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my view from the prison of a SICLE (Self-Imposed Child Loss Experience) due to debilitating maternal disease
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:: Tuesday, September 09, 2003 ::

Some of you know that I am home schooling my little one. When I was looking over the pre-school information (I taught elementary-not pre-k) I realized that we accidentally covered virtually all of it last year just playing. This year we have officially started with the Five In a Row curriculum, and I really like it.

Five In a Row works like this:
You read one of the books listed for five days in a row (Five In a Row, get it?) and you pull multi-discipline lessons out of the book. For instance, the book we read last week was A Story About Ping. It was marvelous! From this one story we pulled out related Math, Social Studies, Geography, Language, Science: Biology, etc. lessons. He is able to relate the new lessons to something in his own world as the story becomes his background. This makes for a more cohesive and ADhesive education. I.E., things correlate, connections are made, and things that make sense last longer in the brain. The little one learns without even knowing it-the best kind of learning!

At any rate, I found a really great video (endorsed by Discovery) on ducks. It's called A Little Duck's Tale and is basically the story of a mother duck who, for whatever reason, decided to make her home in a man-made pond smack dab in the middle of a business center in Japan (basically across the street from the Emporer's pad). When her ducklings are ready, she trots them across a multi-lane freeway ever so carefully. Waiting for just the right moment, she spends the day eyeing traffic across the busy lanes. Peeking ducks who don't want to be Peking ducks! A real life Make Way for Ducklings!

In this particular video, she has a baby who just has all sorts of trouble because of his size or lack thereof. The Japanese media has dubbed him "Chibi" for "runt", and they all root for him. He overcomes "this and that" all to the delight of human fans everywhere, and he finally makes it across the street to the big lake. However, before flying lessons begin Mother takes on a curious "survival of the fittest" attitude and attempts to oust Chibi from the family. She is successful. It is hard to watch.

The voiceover explains that in the wild the mother will sometimes recognize that one of the members is weak, needs more care, and therefore is holding everyone else back from their full potential. Therefore, the "rational" thing to do in the unevolved kingdom of beasts is to scrape 'em off. (Sound familiar?)

Chibi is isolated and spends the day alone, unprotected, rejected by his mother, until one of his little siblings swims out and brings him back to the group as if to say, "Hey, Chibi, what cha doin' over there? Come on home where you belong." The mother duck sees this and decides she will exempt Chibi from the "law of the lake". He becomes her duckling once again.

At this point they are roosting in a swan's abandoned nest, as the swan is on holiday. Alas, back she comes, spying from the distance a mother duck and her 9 ducklings squatting in her home. All are sound asleep unable to respond to the looming threat that glides in on the silk glass surface a few yards away. All are unaware - save for Chibi who notices the swan and it's grave threat immediately.

"Peep! Peep! Peep!" Chibi cries as he "pecks" the heads of his dreaming siblings and mother. "PEEP!" he continues as they rise, take notice, and flee. Chibi, the unwanted runt, not only saves the day, but he refuses to protect himself and stays in the swan's nest until he is sure that all of his family are safely away. At the last minute he flops himself into the water, and the little boy sitting next to me cheers.

Chibi IS the runt. His development IS slower, he DOES prevent the others from reaching their "full potential" as quickly as they would have if he had not been around, he DOES need more than the rest of his siblings, all of it is true. However, he is concerned for the safety of his family, attempts to always be with them, ends up saving the day, finally reaches maturity and eventually flies away with his family in the familiar V-formation.

He grows, he contributes, he amounts to something. Lo and behold, the little runt is valuable.

Those, who had watched the duck drama unfold since the first cracked shell appeared, say goodbye with misty eyes. A news reporter wonders how he will ever go back to reporting politics. A grown man nearly cries. A little boy gets a glimpse of what is real and good and important in this world.

There is much to be learned from the story of Chibi, and I like to think that even people over the age of four might somehow understand that.

:: ashli 1:44 PM # ::

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