Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Art Projects: Win Some, Lose Some

Our bambino's daycare is closed this week for training and cleaning, so I've been brainstorming art projects to do together. Some were more successful than others, but the resulting dance party was the best.

First, we tried to color homemade binoculars with crayons. That wasn't a success (markers would have worked better on the toilet paper rolls.) Still, our son liked to run around looking through the binoculars, so they did keep him busy and entertained for a while. I suppose that makes the project a success.

Second, we made homemade crayons. Ok, that's a bit of a misnomer. Rather, we salvaged broken crayon parts and melted them into new crayons following these instructions from Instructables. Next time I'll better plan which colors mix together so the colors are more distinct. Or maybe I'll just use the crayons in the box while throwing out the broken pieces.

Following these images, Daddy drew mask shapes onto paper plates that our bambino colored with the new crayons. Daddy also did the cutting. (I may come up with good ideas, but I'm not too crafty myself.)

The masks and the following dance party with the masks were the best part. Adding music and dancing (or spinning and jumping in our son's case) is always the best part.

Here's to air conditioned art projects (without Pinterest!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Talking and Writing About Racism

How do I talk about our country's deep racism with my son? How do I write about it in my poems? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I know that I need to address it now, starting when he is young and now, in all of my poems. There are too many tragedies continuing in our country and sometimes led by young people. Racism will not die out with older generations, nor will my generation's "color blind" education work.

The subject can't be ignored until my son is "old enough." He sees and hears things and is always growing and being shaped by his world. He witnesses my actions, hears my words and plays with a community of friends at daycare and on the playground. That is all to say that we live in America.

I've been editing a poem that directly addresses race and recent events. But I realize that's the wrong approach. Even when I'm not writing about race, race is implied and present. We can't not talk and write about it.

Here were some insightful  articles on the issue of talking with your kids about race and racism from the Atlantic, Slate and PBS.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Keep a Notebook

"The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself." - Joan Didion's On Keeping a Notebook

I continue to teach Joan Didion's short essay, "On Keeping a Notebook," in writing classes because I myself return to it. We writers find ourselves scribbling down notes - observations, images, thoughts - because we must. There's something we want to understand or remember for later. Sometimes we remember the context, sometimes we don't even remember the moment. But the process of writing something down is dear to us. 

Didion describes us: "Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss."  Do we write what we want to remember, save for later, or relive? We don't necessarily write what happened; this kind of notebook isn't a diary. There could be a color or a sentiment we want to remember and, perhaps, write into another context.

My son is two years old and scribbling with whatever he can find: my pen over the grocery list from the perch of the shopping cart or a crayon on mail or that (damn!) toy's tail that leaves marks on the wall. What is he thinking? Does he want to simply fill in the space or is he preserving ideas? (According to the pediatrician, he's strengthening his small hand muscles.)

I bought him a small wire bound notebook. He's filled most of the pages or, at least, the pages he hasn't torn out. I keep it in my purse to fill the time or save my own pen and notebook when I'm trying to write.

I wonder what he'll write once he learns to write the alphabet, then words and then organizes the words into sentences and paragraphs.

Read Didion's full essay here

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thank you to River Road Montgomery Child Care Association

The Maples' painted garden

On Monday, our bambino started to transition to a new daycare closer to home. We're both back to ground zero as he acclimates (more on that soon), but also so much further along than that first day he attended Montgomery Child Care Association's River Road Center. We will truly miss everyone at River Road who took such good care of all three of us, from our son's presence in the classroom to a certain nervous mamma's regular calls in the beginning.

We want to thank the creative and attentive teachers at River Road for caring for our bambino these last seven months. He learned so much, including sitting in a toddler-sized chair with his friends to eat lunch, which seemed like an insurmountable task at first. He really loved working on group art projects with his group, the Maples. He learned so many new words and actions and tasted new foods, like peas and lemons, that he asks for at home now. We've grown, too, watching him and learning from the teachers, his peers and other parents.

Thank you, all. We'll miss you and never forget our bambino's first school.