Monday, January 12, 2009

Entering the Internet is like...

looking at your reflection in a mirror reflecting a mirror. The reflections go on and on and on, until you get lost in the reflection.

Tonight I had the ?pleasure? of helping my son with his language arts homework. The dreaded simile/metaphor assignment. I recall these from my own childhood with the same dread and loathing as getting a cavity filled. The beautiful thing for this generation of parents is that we don't have to remember all of this esoterica. We can google it. So, off to to wikihow and WikiAnswers to find examples of similes and metaphors.

Metaphors and similes abound on the internet like dandelions on a roadside field. But all the examples in the world don't help when you are looking for the "right answer". How do you explain that there is no "right" answer to the simile/metaphor when writing a simile or metaphor? My son was completely stressing about this, and I was recalling my own child hood again.

Maybe it's all the wine. Maybe it's the age. Maybe it's all the crazy music I listened to as a college student that rewired my brain. Certainly it rewired my hearing - what did you say? In any event it has helped me to reconnect different pathways in my memory recently. As I watched my son struggling and stressing, I thought of the Infinity Mirror reflecting itself into eternity. Suddenly the mirror cracked - I realized it was the "right answer" problem.

"Are you lookng for the "right answer?" I asked with a little puzzled brow. Frustrated, he nodded to me. "Unlike Math facts, Science facts and even Social Studies facts, Language Arts doesn't always have a "right answer" you can study for a test. Language arts is different and more creative than the other subjects. With Similes and Metaphors there is a "right pattern" and as long as your creativity fits that pattern you get to have all the fun."

"But Mom, how do you know how Pablo smiles in the sentence "Pablo smiles when he sees Carlos and the girls?" A knowing smile warms my face as I reply, "Your simile will answer the how. You, the writer, get to decide, is it a happy smile or a Cruella De Ville smile?"

For a moment I wondered, is this mirror going to continue to repeat itself? Can I come up with another way of explaining this that will "click"? But my son looked out from the mirror and went, 'Ah-HA! I get it." I smiled and realized that maybe, just maybe, with age does come wisdom. Or is that with wine?

I tried to find the "right' image to accompany this blog but it's as elusive as the beginning or end of that infinity mirror. In my searches I have found lots of neat art from M.C. Escher and Manet.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poetry for the. 21st century man. old is new - haiku.....

Many moons ago I started following this very cool science blog "Star Stryder". She Twitters, and of course they are on her blog side-panel. I noticed some time in the summer that sometimes they were in haiku. "How clever", I thought. She blogged about her haiku twitters.

It inspired me, and occasionally I've twittered in haiku. It's a great, and quick mental exercise. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel sometimes that my brain muscles are turning to mush. Talking to children all day, cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, laundry - these things don't tax my mind. At. All.

Blogging helps work that mushy brain, but it's like a power walk for a runner. The power walk is better than nothing but it sure isn't a good run. It just makes you want to work out more. A twaiku is like doing speed drills. You don't have to do a long workout, but the short bursts really pack a punch. In these fast-paced days with super-long to-do lists, we have a hard time fitting in a physical workout let alone a mental one. The twaiku may be just the thing to squeeze into your busy day.

I must admit, I haven't been twittering much these days. I lost my password somewhere in web and dust covered innards of my mental filing cabinet. Perhaps I saved it somewhere in a password file, but searching for it doesn't even making my to-do list these days. (more blogging on my organizational program for 09 in a future blog). For now, my twittering days have passed. After all the pre-election blog o sphere reading and 7/24 news feed, I went into computer detox. I do have two of my twai-kus that didn't disappear yet.

organization. two steps forward one step back. slow steady progress

cool crisp fluttering - red, yellow, gold, orange, brown - quiet peaceful woods.

I'm so glad as the top one reminds me why I'm not looking for that password, and the bottom one reminds me of the most beautiful Fall I have seen in many years. The best part: I didn't have to drive anywhere to see it, and it will grace my back yard every year. If I stay steady on the first twaiku I'll have time to enjoy the second one when it comes around again.

Down Syndrome is not a "One-Size-Fits-All" Tag

Some days I don't have to ask Alex, "How was your day at school dear?" These days are not frequent. My uber-typical son doesn't give me an impromptu discourse on the behavior and relationships of his classmates. No, I get the ad-libbed, extemporaneous monolog on the latest Xbox game and his various Lego weapons of mass destruction instead.

When I do get an unprompted discourse on his day at school I stop. I listen. I pray. I hope. Maybe. I. Have. The. Right. Response.

It happened when we were getting in the car to run errands. Maybe we were heading to swim team. I just remember he mentioned his friend "D" who had been over to play the week before. Mom, 'D' said that 'A' has her own language, and no one in class understands her. I don't think she has any friends, and I really hope that Ellie can talk clearly so that everyone can understand her. I don't want her to be lonely, and not have any friends in school." quick breath. "Mom, do you think that will happen to Ellie? I really hope she can learn to speak so people can understand her, and not have her own language that no one gets." Images are flashing across my mind like a dvd on fast forward. At the same time, these two big blue saucers of pain and worry are peering up at me and pleading with me to make his fears go away. Of course he has no idea that his words have sliced into the core of my very soul like a well-sharpened kitchen knife. What a clean cut. Take a deep breath. Say a quick prayer. Let it out.

The images are helping me. I'm remembering the Fall Awards Assembly. I arrived early. Let me write that again. I arrived EARLY. That doesn't happen. much. at. all. Just ask Alex. I got to sit in the front row. Right behind where Alex's class sat down. After all the classes arrived and were seated, then 'A' came in, and found her class. Alex's class. Their class is the Inclusion class for 4th grade. It's a potpouri of typical kids, ESL kids, Special Needs kids, and Gifted kids. It's taught by a Fairy GodMother - Mrs. T has just the right touch for each and every one of her precious charges. Talk about a gifted teacher!!

As I sit in the Awards Assembly I watch 'A' who you may have guessed by now has Down Syndrome. She walks across the room with that typical DS gait - forward leaning, lumbering, looks like she just might fall over any second. She is very excited to join her class, and as she heads their way, I hold my breath. I realize that my eyes are watering. I am worried for her. Does anyone want her to sit beside them? Or are they all hoping she'll sit some where else? Memories of my own childhood and the embarassment of being with the "labeled" kids is haunting me. As quickly as that gray cloud arrived, it is lifted. The sun is shining. It's a beautiful day. The most wonderful scene is right in front of me. A sweet classmate motions to 'A' to come sit by her. The little girl leans over and whispers to 'A'. She gives 'A' a quick hug, and fixes her hair. They chat for a few minutes with smiles on their faces and then sit quietly and closely as they watch the Assembly, clapping vigorously for all the awardees. 'A' receives an award and everyone claps for her. She heads up to the stage and smiles.

I give Alex a big smile. "Just because Ellie and 'A' both have DS doesn't mean that they are the same. Each person with DS is just as much an individual as any person without DS. Remember that Ellie is signing so very much and her speech is improving every day. Her future isn't written in stone, so we'll just have to wait and see. She is such a friendly, happy person I'm sure she'll have lots of friends as she grows up."

"You're probably right, Mom." The blue eyes look hopeful now.