The Monarch Files

The Monarch Academy is the Motivation for this posting and reference. With one campus in Glen Burnie, MD and another opening in Baltimore in August 2011, The Monarch Files will highlight what I learn from the children and throughout the process of serving and leading and leading and serving. The school’s mission is to educate all students to be self-motivated, creative, critical thinkers and life-long learners who are productive contributors to the global community in the 21st century. Monarch Academy is a place where children are encouraged to think critically, to question, reflect and participate in a rigorous, highly interactive instructional program that integrates arts and technology across the curriculum. It is also the school that my two grandsons attend (Glen Burnie) and one in which I have become very interested in.

The Monarch Files

The Monarch Files will chronicle of my experiences as I submit myself to sit at the feet of the children to learn. “Unless you become like a child…” – I take literally and figuratively. I hope that you will enjoy the journey and experience and feel free to comment. It is my firm belief that NO ONE parent can meet every need of any ONE child. It does require a village. It will require our working together. After viewing the introductory videos required before you can work with the children, my heart was moved to see the essence of the child and not the perceived acting out or their attempting to merge the many different messages they receive from those important in their lives. Mom says one thing, dad says another, my sister and brother have yet another and then there are the views of the family and friends, the media and everything else. Who hears the child. I am honored to meet the teachers and staff of Monarch and the vibe I feel each time I walk through the doors. I know that the children are loved here…thus, this is where you will find me as often as possible. ~Peace

The Monarch Files will chronicle my experiences and reflections as I choose to allow myself to sit at the feet of the children to learn. You will probably think I’m taking the quotes a bit literal but I say unto you that the children touched my heart in a way you must remember – and it was said, “Unless you become like a child…” I hope that you will enjoy the journey and feel free to comment. I have learned so much about myself from the children that I decided to begin to share it and some of what the learning means. It is my firm belief that NO ONE parent can meet every need of any ONE child. It does require a village. It will require our working together.

Dimension Date 4.8.11 – After spending time with a fifth grade class yesterday, I was reminded of the precious cycle of life and how easy it is to be only consumed with only mammal or human life. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. Oysters are often considered a “keystone species,” providing valuable shelter and habitat for many other estuarine organisms, improving water quality, and reducing bank erosion. Oysters are broadcast spawners, meaning they release eggs and sperm into the water column. A fertilized egg develops into a planktonic (free-swimming) trochophore larva in about 6 hours. A fully shelled veliger larva is formed within 12 to 24 hours. The story goes on much further. When there are not enough males, the females can change gender and become male, and they can also return to female. The older oysters play a significant role in the perpetuation of life. Intricately linked, we are such a miniscule part of the entire plan and at the same time we each have a critically unique role. The fire would be only a flicker without each individual flame. The oceans, seas and lakes would be but a dry gulch without the mist, rain and snows. The choir would not be the same without the individual voices. The cycle is complete and we only play a part, but oh what a beautiful part. What part will you play today? A choice of life and death are always before you…to be in alignment or to get in alignment. Choose to BE. ~ Peace and Blessings

Dimension Date 4.6.11 – Today was a challenging day and a day of acceptance but oh how difficult it is some times. I watched the insolence coming from a small group of the children (boys to be exact) and experienced literally the inability to do nothing. It was if it were one of their older brothers or sisters, their parents…somebody; but my goodness where did they learn to know the difference between that which builds and that which destroys and to consciously choose the negative energy or response? Was it something I needed to experience? Was this a sign of the future? I then wondered how the others who really wanted to learn and engage could, when significant time was absorbed by those who would not. And while I happened to be in a first grade class, I have seen the same thing in the kindergarten and fifth grades. As I watch what they bring to school in their lunch boxes (mostly junk), and how they throw away carrots and apples, I wonder how much of it is nutritionally based? Some of them come to school unkempt, some looking like they need sleep, some with clothes that obviously need mending. My hope is that parents learn to make their children’s diets their priority, ensure they get adequate sleep, spend quality time with them doing their homework and question what they are learning and what they are doing, visit the school to help ensure some degree of accountability and respect with the teacher, love them as a living soul depending upon your guidance. The weight cannot continue to be place upon the teachers. I have the utmost respect for them.

Dimension Date 3.30.11 – Today I learned from a wonderfully intelligent and gifted little friend the importance of learning how to “lose.” While participating in a game event during P.E. (physical education aka gym for you ole-schoolers) this one little friend lost the competition. I watched the teacher provide every possibility for success. When the little one came in second, he broke down, began to cry and the tears flowed from his eyes while the mucous rushed from his nose. He screamed that he no longer wanted to be in the school. He never wanted to come back to PE classes. The other little friend who came in second was no longer his friend. I first attempted to get him to get his breathing under control. I reinforced how intelligent he was for he could read better than any other kindergartener in his class, he could write cursive and no one else could yet he was caught up in this one thing that another did better than he could at the present. I gently reminded him of this and one other thing that will be important to him in life – learning how to lose. He said, “But you are not my grandfather.” I recognized that he was reflecting upon my relationship with my grandson, one of his classmates. I encouraged him that he can do the same with his mother and father the same way they taught him to read and write. I encouraged him that in order to be fully happy that he will need to learn how to lose and how to win. Once you lose, you simply get back into the game and attempt again. The more you put forth your effort the easier it will get. Some days will bring rain, some snow and some sunshine. There are typically more days of sunshine than rain right. He said, “yes.” When we returned to the classroom, I asked him what did he learn about himself today and he responded that he has to learn how to lose, how to not let losing get him down. I told him that it was not a loss but a lesson in winning. I’m asking you, how are we teaching our little ones to win and lose? How are you teaching them to win? You see, I also observed those who won and how some taunted the ones who did not. I watched the NCAA basketball games last week and saw several grown men crying when they loss. Is this lesson ever learned? Is winning overrated? How can we better prepare our little ones for the journey ahead? For the journey now?

Dimension Date 3.24.11 – It is my birthday and everyone is asking what will you do on your birthday? I actually missed the kindergarten students and wanted to spend a few hours with them. I thought of my wish to take a cake, with ice cream, plates and spoons, party hats and have a great time singing songs. I was reminded that I cannot bring outside food in and all of the ramifications including allergies, liabilities and how much easier it was for me to share their snack if they should offer and not my own. I understood but it didn’t remove the feeling of wanting to play with the little friends and eat ice cream and cake. My grandson and I instead took in a movie “Mars Needs Moms” and I thought how delightful a message of love to mothers.

Dimension Date 3.18.11 – You want to talk about challenging! Wow! A first grade class today blew me away. It was as if they each received a jolt of lightening energy that would not allow them to sit down, do what they were supposed to do, listen, share, cooperate with one another or participate for that matter. It was as if the skin rolled back and you could see them in pure essence, without boundaries or limitations. I recalled how it was for me to move from one teacher to another and up to the next grade. One little one said, “It always happens when there is a substitute teacher on duty.” It struck me interestingly enough how conscious the little friends were aware of what they could test, get away with since we subs had not history. We all test limits don’t we. I know where they get it from. The little friends cause you to go down to your core, to ask yourself, really: why are you here and to what extent do you care? They need us as much as we need them. I continue to learn about this thing called patience and the need for encouragement at all times. I’m now wondering how I will handle the little angel who can at will – produce tears, start to cry and attempt to evoke sympathy for her way. She is very conscious that she does it and uses it to get her way. It stops as soon as she has her way. I wondered how she learned this and how her parents deal with it. I look forward to meeting some of the parents. I continue on and know that it really does take a village to raise a child and I also recognize that the child too…is an intricate part of the village.

Dimension Date 3.10.11 – I wanted to share this brief piece from yesterday’s time with the little ones. Some don’t like to sing, some think the song is stupid, some are just too “grown” to sing. One song and many voices is like one fire with many flames. Collectively, a group of kindergarten students (about 50) under the direction of their teachers (3 and 3 aides) are practicing a song for an upcoming event they will participate in. I wanted to share it with you and let you know…I believe the children are are future…build them up and help them lead the way… ~Thanks again and next week I am at Monarch Tue, Wed and Thursday. Yes, when I get home in the afternoon, I am wiped out…for it does require additional energy. Are you ready? Calling all parents…visit your child’s school. They spend more time with school, sports, t.v., and sleep than they do one on one with most parents. They need you and we cannot expect the teachers or the school to be both parent and teacher. I share with you now…the song from the little ones…Peace In My Soul: Monarch-Peace In My Soul

Dimension Date 3.9.11 – The journey and learning goes on. I have had the opportunity to be at the school for three days since my last writing. Normally I am there on Thursdays to visit Ms. Kate’s class. The past few days I have been there working as a teacher’s aide. Nothing changes, just a full dose of the experience as opposed to 2 hours per week. The young ones are the same, their needs are the same, the love, gentleness and care required is the same. I want to say again, I really appreciate the school administrators and the teachers and staff for their respect and dedication to the little ones. I have become acutely aware of how important it is for parents to visit their children’s schools. Get involved! It is late to study for the test when the paper is in front of you. The children are teaching me patience and unconditional love. I actually get to see the impact of kind words immediately.

Yesterday, one of the little ones from out of the blue tells me that his father died. What did he see in me? What is it that he needs from me? What is it that we need to talk about? I am prepared to give an answer when we do sit together. I know that it is in small amounts that each one of the children must receive in any given moment. We began the conversation. The first time he mentioned it was in response to a question, “what would your mother and father think about what you are doing.” For it to come back up, unsolicited – for me gives indication that it is getting nearer the time to have the conversation. In the meanwhile, I encourage him, demonstrate and allow him to do, let him know it is a good job, that I support him and want to see him do his best. Ahhh, my lessons, lessons, lessons suggest that each person appreciates a measure of respect, love, care and my attention. The more I remind myself that while they are each powerful within, the more I realize that they are learning to navigate in the world of adults, jobs, fast cards, t.v. and whatever else may be going on. I continue to remind myself that they only have 5 years experience compared to my 57. I am so grateful for each lesson and look forward to the journey. There are many other stories to share but I think they each hold very similar ingredients, patience, love, mutual respect, care and persistence are required in all that is done…especially in living day to day relating to others outside ourselves.

Dimension Date 3.3.11 – I had the opportunity to meet one of the most wonderful men I have had the pleasure of meeting. You could see it in his eyes, the tone in his voice, the love expressed toward the younger ones, his connection with the staff and the light in the eyes of the little ones as they arrived and greeted him…Good Morning Mr. Robb. My assignment today was to work with the first grade students. One of the things that I have mentioned before is the level sensitivity of the school and staff to work with young people individually, to meet them where they are, to encourage, respect, love, model and teach them. In each class I have been in I watched kids teasing one another, anger in their faces. One child was obstinate for a great part of the day. I then noticed that he was really challenged with the work given to him, yet his behavior projected that he had it all together but when you looked at what he was doing, he really needed help. His pride, in my mind, gave him all the ammunition he needed to fire away comments at other students, look down on others, ignore directions, etc. Yet, Mr. Robb has created an environment (which is the philosophy of the school) that met each child where they are.

It’s easy to want to be with the “nice” children, the beloved, those who conform – RIGHT! It is a must to be with the others for they at times believe they are bad when in fact the choices they are making are simply not getting the results they want. Parents…you need to visit your child’s school. Don’t wait for a challenge to occur before respond. Respond because you love your child and want to support them, because you want to know the people and the environment where your child spends the majority of his/her waking time. Last but not least, one young man I met really touched my heart in a way that has helped shape the ways I relate to others from this day on…he reminded me of the patience needed and the love applied as we relate with one another.

He has a checklist that is used to provide feedback to him and his parents on his behavior in  different areas (safe space, listening, etc.) and each hour he gets feedback and there is a segment of time at different times that he has an opportunity to take a short time out before reengaging with the other students. When I first met him that morning, I introduced myself, told him who I was substituting for and told him that he was going to have one of his best days ever. The day went well until shortly after lunch. One other young one was teasing him and stepping on his shoe laces (which should have been tied by the way lol) and I heard him yell stop it! I saw the other child picking with him. I went over and he asked if I could move him in line to another position because the one man who was teasing him could get it if he did not stop. Yep, we addressed the behavior of the one teasing, shifted their positions and it was fine. I had given both of them a verbal warning and for that it meant a mark on his sheet.

Toward the end of the day I had my departing conversation with him. I told him that I was inclined to remove the mark and make his day perfect without any blemishes. I told him that the reason I was doing it was because I respected the decision that he had made to manage and modify his behavior; for the wisdom in speaking to an adult before he did something “violently childish” by throwing a blow. I told him that I wanted to recognize him for making the best choice in this situation which was something that no one could do for him…he made this one on his own. I wrote on the paper to his parents that he exercise awesome decision making and gave him the form to take home to his parents. Thank you my new friend for the lesson and thank you Mr. Robb and all your students for continuing to help me grow and expand. I look forward to another opportunity to be with Mr. Robb’s class.

Dimension Date 2.17.11 – Today was a different type of day. I received an email from the teacher letting me know that she would not be there to greet me but that she had included me in the plan if I was visiting this day. She was attending a training session and wanted to know if I would assist the substitute teacher with a literacy project. Prior to arriving I was notified that my GRANDson was having a rough day. When I arrived to the school and entered the classroom I was surprised to see the number of little ones over energized, bouncing, engaged, each sprouting their wings and testing the limits of this new found environment without their regular teacher. It seemed to take more energy today to stay engaged and with each and every hand raised and hearing Mr. Emilio, Mr. Emilio, Mr. Emilio. I went back to a state of consciousness experienced when I was in the 5th grade and we had a substitute teacher. I recall classmates throwing paper and pencils when the teacher’s back was turned. It ended in a fight with a student attacking and going toe to toe with the teacher when he was asked to leave the classroom. It was embarrassing and I can only imagine how humiliating it may have been to the teacher. It was at this point, in my minds eye, that I shifted the situation with a different outcome in my imagining where I saw the student apologizing to the class and the teacher.

I began to talk with one of the educational guides and she mentioned how with the school being closed because of snow, the teacher being absent, colds and sickness, the weather changing, the full moon and other things had an impact upon the little ones behavior. I was impressed to see another adult be sensitive to all of the implications of how each element impacts another. Once a pebble is dropped the ripples follow. It is easy to say the kids are this or that, when there are greater forces having an impact – not to mention the same impact on their parents, friends, homes, community, etc. I then reflected upon my ability to adjust and be flexible when with others and to what extent am I willing to look at all that is going on as a contributor to the now. Now when I come into the classroom, there is a different sense of love and respect and it says a lot about continuity in the relationship. I look forward to seeing them again next week. As for my GRANDson, I express my concern with the timing of his behavior in class and separated the outcome from who he is. Yes, I want to be judged in the manner in which I judge. The little ones continue to teach me about how assumptions are used and love is shared. A question asked of one child; what would your your mother and father think about what you are doing receives a response of, “They would not appreciate it” from one child and “My father died” from another. There is also one little angel who each week wants to share what her mother and father have taught her and the fact that she knows this now beyond her years (my mom showed me how to sew and draw and my dad because he travels has taught me so much about other countries in the world…see my maps). You have got to love them and become sensitive to how that love is displayed to each individually. Stay tuned…

Dimension Date 2.10.11 – Each week before sharing a story, I check in with the Little Angels for review. What did I say is the most precious gift – BREATH, and what did I say was the 2nd most important gift – IMAGINATION – great, close your eyes for a few seconds and I want you to IMAGE_IN that you are the best person that you can be. After doing this, one little one said, “I am imagining right now, it is exploding from my brain and being pushed out everywhere. I’m imagining right now. I said GREAT! When I had the opportunity, I talked with him only to reaffirm how amazing it is when you listen to the mouth of babes speaking: Monarch Files-Imagination

Another Little Angel was placed on break because she would not choose to focus with the rest of the class. I had a chance to talk with her also and I asked, knowing how precious and intelligent you are, I was wondering what you imagined you would get for not focusing attention…she thought for a while and said “trouble”. I asked if that was her intent – to get into trouble…she said NO. Then again I am wondering what you imagine would happen. She said that she did not want to be separated from the group. She just wanted to say what she wanted to say and do what she was doing, which was interrupting the process. I asked her if she believed since they were learning how to tell time on the clock, if there was a time for work, time for play and dancing, time for reading, time for eating, time for talking and time for being silent. She said yes. I then said, oh, OK then you are learning how to better tell time and what is best to do in those moments. She said yes. I said great, I think they miss you over there. When you think you are ready to go back you can. She returned to the group. I noticed that she was focused and participating without distracting others. I told her how proud I was of her for understanding so quickly, making the adjustment and doing something different. She smiled and I thought, how many of them are going through the same thing.

Lastly, at the end of a story I shared, “The Three Wishes” I ask, if you had three wishes and could give them away, who would you give them to and why. No child gave it to family or friends. They each wanted to give it to someone who had no food, no place to live, no money – the people who were most needy. Such unselfishness…amazing and I look forward to seeing them next week. I also realize how much I have to be focused and attentive to hear and listen to what they are communicating. It reminds me of the patience required to talk to someone with a strong accent, the tone, pitch, speed and volume. When I take the time to adjust my hearing the listening becomes less frustrating and then I am able to receive. It started, however, in a place where I prepared myself to receive. Stay tuned.

Dimension Date 2.3.11 –  Reflecting upon many different experiences shared with the “Little Ones” I am reminded of a blessing I received after we adjourned and I had some time to be on the receiving end of blessings and wisdom. Thus, without mentioning any child’s name I would like to share the story of Coloring the Rabbit.

Inspired by one of the precious little ones in the Monarch Files, who was adopted and brought to the US from China. She said last week that this was the month of the rabbit in her country and she brought in photocopies of a rabbit for each student to color in honor of the celebration if they wanted to. I joined her and three other students who had decided to color. We had crayons and colored markers with thick and thin points. I was coloring my rabbit yellow with all of the other shapes on its’ body green (these would include spots or different designs on the rabbits coat of fur). One of our little ones approached and asked what I was doing and sat there. I explained that I was supporting the observance of a Chinese holiday by supporting our sister who was born there. I asked if he wanted to help me. He wanted to join in on my coloring. I asked him if he could see the patterns. He said yes and then told me that he would do the green spots if I did the yellow. I told him that my idea was to try to color within the lines. He began to color and went all outside the lines causing green to run over into the yellow. He asked me how it looked and how he did. I told him that it depended upon his intent. If his intent was to color over lines and outside them, it was perfect.
If his intent was to stay within the lines, we will need more practice. Everything we do tends to take some practice if we are to master and sustain it. Another child spoke up and said, my mommy and daddy don’t color with me and I said that it was OK because you have an opportunity to come here and do it with friends and others who care about you as well and that often times mommy and daddy have other things they need to do. I appreciated this exchange and thanked them for reminding me that even in the midst of supporting another, I too must remember my intent and when I need to practice so that my noble intents are sustained.

Note: The Rabbit symbolizes such character traits as creativity, compassion, and sensitivity. Rabbits are friendly, outgoing and prefer the company of others. Please be encouraged to investigate and learn more about another cultural experience and observance. ~Peace

Dimension Date 2.3.11 –  Today I shared a story with them, “Lise and The Magic Box.” I found a beautifully hand painted box shaped like a heart in my collection of “toyees” that was made with a top that would come off and you could put things in it. Well today, it was to serve as my magic box. I stopped at Michaels and purchased hundreds of stars (jewels) that were placed in the box. I also purchased yards of hemp so that I could cut lengths and have each child make a necklace with the shining star. We began with the story, and when asked, if they had a magic box what would they wish for, my heart began to melt. One wanted candy, another to be a teen-age, to another to be grown, to another a Toyota, to another to have a nice car, one to be rich, another to be tall, and so on. No one wished to be anyone else…just modifications on the self they knew. Once the story was over I magically dropped the box and all of the stars fell out. Some children grabbed hand fulls while others took one. In the end, they each returned what was extra and they each received a piece of hemp to thread through the star-jewel-bead that then could be tied. They were promised that because they were willing to share that they would all have an opportunity to make one for their mother, father and sister or brother. They don’t forget anything, so if you are not ready to deliver, don’t promise. After we had the necklaces on, they were reminded of the precious gift they each have within them – their BREATH. Today they would also be told of another precious gift they have – IMAGINATION. After brief sharing on imagination and that they each has the power to create through their imagination, we watched the YouTube clip I did previously and mentioned the breathing. As I watched and listened, I realize how significant it was to pay attention because each of them is operating at a different vibration with different needs and each can be reached but the approach needed to be customized to the individual.

I’m simply reflecting upon the reminders and simplicity of knowing and growing with the little ones. I am becoming increasingly aware of how much I need to pay attention for while each one can be loved, they each have different ways they have been taught to receive it or recognize it. I choose to be open and flexible to the best ways of how to demonstrate that love and care to them where they are and not where another may want them to be. As we were adjourning they left me with this to share with my radio audience:  The Monarch Files

Dimension Date 1.27.11 -To much of my surprise it is a snow day today and I am reflecting upon how much I missed the little ones. I also reflect the significance and importance of honoring my word and commitment to them. Sometimes I think that a child’s greatest fear instilled into them at an early age is the fear of abandonment. It is from this place that I honor my words to them? It is from this space that I will focus on my feelings and how I feel when I am with the little ones. I will let them know that I love them and missed being with them. Until next time…

Dimension Date 1.20.11 – The lesson and reflection that I have chosen to experience is that of understanding, increasing, possessing, having and using more patience. Persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties is one way to look at patience. Some may even suggest that it is the endurance one’s character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast. I asked my wife one day, “Where did you get your patience?”? She could not tell me but I admired it and wanted some of it. We shall see how it goes and will let you know as it progresses. I have testified before Congress, flown across the country and around the world talking to individuals from 1 to 5,000 at a time; have a Masters Degree and have run my own company, The Koi Group, for the past 13 years and there is more, however,  when it comes to working with a group of kindergarten children, keeping them engaged and focused on what’s going on, I quickly felt at a lost. The lessons on patience are being reinforced. I AM recalling the words from the Four Agreements: 1) Don’t make assumptions, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Be impeccable to my word, and 4) Do my best. This is the information that was downloaded for me as I journey forward. More to come.

Recorded in the classroom with another parent: Monarch Audio File With Parent

A follow up interview with a 5 year old (my GRANDson) regarding the breathing practice: Breath Dialogue with One of My Teachers

Dimension Date 1.17.11 – Well, I have held off long enough. This week the children will focus on Martin Luther King and discussions of peace. Ms. Kate said if I have any stories or activities along that line to bring them in. I look forward and will search for something that is age appropriate for the students. In the meanwhile, check out this short piece on Holding the Sacred Breath.

 

Dimension Date 1.16.11 – I met my grandson one day after school. I asked his mother if I can spend some time with him at the library and that I would bring him home in an hour. I talked with him about the creativity within him. I talked to him about his breath. I asked, when you want food that must mean that you are… hungry. When you want water that means that you are… thirsty. What does it mean when you want a breath – to breathe… I want to live. We then begin to talk about how sacred the breath was. We then talked about how we each share one breath. One exhales while another inhales. Even plant and humans have a symbiotic relationship with oxygen and carbon dioxide. We focused on being aware of the breath.I told him that I wanted to begin to show him how to hold that sacred breath four times a minute. Breathe in for five seconds, hold it for five seconds, release it over five seconds. Repeat. Breathe in 2, 3, 4, 5… Hold it 2, 3, 4, 5… Release it 2, 3, 4 5. We repeat this four times which means that within that minute we borrowed a breath four times, held each of those breaths four times, and released each of them four times. Repeat. We then began to practice with our hands on our laps. There is more to come… and the kids want to hear the story about the snake. We will also talk about the importance of breath as well. When we can become aware of our breath and control our breath, we give ourselves other options and clarity of mind.

Dimension Date 1.15.11 – Ok, it is my first day and I arrive. I sign in, show my drivers license, my information is entered into the computer, a name tag is printed and I am pointed to the location of both grandsons and the location of the cafe where the younger grandson was having lunch. I knew he was not going to be very happy to see me because he had been having a pretty rough time. I checked in and met his teacher, Ms. Kate and proceeded to the cafe to talk with him. I expressed my disapproval with him about his behavior, expressed my love for him as a person and we went back to his classroom. He apologized to the classmates about his behavior and I decided that I should return some other time. Right now I am thinking that if I stop in once or twice a month that will be quite helpful for him. I felt a very warm reception coming into the building from the receptionist to each and every adult I passed along the way. The children even seemed to be mellow. The school was colorful, clean, artistic, nicely laid out and you would never know it from the outside. I had to know more about this place. I did return and shared a couple stories. I enjoyed the kids and Ms. Kate said that I should consider if I have the time, coming on a regular basis. I sat with that and will give it strong consideration.

Dimension Date 1.14.11 – Oh yeah! This was a different brother. As some would say, “an old soul”. I remember my first interaction with him around his behavior in school. You see, when a child pushes another child or hits, etc. s/he becomes unsafe to other children. Being unsafe creates the sense that you are no longer wanted. Well, for whatever reason, he felt that he had to defend his honor when another kid hit him or pushed him. He felt that he needed to gain attention through talking or not paying attention. Punishing him by taking things away or restricting things did not work. I decided to watch him. The more I watched him the more I could recognize that what I would have previously called “off in another world or day dreaming” was interesting and consistent enough to cause me to reflect, turn to wonder and ask him about what was going on with him. The more we talked the more I realized how easy it was to misunderstand him. I could only imagine the number of other children who are misunderstood. I began to accept that the same divine source if you will, energy, life, breath… that lives within and animates me, equally lives within my grandson. I decided that this time, I would visit him in school but I had to do it differently than before. I had to come serve as a fellow human being; not as master pupil, adult child but as one who cared about an environment of love that would stimulate him, not as the mean grandpa to chastise every this – that is not supposed to be done – or that.

I needed to go join him for lunch, events, class, etc. I chose to come to do a story one day and introduce myself to all the students. My grandson was excited that I was coming and he didn’t have to take but two breaks that day. Breaks are necessary when… yep, you got it; but they are not as bad as being sent to the Principal’s office, the Dean of Students or Home. So, it sounds like it might be getting better but he is expecting me to come to his school and at this point that is not necessarily a good thing to have happen, “someone has to come to the school because of the child.”

Dimension Date 1.13.11 – I had learned from his older brother that it did make a difference to have grandpa come to your school. The other grandson learned very quickly that he was too cool to have his grandpa show up in school. Now he had to be concerned with grandpa showing up anywhere; on the way home from school, in the school office waiting for you, at the corner or intersection that he should cross. Just a side note, one day as I was waiting for him to come home from school, there was no sign of him and he surely would have passed me by now. Concerned, I drove to the school and did not see any children walking. The Crossing Guard said all of the kids were gone. I went back towards his home when I noticed him coming up alongside one of the neighborhood member’s backyards. I think this was what made a major difference in his life and the shift in the quality of our relationship. I never wanted him to think that I did not trust or respect him. I only wanted him to know that I love him, that we all loved him and that he should walk the designated route to and from school as agreed and committed to with his parents. If something were to happen we would only know to retrace the direction that we knew he was supposed to take.

It may have been a wee bit early for this level of communication but I sat him down and talked to him about the child safe network and how many people living within walking distance had been convicted or had some history of physical and/or child abuse. The message was that we depended upon him to follow directions and that he needed to be doing his part as part of the team. I never had any other trouble with this one. As a matter of fact, he broke down emotionally and started to cry when his mother told him that she was calling his grandpa about his behavior. I had developed the respect and love from this young man…he also gave me my props and continues to show the utmost respect when we are together. To this day, I still try to make every football, basketball or other sports game. I purchased a set of golf clubs for him so that we could begin that. He knows that he can have anything from me that I can give. He knows that he must do his part. Now, on to the second grandson who is 5 years old and completely different than his brother. I already know that the strategies used with his brother will not work on him.

Introductory Background

Dimension Date 1.12.11 – It began at Monarch Academy in Ms. Kate’s kindergarten class. No, let’s roll the tape backwards a little bit and give you more of the back-story. My oldest grandson who is now eleven experienced behavioral challenges if you will when he was in the kindergarten and my sense of the story I guess begins here. Actually, it began as I recall walking to kindergarten to a one-room schoolhouse in Columbia, S.C. some 51 years ago. Ah yes, Ms. Kershaw, a bit on the large size I do recall, could get mean and would sting you with the ruler if you stepped outside the behavior that she expected. I do, however, recall liking her. She was my first “teacher” and I am amazed that I can still recall her name let alone the 2nd grade Ms. McCloud, Ms. Jackson was the 3rd grade, Mr. Grigsby was the 4th grade, Ms. Roane was the 5th grade teacher and Ms. Roy was the 6th grade teacher.  I am not sure about the first grade, as it may have been Ms. Kershaw, we may have been moving as a family, but something is not as clear about that. I do know that of all the teachers the ones who stood out were Ms. Kershaw, Mr. Grigsby and Ms. Roy. I digress and humbly apologize. Back to the story at hand relating to my grandsons. In case I fail to mention it, I want to go on the record to say that I think that the most successful aspect of my connection and engagement in my grandsons lives rests solely on the foundation of the relationship that we have developed with one another, different things tried, history and a deep love. I want more time with them and hope to bring that authentic and unconditional love that it sparks the same desires in other parents and grandparents to love and serve as an authentic adults and that our children learn to engage with one another in mutually respectful, loving and caring ways.

I’ve been to my grandsons plays/recitals, sports events, classrooms, outdoors, indoors, movies, arcades, have produced video clips of them, music for them, pictures of them, painted with them, played and wrestled with them, chastised them, challenged them, have grown with them and now looking forward to learning from them. Awesome! Some of the nicest memories were picking them up from school and going directly to lunch, milkshakes, movie and the arcade at Dave & Buster. Well, back to the story. OK, I think it’s taking too long to get in to the story so here goes. I offered to visit with my grandson at his school, meet his teacher, etc. to help support his parents; both of whom I am extremely proud of, and who both work during the day and cannot afford to miss work subject to their child’s – my grandson’s – disruptive behavior in the classroom. The initial goal was to help my grandson begin to understand that while he is a child he does have a role in the family as part of the team. We began by focusing on the positions of players on a sports team. Perfect timing here because the older grandson was playing three different positions on his football team (offense, defense and special teams) which was a natural to use a football team with offense, defense and special teams. My grandson learned that Grandpa was playing on their team also but only on the special teams. He only gets called into the game for special plays. This was one of those special plays…OK – grandson needs support, ready – BREAK!  Ready, set, I55, I19, NINE, ONE…hut, hut, hut!

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