My son’s school has a book of the month. Each month several copies of the same book are passed from family to family, and the entire community spends some time reading the same book. The books are always picture books, meant to be read in one sitting. It’s an interesting program and one that always brings home a book, and an author, that we are not familiar with.
The books are generally tied in to the theme of the month – which is often reduced to a word or a phrase that the students and teachers spend time talking about and doing activities around.
Ish is about a boy, Ramon, who loves to draw. He draws everything and he draws everywhere he goes. One day he is drawing some flowers and his older brother laughs at him. Ramon becomes upset and stops drawing. He becomes upset because his drawings aren’t perfect. He is rescued by his younger sister, Marisol, who has collected an entire gallery of Ramon’s cast-off drawings. As she walks Ramon through the gallery she describes a picture of a vase as “vase-ish” and this one word unlocks Ramon’s mind and he starts drawing again with a passion. Drawing trees that look “tree-ish” and houses that look “house-ish” and suns that look “sun-ish.” His mind is freed because he is no longer trying to define his drawings before he has even started.
This lead me to begin thinking of my son and where he fits in the world. He could be “hearing-ish” or he could be “deaf-ish” – it’s really a matter of how you look at it. And maybe if we weren’t so busy defining everything as parents, and educators – then we could simply allow our children to define themselves as they wish.
And really that would be okay because we are all sort of “ish” in our respective ways.