Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Abecedarian on Knowing Where to Look


Attention seeking is what the note from the teacher said. Along with impulse control issues.
Behavior that is inappropriate and annoying.
Case in point: When asked about wishes he shouted out, “I wish I could play video games all
day!” The teacher said he was looking for a laugh but she didn’t think it was funny. Me
either. I don’t want to tell her he was suspended in kindergarten. For those things. And others.
Face it, he can be difficult. Except when he isn’t. No diagnosis, no label. Please.
God knows he is intense. Like a rocket engine firing. Explosive. Always thinking. Out loud.
He has energy that kind of plows through places…stepping on whatever is
in the way, tripping on stuff like he’s just been shot in a western,
jumping up like he’s the last hope for the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Yet I
know by the way he is looking at me that I am all that matters in the world. Not even
living on Saturn is better (he would say). His thoughts are faster than his mouth can say them.
‘Mom’and ‘why’ are his favorite words, he wants glow-in-the dark fish for his birthday and
needs to hold my hand so I don’t get lost--he smiles. In those moments he shines--
orienting me with the truth of who he is in case I forget when he is slamming doors, crying.
Probably, he is my compass. With him I have to know where to look, to really see, to not be misled.
Quick textbook fixes are tricky because they pretend to be answers. Answers,
real ones, are not quick. I am sewing with a new pattern. Repairing seams ripped by negativity.
Steadily threading the needle with intuition and love. Focused on getting the pieces together.
Total centeredness in NOW is my gift. When he rages I stay out of the past or future where I
unravel with worry about raising him right. His teacher says he seems always on the
verge of tears but I know that is his beautiful sensitivity, the part of him that is so
wonderful. She says, “Any light you can shed would be really appreciated.” There is no
x-ray to expose love. X-rays are negatives.
You must look at him in the white spaces. Or you’ll miss seeing him completely.
Zero in, I want to tell her, all the light is being shed by him. You just have to know how to look.
Author's notes on Abecedarian: The abecedarian is an ancient poetic form guided by alphabetical order. Generally each line or stanza begins with the first letter of the alphabet and is followed by the successive letter, until the final letter is reached. The earliest examples are Semitic and often found in religious Hebrew poetry. ABECEDARIAN: “A disdain for human knowledge--God enlightens from within, truths revealed by visions and ecstasies with which human learning would interfere.”

Tiffany Herr taught in the public education system for more than 8 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Phoenix. She writes about the transformative experiences she has had as a parent with her two children (11 and 13). She has appeared in Literary Mama one other time. Tiffany is a certified parenting coach in the Nurtured Heart Approach™ and is the owner of www.GuidedbyGreatness (dot) com.

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Beautiful poem. The phrase, "where I unravel with worry about raising him right." is perfect. I, too, have found myself trying to stay in the present, and to appreciate it. And trying to "shed light" for a few teachers -- maybe not about the exact same issues - but about differences, nonetheless, from what the teachers knew how to see. Beautifully done. Jennifer Freed
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