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Tail feathers…

August 19, 2009

On the way home from a meeting,

with significant positional authority,

Little Gem told me,

from her booster seat,

in the back of our big red car,


today was a very good day…

The analyzer in me wanted to know,

and asked,

What part did you like?

She clarified,


All of it…

I just liked being with you…

My analyzer couldn’t accept that…

It wanted to know more,

so it could replicate,

the perfect experience,


It started firing specifics,

to get more information,

Did you like it when we made brownie???

Was it when we made that mind-blowing cocoa nib gelato,

Was it when we went to the park???

Was it… ???

Little Gem looked at me,

in the rear view,

a little frustrated,

but still patient,


BEING with you…

Not DOING anything…

Just being WITH you…

Why is it that it is so difficult for me to believe,

that the wu wei my child loves,

when she says,

Just being with YOU,

is enough???

This makes me think about the hundreds of report cards I’ve had to write over the years…

And the new mandates that come out,

under provincial will…

The words teachers are required to write about children,

based on subjective assessments and evaluation,

masking itself as the rational objectivity,

of not meeting,


fully meeting,

or exceeding,


This is the language of our fractured culture,

on the ice and across the boards…

When I look at the language of the report cards,

which were written in the era,

of my school days,

I see words with similar intents,

and purposes…

Intentions of distortion in the words of,




or needs improvement…

I still assess and evaluate myself,

based on these words,


at subconscious levels…

I look at myself in the mirror,

in the morning,

and wonder,

how do you have a good day,

when all your life,

you’ve been told by others,

outside of you,

you don’t make me happy,


you need improvement…

Lucky for me,

or equally cursed,

because I tend towards compliance,

even when the heart inside of me,

is screaming NO,

most of the report cards I received,

are columns filled with checks,

in the good,

or excellent boxes…

I remember counting with my school friends,

over the phone,

So how many goods were you?

My father’s youngest brother,

who was schooled by nuns,

in Peace River country,

once told me,

at a backyard barbeque,

I was always a failure,

for not paying attention…

My whole being summed up by the letter ‘D’…

A teacher friend recently told me that there is a public school in Vancouver,

that doesn’t write report cards,

from Kindergarten to Grade Seven…

I wondered,

How is that possible???

How do they get away with that???

My friend told me,

They applied for Alternative status…

Isn’t is time we ALL applied for alternative status…

The status quo does more damage than it is worth…

How can we,

in the words of Ram Dass,


under conditions of not meeting expectations…

Who sets the expectations that we are not meeting???

How do we reset the expectations for perfection,

or failure,

that we set up for ourselves???

Early on,

as a teacher,

I began to refuse the language of the system…

And found ways to work around it…

As I sat with all of those blank pages,

with children’s names on them,

I always remembered my uncle,

and how he reinforced his view of himself,

by what those in their habits had written about him,

in black and white…

I made it my business to report gifts in the evaluations I wrote of my students…

I told parents when they presented me,

with laundry lists,

of what their children were,

or were not doing,

at five years old,

He’s so new in his body…

Your job,

as a parent,

is to accept and love him as he is,

without condition…

And not to put obstacles in his way,

with your demands,


and negativity…

I believe that it is core business as teachers,


and human beings living together,

to discover and see the gifts,

which we all bring to the world,

through our good and evil…

And to report them,

with sensitivity,

and validation…

Just being with you...

And you feel like no one before...

Little Gem says,

I love you Mama,

at least 100 times a day…

She reads over my shoulder,

as I write,

and correcting my numbers,

with a red marker,

points out the inaccuracies of my bean counting,

I tell you I love you MORE than that…

I ask her,

Why do you tell me that you love me so much?

She answers, 

Because it feels good to say it…

AND just in case you forget…

I put up a watercolour Little Gem painted,

in the window of our front door,

with her words,


For people driving by…

Just in case they forget,

and just so they remember,

the TRUTH…

I want nothing that you're not...

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