Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family column

My Patriot Ledger column wasn't posted on the website, so here it is. Enjoy.

Little Liar

My family was regrouping around the dinner table one night. Abby said pizza for lunch was a major highlight of her fourth-grade day. Brian, my first-grader, concurred, and added that he played with his friends at recess. Then the kindergartner spoke up.

“Kevin punched me in the face,” Timmy said calmly.

That got my attention. “He did?” I asked, alarmed.

“Yeah,” he went on. “He wanted the Legos and I was using them so he punched me in the face.”

I looked at the little face in question. No marks, no blotches. A milk mustache, and that was all.

“What did you do then?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said, staring at his chicken nuggets.

“Well, what did your teacher do?” I pressed.

“She didn’t see,” he quickly said.

“Well, I think I’d better call and talk with her about this,” I answered. “We can’t have kids fighting at school.”

“Noooo, don’t call her,” he wailed.

I squinted at him. “Timmy, did Kevin really punch you?”

“Yeeeessss,” he said slowly.

“Because I didn’t get a call from the nurse about your being hurt, either,” I continued.

He studied his plate.

I took a breath. “Timmy,” I said, “Do you want to start over and tell me what really happened?”

“Okay,” he said grudgingly. “Kevin didn’t punch me.”

“Then why did you tell me he did?” I asked.

He shrugged.

I explained to him that he mustn’t say things that aren’t true, and left it at that. We had smooth sailing until the next week, when we were again at the dinner table, reviewing our days.

“I got in trouble today,” Timmy piped up. This was the first I’d heard of it.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “Tell me about it.”

“I was yelling and I got all the way on the red and I had to go to the principal’s office,” he said excitedly.

“What’s the red?” I asked.

“It’s a behavior chart,” explained Brian, my savvy informant.

“And you were on the red?” I asked Timmy.

“Yes,” he giggled.

“Timmy, getting sent to the principal’s office is a very serious thing,” I said, sternly. “I think a kindergartner would have to be very, very naughty to be sent there. I certainly hope you’re not being naughty in school.”

“Are you going to call my teacher?” he asked.

“Should I?”

“No!” he answered.

“Timmy,” I warned.

“Okay,” he said, exasperatedly. “I didn’t get sent to the principal’s office.”

“Timmy, you can’t be telling me things that aren’t true,” I said. “That’s called lying.”

“I know,” he said, eyes on his plate. “I didn’t even get on the red.” He sounded disappointed.

Why a five-year-old feels the need to exaggerate his escapades for dinnertime dialogue is beyond me. One would think that his first taste of all-day school would be filled with enough real adventure to provide ample conversational fodder. I hope it’s developmental, not pathological.

For now, I’m rooting out the deceit and squelching the embellishment as best I can. Concerns about dishonesty aside, however, I do admit one thing: I’d much rather hear false reports about fights and visits to the principal than confirmed ones.

Copyright 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Article and column

My feature article about Ashley Bernard, a local teenager who just released her first CD to benefit the National Braille Press, ran in this weekend's Patriot Ledger.

My bi-weekly column for Milton Patch ran today, as well. My sons have started playing soccer and it's having a small but noticeable effect, as I transform into a soccer mom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Almost Friday

It's Thursday afternoon, and literally the first time I've had to sit down and take a breather all week. Wow. I like to be busy, but holy moly, this is more than I bargained for.

It's been my first full school teaching week. Now, my teaching week is all day Monday and Tuesday, and two classes on Wednesday morning. A good schedule, and I'm really enjoying being in the classroom again.

This has also been my first week of teaching my private students after the lighter schedule of the summer. I really enjoy that, too.

Doing both on the same day, however -- which is the case for all three of my school days -- is a lot. I'm relieved that I only teach my private lessons today.

As if those two teaching jobs, plus my writing and cantoring weren't enough, I've also decided now is the time to learn to play the organ, so I've carved out a little practice time on my non-school days for that. I actually wanted to work on it during the summer, but didn't have the time with the kids home from school. Little did I know when I put it off that I'd have even less time in the fall!

Learning a new instrument is fun, in a maddening kind of way. Thank goodness my hands more or less know what to do, leaving most of my brain cells to think about my feet. Hopefully tackling this complex new skill will keep my brain sharp for years, and I won't ever have to resort to torturing myself with Sudoku in an effort to stave off age-related dementia.

Oh, there's also the writing to help keep the gray matter intact, which reminds me that I have a column due pretty soon. I've got an hour before my first student arrives. Ready, set, go!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last weekend's column

Been so busy, teachin' my classes
I ain't got time to blog!

But here's last week's family column from the Ledger. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Busy time

I've been spending my time in the classroom, or thinking about the classroom, or preparing to be in the classroom, and haven't had time to reflect or write much beyond my ongoing column commitments. It's been a busy time.

Many years ago, a friend helped clarify things for me at a time like this, when I was talking about the many things I had to do and I said that I was so stressed. My wise friend asked if I was really stressed, or just busy.

So far, this busy time has been simply that -- busy, not stressful. I've been surprised how un-stressed I've been, actually. Going back into classroom teaching has been a big change for me, but I guess I did all my worrying about it before school actually started.

And now, my classroom teaching is finished for the week. I'll be putting the writer hat back on tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Today's Milton Patch column

On Thursday, I actually managed to drive to downtown Boston without first going to the airport. This was a milestone for me. Read why in today's column for Milton Patch.