Thursday, September 13, 2007

Too Fast!

I write about comics, games, baseball, television, movies, books and other stuff. I have likes and dislikes, pet peeves and favorites, but there’s one thing that is constant in my life that never fails to humble me and to make me so happy that I tear up: That’s my family.

We’ve been back from China with Sera for five months now and they have simply flown by. I watch her grow and learn every day and I marvel at the process. To actually see the connections she makes in her mind when she experiences something new is just amazing. To see the humor in her personality touches my heart, because humor in my family has always been very important.

My blood-related family and I are somewhat estranged. I haven’t seen anyone on my father’s side of the family for nearly five years. On my mother’s side it has been since Christmas 2006 and that was only my mother. I haven’t seen the rest of her side of the family in many years. But my family at home is the driving force in my life. Everything I do I do for them. They are the only reason that I haven’t walked away from teaching. I’ve had enough of students not doing homework and No Child Left Behind blaming me and my colleagues for their collective lack of progress.

I spent an hour last night on the floor with Sera in her room, watching her do nothing but connect plastic rings of different shapes and colors, feeding them into the silo of her toy barn and pulling them out of the gate below, making the toy play “Old MacDonald,” to which she still sings, “Ee-i-ee-i.” I still have to provide the “Oh.” At least here is a child I can guide. One of her first words was actually a phrase: “Thank you.” I have kids in middle school who won’t say thank you if you save them from being hit by a car or pick up and return a $20 bill that they dropped in the hallway without noticing. My daughter will not be one of those.

When Sera sees me every day, she bubbles and giggles and sometimes shakes violently as she tries to get out of her stroller. The best part of my day is when I pull up in front of my wife’s school to pick them up. When I pick her up, she pats my back repeatedly, almost as if she’s reassuring herself that I’m physically there and not just in her imagination. When we get home, she wants to go outside with Shadow, our 90-pound Shepard/Lab mix. She stands atop her plastic slide and watches me throw his Nylabone Frisbee. She claps when he catches it and cackles with glee when he brings it back. She has taken to her swing set slowly, but she’s now insisting on walking to it by herself and indicating which swing she wants to sit in. She’s still afraid of the metal slide, which is higher than the plastic one, and grips me tightly when I take her near it. That’s what she did the first few times I took her to the swing set, so I know it’s only a matter of time.

My wife gave me a book by a middle-aged man who, with his wife, adopted two girls from China. It reads like a series of blog posts cataloguing their daily lives and how his daughter changed him. The odd thing is that most of his entries don’t take place until she was almost speaking in complete sentences. There is very little about his daughter at the age my daughter is. That’s too bad because I think this is a magical time.

All of this started because I changed the picture on my computer desktop. I took out one of the composite pictures of Sera in China and replaced it with a current one. Oh my, she is growing up too fast already!


Beth said...

Thank you for teaching. Thank you for caring about students. Thank you for taking the time to teach please and thank you to Sera. Thank you for thinking about the value of humanity and for not giving up.

Beth in WI (who works in a high school, volunteers with church youth, and whose parents are both retired teachers)

Martin said...

Jim, those first few years they do grow up very very fast. Treasure every moment you can during that time. There is nothing more rewarding in the world.