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.
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.
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?
In between speaking engagements or during the interim of writing projects, I picked up side jobs to keep me financially ahead instead of becoming creatively stifled due to trying to maintain or “stay afloat”. After I wrote my play, “Hope’s Return”, I was introduced to the Atlanta theatre world and re-connected with previous theatre buddies. With this, I was invited on several occasions to apply to teaching positions in the theatre capacity.
After years of executive retail store management, I had NO interest in working with a theatre company and devoting my nights and weekends. And after experience with non-profit organizations, I had NO interest in working for a community/neighborhood theatre and contributing countless loads of money to guarantee a successful and professional looking production. Now, I have done both of these positions before and at that time in my life they were incredibly rewarding and I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, that time has come and gone. I have both of those t-shirts folded somewhere in my closet.
A few years ago, I began substitute teaching for public schools. I quickly learned, after several assignments, I was great with pre-k to 4th grade. I didn’t have the language or patience for any grade above 4th grade. I joyfully worked a full school year as a sub, even so that towards the end of the year, I was requested by teachers and principals more than I had to seek assignments. The following school year came and the only thing I wanted to change was to be stable as a long term substitute with two or three schools. I saw a posting for a long term substitute for a school that had three campuses. I thought that this would surely keep me busy and it is exactly what I had prayed for. I applied and got the position.
I started my six week assignment for a 4th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher going on maternity leave. I loved the environment of teachers I was around everyday! And as luck would have it, a fellow 4th grade ELA teacher had resigned and would be leaving around the same time my assignment would be over. Administration asked me if I was interested in becoming part of the team as a full-time ELA teacher, I accepted.
So there I was, I had entered a new career (outside of my artistry), for the 3rd time. A job that concluded between 3:30 and 4pm and was conveniently close to my home. And the best part, I was able to impose the magnitude of words in the young minds of brown kids 5 days of week. I was able to share my passion of sentence structure and reading on some impressionable minds. What I had never taken into account were the behavioral curves and obstacles that reared its’ ugly head every day.
My father died in February. Around the 22nd or so. I purposely misplaced the obituary and forgot the date. It was the year 2008 or 2009. It was such a blur but I know I was living in Atlanta at the time.
He was my biggest fan but I didn’t know. He was consistent with inconsistency. Or maybe it’s “we” were consistent with inconsistency. But usually the child is allowed to blame the parent so I said “he”. We weren’t consistent like the hurricanes that you expect every year. We were more like tornadoes in the south. It can happen but it would be a surprise. Except we never made the news. Not together at least. So that was the weather of our relationship.
I called in December, around the holidays cause that’s what you’re supposed to do. His girlfriend answered and told me he was dying. They had given him a few months to live. He told me he was dying a few years before that, so I kind of didn’t believe her. I can’t remember where he was or why she answered the phone. But then he picked up and said, “hello”.
Happy Sunday good people! Here are some words reminding you to be flexible in the face of possible obstacles this week. MAKE IT A GREAT ONE!
All is well. In my life of literature and living that is. I’ve had an incredible year thus far with working on a television show, writing and acting. Very exciting!
Now we are in the fall already… I have mixed emotions about that. Summer is my favorite time of year. Or honestly, it may be that I enjoy the daylight savings time frame. But with winter I have to be mindful of my moods. I lose energy, I lose ambition and drive. I’ve never identified it as depression but it could be.
So like always, I am working on my favorite project to date! (I say that for all of them 🙂 This one started as a new collection of short stories but it may be considered a novel. You know how things take a life of their own once you begin them? That is what this project did and I am so excited to share it with the world.
I look forward to reconnecting with my blog world friends. It’s been awhile! Stay tuned and I’ll be hanging around your pages as well.