Sunday, 29 May 2016


Benjamin is at a most wondrous age right now.  His red hair falls into his eyes, around his face, and gives him an impish look that matches his personality.

He has an aura of wonder about him.  He has a tie to bugs and critters and animals and "all creatures of our God and King."  He was the first kid to be able to coax our cat into the open during the day; Ben's little body that is always moving stops and rests as he gentle strokes her back.  The other day Ben arrived home from school and announced he had a new pet: Catty the caterpillar.  He opened his hands to reveal the pet he'd found at lunch and had secretly tended through the afternoon of school.  We took off, the two of us, to the store to find a small bug container, which he filled with sticks and leaves and flowers for his beloved pet.  (Alas she lasted but a few hours before an "outing" ended with her falling through the deck boards.)

He also has a special tie with the husband and wife, Tom and Shelley Wolf, who were his Sunday school teachers when he was 2 and 3.  Even at this young age, I can see that these are Ben's kind of people.  They are vegans; Ben already doesn't like to eat meat.  They love all things earth and natural and off the grid - they live in a home built into the ground lined with tire walls and heated by woodstoves; Ben loves to be in the wild and woods.  Tom is a musician (drummer); Ben has a natural musical ability in a little sweet soprano voice.  They ride a motorcycle; Ben is in awe and wants and orange helmet so he can ride on the back.  Tom and Shelley took to Ben, our little rascal; Ben always sits with them on Sundays during the main service, and now and then they take him out to see a movie.  While I know James and I are the main influences in Ben's life, I strongly desire other people to be in our village to help our children grow.  Tom is definitely this for Ben.

While there are endless shenanigans, and unending bouts of teasing of Juliette, he has a grin that melts hearts.  He loves to cuddle and read with me, and his daddy is his hero.  Ben loves to have that one on one time with either of us.  We love this little guy with everything in us.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

On the way to school

I saw this fantastic documentary the other night.  I turned it on because I couldn't sleep, but then I couldn't sleep because I was so caught up.

The film follows for children (about 11 years old) who, in order to get to school, must travel anywhere between 2 and 4 hours each way.  Each journey is done on their own, or with a younger sibling.  Each must walk through African desert, or Moroccan mountains, or from a remote South American outpost, or a far away Indian hut.  Two young brothers no more than 6 or 7 pulled a makeshift wheelchair holding their older brother, trudging through sand and mud and rivers.  A girl waited for someone to let her hitch a ride for the last leg of her journey.

I was struck to the core about how precious education was to these children and their families.  That their parents would send out their children, so young, all alone, through a long, unmarked and dangerous journey every single day.  That the student so valued going to school that there were no complaints about the rocky paths or charging herd of elephants.  There was little more going on in the film that simply watching the long walk on the way to school; it provided a ripe endroit for pondering.

How much we take school for granted here, as students and as teachers.  By the end of the film my heart was as full of passion as my eyes of tears.  I cried out to no one (to my future students, a plea!) "Learn and dream and learn and dream and learn and dream then go and do something!"

These four children were asked why they went to school, and each dreamed of beautiful ways to change the world.  I thought about myself becoming a teacher, and I admonished myself sternly.  "Do not ever, ever, simply "phone it in."  Look what education can do! I am not worthy of the position if I take it for granted.  Do not think that I must fill empty heads with my own pride, but instead I must inspire them to find what it is they are meant to do in this world.