Be the change, being a teacher, being me

A Story of A Child that Can

For the past three years, on December 19th, I have written about the miracle that is our youngest daughter, Augustine.  About her much too soon arrival.  About the fear.  The uncertainty.  The guilt…

I have written about my hope for others to see how a child’s start in life may still haunt them many years later when they show up in our classrooms.  I have written about how the very least we can do is love them when they come.  How we can prepare all we want and yet never be fully ready.

Augustine’s much too soon arrival has shaped our lives in many ways, and yet…last night when I came home from school I did not see a baby that arrived too early.  I did not see a 4 pound miracle.  I did not see a child wrapped up in long nights and frightening futures.  In machines and medical personel.  I saw an almost three year old showing me her pig, Pua.  I saw an almost three year old that wanted to watch that monster show.  I saw an almost three year old that kept her siblings awake by making cat noises.

She will always be the baby that came too soon, but she no longer is just that child.  She is no longer just a preemie, she is my willful, loud daughter, making her own place in the world.  She is the child that crawled at 5 months, who walked at 9 months.  She is the child that is perfectly average.  A child that defies the odds.  Who didn’t wait for someone to tell her that she should do what her siblings were doing but simply ran after them and did. And with every naughty thing she tries not to get caught doing, she is rewriting how we see her.

How often do our students show up with haunted pasts?  With files that follow?  With reputations and beginnings that yes, have shaped who they once were, but now no longer defines them?  How often do our students come to us with assumptions laced around them so tight we can hardly see past them even though that child is no longer the child that presents itself.  How often do we acknowledge the past, even if the past is just yesterday, but then purposefully readjust our focus to see the child that stands before us now?

Augustine was the child that came too soon, but she is now the child of can’s.  The child of will’s.  The child of average.  No one who meets her now will ever guess her tumultuous beginning, and I am glad. How many of our students are trying to escape a past that no longer is them, that no longer is all they are?

I became the mother of a premature baby 3 years ago, but I am now the mother of an almost three year old.  A little girl that didn’t care what the doctors said.  A little girl that from the moment she could, she did.  She asks to be seen for who she is now, not what she was before.  The least I can do is adjust my vision.


I am currently working on a new literacy book.  The book, which I am still writing, is tentatively Passionate Readers and will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge.  I also have a new book coming out December, 2017 called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum.    So until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

6 thoughts on “A Story of A Child that Can”

  1. I love these posts about Augustine. I remember when she was born (early) and I remember following along and checking to see if there were any new posts about how you were both doing and celebrating along with you when she came home. Funny how social media allows all of that and how clearly I remember. She seems like an amazing 3 year old!

  2. So glad when I can read about Augustine. She’s not only beating the odds, she’s making her own. Good for her and I nice reminder to look at the child whose in front of us without suppositions.

  3. My beautiful daughter was also born early. My water broke at the copy machine at school. She too weighed in at 4 lbs.. She has been early ever since. She read the first 4 books of Harry Potter when in 2nd grade. She dove deeply into books and into the lives of the characters. Enjoy your daughter and all the blessings loving her bring to your life and hers.

  4. This just touches my heart. I, too, am the mother of a preemie. A preemie who has gone on to be a Valedictorian of her high school class and, in spite of so many trying to talk her out of it, is going on to school to be a teacher. You are so right, Pernille, in your reminder that we need to remember to often adjust our vision and expectations of our students too.

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