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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And so it begins again

The summer has ended, and I'm not sure how it happened so quickly. The kids started up school today, and I start up tomorrow. So it goes.

This year starts up in a different fashion: I'm aware that it's most probable that it's my last year at Clemson, at least for now. Sure, I could manage to not get pregnant, and Alex could need to find a job back home, and in that case I'd still be a teacher next year. Otherwise, though, I'm taking a break for a few years (unless there are online teaching opportunities, but there's NO WAY I will put a newborn into daycare if I have a choice). So, it's with melancholy and joy mixed together that I contemplate this break from the one job I've ever enjoyed.

Doing the syllabi has been fine for the Brit Lit and two World Lit classes I am to teach, but 20th to 21st century lit??? Man, that's hard to construct considering that it's 600 or so years outside of my speciality. At first, I was really skittish about doing this class. Now I'm excited. A geek who loves fantasy and sci fi has so many options to throw in entertaining yet literary works in the modern era. I just found another short story, very short in fact, that is facinating to me: Atwood's "Happy Endings." Considering how the man/men are portrayed in this short piece, it's feminist in orientation for sure. But the structure? The format? So strange, yet so interesting. This is what contemporary literature has to offer...the new, the creative, the different. I think I'm going to love this class.

Ariana has started up the school year with her chosen homeroom teacher, Ms. Cheek ("Momma! I want to get Ms. Cheek because she's crazy and strict, just like you!" Yup, that's a great version of who I am...haha!). She says fifth grade looks to be interesting, and we'll see how it all turns out as the year unfolds. Jared has Ms. Yates, a teacher whom Ariana had for second grade as well. We LOVE Ms. Yates. Sure, she can be a bit scattered sometimes, but she's got the critical part for a second grade teacher besides knowledge--heart. When Ariana had her as a teacher, she inspired from Ari the best that my daughter could give in an academic setting. Ariana was allowed to help out the other students when she finished her work, and that kept her from getting bored. She felt useful, and she liked that. Ms. Yates had told me before she had Jared that she was nervous about getting him in her classroom because he was so incredibly brilliant. Then she turned to Jared that day and said, "Will you help me teach?" He nodded seriously, and that was that. Meanwhile, though, I thought the SAME thing that I thought when Ariana was in second grade, when she told me that Ari was insanely intelligent...really? He/she is?

I know that sounds like a dork. I mean, parents are infamous for believing their children are capable of MORE, not LESS, than what they can do. And it's not like I've ever told my kids anything short of, "You can do whatever you set your mind to do!" It's just that, well, um, it's all normal in my family. I mean, they are comparable to most of my nieces and nephews in capacity, and they are nowhere near my nephew Adam who was reading at two and a half and doing long division with remainders at four. So, I just figured that they were "normal" kids. And even though somehow I'm aware that might not be true, it still shocks me to hear it.

What is intelligence anyway? For my kids, if I look at it carefully, it's the ability to problem solve and create new answers where there seem to be none. But they are very different in how their brains work! My daughter has an amazing abstract, theoretical brain. My son has an amazing mechanical, spatial brain. It depends on the circumstance as to who shines.

They're great kids, regardless. I never was more proud than when both of them won the citizen of the year award for their respective grades. Any kid can be born with a brain, but how many have a heart? Their compassion and desire to help make others' lives easier make me more proud than gifted programs and straight As. No wonder I enjoy spending so much time with them.