some thoughts post parent teacher conferences, in no particular order, based on salient and recurring themes, with the caveat that I do not have kids and raising kids is hard and all kids are different and everyone is doing the best that they can; howsoever and but still:
1. Little girls can be assertive. Don't call it bossy. They can want what they want and use their words to ask for it while still being a kind and empathetic friend, and a respectful child. They are humans and have opinions and needs. It's time we start treating them as such.
2. Little boys can do art, and they can also cry. It's not weirdness or excessively emotional if they do. They are also humans! If these drawings contain motifs of skulls instead of flowers, or blood instead of bunnies, ask why. Are you inundating your male child with violent images, games, and expectations? If he comes to school wearing a tshirt emblazoned with a flaming shark embattling a sky zombie, why do you expect him to paint daffodils that day?
3. Actually, all kids can do whatever the fuck it is they're interested in. They can cry and do math and paint and be assertive. I am so sick of talking about if they are boys or girls, or south east asian or white or hispanic or korean, or rich poor or in between. This or that or that other thing. Look at the child, your specific child. At this tender age, if you are already limiting them with your societal expectations, stop yourself. If you find yourself saying, "Oh well, boys always--" or "It's because we're X that she--" please stop. Just stop doing that to them.
4. If your child is preoccupied with loss, death, absence, or grieving, talk with them! You are more scared of these abstractions than they know to be. All of their cues come from you, and their reactions will be as accepting or bereft as you show them to be. As their guardian you need to guide them, and show them how to healthily discuss and process all changes.
5. Love them, first and foremost. This is your child, and that love carries through more than anything else you can say, prepare, prevent or plan. Enough with the extra math homework at age 4. Ask how their day went.
6. Read books with your kids. Dammit.
On why I don't so much mind my freckles anymore;
a shout out to the arcane;
this is a love note to summer.
I find myself filled with gratitude
for these sun spangles
clustering on the rounded cusps
of my shoulders, my nose, my ears
These are the badges of time in the light,
They are tribute to the countless hours
of meandering conversation
hands waving, drawing,
coming to rest,
calloused memories and skill
Feet dangling off the dock into green water
bobbing up with the cool
as shadows purple and birds
change their calls to
When I was five, I once stood on the bathroom sink
and glared at mirror me,
so unrepentantly spotty
so I pierced the skin of my face
with my nails,
trying to pry off
They've only spread since then
and summer continues
I will be forever freckled; and
hope persists; and the miracle of
june 2015, copyright Sarah Hirsch
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All works are original and copyright Sarah Hirsch, 2017. Please contact me directly if you would like permission to use any images or words. Thank you!
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