Danica Hames (Brown-Ellie’s mom), Jennie Lopez (Brown-Palmer’s mom), Michelle Gallinger (Brown (Ada) and Tucker (Kate) ), Lindsey Milstein (Brown-Gigi’s mom)
Jen shares the origin of the project and a video of tucker children touring the collages.
Jen: I thought we could start off with reactions to the video, but also thinking about what you’ve learned about children’s perceptions of family from reading the conversations. What was important to you, what stood out, what were you surprised about?
Michelle: i was really struck reading the Brown Room conversation about how they thought and cared about the family concepts but the immediacy of the physical space, like the flashlight and shining the light on the collage and talking about who is and isn’t in the classroom was almost eclipsing the abstract ideas of what is a family. and how the immediate circumstances were much more riveting to them.
Lindsey: So they’re less inclined towards the abstract?
Michelle: I don’t think they’re less inclined to the the abstract because they were saying where’s ada, she was here to day and now she’s gone-its totally abstract but the current moment, was much more pressing to them than abstraction removed from space….”yeah we can talk about this but let’s talk about why are friends are missing…).
Jennie: That was interesting, Cannon in the Brown Room, he noticed different patterns on different families that related to his it was a way for them to say "oh, this is like my family” looks for other people to relate to them and identify that way. Like in a tangible way, like this fabric vs being able to understand oh this person has a great grandmother like me.
Michelle: And even if it is like “look they used peacock feathers,” look “they used peacock feathers” this idea that we have connections and we are going to match.
Jen: When we had our team meeting Melanie and Brooke were talking about Cannon and how he recognized that he had shells in his collage and another family had shells and had gone to the beach—so exactly finding those commonalities, and I love the word patterns-in the images.
Brooke: Speaking of the tangibles—first he was looking at Ellie’s and then he was looking at this one and he looked at this picture and he made the connection to Maren’s sister, and I could …(recording stopped :()
Michelle: Clarifying transcription about ravens (tucker conversation) We were listening to podcasts that have orphans in them as well. sometimes we close the loop by having these conversations…there’s this constant widening of their worlds, and that means that we as parents are not always present because they have to be independent to expand their world and these moments where we connect with you as teachers, and we have these insights, enriches our understanding of our children’s broadening universe.
Jennie: Palmer didn’t name anyone in his actual family. Riley the dog…Dylan is his best friend, john and coco are dylan’s parents, mason is another friend his age, they are in his little photo book, because they are-he has 2 grandparents an aunt uncle and uncle and one cousin…, and thats kind of it for his family, and those are the people we sees all the time…he doesn’t really see Ally’s husband Brad.We spend a lot of time from those people.
Michelle: We talk sometimes about some family you choose, they’re the family from your heart, my husband has buddies from HS, they get together every year…they call everybody their cousins, bc they are ‘family.” They get that.
Lindsey: Caleb goes through so many different perspectives-to question what is a mommy—a mommy IS a mommy-this is a concrete universe. The concept of space, to be in the home, or alternately, it doesn’t even matter-camping, it doesn’t really matter. He goes through the whole panorama of perspectives and then trees he considers non-human…he was poetic, spot on. (video ends)
Michelle: And also there is the other, which reminds me of the genus and phylum….there are things that are grouped and things that are not grouped.
Lindsay: And I thought about that in the car this morning, I said to my husband, “I’ve got to go into this meeting…what is a family.” and the conversation they had on the video is exactly the conversation we had. At some point I thought about safety and where that line is drawn, because there is an implicit trust in our inner world, and if you play with the term too much, it may be too chewy…and suddenly someone is not family..you go into a zone where you want them to be really crisp.
Jennie: Tucker room children are making generalizations- a family is this-a mommy or a daddy, or it’s kids, or it’s people who live together-you can only have a family if you have kids, a mom and a dad, where it seems as if the littlest ones were-a family is mommy and daddy, and MY sister and MY brother.
Michelle: What’s my family, ada was saying I have a sister CateCate, and then marina’s like I have sissy…that’s the baby steps to get there. what is your world like and how do they compare.
Danica: Her grandfather went to the restroom and Ellie walked in on him, no concept of privacy, I thought that was interesting, with our family she walks but with grandparents that grandparents that line is not yet drawn.
Jennie: Families who you walk in on…
Danica: with Caleb’s comment about the chickens, how chickens don’t need mommies and daddies to be alive, if you’re cared for, if you need caring, that’s a family, but to have them after you’re independent is kind of foreign to them. even teaching them that we have moms and dads and that their grandmothers are our moms is a foreign concept.
Jennie: Palmer has so many questions about that. Abuela is daddy’s mommy-and he’s like no…she’s my Abuela she’s not your anything.
Danica: Everything’s centered to them.
We also asked some of our alumni parents to participate!
Molly McSherry, Jen Azzariti, Sarah Hou (Tegan and Audrey's mother), Caroline Smith (alumni parent), Dana Rooney (alumni parent)