WRITING | CREATING | COLLABORATING
There is a joke among the Ukrainians that children are brought up by same sex parents: The Mother and the Grandmother. Humous take on what has been a hallmark for nurturing human infants since the beginning of our species.
So it had been with my granddaughter Angela in Colombia in her first years with her Abuela and her mama Sandra. And so it would be for me with Matthew in Connecticut, shared for most hours of his day in the early years between Sandra and me.
I became hooked, my qualms vanquished, a new life unfolding with my grandchildren as my muses, beloved companions, the roller roaster ride of their evolving lives sliding into the top spots of my daily to-do list.
The kids rock. I sucked up to these liveliest of critters in my life so I wouldn’t miss the ride.
STORYTELLING … CHILD’S PLAY
It began with Matthew’s love of dinosaurs, and his creations of these behemoths like T-Rex in the photo above shaped from limbs piled on my deck. Tales about the of the ferocity of dinosaur life poured out of Matthew at ages five, six, seven. We dramatized these episodes in my living room, me desperately trying to keep up, follow his plot lines of life at its grimmest. Matthew’s way of taking on what he sensed as the chaos of daily life, taming it, bringing it to heel at least for the moment.
His tales of himself as king of the carnivores became my way to glimpse what went on behind his eyes.
The more closely I listened, the more he shared the universe in his head, his Neverland I called it. He introduced me to far off places where monsters, dinosaurs, and dragons hung out, inflicting mayhem and violence on any who crossed their paths.
ONCE UPON A TIME OF CATASTROPHE
Things got serious when real catastrophes began to happen all around us. Hurricanes, fires, gun shootings, the world as I knew and understood it unraveling at a frightening pace, sweeping all my family–all humankind in fact–into its path.
Nightmares began. What images set off my throat-clutching terror? The most obvious picture. When my grandkids are my age in the last third of the 21stcentury, predictions for the survival of life as we know it, as they know it, were unequivocally disastrous.
I listened ever more carefully to Matthew and to myself as I struggled to respond to him, even recording our conversations. I mulled over his take on things and stacked them up against my anxieties, searching for what it meant to do the grandmother-rock in the 21st century.
RAISING OUR YOUNG FOR AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
What the two of us did together, said together, lived through together is the story I’ve had the privilege to capture in print, scene after scene of our antics, our tensions, our stand-offs, up close and personal during Matthew’s year in second grade.
I looked for a miracle. And the wonder is that I found it.
Now in complete draft, Matthew’s and my project is under review for publication. I want to share with you who are rocking with your kids (any available kids!) updates with newsletters of my progress in placing excerpts, sharing podcasts, announcing readings as they make their way onto the internet and into print.
Excerpts in Press, Forthcoming or Under Review (copies available upon request):
• “Partners,” Centered: A Journal of Personal Stories. (Inaugural Issue, Spring 2019)
• “Surviving,” Creative Nonfiction: True Stories, Well Told. (Fall 2019)
• “More Than Human” (Under Review)
YEARS AS EDUCATOR
Academic Record/Awards and Teaching Positions
Graduate: Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Creative Nonfiction, 2016.
Fellow: Writer’s Institute, Director, Andre Aciman, Graduate Center CUNY 2011-12.
Professor of Education: Department of Education, Queens College, CUNY, 1983-2009.
Award: Doctoral Fellowship, Steinhardt Graduate School of Education, New York University, EdD completed 1981.
Recipient: Spencer Foundation Small Grants, research project, “Emotion talk in an American mainstream classroom,” 1991-92.
Award: Research Fellowship in Linguistic Anthropology, Yale University, 1989-91.
Book: Literacy Learning in the Early Years: Through Children’s Eyes, Columbia University, Teachers College Press, 1989.
Book: Word Play and Language Learning for Children, National Council of Teachers of English,1985.
Articles: Language Arts, Anthropology & Education, Science and Children, Childhood Education, among others, from 1981-1998.