Books · Education · Local · True North

Thinking about Choice while Standing in -1 Degrees

It’s Friday morning at school and minus 1 degree as I stand here at my post for waving duty.  I stand at the stop sign at the front entrance of my school to make sure parents stop at the stop sign and don’t run over any students in the crosswalk.  Thank you for stopping at the stop sign and for waving back at me; some of you don’t, and I understand.  Could have been an awful morning at your house.  Normally, I LOVE my welcoming waving duty, but on mornings like this when it’s so cold even the insides of your nostrils freeze, nose hairs and all, you dance in place to “All you need is love” by the Beatles and think about your inappropriate shoe choice for the day because boots just seemed to be too much trouble when rushing your kids out the door.  A regrettable choice indeed.

Choice.  The NH primary was Tuesday, if you didn’t hear about it in the news.  Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  People came out to vote in overwhelming numbers, and some folks made the choice not to vote.   What I do love though is listening to our children’s interpretations of these candidates running for president.  Greta probably would have voted for Bernie because she liked his “fluffy white hair” and Carver would tell you that Chris Christie swears a lot because in one commercial there is a sound bite where he is telling someone to, “Sit down and shut up.” Obviously, “shut up” is the swear word he is referring to.  Last presidential election, I thought it was hilarious to teach Carver how to say “Democrat” and “Obama” when he was just 2 to drive Geoff bonkers.  Who am I kidding– that is still funny to me.

Choice.  My freshmen just finished reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet; their assessment now is show they are competent writers who can naturally embed text to support their argument.   They must pick one decision a character makes that has negative consequences and support with text-based evidence.  “But, Krill, if Hamlet had chosen differently, there would be no play!” This is true, but I remind them Hamlet was not a real person, and Shakespeare made those choices for him.

Choice.  When students ask me if I’m Pro-Choice or Pro-Life when it comes to abortions, I always qualify my response by saying, “Of course I believe in life.  Who doesn’t believe in life, but if I have to define myself politically, then I am Pro-Choice.  While I never was faced with having to make that decision, I would never, ever take that option away from another person who makes that choice.  Nor would I judge them for making the choice to have an abortion.  Nor would I want someone to take that choice away from my students, daughter, nieces, or their friends.

Choice.  I love seeing my book in our school library.  It’s also in my hometown library of Merrimack, NH.  Woo hoo!  And this week, thanks to my friend Sarah Schoellkopf from college– a lovely woman named Bridget helped me from the Alumni Office get the book ordered for the CC Book Shop.  Aesthetically, the cover is attractive, bright blue, interesting design, taller than the others on the same shelf, thereby drawing more eye contact.  Maybe.  People should want to buy it.  They should.

On a similar note of choice in libraries, Carver came home from school Wednesday with a book about zombies.  As an English teacher, I deeply believe kids should have choice in what they read, even in kindergarten, and even if it’s not what their parents prefer that they read.  The bottom line is that we want our kids reading anything and everything they are interested in.  Lord knows I’m tired of reading about birds of prey, and my friend Jen’s son has been obsessed with fossil fuel reading for years now.  I love that our kids have choice in book selection at our school, and I love that “library” is his favorite special.  I love that halfway through me reading said zombie book, our little guy looked at me and said, “Mom, I made a bad choice.  This book is too scary.”  Whether he remembers that the next time his friend picks a zombie book or not remains to be seen.  First it’s zombie books; next it will be deciding where he goes to college or whether or not someone will still be his friend after he takes their car keys and throws them on top of a dorm building on a snowy night to keep them from driving to the Mohegan Sun because he and his friend may or may not have had too much too drink to operate a vehicle.

Choice.  My seniors are getting those college acceptances and rejections via email and actually starting to think about where they want to be come fall.  Another amazing aspect of our small school is that I remember these same seniors sitting in my freshmen English class worrying about how they would survive four years of ALL THIS WORK…and they are almost there.  Just a few more months and then they go someplace else to continue to work hard.  These are difficult choices.  I remember sitting at my parents’ kitchen table 23 years ago with my pros and cons checklist–Conn College and UNH at the top of the page.  What if I’d chosen differently?  But I didn’t, and here I am.

One last thought about choice.  I recently spoke with a high school student who was having some relationship troubles.  I’m trying to keep the gender out, which is harder than you think!  We were chatting about options, and the student mentioned, “How could I have been so stupid to think it would last?”  We don’t always date the right person at the right time, and there’s a pretty good chance the person you date in high school won’t be the one you celebrate Valentine’s Day with in your 40’s–although it could be.  But even with the people we date in life for a month or maybe a year or maybe 5, we learn more about ourselves and what qualities in the next person we need to be present.  So no, I assured them, it’s not a stupid choice.  We grow from these kinds of choices even if they feel awful in the moment.

So many choices out there to make, and we hope we make the best ones we can given the circumstances.  Stay warm out there this weekend, New England, as it’s going to be damn cold, like the kind of cold you are frostbitten in 15 minutes kind of cold, yet still we ski kind of cold.  Most of Massachusetts will be skiing somewhere in our mountains as it’s their vacation week, so our economy thanks them for making the choice to spend their money here.   Happy Valentine’s Day!  Happy President’s Day!  Happy one week from today, and I’ll be on vacation too- day!



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