Monday, April 7, 2014

Traveling Together (with People You Love) is Like a Mobile Home :)

            Through Calvin's experience, A Wrinkle in Time portrays love as the feeling of "going home." Until Calvin meets Meg and Charles and they invite him to dinner, Calvin struggles to find a sense of family and love. He states to Meg and Charles, "I've never even seen your house, and I have the funniest feeling that for the first time in my life I'm going home!" (44). Calvin, Meg, and Charles travel to Uriel, Orion's belt, a two-dimensional planet, and to Camazotz. Their visit to Orion's belt exposes the chaos in Calvin's household. The Medium's globe shows "an unkempt woman with gray hair stringing about her face. Her mouth was open and Meg could see the toothless gums and it seemed that she could almost hear her screaming at two small children who were standing by her. Then she grabbed a long wooden spoon from the sink and began whacking one of the children" (107). The description evokes both pity and frustration. Mrs. O'Keefe's inability to keep order affects not only her environment, but also her ability to take care of herself. Her inability to keep order accounts for the lack of mindfulness and care toward her children. The suggestion of child abuse juxtaposes the way Mrs. Murray treats her children and emphasizes the importance of showing nurturing kindness toward children, especially one's own.
            Calvin's experience portrays the importance of keeping a child's home life in harmony. Order is important when trying to cultivate an environment that promotes independence and a sense of feeling loved. At Tunbridge, when the first graders eat their snacks, I go through their homework notebooks to check if they did their math and reading homework. If the work is complete, I put a stamp that says "Fantastic!" on the pages. If the work is incomplete, I circle the parts of the homework that needs to be done. One part of their work involves a parent or guardian. Every day, there is a reading tracker that requires the parent or guardian to read to the child. The consistency of this task being completed varies. Sometimes, the homework would have a note to the side that says "Child read on her/his own." I think it's important to promote independence and confidence, but it's equally important to have time to read together. In addition to that homework assignment, the quality of the writing among the students vary. Some have perfectly neat handwriting, so neat that I wonder if the parents do it for them, while others' are quite messy. Some write in complete sentences with sound grammar while others write only a few words. I sometimes wonder if there is a direct correlation between how much attention a parent/s gives his/her/their child and the quality of the handwriting. Last week, while working on a flip book project, a boy named Marvin erased a mistake on his caption and said "my grandma would get maaaad if I left it like that." Jemel leaned over and asked "What'd you do?" Marvin snapped "Mind your business." I wonder if that's something he's bringing in from home or from somewhere else.
            In A Wrinkle in Time, Calvin, Meg, and Charles are perceptive and they respond to others' pain by showing empathy. After seeing the scene with Mrs. O'Keefe, "Meg took [Calvin's] hand in hers, not saying anything in words but trying to tell him by the pressure of her fingers what she felt" (107). That action, at the very least, says "I'm here and you're not alone to deal with it. I'm sorry you have to go through that." This scene reminds me of one of the most beautiful moments I saw while at Tunbridge. Taejon, a child who I observed to be naturally more emotional and sensitive than the other children, pressed the palms of his hands to his eyebrows and was looking down at the table angrily while crying. He was unable to finish his project before snack time. The other children were putting their projects away and getting ready to eat their snack, except for Nehemiah. He came over to Taejon's table, tilted his head to make eye contact with him who was looking down, and sweetly asked, "Are you okay, Taejon?" Taejon's tears were still falling and he answered with a grunting sound that sounded like "No." Nehemiah in a most caring tone, said, "It's gonna be okay, Taejon. We can have snack now," and pulled up a seat right next to him. After a few sniffles, Taejon relaxed his arms, his face, and wiped his tears when he faced Nehemiah. A reoccurring theme this semester is the importance of not underestimating children for various reasons. Huck Finn teaches not to underestimate their innate moral compass. Calvin, Charles, and Meg teach not to underestimate their intelligence and ability to empathize.
Whatever the students at Tunbridge experience/observe at home can be brought into the classroom, and vice versa. L'Engle presents how important it is for children to have a harmonious home life; it's not called home based for nothing. Luckily for Calvin, Meg, and Charles, being together is, in a way, a mobile home; love and a sense of belonging that travel with you.

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