Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Eyes Wide(er) Open

Today I visited a woman from church who has agreed to watch LO (my 'little one) on assorted vacation days and holidays. If you didn't know, my husband works quite a bit, and his travel schedule can be sporadic. I can't count on him to cover ANY of the vacation days. The other problem is that even I don't have enough vacation days to cover LO's vacation days- many of these one and two days off at a time. Enter Sister Josephine.

Sister Josephine is an African American woman who works at the church I've been going to recently (we're relatively new to the area). You could say it's her 'calling' to take care of children. She's about 60, and everyone at church seems to know her and respect her. There were about 10 African American children at her house who ranged in age from 8 to 15, and no one there but sister Josephine.

I understand that one person simply CANNOT give the kind of attention to 10, 20 or 30 children that you can give to one or two - this is one of the challenges of our teachers. And further, it's MUCH easier to continue to encourage reading and an interest in math and science if you've been doing it from day one even with a larger family. (The Headmistress and Spunky are examples of that.)

But Sister Josephine really inspired me today. No doubt, she has her work cut out for her. She is dealing with what she was dealt. TangoMan rightly points out that,

"the culture you can create is malleable. Schools have to play the cards that they are dealt.."

So I started thinking, what would it take to introduce the idea of reading children's literature, or exploring natural sciences, in a way that the parents would be OPEN? I wouldn't mind including (a few) other children into our world of literature and discovery. It would have to include children of parents who wouldn't think I'm a complete wacko though. After all, they MAY have other issues higher up on their 'to do' list and what I'm suggesting may seem over the top.

So, I'm going to ask to at least take her younger two boys to the library with LO this Saturday, and just see what's up. I'll ask sister Josephine if I can take them out for breakfast and then to the library on Saturday. We'll see...

I'm doing all this talking about black children in America - how I don't want LO to fall through the cracks (and by the grace of God and my analness, I believe he'll be just fine.) But what about the sea of other kids who have little hope of getting a leg up. It's true I DON'T have much time. But again, "what matters?" Those two words keep coming up for me. How am I suppose to teach that lesson to LO, if I'm not willing to embrace that idea myself? Maybe I'm spending too much time playing safe. OK, LO comes first, but maybe - for now- I should just consider the possibility that I could help another child too. No commitments right now. Let's just see where this takes us...

I'm doing all this talking about black children in America

I think you're doing a good thing here because there are many people who are concerned and interested in what's happening to these children.

How do you plan on selecting the kids to take along to the library? Those who need the most outreach or those who are already most inclined to like the outing?

Also, what do you plan to do as you watch the social interaction between the kids take a bi-directional, rather than uni-directional, flow? You and LO will certainly influence the kids, but the kids will also influence LO.

Anyways, I'd be interested in reading an account of how this plan unfolds.
Well, you know, those most inclined to like the outing need enrichment, too... especially if there's no one close in their lives who will take them to the library.
I'll try to take the two younger boys (by 15, the young woman may be 'too cool' for that).

I get your point TangoMan - about the 'uni-directional flow' of LO's relationships. I'll just have to do what I usually do when he has a play date - watch him like a hawk and see what happens... It's back to the fine line we talked about. You want him to have experiences outside of the pampered gifted and talented and Chinese class students, and in his 'culture' so he knows what 'normal' people are like. (I often feel sad for folks who have obviously never had exposure outside of their small demographic group.) At the same time, I realize that I have to be careful, because there are many kids whose parents aren't as strict as I am. I have to be as involved as I possibly can and see what comes up for LO, make decisions and take it from there. It's not easy for any of us, is it?
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