It’s the last day of school before the holiday break, and so the whole school is having a pajama day. Everyone looked super cute, and as we were waiting in the class for the bell to ring, the teachers and administration gathered in the hall to sing carols. It was so much fun. I’ll admit, quite openly, that while I am excited for the break I am sad to know we are losing one of our two fabulous teachers. Miss Begg is an intern, and is finished her time with us.
Unlike many interns, who find themselves overwhelmed, and stumble through their internship Miss Begg came in already ready to teach. She so clearly has found her place with these kids, and has been such a wonderful addition to their class. We were already super excited to have Ms. Jackson – who is one of the most amazing teachers I’ve ever known – but then to have added Miss Begg to the team? It’s been absolutely fabulous, and I’ll be sad to see her go (as will the kids). I’m also excited for her too, as I know wherever this journey takes her she is going to touch so many little lives.
Because tomorrow is Yule, we brought gifts for both Ms Jackson and Miss Begg today. Normally it’s about a month before Yule and we start to plan. We’ve made scrapbook pages, blown up pictures, given plants the girl propagated herself (wrote “thanks for helping me grow” on the planter)… but only a few weeks into this year Lily-Ann told me she wanted me to make tutus for her teachers. So that’s what I did.
The tutus I’ve made for Rhonda get borrowed and passed around between all the teachers. They all just adore them. And I’m thrilled to report that the two newest tutus were equally well received. Lily-Ann and I both got big hugs, and I’m so glad to have made Ms. Jackson’s and Miss. Begg’s day. The put them on immediately and began showing them off to the rest of the staff. LOL Lily-Ann was just tickled (as was I).
After putting on a Disney Christmas movie for the class to watch, the four of us headed into the hallway to snap a quick picture. Everyone in their PJ’s (and tutus) next to the tree:
And because this is during the 30 Days of Disney… Lily-Ann is wearing her velveteen Cinderella PJs. 😉
I love hearing how other people see my daughter. I know how I know her to be, but how a child behaves at home and how they behave when Mom isn’t around are often two different things. So the stories I heard from kid kid’s teacher today were very nice to hear.
Apparently, after coming back from a lesson with Mr. G (who teaches both music and phys.ed) the kids were telling Ms. W how one particular classmate had been bad. They all reported in, one after another, how this classmate had not behaved and ended up in trouble. Then one student said “Lily-Ann was bad”. Their teacher stopped and with a quizzical look repeated, questioningly “Lily-Ann was bad?” To that, she explained, came an entire chorus of “No” or “Lily-Ann is never bad” and “Lily-Ann is good.” LMAO I guess it was just a question of one student’s Freudian slip.
We also talked about how she, as their teacher, gets a unique look into each of their home lives. Through the things they say and do, she’s able to figure things out about each of their lives. How one student must watch a lot of horror movies, and another is jealous of their sibling(s). She continued to tell me, with a smile, how Lily-Ann is always there to help and encourage her fellow students. How she is always supportive, even through creative play. And how a couple of days ago she was playing in the kitchen center and told the student pretending to be the child how she, the mom, was preparing strawberry cream cheese because it’s sweet like they were. And how she was going to make it from scratch by cutting up her own garden strawberries. I’ll admit, I like the story of our home life that paints. 🙂 And it’s true. I make her mini-bagels with yummy and sweet strawberry cream cheese because she’s sweet like a strawberry and it’s just one way I can show her that I love her.
My daughter isn’t just sweet and supportive though, she’s strong too. And she’ll defend herself, standing her ground if you try to tell her otherwise. I guess one boy has been teasing her, telling her he’s stronger than she is, trying to get her goat. But she’ll just look him in the eye and tell him otherwise… he’s gotten himself in trouble with the teacher a couple times now for insisting she’s not as strong as he is. LOL
The kid isn’t one to back down if she knows she’s right, but she also knows how important it is to offer love and compassion to those around her. It makes me proud to know these are lessons she has internalized simply by how we treat her. It’s nice to know others see the amazing girl I do when they see her too.
On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed. Today was my first chance.
A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY. His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him. Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.
The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes. “Seven boys.” The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”. She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting. “Five girls.” That number gets written on the board too. An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers. “Twelve kids. Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”
Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral. At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school. At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space. And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that. If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?” Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY. “Who feels like a girl?” Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL. But I think we can do better. Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all? After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).
Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers. Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”. Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions. After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day. Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all. This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.
I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response… what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life. While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating. Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY… simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue… can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.
We missed the meet your teacher night this year because the girl had her very first ballet class that evening – but we already know Ms. Wolfmueller anyway. We are there every day after all, I’m a classroom volunteer, so hang out with the kids and Amanda on Thursdays. So when we showed up for school on Wednesday, we were given a lovely little gift bag all the families received the night before.
The effort that was put into these gift bags just further demonstrates why we love our school. Such thoughtful gifts for us to share, and completely unexpected and appreciated:
We really do love the girl’s school. We started kid-kid there because we loved their pre-k program, Rhonda and Tracy are amazing, and the kids all adore them. But we continued there because of the real sense of community and belonging found throughout the school.
There are kids from all sorts of families, it’s a wonderfully diverse student body. Diversity is both celebrated and embraced in such a lovely way. The school participates in the Day of Pink, and I plan to encourage participation in Wear Purple day this year too. The administration team is fabulous, and well… we really do love Mayfair Community School.
Roo Watch 2012: Roo has been cool, calm and collected. No signs of early labour. She’s due on the 29th… so far so good. 🙂
I intended today to write about Spencer Harrison, the artist in residence for both Camp fYrefly retreats. But I find myself at a loss for where to begin. As soon as I met Spencer I felt a connection with him, and we spent quite a bit of time together during Edmonton’s Camp fYrefly. I attended each of his three workshops, we shared many meals and conversations, sometimes all it took was a glance and a grin in passing… but I always found a reliable, comforting, spirit that in many ways mimicked my own (or perhaps it was my spirit who mimicked his).
Spencer is close to defending his PhD dissertation, the culmination of a lifetime of work. And his dissertation is as unique and splendid as he is. A circus tent, painted inside and out, a coming out story of freak show proportions. A literal freak show, painted and detailed on every panel… the exterior dedicated to the visible and well known people of the traveling circus shows we all know, and the interior to the inner freak show that was a young boy growing and coming out in Ontario, the boy who spent seven hours stuffed in a locker while everyone else left at the end of the school day.
Open, warm, and willing to share, Spencer is encouraging and giving. Saying good bye at the end of Camp fYrefly Alberta was easy, knowing I would again be in his presence at Camp fYrefly Saskatchewan. I have to admit, it will be a far more difficult thing on the 21st when we’ll have to say goodbye for a much longer time.
I truly feel blessed to know Spencer Harrison, in a way I haven’t felt blessed to know someone in a very long while. The memories I have of him are ones that I will treasure, and carry with me for a lifetime. He gave me some pretty incredible gifts.
Want to know a little more about our Artist in Residence? Check him out at:
If I build up the courage, I might just share an art piece done up under his watchful eye during the last of his sessions. IF I build up the courage. 😉
The word “label” can be very loaded. It refers to the way we box one another in, the way we try to keep everyone locked into neat and tidy rows. Throw a label on someone and you don’t have to dig any further, you don’t need to learn any more. Labels can be disgusting and dirty little things put upon us by “polite” society. But, they can also be a way to help your child… heading off into the big world. Where, for the first time, they don’t have you holding their hand guiding them. Putting labels on the wee girlie’s things probably wasn’t completely necessary… but it’s my way of helping her to move on to this next step. Hopefully, when she sees the little hearts, it will be a reminder of how treasured she is, and how important she is to me.
This is the first time that someone outside our family will have such a large and possibly profound impact on our wee girlie. It scares me a little. I did my homework, checked out our options. Met teachers and T.A.s back in the Spring. And I really do think I picked the best possible program for Lily-Ann. But the fact remains, we (as parents) really know very little about the teachers we entrust the lives of our children to. I have no way of knowing what values her teachers will impart… or if they will match our own. All I can do is continue to guide Lily-Ann, to help her feel secure in who she is, so that as she grows she is capable of making sound, compassionate, loving choices.
I know the wee girlie is going to love this new stage of her life… but as a parent, it requires a huge trust. And I hope it is well placed.