Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"carrion" and "aught"

Tonight my roommate popped in The Music Man. A classic. But even though it is a classic, The Music Man is not one of those musicals that I absolutely love. I like it just fine. It’s exceptionally random, has catchy songs and I find Shirley Jones to be particularly (though subtly) hilarious and little Ronny Howard is particularly adorable...but it has not been one of those musicals that I crave seeing...not like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Tonight though I realized that The Music Man has a special place in my heart...because of the word “carrion”.

I know the word “carrion” because of this movie...and my dad.

I remember one day (it must have been some point during the high point of my “musicals” phase, which was quite extensive...and is not all together over) I was watching The Music Man in the kitchen. Dad must have been around...probably doing some handy project or another in the house. Dad is always working hard...he naturally keeps himself productive. At some point he stopped for a little while to watch part of The Music Man with me. I don’t really know exactly where it was, but I picture myself sitting at one of the stools in the kitchen, dad standing on the other side of the counter with some sort of tool, or cloth or piece of a project in his hand, both of us watching Robert Preston dance around and sing “Marian the Librarian” on the little TV that lives in the corner.
“If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it,
I could lie on your floor unnoticed
'Till my body had turned to carrion....Madam Librarian.”

I remember dad stated that he was amazed that someone had managed to insert the word “carrion” into a song.
“What does “carrion” mean?”
“Carrion is the carcass of a dead animal, it usually refers to a carcass or flesh that is rotting”
“Like roadkill?”
“Yes, that would be a good example of carrion”
Of course I don’t remember exactly what dad said...but this sounds like what he might answer...concise and spot clear, and so easy to question about it

It was also during this particular sitting that I learned another vocabulary word: “aught”- I'm not entirely certain that's how you spell it.
“Professor Harold Hill. Gary Conservatory of Music, gold medal class of aught five”
“aught five” meaning ’05
...thus “aught” meaning 0
...used to describe the years of the early 1900’s

This information from dad prompted a discussion on whether or not people would use “aught” to describe the early years of the 2000’s (I see now in retrospect that the term “aught” did not make a comeback)

I pondered this experience as I spoke on the phone with one of my students. She is having a hard time lately...not so much academically...but just in general life. She’s not a space case, or messing up, or getting in trouble. She’s getting her homework done and behaving in class and being a positive participant. We even selected her to give a speech about Gratitude (one of our school’s 8 Character Strengths that we focus on) when the founder of KIPP came to visit our campus. She’s unlike the rest of the kids that we spend so much time focusing on...because it is so obvious that those kids need help. It’s not obvious with her. But one day she seemed a bit down in class so I asked her if she was feeling ok. She asked if we could talk about it at lunch.

“What’s up sweetheart?”
“I was in class and I looked around and saw the other people all happy and I just felt bad because I’m not happy”
At that point through her tears she pinpointed that she was feeling sad because her brothers were being mean to her...telling her she was worthless...telling her it was her fault that their parents got divorced.
“Do you believe you are worthless?”
“Do you think you are the reason your parents got divorced?”
“But it still hurts when they say that huh?”

Dumb teenage boys. She stood up to her brothers and they’ve left her alone.
Lately, though, there have been other things bothering her:

“know the problem is with my dad GF aka which”
Translation: now the problem is with my dad’s girlfriend, aka “witch”

This was written in a recent journal entry (we’ve been passing a journal back and forth for the last few days)

...but the problem isn’t so much the “GF” its the dad. It’s the time. It’s the attention. It’s the feeling that the “girlfriend” is taking it all.
The last time she remembers spending time alone with her dad was half a year ago.
Tonight as we talked on the phone he was in his room watching TV with his girlfriend and her 7 yr. old son.

I didn’t much understand her response to my suggestion that she go watch TV with them...something about having to go to sleep...which makes sense, it was 9:30pm...but I thought in my head “take initiative, go spend time with your dad...even if it’s 100% how you want it to be”

As that crossed my mind, I immediately thought of The Music Man...and “carrion”...and “aught”. I thought about how I didn’t have to “take initiative” to see my dad...I didn’t have to fight for his attention...I didn’t have to call my teacher and have her explain that “just like kids are growing up and learning how to be good people, adults are learning and growing too. Teachers are still learning how to be good teachers, dads are still learning how to be good dads.” I didn’t have to worry if he cared about me or wonder if he had other priorities that were more important than me. My dad made it so clear and so easy to question about it...I knew I was a priority. Not necessarily through the verbal professions (though those were there), not necessarily through the special “Dad and Kate” activities (though those were there)...mostly through the little things...The Music Man, “carrion”, “aught”...many other musicals...and many other words. Thanks for the vocabulary Pops...and for so much more!


kate_connors said...

by Kennia Charo

Gratitude in not only saying “thank you”, but also showing it. Sometimes our actions are the best way to show that we are grateful.

Here is one example: One day while I was watching TV I saw my baby brother reaching for his toy car up on a shelf. He was trying so hard that his face turned red as a tomato, but he could not stand to reach the toy. So I decided to help him by teaching him how to stand. I held him by the waist as he pushed his legs up and stood. That day I taught him how to stand. He is too young to talk, so he canʼt say thank you, but every time he stands he shows me heʼs grateful by using the skill I taught him.

We can show gratitude the same way. Just like I taught my brother how to stand, our teachers teach us new skills everyday. We can say “thank you”, but the best way to show we are grateful is to use the skills they teach us, give our best effort, and be nice.

In the future, I will do the same thing to show gratitude as an adult by working hard to prove that I want my job, and by respecting my coworkers. Showing gratitude is a lifelong skill that I can use now and in the future.

Cori said...

Oh wow! What a great post! What a great thing to remember. Your dad is such a good've taken the best of him into yourself. I weep at the thought of you passing a journal back and forth to a young student who needs someone to nurture while she teaches. I am SO proud of you!
And, from the songwriting perspective, I do think it amazing that carrion and aught(sp?) fit perfecctly in a lyric.
Yay for the post!!!! Keep it up!

Cori said...

ps- loved the Gratitude speech

auntie libby said...

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-- William Arthur Ward

looks like you are following in your pa's footsteps of being a great teacher! i luf you.

Laura said...

Oh Kate the Great,

You are so wise... I think that was a great post. I appreciate you sharing the experiences you are having teaching and touching the lives of those kids. I miss you