Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I AM ME: A Poem for World Down Syndrome Day

It’s me.
You can call me…
Call me…
Call me…
Call me friend.
I am me.
I am…
I am…
I am…
I am sweet.
I am me.
I have…
parents who adore me
sisters who tease me
a little brother who follows me around
I have…
grandparents who dote on me
teachers who are proud of me
friends of all shapes, sizes and colours
I have…
fears and dreams
favourite songs and movies
strong opinions about my own life
I have Down Syndrome.
Down Syndrome.
But I am not Down Syndrome.
iammeI am me.
So here’s my homage to the lovely “Lose the Label” campaign (@Lose_the_label). Because we are, all of us, more than our diagnoses and disabilities.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome (aka Trisomy 21) Day. You know, 3/21 for Trisomy 21… get it?
In honour of the unique and wonderful people we know, who happen to have Down Syndrome (especially the one we feed and hug and tuck into bed every night) I am posting a link to this tearjerker. I defy you to watch it and not get choked up:
Dear Future Mom…


Monday, March 10, 2014


When I had my own classroom last year, I had a poster hanging on the wall just like the one below.  I really wanted my students to think about the power of their words before they came out of their mouth. At the beginning of the year, we squeezed a tube of toothpaste and then tried to put the toothpaste back into the tube as an illustration that you can never take back words once they have been spoken.  We weren't successful 100% of the time, but I heard snippets of conversations from time to time where students would ask or tell each other, "Is that inspiring?" "Was that helpful?"  It made me proud to know that some of my students really took that to heart.

This year, since stepping out of the classroom into a leadership position, I've really thought about the words that come out of my own mouth and the power they have.  I haven't been perfect, not even close.  There have been days where I've said the wrong thing, but I've owned it.  There have been days where the words I spoke were taken out of context or misconstrued.  Only I know the intent behind those conversations.  But, I've really been pondering the way teachers speak.  Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Ron Clark and he made a comment that jumped off of the stage and has stuck with me.  I know I won't get it exactly right, but he spoke about how teachers are the world's worst at tearing each other apart.  He gave several examples that I could really relate to…"Look at her working late.  She's doing it for recognition." or "Dressing up for costumes is just a way to get attention.  There's not time for that."  

I thought back to the many, many days I ate lunch in teachers' lounges, attended professional developments, etc. and heard those very same comments about teachers who are in the trenches in all out warfare for their students.  I thought about the teachers who made the comments and the teachers whom the comments were about.  It broke my heart and continues to break my heart.  Teachers should be bound together by a code, much like the Navy Seals.  They never leave a man behind, and never talk bad about one of the team.  They do everything they can to make sure everyone comes out of a mission successful.  

As teachers, we need to band together and lift each other up every where and in everything that we do. We should be knocking on the doors of teachers in our building and asking if there is any help that is needed and asking for help ourselves.  

We have a greater mission than of ourselves.  Those little guys, and big ones too, who sit in the desks in our classrooms deserve a "team" of professionals that value each other, learn from each other, encourage each other.  That positive energy feeds into our students, who then take it to each other.  If teachers model positivity, just think about what our students would do. 

Being positive or negative is a choice.  One that we must make many times in a single day.  But we have the power to choose it ourselves.  So, if you choose to be positive, pull up a chair beside me at the lunch table and let's talk about how amazing your students are.  If you choose to be the negative nelly - about teachers or students - I'd really prefer that you sit somewhere else.


Monday, March 3, 2014


It’s a nuisance. A distraction. A menace on the roads. A depressing sign of the times.
It’s also my window to the rest of the world. A handful of technological wonder in an otherwise menial and isolated day. A life, and sanity, saver.

Yes. I’m that mom. Smartphone never out of reach. The ubiquitous 5th child in my already busy brood. One more to keep track of, keep safe, keep an eye on at all times.

I’m not blind to the downsides of this strange love affair. I’ve debated each point ad nauseam, with the critic in my head. I can get downright philosophical about it.

Since humanity first harnessed the power of fire, split the atom and pioneered the worldwide web, we’ve shown an incredible capacity to use our fancy new tools for both good and evil. It’s in our nature. It’s in my nature.

This is Mommy’s security blanket. The smooth contours nestled perfectly in the palm of my hand. A solid, sure weight in a tumultuous world. A little piece of control safe in my pocket, in the place of honor at the top of my purse… if all else fails, tucked under a bra strap next to my skin, inches from my heart.

iphone pocket

In the course of a day it is my trusted advisor, personal assistant, teacher, counsellor, biographer, court jester, emergency response system, flashlight, calculator, alarm clock and immediate connection to friends, family, help, encouragement, entertainment, poetry, news and much-needed-perspective.

Sometimes, it’s a hero. When our son choked on a cookie this weekend, it was my iPhone that I turned to; typing ”foreign object aspiration” into the search engine to find out what to do now. I had weather forecasts, road conditions and a friendly GPS voice on hand to help me around heavy snowfall and road closures on the way to the ER. It kept an anxious Daddy and sisters in the loop, worried friends apprised of the situation and a miserable, scared little boy distracted with games and movie clips. I can’t imagine living through that day without it.

But, it can be overwhelming, so much information and connection hovering in the background. Reluctantly I pry my fingers off my friend from time to time. Pull the curtain. Focus on the here and now. Find silence and solitude again.

Until life and family intervene. The punishing momentum of needs and routines and our very own brand of chaos. A world within a world.

So I reach for Mommy’s best helper. 4.9 ounces of synthetic comfort for the modern woman.

This is my favorite thing.