parents – (n) The hardest working person in the universe.
We can see beyond horizons and be as blind as bats.
We can hear as keen as owls and be as deaf as a day gone.
We can be energetically defeated.
parenting – (v) The hardest job in the universe.
I dare to say our most imminent goal is to ensure our children can live successful independent lives. And to make sure that goal stays in the forefront of our mind, we will do what we must. That includes perfect vision in a forest and closing our eyes in the light. As long as the goal is protected.
That is how I try to reach the parents of my students. Some of them have a spry and transparent engagement with the social and educational growth of their child. But the majority are only proactive towards their counsel to teachers on their personal goal and avoid any reactionary response on classroom feedback that does not comply with the said goal.
As a parent, I have had uncomfortable conversations in regards to the behavior of my three. And some have been the embarrassing repeated behaviors of “overly social”, “running in the hall” or “incomplete assignments. I had to grow into a position with my parenting to concede that, the same behavior I correct them with at home, is the same tone they exhibit with other adults. So when I get phone calls and reports that my youngest, who only stops talking when she is sleep, is “overly social” in class, I believe it. I’m not sure what it is that shapes in parents heads that their child’s calamity somehow stops the second they enter the school building. If your child is flipping furniture at home, there is a 90.9% chance you child will come into the classroom and do the same.
from the book “yardwork“
I love to read. Period. I didn’t get to do a lot of that this past year. I was a rookie English Literature teacher, I was preparing graduate school packages and doing more drafts on my latest novel. This summer it was all about reading, drafting (writing) and getting out of the city (beaches).
My favorite 3 that I read this summer:
Alice Walker -Anyone who knows me knows that I love prose and I love folklore. The prose in this book is magical! I found her POV writing to be confusing at times but it served its purpose for the storytelling. But the prose writing made me fall back in LOVE (again) with the magic of words.
Jamaica Kincaid – I can always count on her to teach me more technique on first person fiction writing. She is a genius with sentence temperature! Your typical story has structure for plot movement. She can twist plot in every sentence to keep you hanging on! But the genius part is, she’s writing just as we think. Constant growth/contradiction. Magic of words!
Mary Monroe – This was my second Mary Monroe book that I’ve read. The first one I read years ago and I suppose with life piled on top I forgot about her. NO MORE! This was my favorite book of the summer! I haven’t fallen in love and cared about characters as much as I did in this book in a long time! Magic of words!
My mentor/guide advised that I “find” time to read more. (We’ll see, with my upcoming schedule of teaching and school.) I told her about the books I read and why I chose these three as my top. Her reply was something to the tune of, ‘Because those books asked you something of yourself. They found you. Just as your readers will find your books, so take your time with your writing.‘
**NOTE: These are not new releases. Alice and Jamaica are two of my favorites and Mary Monroe’s book was published in 1995 (I believe). Other books I read this summer were:
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Liliane by Ntozake Shange
Diablerie by Walter Mosley
I was planning a trip to the beach. Fortunately, Atlanta affords me the leisure of choosing between various Georgia Islands, or a few hours drive to Florida, South Carolina or the coast of Alabama. I decided to do a quick turn around trip to one of the Golden Isles off the coast of Georgia. Distracted, I began to flip through Facebook and came across an article about Igbo Landing or Ebo landing.
“The Igbo Landing occurred when Igbo slaves who had taken control of their ship marched into the water and drowned at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia.
After surviving the rigours of the Middle Passage, the 75 Igbo slaves who were bought for labour on the plantations of John Couper and Thomas Spalding for 100 dollars each.
The slaves were chained and put aboard a small ship to be transported to their destinations. During this voyage, they took control of the ship and grounded it, drowning their captors in the process.”
(from the site pulse.ng)
I looked up St. Simons Island and discovered it was a mere 4.5 hours away and I could choose lodging on the island or in nearby Brunswick, Ga. There are so many stories to be told. So many lands to be visited and honored or memorialized, and as a writer I believe there are always new words to discover. New smells and newly uncovered ways to describe emotions. So I booked my lodging, fueled up the Buick, and hit the road.
From the book “yardwork“
There are several things I love about teaching but most notably I enjoy the time off during holidays and summer. (while still receiving a check 🙂 This is especially rewarding to me who spent years as an executive manager in retail and worked every holiday and most weekends.
Now I know you must be thinking, ‘my goodness Nikki, the school year just started didn’t it and you’re already thinking about time off?’ YES! You would be correct in with that assumption! And I think I have just the thing to help me get through the first half of the school year and my first semester in grad school.
A few months back, one of my friends exercised “staying in the moment” by writing daily things on what she most loved about herself. She did this for 60 days and surprisingly enough, she said the first twenty were very laborious. Laborious because she was having a difficult time discovering what she loved, or even liked on some days. The statements had to be instinctively linked about her and not some indirect love for something or someone else. She said this helped with her daily self care even if it was only 5-10 minutes a day. With my schedule becoming 12 hour days Tue-Thur due to school immediately after work, I thought this “I Love…” regiment would be ideal to ensure I think about me.
For the next 90 days, I am going to write in this little journal different things I Love about me. This is extremely horrifying to me because it involves commitment and I can be so anal (for lack of a better word) when it comes to committing to something and what loyalty means to me. But I am at a stop in my life where I am both an educator and a student, literally, and I am content. How do I insist that I remain present under both titles? By involving myself daily, by communicating with myself daily. Hopefully this 90 day venture will prove to assist with that!
Join me if you may! Also, after this 90 days, it will be Thanksgiving and time for a week break from both work and school 😉 Clever, huh?
I have visited the majority of the civil rights museums in the southeastern states. The Center for Civil Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga. and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN are two of my favorite. This past spring, in Montgomery, Al., a space opened that is the first of it’s kind in this country. “The National Memorial For Peace and Justice is the nation’s first comprehensive memorial dedicated to the human loss suffered during the era of racial terror lynchings, which swept across the south and beyond in the decades following the abolition of slavery.”
The memorial is a collection of work done by the Equal Justice Initiative, identifying more than 4,000 African American men, women, and children who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. This space was haunting. In the same breath, this space made me feel like another piece of me had been reconciled.
Until now, lynching had been painted in songs, danced about in novels. The impact of seeing 800 steel monuments inscribed with crimes of lynching, some detailing the reason why, presented a different sentiment. While this is a space that uses literature, sculpture, art and design to tell its’ story, there was no rhythm or pace to it. There were no perfectly fitted color patterns or designs, it just happened. There was no spell check, no correction of verb/noun agreement, the art at this memorial lends escape to no one. This space brings name to the thousands of men, women and children who were hideously and violently murdered for mere social transgressions and some from absolute innocence.
There is tons of history in Montgomery, Al to see. So planning a trip to this memorial is not the only thing you will be making time for. This is a must for anyone seeking reconciliation against violent crimes committed against African Americans in this country. This is a must see for anyone seeking retribution for human justice.