Monday, March 08, 2010

where it all begins: thinking about parenting and teaching, again

It's weird, really. How often on dates Mike and I end up in a toy store, milling around. I liken it to lesson planning. It's the perfect state of things – the time of imagining, before the people (the students or the boy) take those things (the lessons or the toys) and do what they will do with them.

It's before your best laid plans lie crumpled at your feet, shredded and bleeding. It's a beginning. I am obsessed with beginnings – mornings are my favorite time of day, before the fog lifts and the traffic is audible. My essays are all confused and muddled because I can't pick one way to start them, instead there are three or four introductions competing with each other.

It is the creative part, the wide-open. It is possibility and sunrise. This sounds pretty dramatic when you think about wandering around a store front turning boxes of Legos over looking at prices. But there it is. The hope. I don't subscribe to the parenting method of buying and over-buying stuff for your kids. Yet, maybe I can muster some sympathy for those parents if I imagine them becoming caught up in a dream of possibility over and over. You don't see at this point, the Clue Jr. game abandoned in the closet, its box smashed on three corners. Each made-in-China plastic piece of junk perhaps not a substitute for love and understanding, but a seed of hope for the realization of this small being whose lighted with them for a brief era. Of course, it would be misdirected. We are all misdirected, sometimes down the most harrowing of paths. But I am speaking now of intention.

I drive past the hospital, the parole office, juvenile hall, out toward the hills, toward my next class. There is a sense for me of a not so subtle evolution, or devolution, that is brick and mortar real. I have been thinking about the students I am teaching in relation to the students who used to sit in their chairs when I taught six years back. Six years ago, these kids, the ones here today, still had time to go anywhere, else, away, from here. They had innocence, if not shiny and new, at least to some degree intact; they had the chance of anything possible.

Frequently enough, I can't wait to get the real Isaac to sleep, freeing me of the vigilance of motherhood for that brief space, only to stay up half the night talking to his dad about him.

Am I an idealist happiest when I'm divorced from reality? But we create our own reality. This is never truer than when speaking of writers. If I share with you the story of the magical invisible alligator that Isaac works with to deliver toys and picture frames (?) to houses, will you think all of my days enchanted? If I tell you about the years of lack of sleep, the demanding voice that barks about food and play and socks and now, will you know me as cursed? Writing takes everything – it is as egalitarian a vocation as you can get – you are well, you are sick, you are rich or poor, you have 10 dogs, you hate animals. The story can start anywhere. But you don't have to put it all down at once.

I think it is why so many students get stuck writing – they don't know they can select out the pieces they want to talk about, leave the rest. That they can even ruminate, perhaps forever, in the beginning, in the land of potential, in the moment before the gun goes off and their heel presses sharply against the starting block, in the moment before the gun goes off, period. In the time when they were kicking it with their buddies before the lights of the police car came like ugly streamers around the corner. That what happens afterwards, is just that – an afterwards. That whole worlds are made and broken in the dark of a nascent fog. That to sit outside your story, to tell it, creates another reality. That to write, all you need is a moment.


bobbie said...

"To sit outside your story"
An interesting perspective.

And you do keep teaching me new words. I don't believe I've ever run across "nascent" before.

I do believe that most - or at least many - of us are happiest when divorced from reality.

Christine Gram said...

What I love most about writing is that you can do it over and over again. You can explore where one beginning takes you... get lost in it and discover hidden secrets. And then the next story can be something completely different. A different thread picked up and followed.

Have you ever seen "sliding doors?" Writing lets us explore as many different directions as we'd like to. Life is just one of them.

Dianne said...

sometimes I write a story with so many beginnings that I will put each beginning into a sepatate doc file
then I travel across them looking for middles
I rarely look for endings, they reveal themselves eventually

the computer becomes a joy when I do this

and it helps me live in the moment(s)

Share Related Posts with Thumbnails