I'm thankful for our 3rd Halloween in this house, a fun neighborhood, and great neighbors to share it with.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
A student whom I like and appreciate a lot had a family member complete a long, successful, rehabilitative prison sentence this week. I'm thankful for a family reunited, and hopeful that our justice system might better bend toward mending and away from retribution.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The kids' school playground is a wonderful place. Since Tobin's first year at the school, I've watched my kids play on this playground for the better part of five years--really, I've watched them grow up on it. The recent, months-long renovation was a tremendous community effort, led primarily by a small group of parent volunteers who did everything from grant writing to project management.
As I watched the kids play today, I couldn't help but think of who wasn't there: Tobin's friend Leo, who would have been a fifth grader also. Leo died tragically in an accident over the holiday break in December 2013. In the worst moment of their lives, Leo's parents graciously requested memorial donations be made to the school's PTA. Those memorial donations started a fund that would eventually, two and a half years later, grow large enough to underwrite a major renovation of Leo's favorite play area. You can read more about the project here. I'm grateful to be part of a school community like this and thankful for a beautiful day like today, when my kids can run and play in the sunshine with their friends in a place that feels like home.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Monday, October 24, 2016
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Nine years ago today, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I think of him a lot, and thought of him for almost all of church this morning and most of my run home after.
I'm thankful for my dad, and miss him a lot. Especially at church, which is often a sad place for me, because so much of music and worship are melded to memories I have of him.
I wish my kids could have known him beyond the stories and memories I can share, but I'm thankful to have happy memories to share.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Then Evan says, sincerely and quietly, "Wow, Tobin, your drawing is so good. You should show it to [our art teacher] Ms. Purple; she'll think it's amazing." And my heart swells with gratitude that, even in my tired, listless state, I was witness to such a tender, kind moment.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016
I wasn't well-motivated at school in the morning, then after lunch I got a notification from my Facebook app that I "shared a memory" with Allison today. That happens a lot, and honestly, I flirt with deleting Facebook from my phone pretty frequently because it seems to steal more time than it's worth.
But the reminder was that three years ago today was Allison's final radiation treatment, finishing the third and final phase of her treatments. In the intervening three years, we've grown to love a new house, seen the kids grow to love a wonderful school, made fast friends with new neighbors, and thankfully navigated three years of positive checkups for Allison post-treatment. We have had difficulty and sadness in that intervening time, but none of it has been as all-consuming or terrifying for me as the prospect of Allison's illness.
So today, I am thankful for the normal (sometimes annoying) minutiae of life, and for a slate of minor annoyances that clutter up my mind. And I'm thankful for reminders like today's, that my temporary annoyance is a luxury facilitated by being secure in the bedrock aspects of my family's life.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Friday, October 14, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
A situation at work has been causing me some stress. Since I'm a contact point between teachers in my department and the administration at school, I'm often the recipient of complaints.
Today I wanted to complain myself that people brought their emotion-fed frustrations and concerns to me. I had a moment where I felt weary and powerless and pessimistic about the efficacy of anyone telling me anything about anything, since I have little more than a seat at a decision-making table.
But on my way home, I thought of the people in my life with whom I am comfortable being emotionally honest and vulnerable, and I realized that I have an opportunity to reciprocate and be a good listener and sounding board for other teachers. And really, teachers "teach" content, but are more engaged in full-time human behavior management and encouragement. That's bound to be a tangled road, even in the best of circumstances. And sometimes that road necessitates having an ally and advocate, even if that advocate had limited means to "fix" things.
So today (somewhat reluctantly) I'm thankful to have the trust of many of the people with whom I work. And I'm thankful for the generous hearts and ears in my life to whom I can ask advice, share frustrations, and receive guidance.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Sunday, October 09, 2016
Saturday, October 08, 2016
Friday, October 07, 2016
Thursday, October 06, 2016
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Tuesday, October 04, 2016
Monday, October 03, 2016
I have some frustrating stories about public education that I could tell today, but the success was a visit from two young men I taught over a decade ago. They stopped by at the end of my work day, and we reminisced, and I got to hear about the lives that they've made for themselves in the intervening years. I'm thankful for the memories we share, and thankful too for the opportunities schools create for people to connect and support each other.
Sunday, October 02, 2016
Saturday, October 01, 2016
My instinct was to call out to her to chill and "play nice," but then I found myself thinking about how I would address the same behavior from the boys. And I realized that I would most likely praise their behavior and willingness to play hard. In fact, I've taught them explicitly how to use their hips in soccer and football to keep other players off the ball. I think my instinct to change Lauren's style is because she's a girl.
I'm glad I didn't say anything about it. I did mention later something like "Hey La, I noticed a few elbows being thrown at the game today, did you?"
She smiled and said "Yeah, and it was fun."
As a kid and a young man, I thought embarrassingly little about what it's like to be a girl or a woman. Having a daughter has really challenged me to try to recognize double-standards or assumptions that I and other people have because of a person's gender.
Twitter isn't good for much most of the time, but a couple of years ago, as a result of broader discussions of sexism, the hashtag discussion #YesAllWomen trended. I spent a morning reading it, and I was struck by how little I knew. For instance, after reading about it, I asked some of my women friends if they too always called or texted friends when they got home after an evening out. To a person, they answered "yes," because of the constant threat of violence against women. Realistically, if I called or texted a male friend to say I made it home safely after a concert or something, I would expect to be made fun of. That was only one anecdote among many that revealed to me how unaware I was of women's normal experiences.
I find that I'm especially fretful about Lauren and the world she is boldly navigating. I cringe when people call her dramatic or emotional. I'll bristle if someone calls her "bossy" when she asserts herself. I try not to make the focus of my compliments to her about how "cute" or "pretty" she is, and I try to praise how smart and tough and funny she is. And man is she smart. And tough. And funny.
I'm thankful to have been given a daughter like Lauren, who encourages me to broaden my own ideas about the world. I'm thankful we attend a church with a female head pastor, whom Lauren loves to give flying hugs. I'm thankful that Lauren is growing up in a world where Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice and Serena Williams are the norm. And I'm especially thankful that her most important role model is her mom, who exemplifies the strength and love and principles that I hope and pray Lauren realizes for herself as she grows up.