original designs

I shall abstain from making overarching generalities about America's public school system, but from my observations in the last two months, it is clear that American culture prizes conformity and obedience in a child. I get it - both of those qualities are socially responsible. But thinking out of the box, creativity, even a little wildness are not rewarded.
Last week, Eloise had an esophageal dilation. What started as a routine procedure turned into a nightmare in post-op. She had a Code Blue (she completely quit breathing), with 2 spasms. The next day I left her for five minutes to take the trash out. I returned to find her passed out and purple on the floor, not breathing.
No parent should have to live with death hovering over their child like this, it is too heavy a responsibility. It can make one...cagey.

Needless to say, after a week like that, I was feeling vulnerable and tired, and definitely not ready for parent-teacher conferences. The teacher mostly wanted to talk about Josephine, because Amelia is excelling past her grade in almost everything. But Jo...she's a dreamer, creative and lives in her imagination. I left the meeting in tears.

This was Jo this afternoon. You may be puzzled, as I was, about her clothing, the look on her face, and wondering why she has my good sewing shears. Josephine explained, "I'm designing mermaid clothes." She cut holes in her leopard scarf for her hands, and did an elaborate knot in the back. Obviously, a mermaid leopard-shell-bra to match her leopard fin/pants. That's what you get from having a mother who sews - Jo sees all fabric and clothing as a chance for a creative enterprise. When I asked her if I could take her picture, this is the face she gave me:
When I asked her to smile, she said "No, this is my designer face." Awesome

For homework today, she had to 'write' a story, dictated to her teacher, and I think I will keep it forever:
How could anyone look at a child like that and not see limitless potential? Since when should we boil down a child's abilities to a series of numbers? How is any of that okay?!

I guess that's why we have mothers, to spin tales about India, to pick pears in the garden, provide the sewing shears for original designs, and completely believe in that limitless potential. 


  1. I really can't say anything you don't already know - that Jo is an especially creative and imaginative child, and as such is an anomaly in Kindergarten, because the typical "box" for a five year old in our public schools is so very, very small, and most of Jo's existence is outside that box! The teachers have a list of objectives and outcomes, and these are measured in sight words and letters and numbers. She will "catch up". I put that in quotes because I don't think she is "behind". She just isn't interested in those things, because she is already looking far, far behind them! To a pear tree, in India. Wow.

    For the record: I could read in Kindergarten, but almost failed a major benchmark of the times because I didn't seem to know any of the major nursery rhymes that were part of the curriculum. (??? really?? Well, it was a long times ago!) The teacher mentioned it to my mom, who asked which rhymes I was supposed to know. When she heard the titles, my mom said, "Good grief. She sings those to me all day long. But she thinks they are songs, so if you ask her to "say" them, she isn't going to. Have her sing." And the awesome teacher who had been teaching for 40 years DID. And I passed Kindergarten. Even though I skipped a lot of days because I was so very, very bored there....

    I am so sorry Eloise is having such a very hard time. My heart hurts for you. You were in my prayers last week, and will continue to be.

  2. Can I say that as a teacher myself, I would probably REQUEST to have Jo in my classroom? That is all.

    Praying for you and E. <3

  3. Education is obsessed with measurements. It's only "learning" if it can be measured/quantified in some way. Which is a large part of why there's so much focus on numbers and letters (which is kind of oversimplifying it, but not really). Thinking out of the box and creativity can't be easily measured (and yet that's supposedly the big skill they want kids learning). Jo will be just fine. The designer face KILLS me. Hahaha!