Friday, August 15, 2014

Freedom and School Supplies

I started my workday with a 7:55 technology team meeting and am in the midst of a five-block Friday with NO planning period. Teachers, you understand how exhausting and non-stop that type of day is.  Oh, and I go back to college, again, tomorrow, for semester two of my M. Ed. program. Thus, I made an executive Crippled Beagle Publishing decision (I am the one and only executive, after all), to post a chapter from my small book, Parents, Stop and Think. It's perfect for this time of year! I hope you enjoy it. Happy back to school and happy Friday everyone.


Excerpt from Parents, Stop and Think


I.  Offering Freedom

            As a teacher and writer, I study my crafts.  As a mother, I strive to raise my boys, Houston (12) and Scotty (4), to become compassionate, confident, and self-sufficient.  Research, training, and trial and error help, but teaching, writing, and parenting are art forms.  To be successful, I must reflect and adjust.  I must stop and think.
            Alone at a retail store in the August of Houston’s last year of elementary education, I passed a display of local school supply lists.  I scanned halfway through the bulleted sheet of 5th grade requirements and stopped.  I thought.  Houston should make these selections.
            Parents in a stressful rush, on a budget, and looking at the world through adult goggles often miss things—things minor to us and major to our children.  My father’s mother, “Wimmie,” a widow and hospital pastry cook, squirreled away money for years to buy my father, Scott, a “sporty” car for his sixteenth birthday.  My mother later asked her, “Why’d you make that sacrifice when you were struggling?  Scott understood you couldn’t afford a car.”
Wimmie explained, “I knew that was the only age Scott would actually care about a fancy car.  It was important to him then.
            My colleague Sherri’s son, Joey, broke his glasses the day before middle school started.  Joey, who is normally easy-going, became distraught.  Sherri understood.  They skipped school and went straight to the optometrist, who rushed the order and treated Joey’s “huge” problem and genuine anxiety with respect. 

~ ~ ~

            I teach high school freshmen and am routinely intrigued by their reasoning.  They crave autonomy (thus the obsession with learner’s permits).  They love choices.  They embrace self-paced lessons that may be challenging but lack a teacher’s constant directives.  Though the fourteen and fifteen-year-olds vary by academic ability, physical and emotional maturity, backgrounds, resources, and personality traits, they share certain age-old truths and human characteristics.  Teenagers don’t function well when they are hungry, tired, poorly dressed, lacking supplies, or, honestly, worried about their hair.  Their problems are big—in their eyes, and should be treated as “big” by adults.  If your son asks for a certain type of deodorant, and you can afford it, buy it.  If your daughter braids, cries, and re-braids her hair, be patient.  Compliment her.  If your son asks to be dropped off to walk the last block to school with his buddies, indulge him.  Teenagers want to be taken seriously and treated with respect—by peers and adults.
            Parents, sacrifice to give your children what they need.  Give them safe autonomy and confidence through independence.  What decisions can your children make now? 
What do they need to feel enthusiastic to greet the world each day?  Privacy?  A new lunchbox?  The opportunity to select and organize their own school supplies?  Extra time for hair and make-up?  Prayer?  Time with friends?  Your attention?  At some point this year, your children will likely beg, “But I really need to buy/to see/to do this!” Don’t dismiss their pleas as materialistic or small-minded.  Remember back to your childhood days.  Reflect on concerns that were “major” to you.  Stop and think. 

What do you think, parents and teachers? What do your children and students need most this time of year? Find me, friend me, and comment here or on social media. 

Author website:
Facebook: Theories: Size 12 
Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Twitter: @jodycdyer

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY!!! I am giving away two signed copies of Parents, Stop and Think. Click here or visit for more details.

Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...