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Poem: "A Hope and a Promise" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "A Hope and a Promise"
This poem came out of the May 3, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from janetmiles and DW user Chanter_greenie.  It also fills the "Wild Card: The Teacher" square in my 4-1-16 card for the Archetypal Characters Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: janetmiles, Anthony & Shirley Barrette, DW user Alatefeline, general fund, lone_cat, spillover from daisiesrockalot's pool, DW user Dialecticdreamer

728 lines, Buy It Now = $364
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Verses posted = 148 of 202

Amount remaining to fund fully = $89
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Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1

A Hope and a Promise

After considerable negotiation
and juggling of schedules, Aidan
had finally wrangled a return trip to
Easy City so that Saraphina could
reconnect with her bonded people.

Dr. Nicole Chais was still being
a bit reserved, undecided about
how -- or whether -- she wanted
to be a part of Saraphina's life.

Nurse Arlene Verdereau had,
after some thought (and a stream
of family photographs from Aidan)
decided that 'Aunt Arlene' was
an agreeable role for her.

Aidan was determined  to build
an extended family approximating
the scope of what Saraphina recalled,
even though he could not replace
beloved relatives lost to Haiti's
bottom-ten barbarism.

The berettaflies had given him
pause, but he had only stared at
the reports while the condition dropped
from red (one week) to yellow (one week)
to orange (two weeks) and finally green.

They wouldn't be going outside
any more than they had to,
but they were going.

Not even the minor ruckus at the mall,
getting stuck in the bathroom briefly,
had dampened Aidan's spirits and
Saraphina stayed cheerful too.

St. Henriette Delille Hospital lay at
the north end of a planned neighborhood,
which included stores, offices, housing,
a Montessori school, and plentiful parks.

Arlene had suggested meeting in
the multipurpose building that housed
the school, because her children went
there, which gave her access and
would let all three of them enjoy
their meeting safely indoors.

Aidan felt a little nervous while
they waited for Arlene in the lobby of
the retail floor, between the grocery
and the rows of smaller shops.

It was Saraphina who noticed
her first, squirming toward Arlene
with dogged determination.

"Hi there, baby girl," Arlene said,
scooping her out of Aidan's arms.

The bond between them flared
warm and bright to Aidan's senses,
and he felt relieved that Arlene
was willing to permit it.

"It's good to see you again,
Arlene," said Aidan. "Thank you
for inviting us here today."

They spent a few minutes just
basking in each other's company
in a quiet corner of the lobby,
sitting on soft brown benches.

Arlene had a soothing aura,
strong for an ordinary woman,
and Aidan could understand why
Saraphina had latched onto her.

"Ready for the school tour?"
Arlene asked presently.

"Yes, please," Aidan said,
and they rode the elevator up to
the school on the seventh floor.

Arlene chatted with the receptionist
as she logged them in. Apparently
parents could drop by at any time as
volunteers in their children's class.

"Off we go," said Arlene, and
led them through the school.
Her easy acceptance gave him
hope, and a promise for the future.

Part of the lobby featured
a beautiful display of the history
and theory of Montessori education,
full of pictures and summaries and
places to sit down or play.

They walked the length of
the multipurpose room with
its gleaming wooden floor and
neatly stacked gym equipment.

They peeked into the window
of the middle school room and
the small practical life room with
its kitchenette, then paused
to rest in the quiet room.

Then they explored the library
with the study room beyond it.

"This seems pretty ... mature,"
Aidan observed, looking at
the tall shelves of dark wood.

"Books for the younger children
are mostly in their classrooms,"
Arlene explained. "In fact, this end
of the school is for older students.
The younger ones are at the other,
with most of the shared spaces
somewhere in the middle."

"That's good design," Aidan said,
mapping it in his mind with an eye
toward the thoughtful construction.

Across the corridor they glimpsed
the double room for high school students,
its walls painted a leafy shade of green.

Then they walked past the music room
with its grand piano, outside of which sat
a cluster of couches and a bank of
viewscreens showing classrooms.

"Parents and visitors like this little lounge
because it lets them watch the kids
without interrupting," Arlene said.

"That's a good idea," Aidan agreed.

He liked how the corridor between rooms
periodically widened to allow more space,
dotted with desks and tables and chairs
where the people could work or rest.
It was a gentle, elegant place.

Next they peered at the elementary room,
and an art room with large octagonal tables.

"This is the art room for older students,"
Arlene said. "The little ones have theirs
between the Rainbow Room and
the Wood Room on the far end."

"Dottie," said Saraphina as they
approached a restroom door,
pointing at the colorful spots.

"Yes, we have several here,
along with the boys' and
girls' rooms," Arlene said.

"Let's stop for a potty break,"
Aidan declared, stepping inside.

Saraphina's pants were
dry, and she managed
a tinkle in the toilet.

"Wow, you are really getting
the hang of this!" Aidan said.

Then he relieved himself.
Some people thought it was weird,
or creepy, but he had explained that
Saraphina was never going to learn
how if she never saw it done.

Next they visited the nursery,
with its neat row of cribs along
one wall and multiple play areas
scattered around the floor.

"Play?" Saraphina asked.

"I think you might be a little big
for this class," Aidan said.

"It's okay," Arlene said.
"Once they're mobile, children
can move around to the room
where they feel comfortable."

"Okay, go explore, " Aidan said,
setting Saraphina down.

She scampered around the room
under the watchful eye of an Asian lady
who sat in one of the rocking chairs.
She poked at the toys in their bins,
investigated a foam reading table,
and tried out the toddler furniture.

Then Saraphina lost interest.

"Let's try another room,"
Arlene suggested, picking her up.

They walked across the core area
that held the open lobby and elevators,
and then into another wing of the school.

"This side is for our young students," Arlene said.
"The Rainbow Room is mostly used by toddlers
and the Wood Room mostly by primary students,
but people tend to go back and forth a lot."

They stepped inside the Wood Room,
and oh, the place sang to Aidan,
not with power, but with beauty.

Everywhere he looked, he saw
warm wooden shelves and racks
full of fascinating things to do, and
along the near wall, a row of cubbies
for the children's personal possessions.

Aidan also realized that Arlene was
right about the mixed ages -- in addition
to the circle of toddlers listening to a story,
there were kindergarten-aged children
scattered around the room at desks
or other stations for work and play.

Naturally everyone peeked at
the visitors, and two of the toddlers
scrambled over to greet them.

"Mommy!" said a black girl
who looked about three and
had hair in tight cornrows.

"Aunt Arlene!" said a younger boy
with café-au-lait skin and a mane
of frizzy dark brown curls.

"Aidan, this is Malinda, my youngest daughter;
and Cary, my sister Jolie's younger son,"
said Arlene. "Kids, this is Uncle Aidan
and his daughter Saraphina."

Malinda peered up at Aidan.
"Are you Mommy's brother?"

"Not exactly," he said.
"It's a little more complicated
than that, but 'Uncle Aidan' is
a nice easy way to explain it."

He wondered if Arlene had
quite figured out that he meant
the relationship to be a two-way street,
but he wasn't going to pester her.

The two children were too excited
to go back to the story circle, but
Arlene let them cling to her and
pepper her with questions.

Aidan set Saraphina down
to see if she would explore.

Saraphina promptly ran her hands
over the wooden shelves and toys.
"Nice," she said, and giggled.

"Everything in here is meant
to be touched and explored,"
Arlene assured Aidan.

He couldn't resist running his hands
over the beautiful play kitchen with
its oven, stove, and a sink that
had an actual metal basin.

Saraphina crept into a group of
children clustered around a black lady
who was showing them how to fold clothes.

"Hi there, I'm Mrs. Beuze," said the teacher.
"What's your name? Would you like
to join us? Folding is fun!"

The girl nodded, then said,
"Saraphina Dreux."

"Take a card, and I will show you
how to fold something," Mrs. Beuze said,
holding out a basket of cards.

Saraphina looked up at Aidan.
"Anmwe," she said.

"English isn't her first language,"
Aidan explained as he took a card,
which had a picture and a word.
"Ooh, look, this is a t-shirt!"

Mrs. Beuze found a toddler t-shirt
and demonstrated how to fold it.

"Now you try," she said,
shaking out the garment and
handing it to Saraphina.

The girl smiled, and copied her
clumsily but diligently. "Fini!"

"Good job," Aidan said.
"You paid close attention."

Once again, however, Saraphina
lost interest after just a few minutes,
coming back to cling to Aidan.

He worried that she wasn't
very inclined to interact with
other people, not even children
close to her own age.

"It's okay, we still have
the Rainbow Room to explore,"
Arlene said. Gently she shooed away
the toddlers attached to her legs.
"It was so fun seeing you two!
Go back to your class now, and
you can tell me all about it tonight."

Malinda and Cary hugged her
one last time, then toddled away.

Aidan trailed a fond hand along
every shelf and toy that they
passed on the way to the door.

"You know, you could always
buy some of your own," Arlene said.

Aidan shook his head. "I was
thinking about making them,"
he said. "I do woodworking,
among a great many other things."

"Oh, is that your work I've been
admiring in the pictures you've
sent me?" Arlene asked.

"The ones of Saraphina's room?"
Aidan said as they walked toward
the Rainbow Room. "Yes, I've made
a lot of her tools and toys, although
I bought the bedroom furniture
in the interest of expedience."

True to its name, the Rainbow Room
proved more colorful, with shelves in
a combination of white, blue, or plain wood
holding a great many trays and other objects.
Some of them held rows of books, and
Aidan was reassured by that.

Rugs of different hues marked out
spaces on the floor, and clusters of
educational posters adorned the walls.

The average age of the children
seemed lower, but still pretty mixed.
Aidan hadn't seen that in a long time,
and he liked it; he never had approved
of the modern tendency to separate
children based on their ages.

Arlene pointed out a group enjoying
what seemed to be a lesson in
nature or geography in one corner.

"The girl with the curly ponytail in
the green dress is my older daughter Eugenie,
and the boy next to her in the orange shirt
is my younger son Leshaun," said Arlene.
"The boy with the long wild hair in
the red shirt is Jolie's older son Raylon."

These children seemed inclined
to wait until their lesson concluded
before investigating the visitors, and
Aidan didn't want to bother them.

Instead he found himself captivated
by a toddler toy that consisted of
a wooden box with many doors in
bright colors fastened by different latches.

Saraphina demanded to be put down
so that she could examine it more closely.

"I am definitely building one of those
when I get home," Aidan said. "She
can't keep her fingers out of things,
and that will give her something
that's safe to play with."

Maybe it would even keep her
out of his toolbox for a while.

When the lesson finally ended,
Eugenie and Leshaun came over
to see their mother, who made
the appropriate introductions.

"I thought we'd met all the cousins,"
Eugenie said, giving them a solemn look.

"Not even close," Arlene said with a chuckle,
"but this is a special case, even so."

"Oh. Did your family break up, too?"
Eugenie said. "My daddy didn't
want to be with us any more."

"Not exactly, but Saraphina and I
have both lost a lot of people over time,
so please be gentle with us," Aidan said.

That was when Saraphina
plastered herself all over Eugenie.

"Don't grab," Aidan reminded her,
keeping a careful grip on her superpower
so that Saraphina wouldn't create
more instant family ties.

Then Saraphina let go and toddled off
in pursuit of a boy with white-blond hair.

Aidan sighed. He'd been hoping
that she might start forming
attachments in the ordinary way.

"Look on the bright side," Arlene said.
"Saraphina is meeting lots of new people
and she's not freaking out about it."

"Problem?" asked the teacher,
a young blonde woman with
a notable spring in her step. "I'm
Mrs. Ozenne, and this is my classroom.
I'm happy to help if you need it."

Again Arlene made the introductions,
which smoothed the road for everyone.

"Saraphina is newly fostered,
it's been a bumpy ride in some ways,
and I'm just a little worried," Aidan said.
"We're visiting family in town, and Arlene
suggested a trip here. It's been lovely for
me, but I'm not sure how much Saraphina
is really getting out of this excursion."

"Would you like me to make
some casual observations?"
Mrs. Ozenne offered. "I have
a master's degree in child psychology,
so I know some of the positive and
negative signs to watch for."

"Yes, please," Aidan said gratefully.
"Our social worker has been a big help,
but a fresh set of eyes would be welcome."

Mrs. Ozenne brought out a worksheet
that seemed to be nothing but rows of
happy and sad faces above a blank space.
Underneath them she jotted down numbers
and a few key phrases relating to behavior,
but left the rest empty for now.

Saraphina was trying to talk with the boy,
but seemed frustrated by his waving hands.
She turned around and looked at Aidan.

"Some people talk with their hands,"
he explained to Saraphina, although he
only knew a few signs himself. Well, a few
in ASL. He had known whole trade languages,
long ago, but those had fallen out of use.

Some of the words carried over, though,
because sign languages tended to be
a lot more concrete than verbal ones.
The sign for "friends" was usually
some kind of link or connection.

"Saraphina thinks you could use a friend,"
Aidan said, linking his hands together.

The boy looked puzzled, then grinned and
hooked his index fingers around each other --
a similar concept, different mainly in detail.

"Elias has some hearing loss, so he's
learning sign language," Mrs. Ozenne said.
"His sister Elsa is learning it along with him.
Would you like to learn? Let's count to five."

She brought out a set of cards with
the signs and the numbers on them,
then demonstrated with her hands.

Elias already knew those signs.
Saraphina stumbled over "three"
but eventually figured it out.

Then she wandered away again.

"Let her explore," Mrs. Ozenne advised.
"For a toddler, a five-minute attention span
is typical. Ten is great, twenty is amazing.
Don't worry if she switches around a lot."

"Thank you," Aidan said sincerely.

He'd never really timed children, and
to him, modern people all seemed to have
the attention span of butterflies. It helped
to hear what he should expect.

Saraphina drifted back to where
several of the children had coaxed Arlene
into an impromptu lesson about first aid,
which involved cutting bandage tape
with safety scissors and decorating
each other with the sticky strips.

Soon Saraphina drifted back to Aidan,
her dark brown skin liberally striped
with dabs of white cloth tape.

"We do actually have bandaids
in all colors, clear, and cartoons,"
Mrs. Ozenne said. "The student kit
just comes with that white tape."

"That's nice," Aidan said,
struggling not to laugh.

He had spent a while looking
very much like Saraphina did now,
although for the last several decades
his skin had been recovering from
an injury that still hadn't returned
it to his original color.

When Saraphina clung to him,
he picked her up and cuddled her,
reassuring her that he wasn't
going to disappear on her.

As soon as she squirmed, though,
he put her down and let her go.

"That's secure attachment,"
Mrs. Ozenne said. "She explores,
comes back to you for comfort when
she feels anxious, then your presence
makes her confident to try again. She's
a little iffy, but nothing I'd call dangerous."

"As far as we know, Saraphina
had a very loving family in
a very horrible environment,"
Aidan said. "It's better now, but ..."

"She still shows some stress markers
from what happened before, even though
she's safe now," Mrs. Ozenne said.

"That's what we think," Aidan said.
"The biggest challenge is that she
still can't tolerate being separated
from me for more than a few minutes ..."
He paused to translate. "... or not without
another member of her immediate family
that she can latch onto instead of me."

Mrs. Ozenne showed him the page
with the faces marked and her notes
in the space below, with a few sketches
of Saraphina and the other toddlers.

"It's hard to tell without knowing her better,
but I'd say she's doing as well as could be
expected," Mrs. Ozenne said. "Are you
considering Montessori school for her?"

Aidan gave a wistful sigh. "Having
seen this place, I wish I could -- it's
a beautiful school! -- but Saraphina
is nowhere near ready for that yet.
I love the style, though, and it's
clear that she does, too."

"You're probably right about her
needing you all the time, if she lost
her birth family," said Mrs. Ozenne. "Have
you thought about a play group instead of
preschool, though? There are ones for
Montessori, Waldorf, and even Sunshine
although the latter is a community school
and they're usually for residents only."

"That sounds wonderful," Aidan said.
"I don't know if there's one in our area,
though -- we live out in California."

"There are plenty of Montessori schools
in California, so there should be play groups,"
said Mrs. Ozenne. "Some schools offer them,
while others are hosted by parents. If you can't
find one, you could always start your own."

"I'll look into it," Aidan said. "At least
that will give her an opportunity to play
with other children when she's ready."

As they spoke, he noticed that
Saraphina had found someone else --
another toddler with light brown skin and
silky black hair, his face melancholy as
he transferred dry pasta from one bowl
to another bowl with a spoon.

"Oh, I hope they like each other,"
said Mrs. Ozenne. "That's Julio,
and he's been feeling pretty low."

Aidan could feel the waves of sorrow
spilling out from small the boy like
muddy water from a fountain.

He couldn't quite make out
the first thing that Saraphina
said, but he heard Julio reply,
"My grandfather died. He was
really sick. I miss him a lot."

"My grandfather died too.
They cut him up with a machete,"
Saraphina said solemnly in Haitian Creole.

Julio didn't respond to that, but
Mrs. Ozenne and Arlene both gasped,
and the teacher put a hand over her mouth.

"I am so sorry," Aidan said. "I didn't realize
that Saraphina might say things that ... don't
really belong in a school." He had thought
the only hazard was her superpower, and
he could keep a handle on that one.

As he moved to retrieve Saraphina,
though, Mrs. Ozenne stopped him.

* * *


Saraphina Dreux -- She has dark brown skin, brown eyes, and long nappy black hair.  Her age is originally estimated between 18-30 months, probably about 2 years.  (Aidan says that she is 21 months, about a week shy of 22, when he first meets her.)  She has a vocabulary of several dozen words and can use some two-word phrases.  Her heritage is Haitian and she speaks Haitian Creole, a French-based language with West African influences.  However, she came to America in a boat of Cuban make labeled in Spanish, which added to the confusion.  She likes to follow people and copy whatever they are doing or saying.
 Saraphina has Soul Powers which so far include Soulgazing, Soul Healing, Soul Resonance, and Soul Shield.  Other powers are likely to develop over time.  Her abilities to date seem focused on defensive and restorative applications rather than offensive ones.
Origin: She was born with her superpowers, which have been growing for sake of survival.  Already she has lost all her siblings, both parents, plus some other relatives.  This has given her a worrying sense that people often go away and don't come back, which makes her try to create attachments to people she likes.
Uniform: Toddler clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Connection with Aidan Spencer, Good (+2) Connection with Arlene Verdereau, Good (+2) Connection with Dr. Nicole Chais, Good (+2) Connection with Piotr Taylor-Morgan, Good (+2) Connection with William Jamesley, Good (+2) Durable, Good (+2) Mimic
Poor (-2) Anxious Attachment
Powers: Good (+2) Soul Powers
Motivation: Survival.

Dr. Nicole Chais -- She has wavy brown hair, brown eyes, and pinkish-fair skin.  She speaks English and Cajun.  She works at Saint Henriette Delille Hospital in Easy City.
Uniform: Pink scrubs.  St. Henriette's uses pink for the doctors' uniforms.
Qualities: Master (+6) Pediatrician, Master (+6) Dexterity, Master (+6) Memory, Expert (+4) Fastidious, Expert (+4) Quilting Bee Member, Good (+2) Hunter, Good (+2) Politicking, Good (+2) Tolerance, Good (+2) Wealth
Poor (-2) Imposter Syndrome

Arlene Verdereau, RN -- She has medium brown skin, brown eyes, and straightened black hair that she usually pulls into a ponytail.  She speaks English and Louisiana Creole (Kreyol Lwizien).  She works at Saint Henriette Delille Hospital in Easy City.  Her sister Jolie works at the Brass and Bass, beside the Hot Java coffeehouse, in the same neighborhood.
Uniform: Fuchsia scrubs.  St. Henriette's uses fuchsia for the nurses' uniforms.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Childcare, Expert (+4) Constitution, Expert (+4) Registered Nurse, Good (+2) Bayou Skills, Good (+2) Connection with Saraphina Dreux, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Courage, Good (+2) Gumbo Ya-Ya, Good (+2) Singer
Poor (-2) Brokeass Broke

Jolie Verdereau -- She has medium brown skin, brown eyes, and long dark brown hair worn in its natural curls. A tiny diamond stud adorns her left nostril. She speaks English and Louisiana Creole (Kreyol Lwizien), with a particular knack for the Gumbo Ya-Ya trick of sorting out a single thread of conversation when everyone is talking at once. Jolie has two sons, Raylon (4) and Cary (2); she also has a nephew, Beaux (9); a niece, Eugenie (6); a nephew, Leshaun (5); and a niece, Malinda (3).
Jolie works as the senior hostess at the Brass and Bass restaurant, beside the Hot Java coffeehouse in Easy City. Her older sister Arlene works at Saint Henriette Delille Hospital, in the same neighborhood. Jolie loves traveling, and her community college roommate is now a travel agent. Whenever possible, Jolie takes advantage of package deals that allow her to bring along Arlene's family too. They have close family ties. Jolie is all up in everyone's business, though, which can get on some people's nerves.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Restaurant Hostess, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Pretty, Good (+2) Traveler
Poor (-2) Meddlesome

Malinda Verdereau -- She has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and long nappy hair of chocolate brown. She is the daughter of Arlene Verdereau, younger sister of Beaux (9), Eugenie (6), and Leshaun (5). Currently Malinda is 3 years old. She lives in Easy City and attends a Montessori school in the neighborhood of Saint Henriette Delille Hospital. Unlike most toddlers, she doesn't mind taking naps, but has difficulty waking up.
Qualities: Good (+2) Listener, Good (+2) Musical Intelligence
Poor (-2) Sleep Inertia

Cary Verdereau -- He has light brown skin, brown eyes, and a mane of nappy brown hair that tends to frizz. He is the son of Jolie Verdereau, younger brother of Raylon (4). Currently Cary is 2 years old. He lives in Easy City and attends a Montessori school in the neighborhood of Saint Henriette Delille Hospital.
Qualities: Good (+2) Affectionate, Good (+2) Easily Amused
Poor (-2) Short Attention Span

Montessori Toddlers
The boy with nappy hair in the sky-blue shirt is Jolie's younger son Cary, 2. The girl with the cornrows in the melon dress is Arlene's youngest daughter Malinda, 3.

Tallullah Beuze -- She has toffee skin, brown eyes, and straightened brown hair to her chin. She works in the Montessori school in the St. Henriette neighborhood of Easy City. Her favorite lessons involve practical life skills and crafts.
Qualities: Master (+6) Child Development, Expert (+4) Primary Montessori Teacher, Expert (+4) Practical, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Stamina, Good (+2) Teamwork
Poor (-2) Doesn't Know When to Quit

Raylon Verdereau -- He has cafe-au-lait skin, hazel eyes, and long brown hair with loose nap. He is the son of Jolie Verdereau and older brother of Cary (2). Currently Raylon is 4 years old. He lives in Easy City and attends a Montessori school in the neighborhood of Saint Henriette Delille Hospital. Raylon likes teasing people, but hasn't yet figured out the distinction between teasing that is funny and teasing that hurts people's feelings.
Qualities: Good (+2) Alert, Good (+2) Cheerful, Good (+2) Energetic
Poor (-2) Likes to Tease People

Eugenie Verdereau -- She has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and long nappy hair of chocolate brown. She is the daughter of Arlene Verdereau, younger sisters of Beaux (9), older sister of Leshaun (5) and Malinda (3). Currently Eugenie is 6 years old. She lives in Easy City and attends a Montessori school in the neighborhood of Saint Henriette Delille Hospital.
Qualities: Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Solemn, Good (+2) Student
Poor (-2) Hates Being Teased

Leshaun Verdereau -- He has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed very short. He is the son of Arlene Verdereau, younger brother of Beaux (9), Eugenie (6), and older brother of Malinda (3). Currently Leshaun is 5 years old. He lives in Easy City and attends a Montessori school in the neighborhood of Saint Henriette Delille Hospital.
Qualities: Good (+2) Curious, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Paying Attention to People
Poor (-2) Low Tolerance for Boredom

Lysiane Ozenne -- She has fair skin, blue eyes, and straight blonde hair past her shoulders. She teaches at the Montessori school in the St. Henriette neighborhood of Easy City. Lysiane can't have children of her own, and desperately wants some. So she works with children instead, but it's still a sore spot for her.
Qualities: Master (+6) Child Psychology, Expert (+4) Preschool Montessori Teacher, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Helping People, Good (+2) Observant
Poor (-2) Infertile

Elias Lindquist -- He has pinkish-fair skin, blue eyes, and white-blond hair with just a little wave that hangs to his chin. He is the older twin brother of Elsa. They were abused by their birth parents, which included throwing Elias into a wall during potty training. That and poor medical care have left him mostly deaf in the left ear and partially deaf in the right. He is now learning sign language. The twins have since been placed in foster care and then adopted by their foster family.
Qualities: Good (+2) Concentration, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Impaired Hearing

Elsa Lindquist -- She has pinkish-fair skin, blue eyes, and straight white-blonde hair just past her shoulders. She is the younger twin sister of Elias. They were abused by their birth parents, which included throwing Elias into a wall during potty training. The twins have since been placed in foster care and then adopted by their foster family. Elsa is very protective of her brother due to his hearing loss. She wants to become a sign language interpreter when she grows up.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Loyalty
Poor (-2) Ignoring Injustice

* * *

“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
-- Maria Montessori

Family roles evolve through mutual interaction.  The level of involvement between aunt and niece is voluntary and flexible, a good match for Saraphina's relationship with Arlene.

St. Henriette Delille Hospital in Easy City is the primary anchor of a planned neighborhood.  This map is an approximation.  Healthcare 1 and Healthcare 2 are the halves of St. Henriette's, connected by a skybridge.  Two healing gardens appear above.  To the right is a sand filtration cell, which in Easy City is still active via Elemental Powers.  The North Service Court is just below.  Multifamily housing connects with Healthcare 3, which is an outbuilding of St. Henriette's that offers a variety of smaller offices including mental health, vision, and dental care.  Across the street on the right is a grocery store and multifamily residence.  Below that are the townhouses.  Then comes the South Service Court.  At the bottom is a Community Center and a large park.  Living space goes first to hospital, retail, and other staff working in the neighborhood, and if there is space left over, other people may move in.  Conversely, jobs are advertised first within the neighborhood, and if no residents fill the position, are opened to outsiders.  This gives people two ways to enter the neighborhood, through housing or through employment.

Here is an exterior view of the multipurpose building which houses the grocery store, a restaurant and a bank, apartments, and the Montessori school.

The first floor is commercial space.  The large showroom holds the grocery store.  In the middle of the map, just to the left of the lift in the lobby, that inside corner has private booths with lightboxes to serve as a quiet space.

The Montessori School on the seventh floor spans infant daycare through high school, divided by broad age groups instead of single years.  The younger children customarily occupy the blue classrooms on the right side of the map.  The tan future phase rooms are mostly classrooms and offices, devoted to the older children.  The art room, music room, and multi-use areas are shared.  The space marked "open to below" is the nursery.  The "roof" area is part of the core elevator lobby and includes open space for lounging or studying.  In nice weather, students have recess on the green roof.

This is the open part of the lobby around the elevators where it says "Roof" on the map, including the reception desk.  That large reef tank toward the left side is maintained by the older students.

The educational part of the lobby is the green space marked Lobby on the map.  It features many displays about Montessori education and child development, along with a few tables and chairs for people to relax or play.  This is a popular place for parents of prospective students to talk with staff or students, because the materials offer lots of inspiration for questions.

This is the conference room in the administrative wing.

The multipurpose room is in the bottom middle.  It includes open floor space, gym equipment, and other resources.

The café and gift shop is near the multipurpose room.  It has an adult supervisor but is operated largely by the older students.  Most of the items served or sold here were made in the school by students and/or teachers.  The café maintains a giant pot or two of food and a beverage station during school hours.  Most students either bring their lunches or eat out; there is a restaurant on the second floor opposite the bank.  Some classes prepare food in kitchenette areas, and the café also sells a selection of items.  Since there is no single lunch hour, it doesn't get unbearably crowded.

The large boys' room and girls' room also have facilities for users of different heights.

The middle school classroom is the tan room under the art room.  The middle school breakout area is largely lined with books.

The practical life room has a kitchenette.  This is where Montessori students learn basic skills such as cooking and leaning which promote independence, helpfulness, and understanding of logical steps.

The small tan room under the practical life room is the quiet room for older students and adults.

The library lies to the right of the quiet study room.

The high school room is in the upper left of the map, called the Green Room because most of its walls are painted green.

The music room is in the upper middle of the map.  From this angle you can see the bank of viewscreens which display classroom video feeds, so that parents can watch their children without disturbing a class.

This is part of the wide corridor that connects the classrooms and other function spaces.  While it's mostly open space with the clean lines of Montessori decoration, they do have some educational wall art plus a scatter of desks, tables, chairs, and other resources for work or rest.

The upper elementary classroom lies between the infant room and the music room.  This is the elementary breakout room.

The larger art room in the middle of the map is used mainly by older students.

The dottie in the adolescent wing has an accessible shower.

The nursery features cribs, open play space, and a toddler corner.

The Wood Room is the lower blue room on the right side of the map. It is used most often by primary school children, sometimes by toddlers. It has cubbies for children to put away personal items.  The breakout room for the Wood Room is decorated with colorful seating, often used for small group lessons that benefit from a quieter, enclosed space.

Montessori schools feature student-directed learning in a beautiful, functional environment.

Waldorf schools have a different philosophy but also have a very creative approach.

Summerhill School is a community-oriented type of education.

Potty learning (as opposed to "training") often entails learning from observation.  Here are some tips.

See the gorgeous play kitchen.

Clothing cards can be used in many activities.

Anmwe! -- Help!
-- Haitian Kreyol Dictionary

fini -- to finish
-- Haitian Kreyol Dictionary

Montessori materials are beautiful, durable objects designed to teach important concepts.  Many are made from hardwood. People usually buy them; they are expensive but excellent quality.  Some people wish to make their own; it's not hard, but finding instructions often is.  Aidan can look at anything wooden, run his hands over it, and copy it in his workshop with good or better results.

This toddler toy is a wooden box with many different doors and latches.

A worksheet with an unlabled set of smiley scales can be used to measure all kinds of things.

Here are some social and emotional milestones to watch for in child development.

Trauma causes different symptoms at different ages.

This is a basic assessment of mental status.  While a precise assessment takes time and focus, relaxed observations can be very useful -- especially with young children, who are not receptive to the kind of detailed testing that older people may tolerate.

Attachment styles show first in child and caregiver behavior, and then in adult relationships. A healthy relationship creates a circle of security.  Aidan and Saraphina are actually doing a great job of compensating for her tragic past.

See the ASL sign for "friend."  Explore some ASL printables such as sign language numbers 1-5. Montessori schools often teach alternative communication modes such as ASL or Braille.

Attention span grows with age.  A typical toddler's attention span is only a few minutes.  Work with that, because trying to stretch it longer just makes everyone miserable.

First aid lessons at age-appropriate levels teach basic skills.  Early on, skin tone issues with medical supplies simply didn't matter to the people who made the materials.  Now, L-America offers several different shades of bandaids and bandage tape for skin in shades of brown.  T-America does much better.  Most skin products come in at least five tones; the basic set is often listed as pale, fair, medium, dark, deep.  Better products such as the Sunspotz solar alert stickers come in ten: alabaster, bisque, peach, amber, buff, olive, toffee, terra cotta, mahogany, and ebony.  A family may only stock their own preference, but almost all schools, first aid stations, etc. will have a range of skin tones, clear, rainbow colors, cartoons, and EFAids.

Montessori play groups are a little less formal than schools and typically focus on infants to toddlers.

[To be continued ...]

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17 comments or Leave a comment
From: technoshaman Date: May 7th, 2016 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The old Starport back in San Jose had one of those walk-in tubs... these days two of the three tubs are jetted, and there is a roll-in shower with built-in bench and double shower heads, one fixed, one hand-held with a vertical rail and holder.

Now, if we can just get the water heater on the new tub to actually, you know, fill the tub before going cold...

That's really cool, that the kids can *make* their own lunches... given that this is Montessori, I'll be the high schoolers' can get pretty elaborate... one wonders if they sometimes take time about making larger-quantity dishes like stir fry for each other...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2016 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


>> The old Starport back in San Jose had one of those walk-in tubs... these days two of the three tubs are jetted, and there is a roll-in shower with built-in bench and double shower heads, one fixed, one hand-held with a vertical rail and holder. <<

The one serious drawback I have observed is that the physics of accessibility and the physics of water containment are diametrically opposed. A roll-in shower seems the best balance of both requirements IF the floor is either gently backsloped and/or has a roll-over hump. The completely flat ones, which is how most are built, just get water everywhere. And the tubs with any kind of gate or window are tremendously prone to leaking. I have, however, seen some excellent tubs with stairs, either raised on pedestals or sunken into the floor (each convenient for different people).

>> Now, if we can just get the water heater on the new tub to actually, you know, fill the tub before going cold... <<

Yeah, getting any large tub full of water warm enough to wash in is not only tedious but expensive due to the amount of energy required to heat it.

>> That's really cool, that the kids can *make* their own lunches... <<

Yep. There is a stronger trend in T-America generally, and an explicit part of Montessori from the beginning, to teach life skills and get kids doing as much as possible for themselves. Aidan has actually borrowed a bunch of this already in terms of augmenting his bathroom so Saraphina can reach the sink, and putting clothes on bars low enough for her, etc.

Kitchen skills start with learning to use a plastic knife to slice bananas or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was amused to see, listed as formal exercises, stuff my grandmother did with me: filling a dishpan with water or dry rice and giving me a set of measuring cups to play with. So then I knew not only how to use them, but how to carry liquid without spilling it (eventually) and how much a cup should look like once it's in the bowl.

When children are taught to be independent, and to do things for other people, and given opportunity to do real things as soon as they are able, then they don't get frustrated because school is nothing but irrelevant drudgery and popularity contests. The kids in this school are learning how to fold clothes, make meals, measure things, grow a garden, run a cash register -- things they can put to use at home or in a job now.

>> given that this is Montessori, I'll be the high schoolers' can get pretty elaborate... <<

Some of them enjoy making fancy things. It can get interesting when there are teens who want to become chefs or something like that. But most are more interested in learning to make singles or family meals. The school teaches canning too -- it's simple enough to buy a bulk load of tomatoes or apples and spend a day or two canning so everyone gets a turn.

>> one wonders if they sometimes take time about making larger-quantity dishes like stir fry for each other... <<

Oh yes. They teach mass-quantity cooking to anyone who's interested. The school keeps a pot or two of food in the cafe all the time -- chili, beans and rice, pulled pork, vegetable soup, chicken and dumplings, anything that's cheap and easy to make en masse. Somebody always forgets their lunch or their lunch money, so the school provides a backup plan.

The cooking facilities are busy much of the day. There's the kitchen in the cafe and the one in the practical life room. Some of the other rooms have a sink, a microwave, a crockpot, or other tidbits. Sometimes people book the rooms, especially if they plan something long and complex, but much of it is just freeform like the rest.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: June 27th, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
«"Dottie," said Saraphina as they approached a restroom door, pointing at the colorful spots.

"Yes, we have several here,along with the boys' and girls' rooms," Arlene said.»

So a dottie is a folks' room (as in Callahan's Place)?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 27th, 2016 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)


Exactly. It customarily has the furnishings of a men's room (such as urinals) and a women's room (such as changing tables). If there are product dispensers then they cover the same range. T-America has an organization called Dottie's Potties which makes it possible for builders to put in a unisex toilet they could not otherwise afford. They are often, though not always, marked with a scatter of dots on the door in addition to a sign that says something like "Unisex Restroom."

What they want to do is set a requirement that the first toilet always has to be a dottie, and if you want to add gendered ones after that, then you can. Ideally it goes like this:

* Tiny establishments have one toilet which is a roomlet dottie and serves everyone.

* Small places have a dottie, a men's room, and a women's room; all single roomlets.

* Medium places have a roomlet dottie, then a men's room and a women's room each with several stalls. A space-saving convenience is that the latter can be small stalls up to a certain capacity before you have to add either another dottie or ADA stalls in the M/W rooms.

* Large places have a big family restroom with lots of extra facilities such as child-size potties, sinks at different levels, adult changing tables, etc. plus a big men's and women's room. They often have a nursing room for parents to feed infants. If they have roomlet dotties, these are often scattered in other locations so people don't have to hike across the whole building to the one restroom facility.

There are also modular toilet facilities which are very popular in parks and public places that include showers as well as toilets. These can be either M/W/D units, separate slots for each function, or a row of individual roomlets all available to anyone.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: June 28th, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Thanks. So it's a T-America term, and not one that I could expect to have encountered locally.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 28th, 2016 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

"Dottie" is T-American. L-American spreads across unisex toilet, genderfree, universal, gender-neutral, family bathroom, and other terms.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: January 2nd, 2017 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was unfamiliar with "gumbo ya-ya" except in the title and lyrics of a Dr.John song, "Gris-gris Gumbo Ya-ya", where I couldn't get any sense of its meaning. Your brief description helped. I just websearched it. Almost all the hits referred to food, directly (lots of recipes) or indirectly (restaurant names), but this one answered my questions:

«Gumbo Ya Ya is the name given to a communication art form in the south when a group of people get together and everyone talks at one time. It may sound confusing if you’ve never experienced it, and it may seem as if no one would be heard if everyone is talking simultaneously. But, when you have mastered the art of gumbo ya ya, then you have the ability to follow all of the conversations going on, never missing a beat. »

And that definition fits with the phrase: gumbo is a thick stew with many different ingredients, and "ya-ya" would be an onomatopoeia for lots of talk.

Edited at 2017-01-02 06:40 pm (UTC)
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: January 28th, 2017 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Cambridge Health Alliance, where we get most of our medical care, has signs in English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Kreyol, so I'm beginning to recognize a phrase here and there :)

(I swear you could walk through Cambridge Hospital and get dozens of models for your poems. I recently met a tiny young pharmacist with a light Desi accent, wearing an ornate Sikh turban, pink the first time I met him and teal blue the second. One of the hospital janitors, who speaks broad Boston English, also wears a turban but with part of the inner strand consistently hanging down on his neck, and I should look up what that means.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 28th, 2017 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)


>> Cambridge Health Alliance, where we get most of our medical care, has signs in English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, and Kreyol, so I'm beginning to recognize a phrase here and there :) <<

That's awesome. And yes, I always read multilingual signs as a way of expanding my language fluency. Being able to read signs even in a language I don't speak is extremely useful.

>> (I swear you could walk through Cambridge Hospital and get dozens of models for your poems. I recently met a tiny young pharmacist with a light Desi accent, wearing an ornate Sikh turban, pink the first time I met him and teal blue the second. One of the hospital janitors, who speaks broad Boston English, also wears a turban but with part of the inner strand consistently hanging down on his neck, and I should look up what that means.) <<

Awesome. I love diverse places!

That style is likely Muslim, as there are multiple variations in that tradition and they seem to favor a tail.
thnidu From: thnidu Date: March 16th, 2017 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
HUP, the (main) Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has signs of "Your Rights as a Patient" in about 15-20 different languages. I want to photograph them but the guards keep stopping me; apparently there's no photography allowed at all. I keep meaning to contact Patient Relations for permission.

• basic skills such as cooking and leaning
-> cleaning
> TILT! ;-)
thnidu From: thnidu Date: April 25th, 2017 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)

A couple of notes

• Saraphina stumbled over "three"
> Note for fellow readers: That's because ASL THREE, unlike the usual US finger-counting 3, is made by extending the thumb and the index and middle fingers straight, with the ring and pinkie fingers closed or bent.

• unlabled set of smiley scale
-> unlabeled ... scales

Edited at 2017-04-25 02:16 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 22nd, 2017 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A couple of notes


And seeing it, I think Aidan will adopt the one-handed ASL numerals.


Because I noticed a distinct advantage when I taught my hearing boys the numerals that way: they NEVER had that developmental stumble where a kid gets to five, switches to the other hand, and starts counting over instead of saying "six." That was a HUGE thing in kindergarten, and some of the kids spent WEEKS going through it until "six" finally clicked.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 23rd, 2017 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A couple of notes

>> And seeing it, I think Aidan will adopt the one-handed ASL numerals. <<

Go with that if you like it.

>>Because I noticed a distinct advantage when I taught my hearing boys the numerals that way: they NEVER had that developmental stumble where a kid gets to five, switches to the other hand, and starts counting over instead of saying "six." That was a HUGE thing in kindergarten, and some of the kids spent WEEKS going through it until "six" finally clicked.<<

I never had that problem. For me it was harder counting first finger, second finger, remember to switch to thumb instead of middle finger. But people vary and that's okay.
kengr From: kengr Date: June 23rd, 2017 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Re-reading this the scene with the bandage tape reminded me of a discovery that took me a lot of *painful* experience to figure out.

These days there seem to be three varieties of what we used to call "adhesive tape".

There's paper tape, and two varieties of "cloth" tape. The two varieties of cloth tape differ mostly ion how tough they are and who well they stick.

And therein lies the rub.

I have compromised circulation on my left shin. So most of it is discolored and the skin is fragile and slow to heal from damage.

Which means using large band-aids or gauze pads and taping around the edges so they stay in place.

I eventually discovered that one of the reasons they were taking so long to heal and seemed to "spread" was that the stronger adhesives were causing damage to the skin making new "sores".

Now I use just the paper tape to hold things in place and I don't get the "spreading" effect. Sure, I sometimes have to add an extra piece if it comes loose, but that beats what used to happen.

Note, this is *not* a latex allergy or the like, though it might resemble it. It's just that the stronger adhesive is gripping the fragile skin *too well*.

I figure this is useful info to spread around in case other folks have the same problem and haven't figured it out yet.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 23rd, 2017 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)


One version is that too-strong adhesive can remove skin. Another is that some adhesives will eat through sensitive skin. O_O

However, there's another option: self-stick wrap. It doesn't have adhesive, is breathable, and not allergenic for most people. It only sticks to itself. Put the bandage down and wrap over it. Also fun for recreational bondage, and it's generally sold for horse care. VetRap comes in dozens of colors and costs a couple bucks a roll. But currently there are medical versions too, if you want it sterile.
kengr From: kengr Date: June 23rd, 2017 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

I don't *think* it's "eat through.

Vet wrap I have (a favorite pervertable back in the day) but it's awkward to use because I can't reach well around the outside of my lower calf.

Hard enough getting things positioned right with the tape.

And it'd get used up a lot faster than the tape. Besides, I can get rolls of the tape for free at the clinic. :-)

Another trick I've used is this stuff that's sort of like weak *tubular* ace bandage. I need to find out the proper name for it so I can buy more.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 23rd, 2017 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Tubular bandages are popular for treating road rash. Various companies make them.

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