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Thoughtful Thursday: Back to School

It is Back To School with Thoughtful Thursday! Today’s offering includes two favorites: “School”, which describes a school day all too familiar to parents of boys, and “Who Has Seen The Wind”, a classic that introduces youngsters to the mysteries of science. Science is also the topic of the poem “Astromony Lesson” in which two brothers step away from modern technology to contemplate the heavens. Enjoy.

School

I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.

It had metrics one side, inches the other.
You could see where it started
and why it stopped, a foot along,
how it ruled the flighty pen,
which petered out sideways when you dreamt.

I could have learned a lot,
understood latitude, or the border with Canada,
so stern compared to the South
and its unruly river with two names.
But that first day, meandering home, I dropped it.

Daniel J. Langton

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Christina Rossetti

Astronomy Lesson

The two boys lean out on the railing
of the front porch, looking up.
Behind them they can hear their mother
in one room watching “Name That Tune,”
their father in another watching
a Walter Cronkite Special, the TVs
turned up high and higher till they
each can’t hear the other’s show.
The older boy is saying that no matter
how many stars you counted there were
always more stars beyond them
and beyond the stars black space
going on forever in all directions,
so that even if you flew up
millions and millions of years
you’d be no closer to the end
of it than they were now
here on the porch on Tuesday night
in the middle of summer.
The younger boy can think somehow
only of his mother’s closet,
how he likes to crawl in back
behind the heavy drapery
of shirts, nightgowns and dresses,
into the sheer black where
no matter how close he holds
his hand up to his face
there’s no hand ever, no
face to hold it to.

A woman from another street
is calling to her stray cat or dog,
clapping and whistling it in,
and farther away deep in the city
sirens now and again
veer in and out of hearing.

The boys edge closer, shoulder
to shoulder now, sad Ptolemies,
the older looking up, the younger
as he thinks back straight ahead
into the black leaves of the maple
where the street lights flicker
like another watery skein of stars.
“Name That Tune” and Walter Cronkite
struggle like rough water
to rise above each other.
And the woman now comes walking
in a nightgown down the middle
of the street, clapping and
whistling, while the older boy
goes on about what light years
are, and solar winds, black holes,
and how the sun is cooling
and what will happen to
them all when it is cold.

Alan R. Shapiro

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Back to School: Parents, Don’t Forget Your A B E’s

So our sons are back in school, and settling into the routine of early rising, a full day in the classroom, and homework after school. After a summer of focusing on them, we can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to focusing on our lives, right? Not exactly. Our sons will greatly benefit from our paying careful attention to how they are adjusting to their new school year. So parents, as our sons begin the school year, don’t forget your A B E‘s:

Ask your son how things are going, whether he is new to the school or has been there for a while. A new school year always brings a lot of things for him to become accustomed to: new schedule, classes, teachers. Ask your friends who spend time at the school (or teachers, if you are able to be at the school yourself and run into them) how your son seems to be doing if they see him around. Transitions can be stressful, and you should encourage your son to chat about what is going on at school so you can understand how he is handling things.

Be a consistent presence at his school, and start early in the year. Show up for curriculum night. Do your best to make the Parent’s Association meetings and get to know the parents who run them. Volunteer for a school project that fits within your schedule (e.g., an evening activity if your days are too full). If your schedule doesn’t allow for frequent school visits, then befriend a mom or dad who has the time, and ask that they keep you informed.

Encourage your son to establish studying routines early in the school year, and make sure he has a space in your home to do so. He needs a space free of obvious distractions (not in a room with a tv), with a good reading light and a comfortable chair. If he has regular homework assignments and his school doesn’t provide him with a calendar/assignment book, get one for him, and help him understand how he will use it to keep track of his long and short term homework assignments. Some students prefer using their smartphones, which works best if they are not easily distracted by whatever else they have on their phones.

Remember your A B E‘s to help your son get off to a great start.

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