After a few years of teaching middle school, I recognize the fact that by the time children are in 6,7, 8th grades, the Mother’s Day or Father’s Day project has lost its sheen. I usually don’t do a Mother’s Day project per se, but this year, the planning just fell right, because next week we’re starting state test “boot camp” as I like to call it (yes, they think it’s engaging). More on the state test later. Don’t start posting those comments yet.
Anyway, yesterday just seemed like a good day. I showed them the 1980s Mr. T homage to his mother, and they sat there, almost like hypnotized chickens, watching the spectacle and pageantry that were the 80s. Tube socks? Camo jean cut-offs? Mom jeans? Big hair? All that and more.
Next was my brief explanation that, I realize that by this time the woman who brought them physically into the world may not be a part of their lives anymore. Some have passed away, some have made other decisions. But please, consider some woman in your life that means a lot to you; an auntie, a grandmother, big sister, cousin, stepmother, etc. I told them I had one student who had a neighbor who really helped him and watched over him, and he wrote her a poem/note . They could use any of the materials in my room, (although I felt a little guilty because I had taken the “good stuff” home because of flood worries).
Here’s what happened: Many wrote poems, printed them out, and decorated. Many girls complained of recent fights with their mothers. I told them remember, you only have one mother, and she only has one of you, so try to make peace. (Oh, heaven help us, the mother/daughter relationship is a complicated one, to be sure.) Many wrote to another significant female in their lives, and some used the time to be their usual selves, whatever their usual is. One girl even chose to ditch her previous classes and sit on the bathroom floor with another; I’m sure that’s not the ‘gift’ her mother had in mind when she got the call from the administration’s office. (I can think of one or two of those type of “gifts” I gave my own mom when I was an adolescent.)
To help get one young gentleman started, we developed these questions, and used them throughout the day. You may want to ask them, too, if you’re writing your mom, big sister, auntie, cousin, grandmother:
What makes this woman laugh?
What makes her cry?
When is she disappointed in you?
When is she proud of you?
What does she do to help you become an adult?
What might you think when you’re an adult about what she did for you?