Proud Papa 1
Amidst all my worldly ambitions, raising two caring, smart, fun daughters was the one that seemed a crap shoot— so much out of my control. Parenting , unlike woodworking or sculpture or playing the cello, is the one craft that defies mastery and predictable results. Yet somehow, against all odds, my two daughters are at once my forever children, my friends, my colleagues and my inspiration. Kerala (the elder) shares my passion for writing, but does it so much better than I do. Talia shares my passion for teaching and again, as a classroom teacher, digs deeper into helping kids reveal themselves than I ever could as a music teacher.
Both recently posted in Facebook, so this Proud Papa will share their posts here. Talia’s is a letter written to her 5th grade students before the first day of school. Kerala’s is a simple appreciation of the whole family helping raise her two marvelous kids. For better examples of her exquisite writing, go to Kerala Taylor at Medium.com.
Dear Fifth Graders,
It is 6:15 Tuesday morning and I am sitting on a couch in my backyard with a blanket my mom knitted wrapped around my shoulders. It is very quiet, the world still asleep, but when I listen closely enough, I can hear the flap of a hawk’s wings above me and the squeaky exhale of a bus. It is not yet light, but the transition from night to day has begun, like a huge dimmer switch that someone is slowly and carefully switching on.
Tomorrow is the first day of school and I am thinking about you. For a week now, I have been preparing. I printed out your class list. I labeled your cubbies and your hooks outside. I ordered you each a new writer’s notebook. I bought fancy pens and sharpened pencils. I arranged and rearranged the tables and chairs. I took down the hundreds of pictures of last year’s class from the wall outside where I stapled them every week, making space for your own memories to fill it back up again.
I thought about each of you and what gifts you will give to our class, what confidence you will discover, what will challenge you, make you laugh, make you cry, and make you blush. Whose poem will give me goosebumps? Whose memoir will make me cry? Who will catch their first touchdown at recess and finish their first cross-country meet? Who will read a book that changes them? Who will fart and blame it on someone else? Who will always bend to lend a hand to those that fall? Who will make new friends? Who will shine leading family time? Who will try something new, fail, and try again and again? Who will tell me when I have cilantro in my teeth? Who will rub someone’s back when they are feeling down?
I imagine that you have also been thinking about fifth grade. Perhaps older siblings or last year’s class has told you what to expect. Perhaps you’ve heard about monthly walk to school field trips, books we read, projects we do, topics we study, MOSAIC camp, leadership recesses, and the camping trip at the end of the year. Perhaps you can’t wait! Perhaps your first day of school outfit is already laid out on your bed. Perhaps you’re nervous about new teachers, a new classroom, and new expectations. Perhaps you’re excited to reconnect with your classmates, to share your summer adventures. Perhaps you’re already tired thinking about having to wake up earlier. Perhaps you’re racing to finish the summer reading (FYI- we won’t be doing any classwork around the book until next week) Maybe you’re still on vacation and haven’t even thought about tomorrow! Wherever you are, I want you to know that it’s okay and we are going to have a wonderful year together.
There is an unparalleled newness to the start of each school year. When you walk through the school doors tomorrow morning, you get to choose exactly how you are going to show up this year. For the last four years, you have looked up to the fifth graders and now it is finally your turn. I hope you choose kindness, a curious mind, and an open heart. I can’t wait to welcome you!