New memories of Kindergarten, inside looking out: Small students, big hearts

It’s Kindergarten Graduation Time. Again. It’s been six years since Young Daughter made this same step up to 1st grade. It’s the kind of June morning where the mugginess plasters your shirt to your back, between the shoulders. Parents wave paper programs, coaxing a hint of a breeze. The children are restless. The teachers are … More New memories of Kindergarten, inside looking out: Small students, big hearts

Sweet friendship is blind for Birthday girls; meanwhile, one gift is painful irony

You know she’s growing up when she hits the birthday when the gifts include only one toy … and a collection of clothing, books, gift cards, a beautiful photo collage of daughter through the years, and cash. The celebration with friends has evolved as well, of course. Two close friends spent the night Friday night, … More Sweet friendship is blind for Birthday girls; meanwhile, one gift is painful irony

Kindergarten: Finding a classroom home during students’ Age of Exploration

Kindergarten? Kindergarten. Kindergarten! If you had asked me a year ago the grade level I’d be least likely to teach, that was the answer. But here I am: In a kindergarten classroom — and loving it. It seemed kindergarten students were so needy. “Mr. Walker, can you tie my shoe?” I spend lunchtime tearing open … More Kindergarten: Finding a classroom home during students’ Age of Exploration

By any other name, subtle race stereotypes still haunt us

“My name is TRACEY. You should know that. I’ve worked here for six years.” Embarrassment crept up the back of my neck as I mumbled, “Sorry.” It didn’t matter. she was quickly out of earshot. I immediately flashed back to a memory of my father — and just as quickly wondered if my daughter would … More By any other name, subtle race stereotypes still haunt us

First day of 5th Grade: A year to learn about yourself and make (good) memories that last

First day of 5th Grade. A new school year. A new, grown-up “tween” world view. A new uniform shirt color. She told me at breakfast this morning she felt nervous, an unusual admission on her part. Reason? She didn’t know who (which friends) would be in her home base/fine arts and content classes. She will … More First day of 5th Grade: A year to learn about yourself and make (good) memories that last

When her feelings turn from tender to toxic, best strategy is keeping my mouth shut

What’s bothering her? She’s barely 10 years old. What weight of the world is she carrying? Is there something big going on in her life, or is she simply submerged under a landslide of minor injustices and irritants? Tender queries reveal two answers: “No,” and “Nothing.” Stomp. Slam. It must be hard growing up in … More When her feelings turn from tender to toxic, best strategy is keeping my mouth shut

Turning 10: A milestone among memories — but hoping she’ll never outgrow her inner child

10 years old. Double digits. Whoa. I remember standing in the upstairs hallway of the house I grew up in, contemplating my own 10th birthday. “A decade old,” I told myself. Sounded pretty momentous. Now, the 10th birthday has played itself out once again,  but instead of 1968, it’s 2017. My memory slowly records what … More Turning 10: A milestone among memories — but hoping she’ll never outgrow her inner child

Saying goodbye to Ted — and realizing death among peers has become a natural part of life

I call it “in the zone.” Pretty vague, I guess. For me it means you’ve reached the time of your life when it’s no longer a shock when one of your peers — even someone younger than you — dies of “natural causes.” Hold on a minute. What does this have to do with my … More Saying goodbye to Ted — and realizing death among peers has become a natural part of life

The biggest threat (choose one): Muslim extremists, nuclear attack — or our own guns?

It’s deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say. Howzat? We recently marked the 100th anniversary of the passage and implementation of the Immigration Act of 1917. That’s when we slammed the door on immigrants from the “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a sprawling region that included Saudi Arabia, most of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, … More The biggest threat (choose one): Muslim extremists, nuclear attack — or our own guns?

She found coal in her stocking Christmas morning — I must’ve had rocks in my head

“If you’re not good, Santa is going to leave coal in your stocking!” Sure, we’ve all heard it. Said it. Understand the implications of the threat. But have you ever gotten a firsthand eyeful of what happens when this nightmare becomes reality for a child on Christmas morning? Sure, it had been a little rougher … More She found coal in her stocking Christmas morning — I must’ve had rocks in my head