Friday, January 28, 2011

A Fleming Six-Month Catchup Part I

Accept our fondest Happy New Year! and delete, or pull up a cup of Joe and read on . . . in four parts.

PART I Summer School
Let's see, where were we? Oh, yes, June 2010: knee deep in a basement full of water, John leaving for somewhere for two weeks, and me about to begin eight weeks of intensive academics in an effort to achieve my Montessori credential, during which time my kids would experience summer camp like never before.

Eight beautiful women and some truly gifted instructors filled my summer. It was very rigorous, just as my previous courses in Oman had been. I stayed until midnight many nights knowing I would not have a spare second to finish assignments in the fall once John left for Baghdad. My classmate from Israel was working diligently and late, too, since she had to translate everything, and so I made a great new friend. It was all very college-roomatey, except for the part about each of us with three children.

Exhausted, and about to trade the rigors of research for reintegration into full-on summer with kids, I looked forward to the last day, and the last instructor, who I could not wait to meet: Amy Beam. She runs a special nature program called Beyond the Walls, one of the primary reasons I chose Montgomery Montessori Institute. (Move over, No Child Left Behind; how about No Child Left Inside?)

One hour into the day, the Y called about Gabby. After eight weeks of holding my breath and thanking God things were going well, they had had enough. Or something. During the final swim show on the final day of aquatics camp, Gabby decided that she didn't want to do what they wanted her to do, she just wanted to swim, and so began diving into the pool wherever she felt like it and swimming away from anyone trying to corral her--a flight risk cum safety hazard. Try to imagine the scene and you can't help but set it to music in your head. Please note that a two-foot poster of Gabby is in the lobby of the Y under the proud heading, Our Inclusieveness, and you begin to see how far she must have pushed them.

Looking beyond the Institute's strict rules about bringing children with you, Amy pointed to a word on her whiteboard: "welcoming," and said "Besides, we're going to the woods." So I went and got my monkey daughter.

The rest is a surreal end to an otherwise serious experience. At the end of the lesson, we were in Seneca State Park, in an area where Amy's camp was going on (without her that day). There in the forest, Amy gave us a box of colorful scarves and showed us how to make a fairy arch by bending tall birches. Then she gave us a big box of fussy dress-up clothes to put on. In full frill, serenaded by the chanting of a sparky group of 3-to-5-year-old daycampers, we walked through the arch (thus symbolizing a passage of sorts) lead (as Montessori would only have it) by a child . . . Gabby.

. . . Which leads me to wonder, yet again, who distorts whose reality more, me or Gabby?

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