Thursday, October 27, 2011

jet planes can be dolphins.

I was sitting at the table with one of my anti-sleep preschoolers today during nap. “How do you draw the letter B?” he asked. I drew a B on a piece of paper and told him it was kind of like drawing two circles together. After he had written his own B, and I had praised him for it (it really was a great B), he said, “But my B doesn’t look like yours.” I went on to explain, as best as I could, that everyone’s Bs and letters look different, but that’s okay.

Afterward, he decided to draw a roller coaster, and had me draw a car on the roller coaster – and then, for some unknown reason, a jet plane. Somewhere along the way, in joking, I said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” My preschooler looked at me and said, “You can’t be me – that’s against the law. But you could be an animal.” “Okay, I want to be a dolphin,” I told him, as he proceeded to color in my sad depiction of a jet plane. “How does that look?” he asked once he’d finished coloring. “It kind of looks like a dolphin,” I laughed.

The mind of a four-year old is pretty interesting, to say the least. Random, silly, funny and creative. So very creative. Not everything makes sense, but it doesn’t matter – it makes sense to them. There’s no reason a picture that started out as a roller coaster ride can’t involve a jet plane and three dolphins (that happened to look more like fish with wings). There’s no reason scarecrows at the pumpkin patch can’t be sad and fight off dragons (I heard this one in our story-sharing time last week). There’s no reason why scribbles and random letters on a page can’t be a story about Halloween or a fairytale. There’s no reason, at least according to a four-year old, why a person can’t grow up to be an animal. And there’s no reason why all our letters need to look exactly the same.

It fascinates me. Every day. The honest creativity and the wide variety that exists in my classroom. And, while I know having my kids “write” and “read” their one-of-a-kind stories aloud and tell me about their drawings is actually beneficial to and fun for them, it’s also something I enjoy as well. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

I’m beginning to think that’s why I seem to fit in well with the preschoolers. Our way of thinking. There’s no right or wrong, really. Just different ways of thinking about things, of seeing things. We were striving for a jet plane and got a dolphin instead. Our Bs looked different. But it doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, is the willingness to consider. I hope that’s one of the many things I’m teaching my kids – not so much rights and wrongs but the differences in between. Actually, I think they’ve been teaching me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

learn to teach. teach to learn.

there are a lot of days lately like today when my preschoolers seem to settle down at just the right time. all together. and stay settled. it's taken a lot of patience and do-overs and trying out, but, slowly but surely, we've made progress.

today, as each student was telling me one sentence about his or her week to write, and as we then read the sentences together, something kind of hit me. a few weeks ago, these same preschoolers would have been running around the room, or laughing and talking with each other at the table, as i tried to teach them something. anything. these days, though, they're listening and participating and, most importantly, learning enthusiastically. they're into it. and it's the simplest things that seem to be exciting them the most. having them "write" stories and get up and "read" them to the class. having them share sentences like today (about pumpkin patches and dragons and mad scarecrows and princesses..) and read them back with me. using colored popsicle sticks for counting and making shapes and letters (it's amazing how entertaining popsicle sticks can be). learning our colors and numbers in spanish. and, their very favorite, reading books.

i'm always amazed at the power books and stories have over four-year olds. start reading and suddenly, it gets very quiet. it gets very still. and their tiny eyes light up as the story is being read. today was no different, as we made our way through a handful of halloween-themed books, reading about the teeny tiny ghost and pumpkins and witches. and there we sat, reading and reading and reading some more, each child pulling books off the shelf for us to read together.

there are moments every day when i'm proud of my preschoolers. and i tell them that. today, though, was extra full of praise and high-fives and, of course, stickers. and extra full of reminders of how far we've come.

Monday, October 10, 2011

sky lights.

I wonder what the stars look like
From your side of the sky tonight
Measuring up the near moonlight
Before it’s cast into the night

Do they flitter fast and quiet still?
Or store up all their light until
The night calls on them to instill
A constant calm that ever will

And with each flicker, sparkles fly
A kind of peaceful, silent cry
Giving meaning to all you find
Beneath the shadows of the sky

As I peek up into the night
A welcome shine of tiny lights
I wonder what the stars look like
From your side of the sky tonight

Saturday, October 8, 2011

finding smiles.

i know i complain at times. we all do. but i'm beginning to think we shouldn't. you are where you are, doing what you're doing, because you chose it. no one is forcing you to do anything. and you're free to change your mind, to change what you do, at anytime.

i've been blessed to hear the words, "you've got to do what makes you happy, period" my entire life. i've never been afraid of trying something different, or trying something in a different way, in order to be happier (if you're not happy, do something about it. plain and simple). that i know. and i truly believe in the importance of finding happiness in all you do. if you look for happiness, you can always find it. i believe that, too. then again, i've always been surrounded by happiness thanks to my family and friends and faith (the three f's), so i've never had to look far to find it. i know it's always there. and i guess that's why it's so important i find happiness in everything else as well.. i know it exists, i know it can last, and i want to find it in everything, just as i've always found it in my everythings (the three f's).

"refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.."

Monday, October 3, 2011

eyes ahead.

i was on facebook tonight and came across something that really got to me. it was about you, my friend.. who i know is still reading every word. someone had left a message about you for your sister and it said.. he lived a good life with no troubles and followed the word of God. maybe his loss was a way to help you seek God and live a good life. from what i can tell, it seems your sister has been struggling with the same question i often ask myself.. why? why bring someone into the lives of others, and have that person affect them so strongly, weaving memories and moments into their everyday, just to have them taken away so very quickly? finally, though, as i read the message above, it all started to make a bit of sense to me. and, instead of looking for the why, i'm beginning to understand to search for the how.. remembering how my friend influenced the then.. and knowing how to live the now (just as he did), through faith and focus on the good life God has given me.

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