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September 15, 2010

When I was a boy I loved to run…

One day I was out running all over town,

through people’s yards and up and down back lanes and empty streets,

when I happened to come across an apple pie cooling on the wide wooden railing of Mr. and Mrs. I.Q. Ungers’s back porch…

I was about nine and I should have known better,

but I decided to take the pie and run…

I had visions of myself enjoying a huge feast for one somewhere in the bush outside of town…

I turned around to make sure I hadn’t been followed and there,

peering out from behind an old shed in the yard,

was my little brother,

the one I mentioned earlier,

the one who replaced my dead sister,

the one who stole my mother’s heart…

What are you doing??? he asked me,

in Low German…

Nothing, I said, go away…

You’re supposed to come home now, he said,

you’re supposed to stop all this running and come home…

— in Swing Low, A Life by Miriam Toews

The school bus picked up Starshine and Little Gem a few minutes before 8 am…

I won’t see them again until the weekend…

I thought I wouldn’t cry today,

but when I went to talk to the driver,

to remind him not to stop by tomorrow morning,

I heard sobbing from the seat behind his…

It was Amour,

crying her eyes out…

She looked up at me…

I wanted to look away,

but I couldn’t,

so I looked back…

I said,

Oh Amour…

The driver said,

You’re throwing gasoline on the fire…

She doesn’t want to come to school today…

She had a bad dream and she’s been like this ever since I picked her up…

I told her about my dream…

The one where I can’t find my bus in the morning,

I’m searching for it everywhere,

and I can’t get to all of the kids…

Amour still sobbing from the ball she’s turned herself into in her seat…

I walked back to my house and barely made it up the stairs…

A sad bear,

struck by lightning…

I know those dreams,

of not being able to get to all of the children,

and I know them from my waking life too…

Last night I was reading some educational research,

on Vygotsky’s cultural-historical activity theory…

A study on open-discussion around literature,

and making personal connections with a shared text,

in secondary classrooms…

Fancy words for an elevated book club…

It was interesting,

and thought provoking,

but left me wondering,

as I always am,

about what we are doing in schools,

and why…

When I hear educators using the expression,

the most bang for the buck,

I want to vomit at a connotation,

too coarse for the sensitivity of children,

and the public role in the unfolding of gifts,

and soul code…

The first thing I ask my children when they wake up in the morning is,

How was your sleep???

and,

What did you dream about???

Sometimes they remember their dreams,

and sometimes they don’t,

but they know that they are always dreaming…

I can’t remember ever not having dreams,

but I know there are times I have forgotten them…

Sometime in the last week I had a dream I was flying around…

Seeing Vancouver,

and the neighbourhood where I live,

long before all of the creeks and streams and ferns and moss were covered up with pavement…

I landed in a small wooden house…

Everything was set up neat and tidy…

The bed was made…

There was an elderly gentleman of African descent wearing a suit with a bow-tie,

a hat,

some spats over his shoes…

A song and dance man…

He sat in a chair with his walking cane,

water from his sadness covered the floor up to his ankles…

The chair beside him was empty…

He was waiting,

for his partner to return,

for a dance of respect,

and connection…

I felt his missing,

and his longing,

took his hand,

and said,

I’m going to show you something beautiful…

And off we flew…

But time makes you bolder...

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