Month: February 2014

Whirling

All the things. They’re happening. But not as quickly as they have been happening, and for that little slowdown, I am grateful. I’m helping out with a before-school ACT prep class, in which I explain to kids the irony of the ACT’s dictum against “wordiness,” the “rule” that one uses dashes only in pairs, and the foolery that is Long Sentences Making You Think That Objects of Prepositions Are Actually Subjects of Sentences. [1]

I passed a Praxis test, which is a good step toward teachery legitimacy. I’m all over legitimacy.

I’m teaching TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to my sophomore darlings now, and they’re an even split between liking it and hating it. Also, I read every few chapters out loud to them, and I do my share of shocking by the words that come out of my mouth. I remind them (as often as I remember to) that these aren’t my words, that I wouldn’t normally say some of these words, that we’re developing character through the use of these words, and that if you find yourself offended by my use of these words, I’m sorry for the offense (but not for the words). One thing that’s shocked me is the number of parents who have come in or emailed or spoken to me directly to tell me that “Ick, I hated that book.” I can’t stop my “WHAT!?!?” when we’re in person, but in an answering email I can usually keep it to a polite, “Well, I hope your child has a better experience with the book than you did.” Because WHAT!?!?! Seriously, people. How? I love this book so, so dearly.

And meanwhile, I’m not earning any awards for Wife of the Year. My poor Husband. He’s a champ and he’s always so kind to me, but I know my life of Wearing Thin is wearing thin for him, too. Thanks goodness for Costco’s frozen Orange Chicken, because at least once a week, we get a real meal round here. (THIS IS THE STATE AT WHICH I HAVE ARRIVED. FROZEN DINNER MEANS REAL MEAL.)

Keeping heads above water. That’s the plan.

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[1] One of the things I say frequently around school is “If it’s already an object, it can’t be a subject.” People think I’ve lost it. They may be right.

A Proud-Making Moment

My 10-year-old son just finished reading THE BOOK THIEF. He worked on it for several days, but it’s literacy month at his elementary school, so he’s got loads of external push for reading a bunch of minutes. Today he spent two and a half hours finishing it, and when he was done, he walked down the stairs, sighed a great 10-year-old sigh, said, “That was so good,” and climbed into my lap for a hug. I didn’t mention his flushed cheeks or the redness of his eyes. I told him “I know.” Because I do know. That is a brilliant piece of writing — a heart-filled work of art.

Tomorrow we will go to the Dollar Movies and watch the film adaptation. I’ll have the discussion about “different art forms” three or four more times, but I know it won’t change the disappointment he and his sisters will feel. They come from a line of people who feel personally offended by any change to favorite works of literature. Some of us grow out of it. Some of us don’t. Some of us slip in and out of the two camps — wishing things could be made visual in the precise way they play out in our heads for one story; being satisfied with a different vision for others. [1]

In any case, it makes me proud that he would tackle that book — all 550 pages, and that his heart is large enough to feel all the feels that go with it.

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[1] For instance, I may never forgive the terrible adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s brilliant DESPEREAUX; but I’d watch the film of HOLES over and over. (But, HOLES is really, really true to the book, thanks to Mr. Sachar’s screenwriting abilities; so, there you go.)