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Director's Corner: Oxygen

By Evelyn King Metcalf.

It’s times like these, after a day in the trenches of teaching gifted eight-year-olds to write a paragraph, in the midst of “be nice,” “listen,” “use your ‘I’ statements” or “you’ve got a FISH in your pencil sharpener??” (this was discovered as water was leaking all over the student’s desk), that I come home to my own family thinking: “What about ME?” “When do MY needs get met?” The metaphor of the ‘oxygen mask on airplanes’ comes to mind. I need to breathe that metaphor in.

I recently started meditating (again). My friend who is guiding me is an assistant at my school. Once we sat in my classroom, after a typical tornado of a day, and everything went still. I just focused on my heart. I NEED this. Life is too fast. Kids have so many needs. Families have so many requirements. I crave things like knitting. Slowness. A rocking chair, a breeze, a sunset. Katydids. Still.

I think about the pressure to perform and to work and to parent. What if something goes a little haywire? (What does that even mean?) What if your child is NOT the child you imagined you’d have? Or you thought they were? What if the partner, or the job, or whatever just doesn’t meet your abstract expectations? This kind of thinking leads me to Khalil:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese artist philosopher and writer

I am now in the present. Listening to my heart beating. One beat at a time. Listening to my students in their present needs, listening to my children and who they are, listening to my spouse, myself, who we are this very minute. This is the bridge to everywhere and everything.

Only if we’re present for the present!

We could miss it if we blink!

What a gift…


Evelyn Metcalf, MAT, currently teaches second grade at the Barringer Academic Center, Charlotte, NC. She has taught in regular and gifted education for the past 20 years in both Ohio and NC. Evelyn is a facilitator for SENG Model Parent Groups and represented SENG as NC’s state liaison. She has presented at OAGC and NCAGT conferences, in addition to the New Hanover County School system in Wilmington, NC. For the previous four years she taught third grade at a charter school for highly gifted in Charlotte, NC and served on its Vision Committee. Evelyn earned her masters degree and gifted license at Kent State University. Evelyn serves as the 2015 SENG Board Finance Director.

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