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Be Mine ♥

valentine

I came across an advert for bespoke classroom Valentine’s Day cards. Remember those lovely flimsy boxes of 35-40 (yes, classes were that large once) cartoon festooned cards? The envelopes were whisper thin and there were always a couple of extra tossed into the cellophane wrapped box for the inevitable grade school penmanship mishaps. A grade school consumer could choose from a collection of cherubic animals holding hearts and coyly asking the recipient to “Be Mine” or from themed collections (e.g., Winnie The Pooh, Charlie Brown, Strawberry Shortcake, etc.) The themed collections always posed a minor quandary as to the intent of the card exchange. Should a card reflect solely the interests of the giver (and thereby be best supported by the sender’s favorite characters?) Or should a card be chosen to please the recipient (no matter how little is known about the recipient?)

When giving a gift (and what else is a greeting card but a written gift) it’s best to think of the recipient. You might feel most comfortable/joyful in a novelty shop, but a whoopee cushion for your humorless uncle is going to fall flat. The point of giving something to someone else is to think of what pleases him or her and act on that thought. (This is why re-gifting is merely passive-aggression in a pretty package.) No one wants to receive something (card, gift, etc.) that merely communications; “Phew, checked You off the list!” Ouch.

So what to make of the advert mentioned above. This offer, from a photo-processing company, was to convert a head shot of one’s tyke into fetching classroom Valentine’s Day cards. Now unless my child is Elizabeth Taylor (and her signed photo is serious money in the bank for a second-grader) or (G-d Forbid!) missing; why would I want her/his photo plastered on distributed flyers cards? Does the parent (who would have to do this kind of high level card selection) honestly think’ “You know what would make my kid’s classmates really feel special?…” as they crop and save? Doubtful. My guess is that unlike the small child (with his/her developing sense of empathy and otherness) the parent thinks; “OMG how cute!” It’s not a crime to think one’s child is just precious, in fact the human race is dependent upon it. It’s just that it misses the point. We do things for other people to make other people feel good. That’s it. It really is that simple. Don’t believe me? Ask a child.

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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Holiday

 

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A Kind Of September

Even if it’s 85 and humid as the rainforest where you live, those small people carrying enormous backpacks and wearing brand-new clothes are proof that autumn is coming. And even if your (9:00 – 3:00) days aren’t filled with new faces, expectations and even new buildings, it can still be a season of newness. With the lazy hazy days formally over, we can’t help but feel a little more purposeful, a little more focused. Soon we’ll stash our shorts and flip-flops and put back on our grown-up clothes. Before we know it the holidays will be upon us (for some they start in September) and the accompanying preparations will go beyond firing up a grill. But before we get all ‘chain drugstore Christmas display in August’ let’s focus on September.

Try to remember that feeling of hopefulness that comes with a clean, blank notebook and the spelling out of an instructor’s expectations. In chalk, on a syllabus or on-line; we were told what was expected of us and in those first few days we had done nothing to diminish those expectations. We believed we could achieve; long division, macroeconomics, modern European history or organic chemistry. Before we forget to write down an exam date, or procrastinated or let anxiety rule our studying, we felt we can do this thing. Feeling something is possible is invigorating. Is it the clean notebook, not yet a jumbled mess of missing notes? Is it the confidence and authority of a teacher assuming we can do what is asked of us? Is it the fact that everyone else (unless they’ve been left back) is in the same boat? Is it the fact that the very nature of education is that the content is always new? The majority of adult life is not filled with newness. Yes, there are at times new; partners, homes, jobs, or family members. But there is nothing cyclically new about adulthood. But there could be.

What if we all went “back to school” every September? Not literally of course (whoa! take a deep breath; you might want to put your head between your knees for a few minutes.) What if we pledged (to ourselves) to do something new every September? Something we need to “learn?” It needn’t be academic, but it shouldn’t be easy either. What about…

  • Learning to see things from someone else’s perspective?
  • Learning why we do something that troubles us (i.e., shop, drink, or eat excessively)?
  • Learning the difference between our needs and a loved one’s needs?
  • Learning to look at ourselves in the mirror and love what we see?

No doubt there are dozens more examples that are relevant and achievable. Let’s find one that feels slightly daunting yet not wildly out of our reach (we don’t teach calculus to second-graders now, do we?) Let’s give ourselves the whole academic year to finish the assignment. Trying something new, regardless of the outcome, is hopeful. It is in essence a declaration: “I’m here and I’m engaged with the world!” But first things first, let’s go out and get ourselves a brand-new notebook.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Education, Well-Being

 

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