The Children are Listening. Still.


untitled-image-26The children WERE listening. Heard by me during school bus duty yesterday: (from a fourth grader) “He hates Black people, we’re all gonna die.” (from a 2nd grader in place of the usual good morning greeting) “Ms. Frisella, we’re doomed!” (from another 2nd grader) “He hates Black people and women.” (from the daughter of upstanding citizens, Haitian immigrants) “My brother says they’re gonna come to the door and take my parents back to Haiti.”

All of the above: beautiful, frightened, Black children.
Teachers, parents, everyone???
We’ve got a lot of work to do. Our kids are scared.
Get it together and start talking nice.

Give our kids ways to talk about the election in ways that make them feel safe and heard. Allay the fears-maybe by asking them things like, “So, moving forward, what are things we can do to make your life (this community, this country, the world) a better, more peaceful place? What actions can we take together that will make you feel safe?” Take away the helpless feeling of fear and replace it with positive action.

There is NO excuse for the United States to have had children living in fear yesterday because of the Presidential election results. The grownups did this (no finger-pointing; people in all parties are guilty of the animosity, of crafting fear-inciting ads, of sharing mean-spirited posts and un-fact-based “facts”,  of re-posting great uncle Frank’s “share if you agree!” memes, and of the unkind kitchen table talk- and remember I teach elementary school and “S/he did it FIRST!” bounces right off teachers), and shame on us.

United States, people. Yep, for more than half of us, our candidate didn’t win. We have to move forward and do our best to make the best of an unwanted situation. That’s harder to do for little hearts and minds.

United States. How about we let our kids be kids? How about we stop scaring them? There’s something more important than anybody’s need to post or say something inflammatory.

What, you ask? What’s bigger than my need to make a point on Facebook and burn that old high school classmate who disagrees with me so I can give myself a little false validation? What’s more precious than me using my frantic little typing fingers to put someone down so I can feel superior for just one second?

Children.
They are listening. They have been all along, and they’ve been hearing some pretty scary stuff from us-from those of us whose sacred duty is to look out for them. Teachers, parents, grandparents, mentors and elected officials.

They’re afraid, and for many of them, rightfully so. What are we going to do to make them feel safe and heard?

What are YOU going to do to make them safe?

Peace, friends. untitled-image

 

Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling

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This. Break the silence.

(Excellent words, but not mine. Re-blogged from another writer)

 

Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed…

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“Yes, You Are Allowed To Do That!” One Principal’s Mission to Bring Back Play in School


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Let them play.

Every so often I come across a post whose truth needs to be read by as many people as possible. I’m posting this here, I’m tweeting it, and I’m posting to my Facebook page, and I encourage you to link to the story as well. Click the link below for the full post, and thank you Brett Gustafson for sharing this!

by Brett Gustafson As a principal for the last 13 years, I have come to the realization that the biggest threat to the emotional and academic well-being of our children is me – maybe not me persona…

Click for full piece:

“Yes, You Are Allowed To Do That!” One Principal’s Mission to Bring Back Play in School

“Did your Water Bottle Explode?”


…that question was asked of me on Friday morning as I mopped up the 3-foot radial area of where I’d just finished a Jazzercise workout.

“Nah, it’s just me,” I replied. I was dripping from head to toe and didn’t want anyone from the next class to slip and break a bone because of me. We laughed and I left the studio, feeling accomplished and strong.

Strong.

After being sorta sick for a few years and really sick for the last two, it hit me. I haven’t felt STRONG for eons. So here’s another tribute to the program that brought me here (along with my own steely and steadfast determination, and a return to lowcarb life):

Strong It has been 6 months or so since my friend Nancy invited me to join her at the fabulous “Mills/50” Jazzercise Studio in Orlando. I have powered through 63 classes so far. I haven’t had to stop to suck on that blasted asthma inhaler once.  I don’t care how tough this workout is; even when I’m switching from doing the regular choreography to a march-

(which I still do occasionally, just because combining performing the steps with the actual brainwork necessary to do so can stress me into a little chest constriction, ha)

(because I may be a musician but I am most assuredly not a dancer)

(and because splitting a beat when gasping for air isn’t pretty)

-I am moving. It is a triumph; those of you who knew me before these chronic conditions took up residence in this body know just how much it means.

So to Laura and Teri, thanks for the encouragement and advice. To the Katies, Kim, Christine, and Bernadette, whose classes I seem to land in most often, thanks for inspiring me to get through every class and for making it so much damn fun.

To the women I’ve met at the studio-Jane, Carrie, Gwen. Kate, Lisa, Shelley, Robin, Leslie, and those whose names I’ve yet to learn-I appreciate your example and your encouragement. Helen, I’m always so happy to see you because you bring such happy energy (I’ve never known anybody who could smile through a whole workout until now) to a class.

Penny, I already knew you but I’m glad to think of you as a workout buddy now!

Nancy, thanks for the simple invite and that first class that put me on the path back to me.

Still fighting, always "becoming"
Still fighting, always “becoming”

(Judi Sheppard Missett, wherever you may be, thanks to you for inventing this workout)

(Disclaimer: other than my regular workouts and eternal gratitude, I am not affiliated with Jazzercise, nor do I profit from expressing said gratitude)

Peace, friends -and continued becoming

Denis Ian: When Do Children Get to Be Children Again?


Thank you Denis Ian.
This is a good way to think about the current state of our Education system, an excellent sentiment for your Parenting toolbox, and a notion to carry with you to the Voting Booth!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Is childhood a lost concept? Have we decided to treat five year olds like little adults? Reader Denis Ian reacts to the post about a child’s first day in kindergarten, which was spent taking assessments, not playing or socializing. Taking assessments:

I find it harder and harder to repeat myself when I bump into tales like this.

I sort of cringe myself into almost-anger because what we all see before us is so macabre and so twisted. And it reappears week after week after week.

In this case, which is hardly unique, a child’s first several moments in school … her first actual memories perhaps! … are of evaluations, testing, and assessments. This sounds awfully army-ish to me … and not very school-ish at all.

But the essential question … the one that should be asked first … is very simple: Who thinks this is a good idea? Who thinks…

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aw, come ON


Please watch the video I’ve linked below, then read the rant.

How to Deal with Protesters with Understanding and Civility.

Protesters: heard and acknowledged rather than threatened, or called “bad people” who are ruining our country, or sucker-punched. No violence incited. Was the President happy? Clearly not. But he still let them know that he heard them and understood their frustration and was hoping they’d sit and remain part of the conversation. Whether you like our President or not-hopefully you can see that he was certainly civil, inclusive and Presidential in his response.

(yes, I know this was more than a year ago, which doesn’t reduce its impact; the contrary, the contrast is even more striking to me, as it was all over the news when it happened and could have set an example for others at future events. I also remember the “You’re in my house!” response at another time, which I must admit I thought was pretty great. But you are hereby absolved of sending me videos of every time our President was heckled and responded less graciously. I’m linking you to this one example because, well, it’s exemplary!)

I haven’t unleashed Rachel Maddow’s time-stamped proof of incitement and encouragement to resort to violence. I still might. But I don’t know who would still need proof at this point that a current front-runner needs to choose his words in a more thoughtful and kind manner. There is no good intent behind the dreadful things he says. Continue reading

Fat is the Enemy of all Mankind.


Cartoon by Barry Deutsch Used with the artist's permission.
Cartoon by Barry Deutsch
Used with the artist’s permission.

Dear Girls and Women Everywhere,

If you ever hear anyone say the words in this post title to you, or anything with a comparable meaning, I ask you to PLEASE know that a perfectly acceptable response is,

“That is complete and utter bullshit; please do not project your skewed views of what is important onto me, as I am perfectly wonderful just the way I am.”

or,

“What an extremely shallow world view you have. I pity you.”

or,

“Interesting. I would have thought that bigotry, violence, war, or pestilence would be more of a humankind-destroyer than fat. But that’s just me.”

or,

Continue reading