementary grades I remember struggling with area and perimeter, multiplication and long division. I felt utterly unintelligent.

In ninth grade, I fought with algebra. It didn’t help that the teacher was an older woman who radiated vulnerability, which meant the students disrespected her and little teaching happened. I began to skip class. I would go to the resource center after school for help. When we got to word problems, I discovered I was able to do them with help from the resource teacher, and I felt a measure of accomplishment.

In tenth grade it was geometry. The teacher was a gruff old man who terrified me. I’d look at the book and none of it made sense. I couldn’t understand, and the fact that I struggled reinforced the feeling of failure. And so, I began skipping that class too. Except the school sent home a letter to my parents. I was required to stay after school to work in a small group with the teacher. And to my surprise, I found him less scary, and I began to understand a bit more. But math remained oblique to me.

I remember cramming for the Geometry Regents exam with my brother-in-law the weekend before the exam. I feared failing it, since that meant I’d have to do summer school, which would mess up the family camping plans. If I failed, I assumed the wrath of my father would obliterate me. I took the exam. I struggled. Afterward I cried, certain that I hadn’t passed. The next day, the teacher proctored the Biology Regents exam. He roamed down the rows of kids, and as he came to me, he leaned over and whispered, “You passed. You got 65%.” Oh, glory! Bless him for sparing me the torment of waiting to find out.

In our state the requirement for math was a minimum of two years. In my senior year I took “practical math,” also considered math for dummies. It was basic arithmetic, percentages, fractions, and so on. I did it to fill out my schedule.

And after that I ran from math as far and fast as I could for many years. In my mid-20s, I returned to college full-time to finish my B.A. in psychology. My first semester included a statistics course that met three times a week at 8 a.m. The teacher gave a weekly “quiz” — 30 multiple choice questions that were actually very challenging. My first one came back with a grade of D.

I panicked. I needed to pass this! So I decided I would get all the help I could. His office hours were from 7-8 a.m. So before the next test, I was in his office with questions. He patiently helped me, and suddenly the heavens opened and the light of understanding beamed upon me — wait, no. Not really. But I understood more, and I got a B on the next test. There were 14 tests in that class. I read the text, calculated the problems, and studied diligently for each test. When I received the grade of B at the end, I was really proud of myself.

The following semester I took a general math class. I learned about the Euler method, and sequencing, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve forgotten now. I worked hard in that class, and I earned an A.

Since then, I haven’t needed much math. And I’m still daunted by it. I can’t do basic calculations in my head; I still use my fingers, or write things down. But as a parent, I have kept my mouth shut about this. I have not talked about my dislike of math, or my struggles with it, because I believe that math can be learned. It takes effort. I know that now, and I proved in the college courses I could do the work.

The other day, Claire said, “I HATE math!!” Oh, dear. In the past we had done Bedtime Math, which she enjoyed and felt confident doing. But we got lazy about it. Upon returning to it, I noticed she was distracted, not really trying to understand the questions. She would then sense my frustration with her (for not trying) and quit, saying, “I’m stupid.”

Claire has a streak of perfectionism in her and a tendency to conclude that if she doesn’t understand something, the problem is inherent to her. She assumes math ability is a fixed quality — she is just not good at math, period. How interesting, because she is actually very bright, and learning has always been fun in our family. According to her teacher, she is performing well in math. I look at her worksheets and see correct answers. So, what is going on?

I made a comment on Facebook, and a friend of mine who is a teacher contacted me privately. She offered me some suggestions worth sharing.

First, she commented that Claire doesn’t see me doing math. I’m her biggest role model. I read avidly, but never do math puzzles, for example. Hmm.

Next, it is not uncommon for girls to absorb attitudes about math from other people — at school, peers have a lot of influence.

Then she told me about some resources:

  • I can download Noyce problems of the month from Inside Mathematics and try them myself. Last year, our school offered the Problem of the Month for kids to work on, and Claire enjoyed it. From the website, it says,

    “Problems of the Month are non-routine math problems designed to be used schoolwide to promote a problem-solving theme at your school. Each problem is divided into five levels of difficulty, Level A (primary) through Level E (high school), to allow access and scaffolding for students into different aspects of the problem and to stretch students to go deeper into mathematical complexity.”

    So, she can do the beginning levels with me, and I can take on the rest. Hey, I might even enjoy them!

  • Greg Tang Math: who on earth is Greg Tang? From the Scholastic book website, his biography says,

    “Greg Tang was tutoring math in his daughter’s class when he noticed something interesting about the dominoes they were using. Each white dot had a pencil mark on it, which meant the children had been counting them one at a time. Mr. Tang taught them to look for patterns instead, and to add and subtract groups of dots in order to calculate the dominoes’ value quickly. From there, he developed a new method of teaching arithmetic in a visual and spontaneous way. His method teaches both computational and problem-solving skills, and is so fun and challenging that children forget they are learning math! He believes that all kids are capable of doing well in math, and he has a mission to make math a natural part of every child’s life. He has successfully taught his method to children from ages five to ten.”

    Greg has a number of cleverly titled math workbooks for kids, such as The Grapes of Math, Math Potatoes, and Math-terpieces. His website offers games and puzzles.

  • Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics at Stanford University. A search for her connected me to a free online course: How to Learn Math: for Students. (There is one for teachers and parents as well, to help them provide support, but it costs tuition.) The description says, “If you have had past negative experiences with math this will help change your relationship to one that is positive and powerful.” So I enrolled Claire. She is very excited to be taking a course at Stanford University!

I read a lot of griping about Common Core math on social media and in the news. Yet the way I was taught did not teach me to understand at a deeper level. I memorized functions and did not learn connections. I learned to do without understanding the reasons. When I saw this video, Common Core Math Explained, I could see the appeal. It is my hope that I recover from my past negative encounters with mathematics by re-learning math as Claire learns.

When Claire was five months old, we started going to Music Together classes. Prior to this, I could not carry a tune. I couldn’t start a song on key without music leading me. But we listened — over and over and over, hundreds of times, to the CDs. As a result, I internalized the sounds. I learned audiation, which “takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present.” Now I can sing pretty confidently. I accomplished growth in the area of music, and I’m looking forward to the same with math.

Some Knowledge

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.

Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

It’s too heavy,” I said.

Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

–Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

The Privilege

She lies on her side curled into a C, tucked under a fuzzy blanket. Her body radiates fever; her wan face sports bright red patches. She moans every so often. She sipped a little tomato soup. Her head aches. It hurts to chew. A whine slips out. Everything hurts, sleep won’t come. “Please come sit near me, Mommy. Don’t leave.” I could be doing so many things: folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, sweeping, even knitting. But I don’t. There is a sleepy comfort sitting here next to her, listening to her favorite lullaby CD on repeat. Keeping vigil, keeping company. The privilege of a mother.

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