While you were sleeping

There is a new member of the Kee family, and I can’t stop thinking about her. It is not as precious as it sounds…

Sunday morning started with Kathleen calling long distance to Montreal (where I was at St George’s for the Spring Leadership Institute) to tell me that her new hamster, Maple, eats more than she expected.  I told her I wasn’t surprised to hear that at all!

Three nights ago, Maple joined our family.  Kathleen had worked for weeks trying to convince us to buy a hamster.  She promised to take care of it herself and to pay for it with her own money.  Her most compelling line was this:  “All I want for my birthday is permission.”  Before giving in, my husband and I were clear with her on two messages:

1.  “You need to understand that Dad and I will never take care of this thing.”

2.  “We believe that a good hamster is a dead hamster.  The sooner the better.”

How’s that for fine parenting?  But she has heard these sorts of lines from us before so she merely rolled her eyes and smiled.  Who is playing whom in our house?  Her birthday gift was a big box with one piece of paper inside that had been folded over and over with one small word written on it:  “Permission.”

When Maple arrived Thursday night, she was treated like a new baby in the house – we cooed, laughed and took photos.  I tucked Kathleen in to bed that night feeling good that she was so thrilled. Maybe having a hamster wouldn’t be so bad after all.

But when I went to bed, Maple came to life.

At first I thought it was cute, and I got out of bed to have a look at her running in her (squeaky) wheel. I shut my door but I could still hear her.  I got up a second time and shut Kathleen’s door too.  I got up a third time to move the cage downstairs but stopped short when I saw that Kathleen was fast asleep while Maple was running fast.  I thought I could surely do the same.

But when my alarm went off at 4:30am signaling it was time to catch my plane to Montreal, I had hardly slept.

So our nocturnal Maple, who is hungry by morning, made me think about our CAIS schools.

For when schools are closed, and when parents and students aren’t around, and when many educators are relaxing, our CAIS colleagues are working to improve themselves and their schools; their wheels are spinning; they are sharpening the saw.

It was so impressive to see 39 people from five provinces focusing on “Change Leadership” and “Women and Leadership” for the weekend.  I realize it is a bit crazy to make a connection between Maple and the LI (must still be tired from my lack of sleep!) but I couldn’t deny the parallel. Just as I didn’t quite realize how active hamsters are at night, I also didn’t quite realize how much important work can be shared and learned in a single weekend.

This weekend in Montreal, thanks to Barry Wright and Kathy Nikidis, the research was compelling, the conversations were engaging, and everyone came away with some new ideas and friends.

Our schools are fortunate to have educators and leaders willing to give up their time to learn with colleagues from other parts of the country.  The commitment to PD is inspirational.

I’m excited for the Summer LI at Shawnigan, and I hope to see you there.

p.s.  In case my daughter ever reads this:

Dear Kathleen,

When I am at the Summer LI, you’ll be at Camp Onondaga.  If you take good care of your hamster and Maple is still alive in July, I will consider reminding Dad to feed her…

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