Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dinner Conversation

S, giving yet another reason why he can't eat the dinner in front of him (one of the few dinners he actually used to eat on a regular basis, and by 'used to,' I mean as recently as this past Friday night): Don't you remember, Mom? The last time I ate _______________, it felt like there was fire coming up through my throat.

Me: S, I have to say I don't remember that. I just remember you eating _______________ and loving it.

S: No, Mom, really. One day when we had ___________, I felt like smoke was coming up out of my throat. Smoke, and maybe even fire.

C: Maybe you're just turning into dragon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Right Place

The elementary school where I work, and S and C attend, starts each Wednesday morning with an all-school meeting. All the kids, teachers, staff, and any available and interested parents gather to sing songs, listen to class sharings, acknowledge birthdays, etc. The kids themselves lead this meeting and I find it most exciting each week to hear a sixth grader or third grader or even a kindergartner stand up in front of this crowd to tell us what his/her class is working on. It is also fun to sneak peeks at my boys in the mass of kids, sitting with 'meeting buddies,' students from older grades that they sit with at these gatherings.

This past Wednesday, S was particularly looking forward to the school meeting and asked his dad to attend because his class was going to do a sharing about their apple survey. S, himself, was not the one to stand up to explain the survey procedures and results but he just loved that two friends from his class were going to do so. These two first graders did an admirable job in front of 170+ squirming children, faculty, and parents and I was as proud of them as Sam was.

One moment of pause, however, when the meeting started. The music teacher got in front of the crowd to lead us in a song. His strummed his guitar and the school community members who had been there in past years started singing about Christopher Columbus sailing across the ocean. "Oh," I thought to myself for just a second, "It is weird that this school, so outwardly into social justice and treating others fairly, is singing a Christopher Columbus song."

And then I heard the fourth line:

Nancy Schimmel

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
It was a courageous thing to do
But someone was already here.

Columbus knew the world was round
So he looked for the East while westward bound,
But he didn't find what he thought he found,
And someone was already here.

The Inuit and Cherokee,
The Aztec and Menominee,
The Onandaga and the Cree;
Columbus sailed across the sea,
But someone was already here.

It isn't like it was empty space,
Caribs met him face to face.
Could anyone discover the place
When someone was already here?


So tell me, who discovered what?
He thought he was in a different spot.
Columbus was lost, the Caribs were not;
They were already here.


"Ahhh, yes," I smiled, "We are in the right place!" So I may be one of those liberal, Ivy League, New Englanders that Sarah Palin and her followers accuse of being unAmerican or elitist or unpatriotic, but I was so happy in that moment to be here singing about indigenous people.

And speaking of right places:
While I have really liked living in New Haven this past year, I haven't much identified with the state of Connecticut. I guess when I thought of this state before, I always associated it somehow with Greenwich and Westport and those other preppy, rich towns that just don't call to me. However, yesterday I was most pleased to live in Connecticut so I must give this state a shout-out: GO, CONNECTICUT! Check out why.