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I'm learning how to ride a bicycle...
the key word is learning.

today, while struggling to understand my body vs. the bike...
my mind quickly passed over some of the faces of the kids i've taught, 2 kids to be exact. maybe it was my mental break from the bike riding, or maybe it's because in the recent months, these 2 chidren have made an impact on the idea, or rather, my ideas of learning and understanding...

Now that I'm done with my bicycle practice, and my body is tired, my mind is fully awake...

I've decided to tell the world about these 2 amazing individuals...

Amna and Phillip

During the 4 week summer program, i got to know Amna pretty well. One afternoon, out of nowhere, she asked me if I could name all 50 states. I said 'yes'
and then she you know all of the capitals?
'no.' I said with a kinda embarrassed giggle.
She responded with, "ya, neither do I, but I printed out a list and I'm trying to memorize them..."

I smiled, and said "is this your preparation for the 6th grade?"
and looking down, she hesitantly said ..."no. I just want to know it. I'm also memorizing all of the presidents, and some facts about them too..."

kind of astounded, I was like "really? that's really cool Amna!"
and after a thoughtful pause of looking up and around, i added... "you've inspired me to do the same, Amna. Not because I'm a teacher...well, kinda, because I SHOULD know those things, but...I just think that's really cool, Amna."
and I sincerely meant it.
She just smiled and looked down.

That night I printed out a list of all the fifty states and their capitals, and a list of the presidents. if a 10 year old can make herself better, than a 27 year old can too.

Every night since that day, I go over the list, and by the time school starts, I should be able to list all 50 states and capitals and every president... just because.

Phillip, a chubby first grader, sat down next to me during a chaotic class because he needed help with his class project.

The class project was: draw a portrait of yourself now (as a 7 year old) and draw yourself in 25 years (or, as an adult) add details in your older-version so I know what's going on in your life. What are you doing? are you married? are you graduating from college? are you a doctor...etc....

I looked at his little round figure, shoulders slouched, face discouraged, and asked him "what's wrong?"
and he responded with "I need help Ms. Patterson!"
"okay, what can I help you with?"
"well...I don't know what I want to be when I grow up."
And I looked at him, and said..."Phillip, there are many people wayyyyyyy older than you who don't know what they want to be, so cheer up..."
and he kind of nodded his head, but still looked sad...

so I went down a list of common occupations that the other kids were drawing themselves as...
"do you want to be"
he shook his head "nooooooo." and smiled..
"what about a firefighter?
again..with more of a smile.. "noooooooo"
"a zoo-keeper"
a chuckle and a full smile.."Ms Patterson! nooooooo"
"umm...a wrestler?"
fully laughing and rapidly shaking his head "noooooooooooooooooooo"

"well Phillip, i don't tell me, what do you want to be?"
and his smile went away quickly, his eyes lowered, and his voice softly said.." i want to be Phillip."

My eyes kinda watered at the innocence and depth of his response...

So I said, while patting his shoulders..."That's the best thing you can be, Phillip. So, just draw yourself."
and he smiled.
He was worried that that was the wrong answer, but by far, that was the best answer of the day. :)

learn to be yourself, and do things just because...

How that relates to bicycle riding is beyond me, but somehow, it does.

 tomorrow is another day.


  1. For a fun way to always remember all 50 states and capitals check out the cartoon picture-code flash cards at:



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