For the last few weeks at school, Zoe has been hard at work on a health unit — and as part of it, she and her classmates got to play ER doctor for a day. (She’s examining a mom-patient below.) From our school’s newsletter:
“The students started the year exploring electricity and magnetism,” says teacher David Starfas. “They were then introduced to the concept of circuits and systems. Using this background knowledge of electrical systems, we moved into studying the systems of the body.” As they prepare for their Health Fair… fourth graders welcomed special guest (and Brandeis parent) Mary Fox, an ER physician, to give the students a taste of what an ER doctor does. Parents posed as “patients” needing neurologic, cardiac, pulmonary, or extremity exams. The students—or in this case, “doctors”—were tasked with formulating diagnoses by ordering some basic tests: CAT scan of the brain, EKG, chest X-ray, and X-ray of the extremities.
Adds Mr. Starfas, “Mary gave us a great introduction to what she does in the emergency room and how to diagnose a patient.”
Avery has been working on a friendship unit in Jewish studies, and she was paired up on a project with one of her good friends, Mila. As described in the school newsletter:
In class, students learn the Golden Rule from Leviticus, Ch.19.18: V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, / “Treat your friend the way you would like to be treated.” Said Judaic studies teacher Orit Solomon, “Both Rabbi Akivah and Rabbi Hillel taught this Golden Rule of life and friendship. Students learn that when they treat others the way they would like to be treated, more friendship opportunities are open for them.”
The students have made a visual and tactile reminder for themselves, by writing the Golden Rule on a Hamsa and decorating it. Shaped like the palm of a hand, the Hamsa has been used for centuries as an amulet of protection, and it is known in Jewish lore as the “Hand of Miriam.” In ancient Middle Eastern belief, the Hamsa represents God’s protective hand. “Writing the Golden Rule on the Hamsa,” said Ms. Solomon, “will remind the students to always adhere to the rabbis’ words of wisdom, always treasure and take good care of a true friend, and always know they are protected and loved.”
After lunch on Saturday, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a bunch of Chinese New Year related activities happening that day — and so we wound up spending our afternoon and early evening in Chinatown and downtown. We had never gone to the parade before (though we once saw a few floats), and it was a very fun, and very San Francisco thing, to do.
We took the girls for dim sum (their first time) about a year ago; they liked it so much that Zoe requested it become our Valentine’s Day tradition. And so the four of us headed to Chinatown yesterday, where we enjoyed some favorite dishes and exchanged early valentines.
To celebrate Tu B’Shevat (the “birthday of the trees”), Zoe’s fourth grade class put on a special performance this morning. The kids put together the program themselves; they wrote and delivered their own poems, short stories or songs about the holiday and then sang a few songs as a group.
The kids did a great job, and as Zoe read her poem to more than 100 people, I marveled over the fact that she and the others had the confidence (and guts) to stand up there and do their thing. It’s not an easy thing to do!
The girls typically stay at PM care at school 2-3 times a week, on those days I’m working in Palo Alto or one of them has an enrichment class. They love it there, often looking disappointed when they see me (I don’t take it personally!) and/or asking if they can stay longer. While there, they run around on the playground, do an art or craft activity, work on homework, or – as was the case the other day – pretend they’re baby birds. I had to laugh when I picked them up and watched as a little first-grader threw Cheerios in their mouths. (According to the teacher there, this had been going on for some time before I arrived.)
Avery got the sniffles last weekend, and Zoe wound up catching them and more: She stayed home school for two days with a bad cold and low-grade fever. (Luckily, she was a pretty good patient – mostly reading, making up games for us to play, and fooling around on the computer.) And then, I got sick – stuck in bed from Thursday afternoon until today. So, I haven’t written much – but we’re around and almost all (knock on wood) back to full health.
The girls are pretty good helpers around the house; I get the occasional eye roll or “Do I have to?” when I ask them (especially Avery) to do chores, but they usually don’t mind doing them. Avery wasn’t feeling it the other night, though: This is what happened after I asked her to clean up the playroom.
Zoe is still a huge reader; grabbing a book and heading to her beloved brown reading chair are the first things she does each morning. I had to chuckle, then, when I heard her yell to her sister (who had climbed up to join Zoe in said chair) one afternoon, “Get off of me, Avery! I can’t read!”
Avery’s going through a particularly fun and spirited stage – she’s silly and sassy (but in a good way – usually) and always saying stuff that makes us laugh. She also likes to give me a hard time (again, usually in a good way), and when we were discussing a friend issue the other day she stopped me and said, “Mommy, you worry too much!” And a few days later, when I was asking her and Zoe for details on their day, Avery asked in faux-exasperated tone, “Mommy, is it your job to know everyone’s business?” (Uh, yeh, it kind of is.)