Waving my hand in the air

So my daughter started school this year and she loves math. She’ll tell anybody.

Mostly people say “Good for her! Math is important for girls.”

And I cringe a little. There is a huge SHOULD in this. There is a historic should coming from the cold war era, that America needs mathematicians to have primacy on the global arena. There is a more recent should, that females should be encouraged in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) so that gender imbalances and misogyny can be diminished.

She’s only in kindergarten. I want her to like what she likes. I wonder how she interprets these well-intentioned responses to her love of math.

She’s doing well in school, but I’m a little worried about how they are teaching reading. It doesn’t make sense to her or me. She reads fine for her age, but I want her to feel confident about what she’s doing when she reads.

I love her teacher, she’s great. But teachers don’t know everything. And I think my daughter needs more than what she’s getting.

I remember struggling with certain parts of reading. I remember so well. I remember a lot of things, and other things I forget.

I have had this box of old notebooks I needed to sort through. Some of the things in the notebooks were worth keeping, and some were not. Time to render down the pile.

I always keep notebooks. I write down grocery lists and phone numbers. I also write out my big projects plans. And poems and journal entries. I wanted to keep the big stuff.

And of course it brings me back to the times when those things were happening. I found letters I’d written but never sent to Chris when we were first dating. Oh! The agony of fresh love.

I was younger, for sure. I hesitate to say I was young. 27 years old and seen a bit of life.

I kept running across this idea in what I was writing to Chris, “I want you to hear my ideas and tell me what they mean.”

I was so sure that there was meaning. I didn’t know the meaning and I was looking outside myself for the answer. I was very confident that most people–well, the smart people that I liked and respected–would know more than I did, and could crack the puzzle box of my mind.

As a child I had heard so often that I should listen to my betters, and I had learned it. When I grew up I still clung to this idea that someone else knew better than I did and could explain it to me.

Waving my hand high, “Teacher! Teacher! I have a question.”

It is a nice dream to think that the answer to all my questions was so close by. That someone with the answer book was right there to help me.

So, when I first met Chris I put him on that pedestal. I wanted him to be the one with all the answers. Bless him; he didn’t take advantage of my insecurity. He was patient, and never pushed me into what I didn’t want

Our relationship has come past that immature expectation I had. Looking back at my old notebooks I see it now and realize I have changed.

And still, I have not changed that much. I can see a lot of ways that I still give away my authority to know.

It was only a couple of years ago that a teacher told me “All your empowerment comes from inside of you.”

When I heard it, it gonged my bones and I knew it was true. I still had to work hard to find a way to practice it. I’m still working on it. I have a feeling that I am going to want someone else to tell me the answer my whole life.

I also know that when it comes down to it, I am the one who has to figure it out. Especially when it is a question of something original- a new idea or a work of art. I’m the only one who can tell if it’s right because I’m the only one who thought of it.

Life doesn’t have letter grades. It is only attendance.

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