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Your Son is My Son

July 1, 2013  |  No Comments

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed this beautiful, patient song the other night. The chorus was resilient, with Karen O chanting, almost humming “my sun in your sun/your sun is my sun” over and over and over.  At the time, I thought she meant son, so, until I looked up the lyrics today I’ve been replaying “my son is your son/ your son is my son” in my head-thinking about how those lines so perfectly capture me as a mother and teacher.  The reason I chose to be a full time working mom this year-because I think that we all, maybe especially myself, have a responsibility to the world to raise our children right.  I know that African proverb “It Takes a Village..” is far more popular and probably more clear, but I prefer the Karen O version.

All year, I grappled between my role as mother to my daughter Soleil, and my role as teacher to 29 fourth graders.  The duality, at times, felt impossible.  I remember Parent Teacher Conferences in the fall-a 12 hour work day, 7AM-7PM, and the visceral pain it caused me to be away from Soleil for that long. I also remember staring back at my fourth graders one day and feeling a sense of disconnect that I had never experienced before in the classroom.  It felt strange.  What was going on? Is this what happens to teachers when they have kids? Thousands of teachers have kids and make this tick.  What was wrong with me?  Granted, I consider myself a strong teacher-I think can be found somewhere on the Danielson Framework (haha NYC teachers!).  I also have my flaws-crappy organization,  thinking too outside the box, speaking my mind too often (probably not so much Danielson Framework, and not so haha). But pre-mother Ms. Kass and current mother Ms. Minor are two very different teachers.

I recently went to the High School commencement ceremony for a group of students I taught pre-Soleil. This group was special-Cornelius taught these kids in grades 7 and 8, and when they rose up to me in 9th grade, I felt like I already knew them.   In the truest sense of the word, Cornelius and I loved those kids. We taught them about life, about words, about community.  They taught us about Brooklyn, about toughness,  about worlds we didn’t know.   They were around to see Cornelius and I get engaged, they were around to see us in our betrothed state.  We were around to see them challenge school administration, beat the unfairest of circumstances, and live their lives with zeal.  Now we bump into them with Soleil, and they think it is simply out of this world that we now have a kid together!

Seeing them walk across the stage and grab diplomas and win thousands of dollars in scholarships felt absolutely victorious.  Who we both are as educators has much to do with them.  And as I stepped back into time last week, and relived being Ms. Kass I felt lifeblood for teaching flow back through me-that same lifeblood for mothering that I feel for Soleil. 

Sometimes I think this is my Elementary teacher self vs. my High School teacher self.  Or maybe that I’m a bit of a thrill seeker in the educational landscape.  I never thought I would say this- but I like recalibrating mass chaos and navigating emotional complexities within students, and maybe even staff too. I’m still in a state of reflection, but mostly I think this is simply Ms. Kass vs. Ms Minor, and Ms. Minor is now married to a brilliant man and has a beautiful child with him.  The chaos that drove my former teaching self doesn’t really exist anymore.

And this is when I start thinking about those lines Karen O sings-“my son is your son/ your son is my son.” If you asked me a year ago to quit my job, take care of my baby, and cook for my husband, I probably would have nodded my head yes.  Hell yes.  The gravitational pull to envelope your child and shield them from the world is Magneto strong.  But I didn’t make that choice.  And I didn’t make it for good reasons-Perhaps Professor X got the best of me- I felt a stronger responsibility to help not just my kid, but a whole lot of kids.  What’s more, I think Soleil benefited ten fold from all of the wonderful people introduced to her life.  They’ve peppered her with love, and she now as a more worldly view than the Minor microcosm she would have had had it just been me and her Dad.

So, yeah. Your son is my son.  My son is your son. I still believe in that age old idealism that a child can’t be raised alone.  It does take a village.  And I’m happy that the Minors are part of it.

Addendum: This blog is no way, shape, or form is meant to disapprove of choices other moms make.  Everybody makes choices that are right for them. 

Virtual Book Club: Lean In…Let’s Begin!

May 22, 2013  |  4 Comments

Virtual Chat: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

 

Okay, I dove in, and I’m dying to share thoughts and read thoughts with you all about Sandberg’s theories on women in the workplace.   To be honest with you, I’m not sold on Sandberg yet.  But I’m wavering.  I do like this idea of leaning in, but it’s complicated, and when does Sandberg start talking about that?? (Disclaimer: I’m only on chapter 3).

Let’s start a comment thread to fuel the fire for our virtual chat here on Monday night at 8PM EST.  (Click on comments underneath the post’s title to see the thread and add comments).

Girl Power! (But what kind of power are we talking about?)

Here’s what’s running through my mind:

1) Sandberg claims that she does not advocate for all women having the same objectives, i.e. that it’s cool if some woman choose to go to work and that some women choose to stay home, saying “Some of the most important contributions to our world are made by caring for one person at a time.  We each have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values, and dreams.” (Sandberg 10).  However, she also claims that the only way for women to gain equal status with men is if women hold more positions of power.    She advocates for “ambition in any pursuit”.  Let’s keep it real Sheryl- those two ideas are dichotomous, and in my mind, they punch holes in your lean in theory. I question whether it’s possible for women to gain enough power in the world  to attain total equality with men given the biological drive women feel to stay home with their children, or spend time with their children.  The gap between men and women is the widest disparity in the world-it cuts through time, it cuts through culture.  Moreover, I question the idea and interpretation of “power” in our society, and wonder how attaining the power that Sandberg’s talking about will provide equality between men and women.

2) I love the connection between Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Sandberg’s Lean In: both profess how speaking up as a women in the workplace will laud you the title of “bitch” or that you are being “bossy”.  I work in a place full of women, and I still feel every time I speak up and am direct, people feel hurt or that I am being “bitchy”.  Sandberg says, “When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy. Boys are seldom called bossy because a boy taking the role of the boss does not surprise or offend” (19). I wonder how many other women feel like when they take the lead, they are judged negatively? Moreover, how can we as women support one another in these scenarios as opposed to pull each other down through gossip, or the expectation that we should receive emotional vindication at every meeting in the workplace?

Comment at your own pace!

In solidarity, Kass

Addendum: Let’s take two weeks to read this book.  It’s loaded! Can’t wait to comment throughout the weekend and chat on Monday via http://todaysmeet.com/LeanInBookChat

Double Addendum: This is a friendly chat designed to provoke our thoughts and to grow and learn from one another.  We might think differently, but that’s the awesome part.

Soleil Minor's Guest Post

I've got the Internet going nuts.

Soleil Minor’s Guest Post

April 3, 2013  |  1 Comment

My mom is hot stuff.

Knicks!

Strawberries. Mmmmm.