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Archive for June, 2008

looks like we made it

i believe i can fly (365-235)

We made it through graduation sunshine intact today. Maybe too much sunshine. It was about 100 degrees and humid and we’re all sunburned and dehydrated, but it was worth every second. Watching my daughter out there – receiving her diploma as well as performing the Star Spangled Banner in sign language – it was amazing and wonderful and beautiful and bittersweet.

There’s so much I could write about my daughter and why I am so proud of her, and how she struggles with a lot of things, including OCD, and gets through all of them and why her graduating with not just good grades, but good friends and the admiration of all her teachers is such a moment of pride.

Anyhow. Before I cry again.

This is something I wrote on June 20, 2001, as Natalie was preparing to graduate from elementary school. Fifth grade. I still think about the words I wrote that day, and how everything that happened in 5th grade had such a huge impact on the girl who accepted her high school diploma today, and the person she is.

June 20, 2001

There is a sign hanging up in Natalie’s classroom. It states, as the song goes, "I Believe I Can Fly." If Natalie believes she can fly, it is because her teacher has given her wings.

Natalie graduates from elementary school tomorrow. It has been a long, stressful and demanding road to this day. From pre school, when I was told she would never read on her age level or do math, to this year – just yesterday – when she brought home her Math Olympics certificate. From kindergarten, when she had no friends, to 5th grade, when the phone never stopped ringing.

The years before this one were difficult. They were marked by low self esteem, learning difficulties, peer pressure, dejection, rejection, and my own depression. Natalie struggle through 3rd grade to fit in, anywhere. To be a better reader, a better basketball player, a better student. To have a friend, even just one. To be happy. She never stopped trying. She never gave up. And I never gave up on her.

This year has seen Natalie grow from an insecure, quiet mouse, to a lion that roared.

I believe that each child has in them unique talents and gifts that will go unrecognized unless they have the right teacher. I believe that a child’s love and excitement for school is in direct proportion to their love and admiration for their teacher. Natalie loved school this year. She treasured it. She looked forward to each day, each project, each challenge. She persevered through homework that seemed to never end and books that were difficult to understand. She never gave up. She became a writer. She found her voice, and in turn, found her unique talent. She had a teacher who worked that talent, who nurtured it and watered it like a beautiful flower.

Never once this year did Natalie complain about school. Never once did she beg to stay home. Never once did she complain about being alone on the playground or lonely after school. Never once did she make a disparaging remark about her teacher. She smiled. She spoke out loud. She made eye contact. She excelled in math and read voraciously. She was in chorus and band and drama, giving her best in all. She stood her ground on an otherwise all boy team in basketball. She stood up to a bully. She stood up for her friends. She found her voice. She found it in the form of her 5th grade teacher, who made every single child in her class feel as if they were the most important, talented special person on the earth.

She may never have a teacher like that again. I can only be thankful that she did this once, that she had this teacher at a pivotal point in her life, when she was teetering on the brink of a very large crack. Because of this teacher, Natalie did not fall through that crack. She will not be one of those lost kids who never quite fit in, never quite enjoy school, never quite smile. She will shine in whatever she does because she has been given wings by one very special person. Because of her, Natalie will always believe she can fly.

———

And she did fly. She became everything Mrs. Wirth expected of her. I thank Mrs. Wirth not just for changing Natalie’s life, but for helping me to see Nat’s potential, to see past everything everyone else had predicted for her, and for teaching me how to extract my daughter’s full potential, as well as the incredible personality that was hiding inside that little girl. I thank Mrs. Wirth for the absolute pride I had today as Natalie graduated high school.

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looks like we made it

i believe i can fly (365-235)

We made it through graduation sunshine intact today. Maybe too much sunshine. It was about 100 degrees and humid and we’re all sunburned and dehydrated, but it was worth every second. Watching my daughter out there – receiving her diploma as well as performing the Star Spangled Banner in sign language – it was amazing and wonderful and beautiful and bittersweet.

There’s so much I could write about my daughter and why I am so proud of her, and how she struggles with a lot of things, including OCD, and gets through all of them and why her graduating with not just good grades, but good friends and the admiration of all her teachers is such a moment of pride.

Anyhow. Before I cry again.

This is something I wrote on June 20, 2001, as Natalie was preparing to graduate from elementary school. Fifth grade. I still think about the words I wrote that day, and how everything that happened in 5th grade had such a huge impact on the girl who accepted her high school diploma today, and the person she is.

June 20, 2001

There is a sign hanging up in Natalie’s classroom. It states, as the song goes, "I Believe I Can Fly." If Natalie believes she can fly, it is because her teacher has given her wings.

Natalie graduates from elementary school tomorrow. It has been a long, stressful and demanding road to this day. From pre school, when I was told she would never read on her age level or do math, to this year – just yesterday – when she brought home her Math Olympics certificate. From kindergarten, when she had no friends, to 5th grade, when the phone never stopped ringing.

The years before this one were difficult. They were marked by low self esteem, learning difficulties, peer pressure, dejection, rejection, and my own depression. Natalie struggle through 3rd grade to fit in, anywhere. To be a better reader, a better basketball player, a better student. To have a friend, even just one. To be happy. She never stopped trying. She never gave up. And I never gave up on her.

This year has seen Natalie grow from an insecure, quiet mouse, to a lion that roared.

I believe that each child has in them unique talents and gifts that will go unrecognized unless they have the right teacher. I believe that a child’s love and excitement for school is in direct proportion to their love and admiration for their teacher. Natalie loved school this year. She treasured it. She looked forward to each day, each project, each challenge. She persevered through homework that seemed to never end and books that were difficult to understand. She never gave up. She became a writer. She found her voice, and in turn, found her unique talent. She had a teacher who worked that talent, who nurtured it and watered it like a beautiful flower.

Never once this year did Natalie complain about school. Never once did she beg to stay home. Never once did she complain about being alone on the playground or lonely after school. Never once did she make a disparaging remark about her teacher. She smiled. She spoke out loud. She made eye contact. She excelled in math and read voraciously. She was in chorus and band and drama, giving her best in all. She stood her ground on an otherwise all boy team in basketball. She stood up to a bully. She stood up for her friends. She found her voice. She found it in the form of her 5th grade teacher, who made every single child in her class feel as if they were the most important, talented special person on the earth.

She may never have a teacher like that again. I can only be thankful that she did this once, that she had this teacher at a pivotal point in her life, when she was teetering on the brink of a very large crack. Because of this teacher, Natalie did not fall through that crack. She will not be one of those lost kids who never quite fit in, never quite enjoy school, never quite smile. She will shine in whatever she does because she has been given wings by one very special person. Because of her, Natalie will always believe she can fly.

———

And she did fly. She became everything Mrs. Wirth expected of her. I thank Mrs. Wirth not just for changing Natalie’s life, but for helping me to see Nat’s potential, to see past everything everyone else had predicted for her, and for teaching me how to extract my daughter’s full potential, as well as the incredible personality that was hiding inside that little girl. I thank Mrs. Wirth for the absolute pride I had today as Natalie graduated high school.

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words of wisdom

Todd, last night, giving Natalie some last minute advice on after-prom activities:
 
“Remember, when you are running from the cops, you don’t have to be the fastest. You just have to be faster than your fattest friend.”
 
It’s probably a good thing he did not raise children of his own.

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for the old time crew

I know some of you who are still reading here have been reading the various incarnations of my blogs for a long time, some of you since the beginning, seven years ago. You guys have basically “watched” my kids grow up. So I thought you’d like to see this. Tonight is prom night.

it's not raining on prom night

That’s the girl I started writing about when she was 11 years old. She’s an adult now. And she’s beautiful, inside and out.

more prom pictures here.

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for the old time crew

I know some of you who are still reading here have been reading the various incarnations of my blogs for a long time, some of you since the beginning, seven years ago. You guys have basically “watched” my kids grow up. So I thought you’d like to see this. Tonight is prom night.

it's not raining on prom night

That’s the girl I started writing about when she was 11 years old. She’s an adult now. And she’s beautiful, inside and out.

more prom pictures here.

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new PJM article

A follow up to the Gloucester story, mostly about sex education.

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Dear Parents of the Children Who Sat Next to me at the Academic Awards Ceremony Last Night:
 
I address this to you, and not your 16 and 17 year old “children” (I call them that because that is how they behaved) because it is obvious that no one has ever addressed this issue with you before, or, if they did, it needs to be reiterated.
 
I am talking about the public behavior of your two boys and the fact that you allow them to engage in such behavior without reprimand.
 
At the start of the ceremony, one of your sons took out his cell phone and began a flurry of text messages. He had his sounds on and not only was the phone beeping with every key he pressed, but it played a sound for every message sent and received. This was going on while awards were being presented.
 
As the ceremony progressed and your children became bored and restless, they decided to humor themselves by making fun of every student and every award presenter. They even made jokes when a husband and wife were on the stage presenting an award in the name of their dead son. The wife started crying and your kids were laughing at her and mocking her. I waited for you to reprimand them, but it never happened. And again you did nothing when they made fun of another presenter who was handicapped.
 
As the students who were receiving scholarship awards walked onto the stage, they  made disparaging marks about each one, making especially vulgar remarks about some of the girls. Again, you did nothing. You even giggled at one very sexual and very demeaning remark one of them made about a young girl.
 
Finally, I turned to them and whispered “Will you please shut up?” One of your sons laughed and said no. The other said “This stupid thing sucks.” To which I replied, “Then leave.” They laughed, and both of you turned and glared at me as if, how dare I talk that way to your kids.
 
Well, someone has to talk to them that way. Someone has to let them know that their behavior is disruptive, disrespectful and unacceptable. Because apparently you aren’t doing that part of your parenting job. In fact, both of you seemed to be enjoying your sons’ little outbursts, because I heard you both laugh at their insensitive jokes more than once.
 
You nearly ruined what was supposed to be a joyous occasion for everyone who sat around you. I was not the only person who tried to hush your boys. I was not the only person you and your boys ignored when we asked them to be quiet.
 
It was no surprise to me when, after your son received his award, you got up and left instead of waiting for everyone else to receive theirs. Typically self-centered of people who think it is perfectly acceptable behavior for their kids to talk through a ceremony and make jokes at the expense of others.
 
Unfortunately, the kids you raised to be disrespectful, arrogant bastards who think they can do no wrong will be unleashed on society without ever learning how to behave in public, how to act like mature individuals, how to treat other people with respect or how to accept responsibility for their actions. They will think they can do or say no wrong and, while the working world will give them the comeuppance that they should have been receiving from you all along, along the way to them learning that the world does not exist to entertain them they will disrupt, disrespect and probably hurt a lot more people along the way.
 
You did a great job in making sure that your sons never have a healthy relationship with a woman, never have compassion for others,  never accept that anything they do is wrong. Congratulations. You created two monsters that the rest of us now have to deal with.

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