Monday, February 28, 2011

Family Dynamics and Service Blog

Today’s three poems all have an overlying theme of family issues, dynamics, and relationships. Each poem has a different approach to describing how certain events have large impacts on a child’s life. Through service, I have also realized how a child’s life can be greatly impacted by an adult or parent, or even an older student, like us!

In “The Video” by Fleur Adcock, the speaker describes how her family has changed since the birth of her sibling and how that has changed her relationship with her mother. In “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, the speaker describes a broken family dynamic because of his father’s actions and how the love he has for his father will go unchanged no matter what. In “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke, the speaker describes his love for his son, despite how he has acted and caused his son to feel in the past. “(Untitled)” is different than the other two poems because in this case, the speaker is the father talking about his own actions and how they affected his son, unlike the other two poems, where the speakers are children talking about their relationships with their parents. Each poem has the speaker owning up to their true feelings about their family and how they wish things could change and be different. The speaker in “The Video” wishes that her mother would give her more attention, instead of being so busy with her new baby sister. This emotion is common for first-born children, and often times, they act out in order to seek attention. However, this speaker acts differently. She just watches the video and lets it rewind, as if completely erasing her existence all together. In “My Papa’s Waltz”, the speaker is a son who realizes he is losing the attention of his father due to his alcoholism. However, unlike the speaker in “The Video”, the son refuses to let go of his father’s shirt and clings to his shirt “like death” in order to get his attention. This speaker is more attentive in getting the attention of his parent, which shows that he is also more outspoken about his feelings in general, as is his father. In the third poem for Tuesday’s class, “(Untitled)”, the speaker is the father addressing his son, which is showing that the father is aware of the mistakes he has made after witnessing his son’s sadness and actions towards him. In this poem, the speaker’s actions are full of sorrow and apology, which is what both speakers in the previous two poems were aiming towards receiving from their parents in the first place. The speaker realizes his own mistakes and how they have affected his son, noticing the “large and vulnerable eyes/have glazed in pain at my ragings” (line 3-4). This is significant because the speaker is going through a change. In the other two poems, neither speaker, nor parents are undergoing any change. The speakers in the other poems are aware of what change they want to see in their parents, but their parents do not change.

Through service, I am becoming a role model for the students at Guilford Elementary Middle School. Their teachers, administrators, and parents are already role models to most students in the school. Through interacting with Mr. Ted Smith, who is our supervisor for service learning and a social studies teacher for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, I can see what an impact he has on his students’ lives. Students work very hard in his class and Mr. Smith earns their respect. When they are disrespectful, he disciplines them just as any of their parents would, if not even more. I realized that for some of these kids, Mr. Smith might even serve as a father figure. In the last week that we went, multiple students stayed after school just to help Mr. Smith clean up around the classroom. He rewarded them, but eventually the students were hanging out in the classroom talking and asking Mr. Smith about his day as we were helping Mr. Smith grade papers. I realized that the students’ behavior in the classroom and at home may have changed because of how Mr. Smith treats his students in class. It made me wonder how the students felt about their own parents and whether they respected them the say way they respected Mr. Smith. I also wondered how each of the parents felt about Mr. Smith and his role in their son or daughter’s lives. I think it is important for all students to have good role models, especially their parents, older siblings, or even teachers By having role models in the home and at school, it allows each student to grow and develop into mature adults. As I leave Guilford each day, I think about how I may have affected a student’s life or what I can do about myself to reach out to the other students. By the end of the semester, I hope that the students can look up to me as a mentor and ask for help about school, or even talk to me as a friend and ask for advice. In this way, I think that my service last week related to the poems because each student and each speaker desires a role model in their life.

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