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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole November 16, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Holidays, Life, Teaching.
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During the school year, those nearest and dearest to me know that I disappear down the rabbit hole. I have the best of intentions – but isn’t that what the Road to Hell is paved with?  Between pushing all that paperwork around (without the benefit of a forklift) and being on-call to perform brain surgery daily (and according to NCLB, isn’t that what teachers are expected to do?), sometimes I’m hard pressed to know what day it is.

As a result, members of my family have abandoned all hope of receiving birthday cards. I don’t know how much a stamp costs anymore.  My parents don’t count  e-cards as real cards so I’ve been known to call them and have my entire class of third graders shout, “Happy Birthday!”  And my parents, who are increasingly hard of hearing, have been known to hang up thinking it’s a prank call.  Hey, I tried.

November is the worst month, what with the first report cards due and Parent/Teacher Conferences to schedule (and reschedule) and Thanksgiving. Every year I have my students write a paragraph about what they know about Thanksgiving.  Some don’t get past the date.  You have to understand that many of my students are not native born and Thanksgiving is an exotic concept when you’re from Korea, Pakistan or Bosnia. Most kids write a grocery list; turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce.  Last year one student wrote that Thanksgiving had something to do with Indians hunting buffalo wings.

But by Thanksgiving break, my students will be on a first name basis with Squanto and know that three women/girls did all that cooking for the first Thanksgiving, while the men played games.  (No snide aside here as my husband does most of the cooking).

Next week my students will take home an adorable turkey made from a tie-dyed coffee filter.  They’ll know what a “wattle” is and have written a paragraph about all of the things they’re grateful for that’s stapled to the back.  And what about me? The day before Thanksgiving I have my last Parent/Teacher conference scheduled.  As I drive home, I can finally start calculating how big a turkey I need to buy.  Long lines and over-sized turkeys await.  But I’m thankful that my students now know why THEY should be thankful.

December gets worser (Sorry, I slipped into 3rd grade mode when they’re still figuring out those slippery superlatives).  As I read about winter festivals throughout the world, my students crank out adorable holiday crafts.  Late at night, you’ll find me on-line ordering gifts to be delivered to my family in the Midwest.  I do put some thought into this.  Should I pay an extra $4 for a computer generated gift card? It’s a far cry from the day when I handmade gifts or at least bought them with my own two hands and packed them.  At some point, the ritual of shuffling my gifts along with my feet in the line at UPS lost its allure.  So while my students’ parents are oohing and ahhing (or so I’d like to think) as they unwrap those handmade treasures, my own family will have to settle for something that I personally added “to the basket.”

So don’t wait by your mailbox and expect anything from me.  From September till the end of June, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

Comments»

1. Catherine Sherman - November 16, 2008

How lucky for me that my birthday is in August, so that you have the time to pay it all the attention it so richly deserves!

I always feel like such a slacker when I read about your life when you are down in that rabbit hole inspiring and teaching.

Your blog posts are a gift to everyone. As long as you keep writing, I promise I won’t mind (too much) an empty snail mailbox.

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2. elissestuart - November 17, 2008

Congratulations on your milestone!
Table for two, please!

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3. Deb Estep - November 19, 2008

I just came across a Popsicle stick reindeer my youngest made in 1st grade. 3 sticks glued in a triangle, stick on eyes and brown pipe cleaners for the antlers. I date EVERYTHING so we knew exactly when Kevin made this treasure. His response… ‘WOW, I made that 6 years ago’. Half of his life
so it does feel like a VERY long time ago. LOL
The older kids, now in their mid 20’s will still look over the Christmas tree for their school ornaments.

For you and all the teachers that my children have had over the years I say….. “THANK YOU”. !!!

And to end this message, I found the last paragraph of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. Alice had woken up and walked away…. Her sister was sitting there thinking about the future…… This sister’s thoughts of Alice’s future reminds me of a certain *teacher*…… 🙂

“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”

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