when i first discovered torey hayden books i was probably still in elementary school. i found a stack of large-print readers digest condensed books from my grandparents in the back of a closet at my house. i was one of those kids who read anything and everything she came across, and i remember the excitement of finding the new books and deciding the only story that looked interesting in the stack was torey hayden's just another kid. in my memory i read it almost all in one day, curled up on the floor beside the closet i'd found the books in. throughout the years i re-read it until i discovered that she'd written many other books about her experiences as a special education teacher.
most likely hayden is who lead me down the path of special education, who taught me to look at children in a different way, and helped me look at the process of teaching in a different light.
every year i re-read a few of her books. i own them all, and last week i stared at my book shelf dedicated to torey deciding which of my broken-spine copies was going to be my therapy for the start of the school year. reading hayden becomes like taking a hot bath. somehow stories of chaos surround me, inspire me, relax yet energize me.
when i think things are out of control with my own children her books remind me that it could be worse, but also am reminded that the chaos can lead to finding solutions that help our little ones. re-reading hayden's little vignettes in the classroom makes me realize that i've copied her methods, memorized them, and made them my own. years of reading the books for enjoyment must have embedded her theories and her classroom activities in my head so that i use them daily.
in my advanced methods graduate class our only text book is one of hayden's books (somebody else's kids). it's not my favorite hayden book and i'm nervous about sharing hayden with others. part of me is thrilled to finally discuss her classroom methods and techniques with someone other than my mom, but part of me feels timid about sharing her. what if others don't agree with her ways of teaching? am i going to have to sit and listen to her being analyzed and discredited. usually i love debate (i am married to a republican) but perhaps i've become too close to hayden. too much of my own identity is tied up in her.
my mother has always seen through my obsession with hayden in that i want to be a torey hayden. she used this to attempt to convince me not to go teach in nyc (which is a story for another time, but it ended up not happening), and has used this to help me work through professional woes. she perhaps sees this more than i see it myself.
as the electricity flickers on and off i'm curled up with 'beautiful child', laughing out loud at the children in the classroom, and getting mental inspiration for ways to help my own kiddos on monday.