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Let’s Put Libraries Back at the Heart of School
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Small Kids, Big Worries
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Tiny Dancer
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The Solution For Not So Sweet Feet
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Goodbye Friend

Let’s Put Libraries Back at the Heart of School

My son and I started the Harry Potter series together when he was little and his passion for reading (and writing!) took off from there. My daughter has learning difficulties, but it hasn’t impeded her reading. She often sneaks the light back on after bedtime to read. She looks at the pictures for clues and makes up the words when she can’t sound them out. Some nights she reads in a loud whisper to our cat and falls asleep mid-sentence. My children are lucky—they have both the passion and the opportunity to read. Their bedrooms, their classrooms, and their school library are filled with books. They get books for Christmas and they use their birthday money to shop for more books. This isn’t the case for a lot of kids. They may have the passion for literature, but not the resources. It’s unfortunate and wrong. My first few years as a teacher were spent at a high needs elementary school in Toronto. My classroom was sparse and the school library was outdated and depleted. It was frustrating. My students wanted to read. They NEEDED to read. “The imagination developed through early literacy is an important part of children’s overall growth, fostering cognitive and social development and ingenuity—the building blocks[…]

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Small Kids, Big Worries

Anxiety is a pain. Whether we come by it genetically or situationally, it hits all of us at various times in our lives. I’ve written about my struggle with worry—as a parent of a child with special needs and a variety of medical issues, I worried about our girl a lot. I looked too far ahead and fretted about the what ifs. I couldn’t stop the catastrophizing.  When you live in the past or in the future, you miss the present, and that’s where all good stuff happens. So I did the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises and it made a world of difference. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments where I freak the hell out, but I know how to reign it in. This whole being mindful thing is a work in progress.  Adults coping with anxiety is one thing, but what about children with anxiety? Watching your child worry is like being poked in the stomach with a sharp stick.  I’ll unabashedly tell you about my fight with my worry monster, but sharing someone else’s story is offside. But I can say that having a sibling with special needs can create fear and anxiety for good reason. Watching[…]

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Tiny Dancer

My daughter is a dancer. Yes, she mixes up the steps and goes in the wrong direction at least half the time, but she doesn’t care one bit. She gets distracted and stops mid-step to wave to me or to watch herself in the mirror. And sometimes she trips and falls, but she always gets back up, smiling. She loves to dance. And lucky for us, she can.  We had been at another dance studio, but out of the blue the owners decided that a class for students with special needs was too time consuming, too much work, just too much effort. It reminds me of this story. So our tiny dancers were displaced and disillusioned.  But we’ve fallen back in step and been welcomed with open arms at our new studio.  Avery’s dance teacher is warmth and encouragement and inspiration. Miss Stephanie treats her special students the way treats all of her dancers. She pushes just enough and cheers them on. She’s choreographed the most wonderful dance for the girls to perform at the spring showcase—on the big stage in pink sparkly costumes, with grown up hair and fancy make-up. They’ll be dancing to Superstar by Love Inc—a perfect anthem[…]

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The Solution For Not So Sweet Feet

My son’s sweet baby feet smelled of freshly baked bread and sunshine and blades of sweet spring grass. Then he turned twelve and the distinct baby feet smell soured into a distinct…stink. In case you think I’m being awful for discussing my boy’s smelly feet, I assure you I asked his permission before sharing. He thinks watching his mother squirm and gag at his post basketball game shoe parfume is funny. It is not, for I am highly sensitive to smells. Seriously, I can sniff out a moist sweat sock hidden under a pile of laundry from a mile away. I’m the Sherlock Holmes of smelling. As vile as my son’s shoes can get, he has nothing on his dad’s size 12 odour generators. My husband is very active. He teaches Phys Ed and not from the sidelines—he gets out there with the kids and works up a sweat. And when some of that sweat pools in his shoes, the aroma can reach a nine—ranked on a rank scale of one (baby feet) to ten (a family of dead rats decaying under the porch in the heat of summer). And what of my shoes? Obviously they smell like daisies 24/7. My husband thought he[…]

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Goodbye Friend

Friends come and go. It always hurts to some degree—even when the culling was for the best. It’s funny how the memory of these relationships can just randomly pop into you head. Just this morning I thought of an old friend. I’m not sure why. I’ve known her since we were kids. I probably know her better than any of the friends she has now in her adult life. She wasn’t an easy person to get to know as she grew up. She put up walls and over-compensated for the perceived short-comings that chipped away at her self-esteem over the years. The kind, creative, brilliant friend I knew as a child became a narcissistic one-upper, obsessed with success and all the material things. But she was never like that with me. I saw the real her, hidden underneath the layers of hurt and self-doubt. I understood her history. After all, I was beside her when it was being made. We had sleep-overs and did handstands on her front lawn. We made mixed tapes from the radio and stayed up late to watch Saturday Night Live and scary movies. We were friends. Now we’re not. Somewhere along the way she put up[…]

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