“…..where someone loved him best of all…..”

“Every baby deserves to be wanted and loved and anticipated with great joy.”

That’s a Maemae-ism right there.  My Mama believed that with her whole heart.

So it was with great joy that my oldest and I had the great honor and privilege and sheer fun of planning a celebration in anticipation of the arrival of our friend’s son and her mother’s, also our dear friend, grandson.

The fun started when the Mama-to-be wrote me, “My theme is ‘Where the Wild Things Are.'”

Ahh.  Yes, I know that book.  I took Children’s Literature.  I worked in a library all through high school.  I did storytimes for years for the local library system.  I have children of my own, for goodness’ sake.  I know this book.

Or did I?

I did what most in this day and age often do.  I googled the title and expected all kinds of links to fun resources–partyware, stuffed critters for decorations, balloons, babywear, blankets, baby bedding, and so on.

And what did I find?

Ummmm, not much.

No partyware.  No balloons or baby bedding.  No blankets.  The only babywear I found was on Etsy.  If it weren’t for Etsy and Pinterest, I would not have had any ideas of where to start at all.

But I did have those sites to peruse and read and plan from.  My thoughts started flowing and I picked up my love, the paintbrush, and had A BLAST.  I went to JoAnn’s and happened upon some “Where the Wild Things Are” fabric.  It was so exciting, planning and looking for “monstery” or “Max-like” things everywhere we went.  The littles even got excited about it.  It was Cooter when he was practically laying on the floor at Hobby Lobby who found the little wood owls that eventually were de-beaked and turned into Max’s buddy.

I had a great time painting and dreaming and putting colors together.  My kitchen table was covered all week, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I was constantly texting Aub pictures to ask her if this or that was okay.  But in the midst of it all, what I enjoyed the most were two things.

First, the connection with my Mama.  She loved babies.  And she loved pampering expectant and new Mamas.  How many times did she bring me a glass of tea as I sat nursing my little ones?  How many meals did she prepare for me?  After her first grandchild was born, she left the hospital just before daybreak (having been up all night waiting), and came back later that afternoon with all kinds of baked goodies for me to snack on–including her special teacakes.  There was no way she could have gotten any sleep.  That’s how she rolled.  I think she would have enjoyed hearing about the plans for this shower, and I think she would have offered her own ideas in the mix.  She was so creative and she LOVED children’s books; I know she would have had great ideas.

The second thing is the story itself.  Rediscovering this classic by Maurice Sendak.  What a fun story.  And what a beautiful story of a mother’s love.  And grace and forgiveness.  I have so many favorite lines from this story–which I incorporated in the decorations, but one that really touched my heart that I didn’t use is this:

“…..of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot”

And there is this precious line, which is the truth that my heart cries out for the most–

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

Isn’t that something we all want with all of our hearts?  To be where someone loves us best of all?

*sniff*

Have I mentioned that I fell in love with this sweet story for the first time in the past two weeks?  I am so thankful for this young Mama whose heart led her to choose her own Mama’s favorite story from childhood as the theme for her baby boy’s room.  It has touched my heart and been a gift for me to experience it as though it were my first time reading it.  .

Tonight I am wishing for grace and redemption and forgiveness for this little boy to be born in a few weeks.  Most of all I wish for him to always find himself where someone loves him best of all.  It was at this shower that it hit me for the first time that when we attend a baby shower, it’s more than just going to a party and giving a gift.  At least it should be more.  It should be a covenant, a promise, we make to be there not just for the parties but also for the times when things are sad or the Mama is at her wits’ end from exhaustion or she’s sick and the baby’s sick and they just need someone to bring chicken soup and a pack of diapers in the next size up.  When the child is seven and is singing in the school play, we need to be there to celebrate with a call, a card, or our presence.  When the teenager is sassing his Mama, and she cries longing for those sleepless nights when he was a baby and so, so sweet, they’ll both need someone to hug them and say it’s all going to be okay.  It takes a village, folks.  At least it has for me in raising mine.  I think it’s more than an old African proverb.  I think it is the gospel truth.  We need each other on each step of this journey.

Tonight I am thankful for new babies and nearly grown babies and all of those in-between.  I am thankful for the village I have had, those who have already gone on up to The House and those still here.  I hope that Baby E’s life will be full to bustin’, overflowing with love, laughter, and grace.  And lots of good books too.  I keep my fingers crossed and good words said, lifting up his whole family–that they will join together and love each other through every single day.

And just for fun, I share with you some of the fun I had putting things together over the past couple of weeks.  If you saw me with the paint all over my hands and under my nails…..and even on my new magical glasses…..now you know why.

Love to all.  May you each find yourselves today where someone loves you best of all.

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

So happy this fabric all but jumped in my arms at the craft store

So happy this fabric all but jumped in my arms at the craft store

Max and his friend.  Thankful that Cooter found the monster critter at the craft store.

Max and his friend. Thankful that Cooter found the monster critter at the craft store.

The beautiful cake that my new talented baker friend created especially for the occasion.

The beautiful cake that my new talented baker friend created especially for the occasion.

All of it set up at the shower.  Pay no attention to the Aub photobombing there in the background.  :)

All of it set up at the shower. Pay no attention to the Aub photobombing there in the background. 🙂

The little corsage I put together at the last minute.

The little corsage I put together at the last minute.

Is there anything prettier than daffodils in a Mason jar?  Not today there's not.  My Aunt let us come gather some to bless the shower with.  And aren't they lovely?

Is there anything prettier than daffodils in a Mason jar? Not today there’s not. My Aunt let us come gather some to bless the shower with. And aren’t they lovely?

You’re Never Too Old to Skip

My sweet cousin whom I grew up playing Barbies and petting puppies and making toadhouses with sent me a gift two days ago.  One I want to share with y’all tonight.  She wrote me about something that happened that reminded her of my Mama.  A Maemae/Aunt Barbara sighting, I like to call it.  In the middle of missing Mama and grieving and remembering, it is such a precious gift to have someone else take time to remember with me.

My cousin and her daughter E, who is six months older than my Aub, travel once a week for E’s orchestra rehearsal. (She can play, y’all.)  My cousin goes along and takes her knitting and enjoys her time with her sweet girl and her time for uninterrupted knitting while E is rehearsing.  This is her story–

Last night as we were leaving, there was one of the orchestra members leaving at the same time but just slightly ahead of us.  E told me she plays flute and is very good, but is also very sweet.  She reminds me of Aunt Barbara.  She is built like her and even has some of the same features.  Well, as we are walking to our cars, she begins to skip.  Now this is not a young lady.  She is at least in her 60’s.  I thought she had one of the songs they had rehearsed in her head that encouraged her to skip.  So she turns around and sees us and I asked her what song was in her head to make her skip.  She said, “Oh, no.  I believe that the older you get the more you need to skip.”  All I could think of was your mom.  

Oh y’all.  The tears.  That is who my Mama was.  She loved this life and the people in it, and it seemed her spirit was often skipping even when her body could not.

Tonight I’m thankful for my sweet cousin who took time to share this story and who said it was okay to share it here.  I’m thankful she loves my Mama and misses her and still looks for her in this world too.  I’m grateful for my Mama, who loved life.  Her joie de vivre was a blessing to so many.

And I’m thankful for this that happened tonight on the way home from our walk with Miss Sophie.

Returning home from our walk--that's our Princess up ahead skipping along.  Cooter even started skipping a few steps later.

Returning home from our walk–that’s our Princess up ahead skipping along. Cooter even started skipping a few steps later.

I know it’s hard to tell, but when we were nearing home, our Princess began to skip.  She was singing and skipping, and I gave thanks that she has a bit of her Maemae in her too.

May you all have a skip-worthy day.  You’re never too old.  Love to all.

BYOD…..do what?

We are headed into unchartered waters, and I’m not gonna lie.  I’m more than a little worried.

Recently I found out about a plan that has been integrated into the local school system.  BYOD.  Bring Your Own Device.  That means iPads, smartphones, laptops, e-readers, tablets–bring them all.  They are planning to incorporate these devices into all areas of study–Math, Science, English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and PE.  By the beginning of the last nine weeks of this school year, this program will have been implemented in all of the schools in this county.

That’s right. The devices that could have been confiscated or gotten you in trouble before–you’re not only allowed but encouraged to bring them.

Good gravy.

I have two major problems with this.

First of all, how many children in this community have their own electronic devices at their disposal?  How many families can afford to go out and buy some kind of device now that this has been brought into existence?  My favorite coffeehouse, Bare Bulb Coffee, has a program called Backpack Buddies.  This program, as described on their website:

Each week, we fill more than 60 backpacks with food to help children who rely on free meals at school make it through the weekend. You can volunteer to pack backpacks, deliver food, or simply drop a donation by the shop. We’re collecting: juice boxes, cheese and crackers,easy mac, granola bars, trail mix, fruit cups, and instant oatmeal. 

This is not the only program in our county helping children have enough to eat on the weekends.   And on breaks.  In a county where some of our children do not have enough to eat in their homes, we are going to encourage bringing in electronic devices for use in the classrooms?  No these are not being distributed.  In reading about the program, I did not see anything about there being devices available for loan in the classrooms for those who do not have them.

My heart breaks.  I think our priorities are skewed.  Here, yet once again, we are dividing ourselves into the haves and the have nots.  We are creating that “other” that Hugh Hollowell warned us against in his post I shared once before:  “What Folks Who Live Outside Do Not Need.”  We have the children who have their own devices and then there are the other children.  I cannot stand the thought of it.

There is a video of a child who has difficulty in communication using a tablet to improve communications.  It’s awesome.  If we need those in the classrooms for learning tools, then we as a community need to step up and somehow make sure that those are available for the children who need it.  School-owned and school-provided learning resources.  That’s it.  As for day to day use in a classroom, it frustrates me beyond belief to think of the children turning the pages in their textbooks trying not to catch the glances of the ones clicking on words and instructions on their devices.  It plain makes me mad.  But then I’m the parent who got a stomachache around Field Day time each year, worrying if all of the children were able to send in the money for their class’ Field Day t-shirt.

Mama’s rule of interaction with others #568.  “You share with everyone or you put it away.”  Rule #1.  “Don’t leave anyone out.”

My other problem with this plan is what our children will actually be learning.  A couple of the examples involved clicking on QR codes and receiving instructions…..in science, in PE.  Okay, so now we’re cutting back on interaction with the instructors.  Wow.

People are unlearning how to communicate with each other.  I’m as guilty as anyone.  I have great friends whom, unfortunately, much of our contact and communication is through messages–on Facebook or text messages.  E-mail is even becoming a less used option.  I’ll take this form of communication over none at all, but still.  Are we forgetting how to sit still and look at someone and carry on a conversation?  This is my fear.  I also worry that we are becoming desensitized.  It is very easy to “say” anything on social media without seeing the hurt in someone’s eyes.  Things communicated electronically can often be misinterpreted and promote misunderstandings by the truckload.  It’s one more mess waiting to happen.  Why are we contributing to this by encouraging less human interaction in the schools?  Our children, all of them, need to learn courtesy and kindness and compassion.  School, among other places, is a place to interact with others and practice those skills.  But not if we fill their hands with devices, so their focus is there, and they are looking away from those around them.  It’s just too much.

And now for the elephant in the living room.  Yes, I homeschool.  My oldest attended a private kindergarten, Department of Defense Schools, and public schools in this county before she asked to be homeschooled at the beginning of eighth grade.  I realize I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  However, my heart is breaking for those families that cannot afford to put a device in their child’s backpack and send them to school with it.  Many families have more than one child.  How do they decide who gets to take the device they have if they even have one?  I may not send my children to school in this county, but I do have a voice and I am concerned for those whose voices may not be heard, so I decided to share my thoughts.  One of my friends expressed her own concern about being able to afford a device, and it made me sad and mad.  I love her fiercely and her little guy too.  He deserves the same opportunities as every other child in that classroom.  I don’t like to think about this form of segregation.  Because that is what it comes down to.

They say they are working to ready these students, all of them K-12, for college, where devices are used on a regular basis and integrated into the coursework.   My oldest is in college,  and she does use her electronic device in her studies.  We discovered that e-books are a lot less expensive and she (unlike me) has no trouble studying from that format.  She uses the calculator on her phone, and she communicates with her classmates through text messages.  The professors relay information through e-mail.  All of this is wonderful.  But I can tell the school system one thing, college requires something else.  Being able to get along with others.  Working together.  Being a part of group work and teams.  And compassion.  Understanding.  Tolerance.  Kindness.  Respect.

And I’m afraid, dear BOE Powers That Be, there’s just no app for those things.

Weigh in:  What are your thoughts on BYOD? 

For more information about the BYOD plan, click here.