Elias Calles Jardin de Niños DIARIES PART ONE
It's been two months since I've posted here, and I am trying to get through my blog block by letting myself off the hook of my perfectionism. As I often teach in my classes, perfection is the greatest enemy to creativity.
I have been wanting to share my experience of the Elias Calles Jardin de Ninos, the tiny little preschool that my son Emilio attends. He started at 4 years old. And now he is 5 and a half. This will be his final year there, and we will then move onto the primary school, which is next door. The kids of both schools share the same school yard.
Here are some links to previous posts about Emilio's school from the 365 Blog.
Here is some more about my latest experiences teaching at the Elias Calles Kinder:
The drive to the school is about one minute. I pass through dirt roads—mostly covered in sand. On the middle of my road is a cactus. But the closer I get to it, the more I see it is not really in the road. The road was created to go around it. But from afar it looks like its dead in the middle of the road. I love this cactus. It is so large. So outsized. You know how they say that you can feel the presence of certain things in life. Like gorrillas’ eyes, and whales and stuff like that. Well I feel that way about the cardones. Especially the really big ones, the old ones. They are so human. I feel their energy. I want to take a photo of Emilio every year next to that cactus. I have already taken a few. One the first time we walked to Elias Calles Kinder to check it out. And then again the day we had to walk to school last week because our car had broken down, and the working one was in Cabo with Lucas. Emilio happily walked with me. Sometimes we held hands. Sometimes he ran ahead. Sometimes we sang or chatted about different things. Like the name of his latest new song title, The Dark Side of Love. He said it’s just a song title, not a whole song.
Of the things that feel generous about my volunteer teaching at the school is not the time spent preparing for the class, nor the money I spend on art supplies, or raising money for the school, it’s giving up a little bit of my break from parenting. That sounds terrible. But it’s true. Giving up an hour and a half of my “off time” feels the hardest. And then I often feel nervous right before because I don't really know what I’m doing, and I usually don’t prepare as much as I think I should. Every time I think: I should practice the technique I’m teaching before I share with the kids. Or I think : I should have brought scissors, tape, or extra paper. Or I think: I should have looked up the Spanish word for design ahead of time. Or I should come up with some ground rules. Or I should do an english lesson plan. But instead, I look through my books, or brain storm with my husband or I get an inspiration from my own playing around with materials and then I decide on something that would be fun to do with the kids. I am not a very good art teacher because I don't really teach art. I am not sure I really teach anything. I think what I really do is spend time with kids doing art. That seems more apt. And really as any teacher will tell you it is all about the relationshipp you have with the kids. And I don’t feel I have much—but still they yell out my name when I come. "ZOE!!!!!" Sometimes one or two will run up to me and hug me. Or they say "me gusto trabajar con usted.” This is enough to melt away any uncertainty or grumbling about having given up my previous free time, which I often waste through overly worrying about something I cannot control. I am not completely aware of it: but the thoughts that I am a failure go through my head in some version or other. I see myself as a failure because I don't plan. And I don't like to plan. It is a flaw on my part that I sometimes overcome, and sometimes overcompensate for. Sometimes I accept it. The problem is sometimes I don't know when planning is the right thing to do verses being improvisational. I don't always know when I should be letting myself off the hook, and when I should be putting some reality-testing type of pressure on myself. I believe in freedom but I also believe in hard work. I believe in commitment, but I also believe in going with the flow. It's hard to know sometimes which instinct or belief to follow in any given moment.
The kids all talk to me at once, and I get overwhelmed, nervous, freeze up. I don’t know what to do. I sometimes say “un niño cada vez." Or something like that. Bad spanish. The kind that is translated word for word from english rather than paraphrased—reworked into equivalent expressions. But I think I mostly convey what I am trying to.
Marcitos loves Emilio. He has that look on his face all the time. He wants Emilio to sit by him. He hugs him and wrestles with him. He laugh with him. I don’t think Emilio shares quite the same enthusiasm for Marcitios. But I do believe he likes him. The boys at the school or rowdy. As rowdy as can be. They wrestle in the dust. They get unfathomably dirty. They run as fast as they can to the bathroom. Emilio almost never eats his lunch because, as he told us last week, he is too busy playing and when the choice is lunch or playtime, he chooses playtime. He doesn't want to miss anything. And then when he gets home from school he wants a snack plate. It usually involves green olives, carrots or cucumber with salt, hummus sometimes, crackers and cheese, apple or pear slices and sometimes almonds roused in the pan with salt and garlic. This seems like a lot of preparation but it is the preparation I prefer to cooking.
To be continued...