The “New Black”

“The now-cool-for-black-people list: skateboarding, listening to rock music, wearing clothes that fit, being the token black guy.” ~Anonymous I went to a Dave Matthews Band concert once. It seems like ages ago now. It was back in the time when I was hyper aware of race (when am I not?) and I kept looking around … Continue reading The “New Black”

Identifying the Cow

cowMy youngest daughter has Down syndrome, and she struggles with identifying words, so after consulting with her teacher, and with her speech therapist, and after reading the developmental books, my wife decided to come up with activities geared towards helping her recognize and repeat simple words she should know by now. It’s amazing to me how much she does know, actually, so this afternoon I ran through the exercise with her to see her level.

The sheet is all about animals. In fact, my wife laminated it for sustainability (and she can use it as a placemat too if needed), and made move able cards to place over top of the sheet as well. On the sheet are photographs of six animals. There’s a dog, a cat, a duck, a pig, a horse, and of course the infamous cow. My job was to point to the animal’s picture and Maddie would tell me which animal it was. She identified all of them this way except for the cow. She called it a dog, refusing to accept it’s true name, which had me truly baffled.

So I tried a different tactic. I asked her what noise did that animal make, and she said “moo,” so it was clear she realized it wasn’t a dog. But why was she saying dog? So I went back after she said “moo” and asked her again the name of the animal. This time she promptly said cow. Perhaps it was just that triggering of the animal sound that made the difference. Cows do indeed say “moo.”

Then we moved on to the back of the cards that held the spelled out names of each animal, something that has long been her Achilles heel. She can generally recognize the individual letters but placing them together in words confuses her. That’s why she spent the better part of five minutes arguing with me that the one that said “cat” was in fact the one that said “cow.” She saw the “c” and didn’t look any further, which became frustrating for her and for me. Continue reading “Identifying the Cow”

A George Michael Song

george_michael-too_funky(2)“Ooh, you’re just too funky for me. I gotta get inside of you. And I’ll show you heaven if you’ll let me.” -George Michael

Often, I wish I were in a George Michael song, any George Michael song, because the characters that populate his lyrics are nothing if not breathtaking. They’re complex, like real life human beings, and they’re often broken or scarred. Their hearts bleed through the lyrics, and I connect with them. More than that, though, it’s really all about the feelings, the emotions they tap into, that leap out through the songs.

“Sadness in my eyes. No one guessed, and no one tried. You smiled at me like Jesus to a child.”

There is a completeness to the idea of being smiled at by Jesus. I spent my entire formative years reading about and listening to stories about Jesus, how dynamic he was, and how blessed anyone felt when he looked at them. I imagine being that child, being young and naive, but knowing there’s more out there. Wanting to have faith but being weak, with sadness creeping in to every facet of my life. Then being smiled at by Jesus and knowing it will all be okay.

“So, I just kept breathing, my friends. Waiting for the man to choose, saying this ain’t the day it ends, ’cause there’s no white light and I’m not through. I’m alive.”

Death is the great unknown, isn’t it? I’ve always wanted to be in charge of my own fate, but I know it doesn’t happen that way, not really. Is there a tunnel, and a white light at the end of it welcoming people to the afterlife? I don’t know, but I feel comforted knowing that there’s more to life than just trying not to die. There’s this feeling of just breathing without having to think about it, existing day by day, and living life in those days, through those series of moments. I’m alive and I’m going to make the most of it. Continue reading “A George Michael Song”

Black Irish

Black? And four leaves? Wow.

“Mr. McManus, are you really Irish?” my student asks skeptically, knowing as she does that every Irish person she’s ever seen has been white, and also knowing that I’m not even remotely white.

“Of course I am,” I reply, with a twinkle in my eye.

“But how can you be Irish?” she asks, trying not to say what everyone else in the class is thinking.

“Haven’t you heard of Black Irish?” I say, and it ends the debate. Continue reading “Black Irish”