Silas At 6!

Big brother enjoying a moment with his little sister, while vacationing in Montana. Summer 2021
To our sweet boy on his birthday - loving thoughts from his Grandma. 

Silas has an insightfully funny personality who is quick to read the emotions of others as well as express his own, at times with gleeful abandon, and other times with a controlled reserve.   I love his happy, silly dance moves, his feet stepping lightly at such a quick light brings my energy level up x10!  And I cherish the quiet moments when he wants me climb up on his bunk bed to read Shel Silverstein and talk about poems before bed.  

A brain like a sponge, he absorbs every tidbit of new information and locks it in like a steel trap.  He is a baby elephant, retaining even complex ideas.  He knows the rules of chess and is a brave player, making bold moves.  He craves learning and creating.  His parents began nurturing his ability to learn at a very early age, checking out EVERY book at the public library and reading nightly.  In any given week I could walk into his bedroom and find baskets of new books to explore. This boy has a vocabulary better than some adults!   These days he prefers to create scenarios on Mindcraft over reading, but his parents keep a sharp lookout for using too much screen time.  And Legos…. Silas knows Legos!  Use caution when entering his room as the floor is covered with creativity. During the Presidential election last year, he and I had a timed contest to see who could build the best White House. He won.   He has a monthly subscription to KiwiCrate, which is a STEM kit.  We have such a good time putting them together, and I am always impressed at how he follows each step of the project carefully.  I pray he never looses interest in learning.  

Starting school during a global pandemic has been fraught with emotions and challenges.  Silas has the advantage of his young age and not having had much experience in a school environment but still he felt the stress of remote learning.  Before classes started in the fall we were playing poolside when he told me with grown worry in his little voice, “I can’t do what my mom and dad do’”.  They have both worked remotely for quite some time.  I did not know what he meant, however as the conversation went on and his tears emerged, I realized he was very worried about using a computer.  His parents eased his mind with their patience and their availability to be nearby while he gained his confidence.  I have often said that I would like to be a fly on a wall in my children/grandchildren classroom; remote learning gave me an occasional glimpse of him interacting with his teacher. He has done well at remote learning for Kindergarten and is good listener and quick learner.  I overheard the Letter-Of-The-Day while he was at class/laptop at my house.  The letter was ‘U’ and Silas said “Ukulele, its like a guitar, only smaller.  I have one”.  When his teacher said she hopes he will play for her one day, a shy, worried smile lit across his face.  The simple things like that make me smile.  In January 2021, school was open for in-person and he was so happy to be back, making new friends.  He is definitely a social guy who loves to laugh, make up jokes and play.   He is learning soccer; it is sad to see the littles on the field wearing their masks, covering up their cuteness, however they do not seem to mind and treat it as business as usual.  He has also started Boy Scouts recently. 
 
I am very proud of how Silas looks out for his little sister, and as Hadley is growing and becoming insistently verbal (that girl just has to be heard), I see that he sometimes HAS to tune her out, but somehow she is always in big brothers radar.  I know the two of them will always have a tight bond.  She watches her big brother’s every move, and she is going to be as curious about things as he is.  

Silas is a joy to be around.  He is seldom cranky but when he is, it is always brief.  If he is upset with someone or something he quickly curbs his attitude.  Truthfully, I have never seen him have a tantrum, even when he was younger.  It is remarkable.  The only times I have seen him upset is if he feels his older cousins are making fun of him or ignoring him. He wants so much to be a part of their teenage conversations/actions.  It breaks my heart to see his little feelings hurt, but I get how Dylan and Devin need their space too.  It is all a part of learning to cope, and I know they all love one another; the age differences will one day work themselves out.   

I foresee a future of Silas continuing to make us all proud, bringing all our lives laughter and wonderment with his inquisitive spirit and happy personality.  

Love, Love!

Grandma

May 3, 2021

STFU & Mask It

Maneuvering in a Covid era has all of us feeling insecure and uncertain, so Just Stop with all the inane debating about masking at school.  The reason I write this is twofold:  Firstly, for the parents:  Stop creating stress for your children with your anti-masking stance.  Stop confusing mask wearing with an infringement on your rights.   Change your mind set about YOUR rights.  Having rights comes with responsibility to YOUR community.  I understand your distrust with the government, but this pandemic has NOTHING to do with politics.  Our government is not attempting to manipulate you. Continuing the anti-vax, anti-mask stance makes you out to be a whiner.  Pick your battles. Be an activist in a fight that is worthy (environmental, poverty, healthcare, taxes… there are so many), instead of this self-entitled, fear of vaccine/disbelief of the seriousness of Covid. You look foolish. Variants don’t care about your opinion.  Is this the lesson you want to teach your children? You are adding to their fear and confusion.  Your children have no problem with wearing a mask, in fact, some of them may prefer it. It may even help them concentrate on their studies instead of worrying about what others think of them. All for one, one for all.

 Secondly, for the kids:  The United States of America was created to insure the people have a right to their own opinions, ideas, and lifestyle.  You have won the geographical lottery to be living in this great country.  But be sure your principles, beliefs, rights are on the right side of history.  We all know that wearing a mask is uncomfortable, but it is the right thing to do to destroy a virus, which will continue to replicate and become stronger, unless society uses its tools to combat it.    Your mask is your weapon. Keep in mind that your classmates are not scrutinizing you as closely as you criticize own self.  They are all wrapped up in their own insecurities. Remember, you will always appear stronger when you are open minded, kind and accepting rather than bullying and judgmental.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Insecurities And Exchanges

INSECURITIES & EXCHANGES

My smile was too big for my face. This created a quiet nervousness and uncertainty in my psyche.  If you watch closely, you will see that it lingers still.  As a child in school, I would have absolutely wanted to wear a mask.  It would have protected me from developing the low self-esteem that I carried inwardly for most of my life.  My self-perceived ugliness would have been hidden. The anxiety I had about my overbite may have been squelched if my classmates couldn’t see it, and perhaps I would not have been a target for bullying. I spent many hours in the nurse’s office in third grade to sixth grade.  There I found a safe place where I could be alone long enough to calm myself when the teasing at recess felt overwhelming. I told the nurse that I had a headache or a tummy ache, but in reality, it was my heart that was wounded. The thoughts and emotions floating in my young head were on overdrive.  How could my classmates be so mean? Why am I so ugly? I hate them.  I want to be friends.  I hate myself.  You see, not only did I have an overbite, my two front teeth had been chipped when I flew over my handlebars in a bike accident.  I knew I was ugly; my teeth were pointy.   My classmates merely confirmed this fact.  During those few years I had three new schools bringing three new sets of classmates. Looking back on those years now, I wonder that if had I only had one school perhaps the teasing wouldn’t have been as prolonged during my formative years. 

One cold day in particular, I felt completely surrounded by the name calling at lunch recess. “Bucky Beaver” or “Snaggletooth”.  Everyone was against me, even my handful of friends didn’t come to my defense. I quickly yanked my knitted hat over my face so that they wouldn’t see my tears as I ran to the nurse’s office.  She was sympathetic as always and asked me what had upset me so much, and I told her.  She allowed me to recover on the cot, however a little while later she breezed in and said the principal would like to see me. Most kids would be mortified by that sentence being directed at them. Not me, I just knew that he would want names of the bullies, to punish them.  I sat timidly in front of his desk, and he began by asking if I knew who Eleanor Roosevelt was. He then went on to tell me that she had overcome sadness in her life, that people did not consider her a beauty, but she had become a well-respected and important woman who was loved worldwide. At my young age I didn’t grasp the significance of what he was telling me.  I heard only that it was okay to not be pretty. I do not know if my classmates were reprimanded.  I did not feel any better about myself.  It wasn’t until many years later, when looking back, I realized he had attempted to make me feel better by telling me looks are not everything, that what we have inside us, is what is vital to a happy life.   

When my dad found out what had happened that day, he was calm but with an undercurrent of annoyance directed at the principal.   “Don’t worry about your looks, you’re going to grow into your teeth.” And “You will be beautiful like your mother.” And “Some people consider Eleanor Roosevelt to be attractive.”  Or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  My dad has always known what to say to make me feel better about myself.  He still does to this day.

Shortly after, we moved to Shiloh and a new school.  I was older, my face filled out, and I eventually had porcelain caps put on my chipped teeth. I still had that overbite, but the teasing wasn’t mean, it was good natured.  I was a novelty, new girl in the school and it seemed like everyone wanted to get to know me. There were only five girls in my classroom and the boys gave us all nicknames.   I was Feather Head because of my last name, Heatherly.   Shiloh was a turning point in my childhood, as I formed close friendships in that small town that have lasted my lifetime. However, to this day I cringe and squirm inside anytime I hear the word bucktooth.   

Maneuvering in a Covid era has all of us feeling insecure and uncertain.  With all the inane debating about masking at school this coming fall, these memories of my childhood have been on the forefront.  I guess the reason I write this is twofold:  Firstly, for the parents:  Stop creating stress for your children with your anti-masking stance.  Stop confusing mask wearing with an infringement on your rights.   Change your mind set about YOUR rights.  Having rights comes with responsibility to YOUR community.  I understand your distrust with the government, but this pandemic has NOTHING to do with politics.  Our government is not attempting to manipulate you. Continuing the anti-vax, anti-mask stance makes you out to be a whiner.  Pick your battles. Be an activist in a fight that is worthy (environmental, poverty, healthcare, taxes… there are so many), instead of this self-entitled, fear of vaccine/disbelief of the seriousness of Covid. You look foolish. Variants don’t care about your opinion.  Is this the lesson you want to teach your children? You are adding to their fear and confusion.  Your children have no problems with wearing a mask, in fact, some of them may prefer it. It may even help them concentrate on their studies instead of worrying about what others think of them. All for one, one for all.

 Secondly, for the kids:  The United States of America was created to insure the people have a right to their own opinions, ideas, and lifestyle.  You have won the geographical lottery to be living in this great country.  But be sure your principles, beliefs, rights are on the right side of history.  We all know that wearing a mask is uncomfortable, but it is the right thing to do to destroy a virus, which will continue to replicate and become stronger, unless society uses its tools to combat it.    Your mask is your weapon.  Also, for the kids who are struggling with their self-esteem, remember to love who you are, flaws and all, and know that everyone has them.  Remain aware that your looks will change as you grow. Keep in mind that nobody is scrutinizing you as closely as you criticize yourself.  They, too, are all wrapped up in their own insecurities. You will always appear stronger when you are open minded, kind and accepting rather than bullying and judgmental.

AGE 10 Donna J. Heatherly – Jefferson School, Belleville, Illinois

Behind The Mask

Behind the mask

My views are unsuppressed

While I do not flaunt my thoughts

Look closer. My opinions are expressed,

if only to myself.

Behind the mask

I flagrantly display

Disgust, distain, annoyance

It is liberating really.

Behind the mask

My face relaxed

Unguarded, unseen.

Shallow breaths indoors become deeper

as I distance myself from the unknown.

Behind the mask

I sigh, I mutter, I curse

Covid fatigue, foolishness, boredom and politics.

Silent screams save my soul from tedium and buffoons.

Behind the mask

My eyes do the talking

Telltale dark circles,

An arched brow, a squint, a scowl,

Or a roll of the eyes.

Pay attention.

Behind the mask

I read others’ body language while I

chose with care which gesture to use to

evoke an emotion, a concept or understanding.

Behind the mask.

Sheltered from suspended virus particles,

Unshackled from senseless arguments of whether to wear it or not

Common sense buoyed by science and consideration of community

Safe from scrutiny, I will sneer at those showing ignorant bravado.

Donna Heatherly

Oct 26, 2020