Readers, I invite you to read a personal essay just published at RoleReboot.org. When I can't make sense of things, I try to write about them. In this case, I couldn't understand why a grocery store cashier would vocalize her opinion that my son shouldn't be an only child.
Here's the link:
Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.
I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.
A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.
Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
When I was pregnant, I didn’t change any of my usual behaviors. I cooked, I cleaned. I grocery shopped. I ran errands. And I continued to teach. About seven weeks before my son was born, I even took my fourth-grade class on a walking field trip from our elementary school to a neighborhood public park. (About a mile walk, each way). My students had the opportunity to meet their pen pals, fourth-graders from a different elementary school. (They had written letters back and forth all year, a fun way of teaching the friendly letter format, and our meet-up trip was always the highlight of their letter-writing experience.)
About a month-and-a-half before Ryan’s birth, I did all the driving on our trip to Cambria (located about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco). We were celebrating my husband’s thirty-second birthday, and trying to savor every moment in one of our favorite vacation spots on what we knew would be our last trip for a while.
And I didn’t go out on an early maternity leave. In fact, I left work on a Friday afternoon to begin my maternity leave, thinking I’d have about a week until my son’s birth. Instead, he was born that Sunday -- a mere two days after my last day at work.
It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do any of these things. That I shouldn’t do these things. In my mind, I was pregnant, but still fully capable of doing all the things I wanted to do.
Now it seems like the tables have turned. Now, I feel like everything I do, or think about doing, is measured with a series of questions. Do I think I can do it? Will this cause me a lot of pain? Will this activity lead to an increased amount of pain experienced over a period of several days? You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about attending the high school graduation for one of my former kindergarten students. (Here's the link in case you missed that post: http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-bittersweet-graduation.html) That event -- the drive to and from Pasadena, sitting through a two hour ceremony, the long day and night -- contributed to an increased amount of pain that I felt for days.
My son is on summer vacation, and we’ve been spending a lot of time together. Our “dates” (trips to the library, the book store, out for frozen yogurt) do take their toll on me. And it frustrates me that our dates, our games of basketball, the time we spend together can lead to so much pain. So much pain that the other day, I sat on my patio glider and started to cry in front of my son. And my seven-year-old son is then put in the uncomfortable situation of seeing his Mommy, the grown-up in charge, hurting and crying.
And there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.
And the whole thing just pisses me off.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
I’m pleased to let you know that one of my personal essays has been published at Mamalode.com. But, here’s the deal. This particular publication pays based on the number of unique views my post attracts. Please, click on the link, read my essay, and then pass the link along to others. And ask them to do the same. Unique views of my post are recorded for 30 days, and to receive payment my essay needs to receive at least 500 views. Of course the more views, the better!
Thank you so much for your support!!!
Here's the link:
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
The bookcase in my living room
You know how certain smells and songs can transport you to a different time? I’ve got a similar situation with books. Looking at my bookshelf, and resting my eyes on certain books, brings me back to different periods of my life.
Let me share a few with you:
I read Aunties - Our Older, Cooler, Wiser Friends in 2001. It was the year my first nephew was born, and the year I was beginning my teaching career. I had great aspirations for the type of aunt I hoped to be, and the type of teacher I hoped to be. I can distinctly remember sitting in the LAUSD headquarters in downtown L.A., waiting for my name to be called, and reading Aunties.
I read Elizabeth Berg’s Open House during my first year of teaching. I tried bringing the book with me to read bits of it during my lunch break. And I learned that magazines made better reading material for those all-too-brief lunch breaks.
I read Jane Green’s The Other Woman in 2005 during our trip to Paris. I made sure to have a “fun” novel with me to distract me from the terror I felt during my first (and so-far only) international trip.
I read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions during the first weeks of my son’s life. Babies don’t come with operating instructions, and I was desperately afraid of doing something wrong, of mistakenly hurting this angel -- my son. When Ryan would wake up in the middle of the night, I would feed him, and settle him back in his crib. But before heading off to bed myself, I’d sit and read for a bit until I knew Ryan was sleeping again, and it was safe for me to return to bed.
And, I read Last Song by Nicholas Sparks in the summer of 2010. It was the book I had with me when I was hospitalized for four days. And, stuck in that hospital bed, I wished I had a different novel to occupy my time. (I had started it before the hospitalization). A tear-jerker was not exactly the type of book I needed to try and distract me from the pain, the shots, and the tests involved with a hospitalization.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
That's me at the podium, on stage at the Greek Theater - 1994
Last week I had the privilege of attending a high school graduation. Such an event is a lot like a wedding -- they’re both hopeful occasions, full of promise. And while you’re there as someone’s guest, most times thoughts seem to drift back to yourself.
I was Lindsay’s guest. Lindsay, an intelligent, beautiful young woman was once a student of mine. In fact during my second year of teaching (2002-2003), she was one of the students in my kindergarten class.
I have had the good fortune of remaining in touch with Lindsay and her family all these years. And while I sat at her graduation, my thoughts were all over the place.
I remembered that kindergarten class. An exceptional group of kids, and even most impressive, an exceptional group of parents who were supportive, encouraging, and appreciative of my efforts in the classroom.
Now, Lindsay was no longer a relatively quiet little girl who sometimes would interrupt our class lessons to talk to me about her cousins. She is a young woman on the verge of new adventures -- spending time in another country this summer, going off to college this fall. And, I admit, there’s a part of me that’s envious. I listened to the graduation speeches and thought they sounded incredibly optimistic (and somewhat naive). They were so positive. I realized I didn’t feel as optimistic and positive as I used to. And that realization saddened me.
Twenty-one years ago, I was a graduation speaker at my high school graduation. I stood on the stage of the Greek Theater and spoke of the “lessons we carry with us.” But even then, I was learning that things don’t always work out the way you plan them. I wasn’t about to embark on the grand college adventure I had imagined for so long. I was about to start commuting on public buses to Los Angeles City College (and I’d later transfer to Cal State Northridge, also on public buses for quite a while).
My thoughts also jumped ahead to my son. My seven-year-old who just completed first grade and tells me that becoming a second grader is “awesome.” Someday, like Andy in Toy Story 3, Ryan will go off to college, and he will make decisions about what childhood items to keep and what items he no longer wants to hold on to. And I hope that when Ryan’s time comes, he’ll walk across his own stage with his head held high, with a firm belief in the possibilities that his future holds for him.
Lindsay’s graduation was a bittersweet event for me. I am no longer teaching, no longer making the same connections with kids, no longer contributing to a kid’s sense of worth and confidence. But, at the same time, I realized how special it was that I was there in attendance. That what I had done during her kindergarten year had meant enough to her and her family to keep me in their thoughts all these years and allow me to share this special time with them.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Many people can't understand why I'm not on Facebook. Check out my personal essay published at Role Reboot that explains why!
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Lately I’ve been thinking about my seventh grade history teacher, Mr. Shakman. Mr. Shakman was unlike any teacher I had ever met -- up to that point. First off, he was a “Mister.” All the teachers at my elementary school had been female. Secondly, Mr. Shakman didn’t look like a teacher. He came to school in shorts. He decorated his classroom with posters featuring teddy bears and basketball stars, posters that included some uplifting, encouraging quote. He passed out salt water taffy as treats. He periodically let us watch “The Wonder Years,” and told us that we weren’t just watching TV, we were also getting a history lesson as well. And leading up to a big test, he had this fun game our class played as a review, which ultimately led to the “Super Bowl” between two students. (I’m proud to say I made it to the Super Bowl more than once!)
But that’s not why I’ve been thinking of Mr. Shakman. That’s just some of what I remember about him. I’m thinking of Mr. Shakman because of the basketball excitement that’s been in our house lately. (We were rooting for the Clippers). I remembered a bit of trivia I once overheard Mr. Shakman sharing with another student. He told this student that there were only a few basketball teams with names that didn’t end with an “s.” I remember he cited the Heat and the Jazz. But then I drew a blank and couldn’t remember any other names, so I turned to that omniscient source, Google, for the answer. (By the way, the missing teams are the Magic and the Thunder.)
And then that led me to wonder what my students would remember from me. Perhaps it was a trick I taught my upper-grade class about multiplying nine’s. Or, maybe it’s the term “the Vomit Comet.” (That’s the astronauts’ nickname for the XC-135 they would train in to simulate weightlessness.)
In any event, I send out a virtual “thank you” to Mr. Shakman for the memories!