Posts tagged ‘children learning’

August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

May 18, 2015

The TRUTH about LYING.

The other day Arden told me that someone close to her had confessed they had lied to her. She seemed confused about the scenario, so I had to do my best to talk it out. She asked if I had ever lied as a kid. I said I had. Her eyes widened. I explained that growing up we weren’t allowed to have treats. Cake, candy, cookies, pretty much snack food in general, was all off-limits except special occasions. Even sugar cereals were a rare occurrence. As a parent now, I get that they were trying to keep us healthy, but seeing my dad eat a bowl of Breyer’s ice cream every night, when we weren’t allowed to have any seemed unfair. Or when my step-mom baked cookies, yet my step-brother and I were told we weren’t allowed to have any, was kind of mean. So yes, we snuck into sweets. Most of the time getting caught and when I did, I totally lied.

For me, the problem was and remains that, I’m a terrible liar. I have a tell and it’s pretty obvious. I’m straight-forward, so when asked why I lied, I tried pointing out their erroneous ways of parenting. As one might imagine, it was not well received. There was a particular incident where my dad went to get ice cream out of the locked chest freezer and it was gone. He was completely dumbfounded. Listening his utter disbelief while having a discussion about it with my step-mom was practically comical. Like one of those kids movies, where the dad is a bumbling idiot and the mom totally clueless. Except soon enough, we got called before the judge and jury to confess our crimes. I hadn’t even eaten the ice cream, but totally agreed that it was a stupid move to finish it off and throw away the container.

good bad card pic for blog copy

What seemed to eat at my dad the most, was how someone got it the locked freezer. It required a special key, as the lock was oddly round. It’s wasn’t just left laying around either. This highly-prized, tiny bit o’metal was kept away from us at all times. One day though, when the parents were gone, we got creative and figured out a way. It required taking tiny sewing scissors and clamping them on the lock, then pushing in and turning in one fluid motion. It totally took practice, but I was dedicated. A few months earlier, in order to help myself to some Christmas cookies that were frozen for storage, I had gotten good.
After multiple interrogations this particular night though, I cracked. I retrieved the tiny scissors and demonstrated how the freezer could be opened. Part of me expected to be congratulated for my cleverness. For putting an end to the mind-boggling conundrum. Unfortunately, the belt didn’t see it the same way.

Being that Arden is 6, I give her the short version. Yes, I snuck cookies, I got caught, I lied and I got punished. What she almost hilariously fixates on, is the fact we weren’t allowed to have goodies. In Arden’s world, she lives for sugar. It’s permitted in moderation, but she’s a kid and often tries to negotiate more. My reasoning is that she hopefully will have a better relationship with food. To not gorge herself like it’s her last meal, like I did with a dish of M&M’s, at a rare slumber party I was allowed to attend when I was 12. I tell her that it’s hard to understand, but there is a very fine line with lying. Saying that you like someone’s cooking or gift they gave even when you don’t, is okay. That because the person is being genuine and thoughtful, it’s important to keep your opinions to yourself in order to spare their feelings. To purposely be deceitful and hurt others for one’s own ill-gotten gain, well that is not okay.

A few days pass and I’m not sure she understands my point, that is until I pick her up from school. She explains that a classmate/sort-of-friend (who has become known for taking other kid’s things) asked to borrow Arden’s play glasses, promising to bring them back the next day. Arden tells me that she thought about it and decided it was best to let the friend just play with the glasses at recess. Explaining to her that she didn’t want her to forget the glasses at home. She said “She probably wouldn’t bring them back, Mama. So I did not let her borrow them.” I tell her that I am proud of her and she asks “For making up an excuse?” To which I say “No, for not hurting another person’s feelings, while making a good choice.”

November 20, 2013

Larry.

Larry on the stick copy

The date October 26, 2013 will forever be etched in my brain, for that is the date of new beginnings. That is also the day I stumbled across Larry.
Joel and I were working at Hallie with Arden. The weather wasn’t the best, but I was finishing up lining the flower beds with mulch. In the trench I dug surrounding the bed housed a little, fuzzy, brown caterpillar. A Woolly Bear! At least that is what we called them as kids. We had plenty in the middle-of-nowhere, where I grew up, but this was the first time since I’ve lived in Columbus (going on 14 years) that I had come across one here. I was excited! I called over Arden and told her to pet him. She was apprehensive, but delighted to find him so soft to the touch. She asked to keep him as a pet and much to my surprise, I agreed.

Arden has been asking for a pet for ages, probably because we have 2 cats that we are all allergic to. They have free reign of their basement domain, get lots of petting and have regular supervised visits outside, but it’s not quite the same as having your own animal to boss around and keep in your room. From the get-go Arden announced that this would be a boy caterpillar. WAIT! Stop the presses! In Arden’s world, nothing is EVER a boy. We could be reading a book that specifies that the main character is indeed a boy horse, but she will adamantly deny the printed words and instead insist that the animal be given a name of Purple Rain Bow or some other ridiculousness.

Until now.

Not only was it a boy caterpillar, but she would christen him ‘Larry’. We were stumped by the name choice, as none of her classmates, friends or any of the shows she watches have characters with that name. Either way, it was a dawning of a New Age. One that finally included Arden’s acceptance that boys did indeed inhabit the earth. The rest of the day she carried him around everywhere asking his opinion on just about everything. Larry isn’t a big talker, but Arden didn’t seem to notice or mind. I promptly parted with my plastic bungee cord container that was in the back of the Outlander added some dirt, grass, and a couple sticks and suddenly Larry had a home.

Larry leaf nibbles copy

On the way home I did my caterpillar research. We learned that he likes clover and green leaves best. That he drinks water but it comes from the plants he consumes. If you look at the 3x enhanced leaf photo, you can see tiny Larry nibbles. We found out that the caterpillars are most commonly found in October when they are out and about and actually make good pets for kids to observe. Larry likes to party at night and sleeps during the day. Pretty soon he will hibernate for the winter and then in Spring, spin a cocoon and emerge a Tiger Moth. I’ve never witnessed this process in person before and find myself facinated yet sad that at some point we will have to let him go again.

In the month since we have welcomed him into our home, Arden has quickly tired of the responsibility of having a pet that she has to care for. He is pretty low maintenance, but she requires regular harassing to remind her to clean out his home and fill it with fresh food/bedding. On more than one occasion, (usually when she is staying at her dad’s for the weekend) I find myself out in the yard picking him new greens. I feel responsible for his well-being and happiness since it was me that mistakenly introduced him to my pint-sized tyrant daughter. He is very undemanding and for that I gladly want to take care of him.

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