The Last Day of Kindergarten

I was looking for a blog entry to post when I came across this one that I had written on my last day teaching kindergarten in the inner city.  I wrote it and for some reason it got lost in the shuffle.  So as the new school year begins and I am still laid off from official teaching work, I post this entry about leaving those 26 wonderfully maddening and amazing kindergarteners.


Why am I so surprised at the tears?  I loved my students from day one.  The first time I saw their wide, beautiful faces, shining and radiant, I loved them.  The first time I saw the depth of their pain and suffering, I loved them.  The first time I saw their hunger for food, for positive touch and attention, I loved them.  The first time I had to restrain one of them—on the ground—the child screaming and flailing–my heart burned with love.  When I first saw them flinch to absorb a hit when I simply lifted my hand to pat their shoulder, I loved them.

I think of the ones (5 out the 26) whose fathers are in prison.  I think of one little boy who told me as if he were talking about the weather, “My dad got in a fight last.  Now he’s in jail.  He had a gun.”  I think of the little girl who told me her grandmother was shot and killed a couple months earlier.  I think of the ones whose mothers are 18 years old.  I think of the dad who came in to beat his son right there in the classroom after I had called to tell him his son was acting up (I never called him again).  I think of one little girl who got committed to a mental institution for trying to set her own house on fire and kill her baby brother. I think of the ones who ran around the room throwing punches and chairs.    I think of the ones who told me they had tigers and monsters living in their rooms.  I think of the little girl who came into school every day announcing it was her birthday, and every day I would look surprised and wish her a happy birthday.  

These little ones, whom so many of the other teachers called spoiled, are far from selfish in the usual sense of the word—they are radiant givers of everything they had—they gave it all—wore it all on their sleeves, gave it all in their voices and wide, frightened, excited eyes.

From the depth of their suffering they could be wonderfully kind, tender, and protective of one another.  I think of the ones whose older siblings came to pick them up at the end of the day and how they would hug each other with such relief at the sight of each other.  I think of the ones who wanted to help pass out paper so badly they’d knock down three other kids in the process.  I think of the ones who would fall asleep at the table after we got back from lunch.  I always let them sleep, even when chastised by other teachers.

I know I helped these kids.  I can rejoice in the good I have done.  And I can feel grateful for the love and support I received to help me get through this year.  I remember my mentor Lefty asking when I first started, “Did you ask anyone to pray for you and your students?”  I hadn’t.  So I did, and things got better in terms of my ability to hold these children, have patience with them, and meet their needs.  I even taught them EFT, calling the meridian points Magic Buttons.  I will remember always how these children called me daddy and even sometimes, grandpa.

Now the classroom is empty.  And their voices echo in the woodwork, the ceiling,  the hum of the lights, my heart.  And I need to let them go.  I did the best I could for eight months, and now they are gone.  I can’t save them from their suffering.  I know I shared their suffering these last few months, I helped comfort them, I helped them to bear it, but yet, they need to carry it on their own little, bird-like hearts, and my own heart aches at the thought.  My heart seethes with a fire to protect them, to hold them tightly against the storm, to gather them in and sing to them, wipe their tears with my tears.  And yet, I need to let them go.  But then my heart rails at the thought and whispers, “Why?  Why do you need to let them go?”  “It hurts too much,” I say.  “That’s why you need to hold on to them,” my heart says, “remember this as you go out into the world.  There is unspeakable suffering in the world, and there is also a myriad of ways to love and sooth the broken hearted.”

I want to leave you with a little story that captures the spirit of our classroom by the end of the year.  A little boy had come up to me first thing in the morning asking if I thought there was more than one God.  As we discussed our various ideas on the subject (we agreed there was only one but that It had lots of different names) another student shouted out from the back of the room: “God is everywhere!  Right Teacher?  God’s everywhere, right?”  I turned and walked towards him.  “Yes,” I said, “I think God is everywhere.  Even here.”  And I pointed to his heart.  His face turned upwards towards the sky and slowly spread with a huge smile.  “That’s right,” he beamed, nodding his head, “that’s right.  In here.”  And he began strutting around the room, telling the other kids, “God’s in here.  God’s in here.” And as he thumped himself in the chest, another student started singing “This Little Light of Mine (our morning song).”  And then they all started singing and dancing, with this little boy right in the center, spinning until he fell down laughing, still thumping his tender, racing, and glorious heart.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Reflections on Dreams, and The Artists Within

Good Day, Dear Readers,

As you know I talk a lot about following your dreams here at the Wonder Child Blog.  There are other dreams however that may influence us–the kinds we have while sleeping.  Today I am going to share with you some poetic reflections about these other kind of dreams.  And while it is best to focus on our waking hours, our sleeping hours can provide a vast storehouse of subconscious information that can help guide us on our way. 

This piece was inspired by the insightful work of Dr. Jean Raffa (  Enjoy.

Dreams– moving murals painted across the living canvas of the mind by the artists of the soul.  The mediums they use are so mysterious: seemingly innocuous experiences we have during the day, foods we eat, events from our childhood, scents and aromas, music, the sense of touch, movies we saw twenty years ago.  The venue they have chosen to work in is even more mysterious—the dark theater of sleep.  We must enter the darkness in order for the artists to step from behind the curtains and begin splashing paint across them.  Once they’re finished, and the curtains form a watery backdrop, they arrange a set with props from the past and silken memories draped over moveable, skeletal scaffolding.  Then they invite us to go up on stage and parade around with huge, larger-than-life-gestures wearing the masks of dog, aunt, uncle, neighbor, co-worker, angel, devil—even ourselves.  And oddity of oddities, we get to watch from the audience as well—and we watch with our eyes closed!  It’s all so strange.  And yet the players and the artists creating the whole vision are there to do more than entertain—each night they prepare elaborate mystery plays, initiation rites, ancient sacrificial rituals, and birthing ceremonies; and all of them on the stage of the imagination—that wonderful and blessed, living playground of the soul, and all of them meant to instruct and enlighten—to open our eyes to the truth.  These players form the most loyal, dedicated guild of artists there is.  They are the trusted servants of our deepest desires.  Day after day they labor for us and with us.  And every morning, as we wake, and sunlight begins filling the auditorium, all of the artists, the players, and the set, are moved behind the curtain to remain back stage until the next showing. 

When we wake up, if we are troubled by a particular play that transpired that night, take a moment and peek behind the curtain, see backstage the most amazing mystery of all—the play within a play—all of the workers are one worker, one director–the person we most want to become.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Learning to Fly: A Playful Video Story For Young Children of All Ages That Teaches Us How to Deal With Expectations, Especially Expectations About Going to School (now that’s a long title)

In this video, which starts out with me having a little silly, fun, I tell a story that I wrote for one of my first graders nearly 15 years ago.  On the second day of school this little girl came in with a note from her mom saying that her daughter was terribly disappointed about how the first day of school went.  You see the little girl had the expectation that she was going to learn to read on the first day of school, and when she didn’t, she no longer wanted to come back. 

This story, which will someday soon come out as a picture book, will help children see that sometimes learning looks different than we think it should and that sometimes it’s even hard.  The rewards however, are wonderful—we get to soar.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Parenting and Teaching Tips: How to Teach the Multiplication Tables in Fun and Active Ways

The times tables have been a bugaboo for parents, teachers, and students for generations.  Teachers teach them and children learn them, only to forget them over the summer.  Then the teachers reteach them and children learn them again, only to forget them the following summer.  Teachers get frustrated, parents get frustrated, and worst of all, children begin thinking that there is something wrong with them and teachers start labeling them with learning problems instead of reevaluating their teaching methods

How can we teach the times tables so they stick?  How can we teach them so that children not only learn them, but retain them? 

The answer lies in HOW we teach them.  This video gives several techniques I have used over my 15 years as a teacher.  Put them into practice and not only will the times tables-facts sink in to children’s minds, but into their hearts and bodies as well.  Moreover, you will both love the process by which this occurs.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

…And the Walls Came Tumblin’ Down: the Fine Art of Knowing When to Tear Down Walls and When to Build Them


Inspired by a post by Dr. Jean Raffa ( these thoughts about walls came out.


The idea of tearing down walls is sort of a paradox for me right now.  We all build walls, naturally and almost effortlessly when we are growing up– “normal” ego-development walls, that is.  But when you add to the mix childhood traumas, then walls became not only natural to build, but necessary, even welcome.  And as I am discovering, most of the walls have to come down in order for me to allow myself to be touched—heart and soul and mind–touched, and to touch others.  The work is slow, for the most part, brick by brick, chink by chink.  Other times, the walls crumble as fast and as dramatically as they must have in Jericho when we are suddenly and unexpectedly inspired or moved by another person or experience.  At times like these, many walls fall, revealing hidden gardens and treasures. 

Some walls remain, however, and I am learning to look at them as blessings—like the guard rails on a mountain or the walls of my house.  Sometimes I need the protective embrace of the earth transformed into brick and mortar.  Sometimes I sit atop the walls and watch.  Other times I lean against them and weep, knowing there is something on the other side, but I am too afraid to climb or even look.  Still other times I revel in the solitude behind the walls and write rivers of words; for paradise, after all, means “an enclosed garden,” and I am learning to be OK with me, and that hidden within the walls of my heart, is a safe place where my dreams are growing. 

I say all this to say, I am still learning which walls need to come down, which need to remain; which need to remain and yet be hopped over or dug under.  There are no easy answers, especially when walls start crumbling without any notice, when the earthquakes of healing wave through and I find myself standing in the light—the light of the wisdom and love of others.  I am learning to step through the wreckage and breathe.  The gardens are still there.  I needn’t fear losing them.  Indeed, they are easier to share once the walls come down. 

Other times walls go up without me realizing it, like I accidently hit the “shields-up” button on the Starship Enterprise…Luckily, I am open enough today to learn how to learn.  And for me, it is not just emotional or soul walls—it’s mental walls also—old ideas and paradigms need to come down too—like it’s OK to earn money trying to help others—doctors do that all the time, or that it’s OK to make money doing what you love. It has taken years for those walls to come down, but luckily they are coming down.

I am slowly learning that, while walls can be fascinating, and strangely refreshing to the touch with their ancient coldness; beautifully constructed with various marbles, schists, and granites, they are still walls—wailing walls, walls to protect, walls to divide, walls to hang paintings on, and walls to put windows and doors into.  It is a lot to sort out—which ones to tear down and which ones to leave, and when it’s OK to build them.  But the rewards of intimacy, of true connections, soul to soul, heart to heart, mind to mind that come from the meetings without walls, are so worth the effort and struggle to be free.

Thank you Dr. Jean, Lefty, Blaine, Mandy and the boys, and all of you, dear readers, who serve as Joshua’s lovely and beautiful horns.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

God is Within, A Post From Guest Writer, Lefty, of the 7 Day Mental Diet

Good Day, Good Readers of the Wonder Child Blog,

Today I have the great pleasure of sharing with you my mentor Lefty’s first ever poem.  It would seem I’m rubbing off on him.  J

This entry is a slightly edited version of one he published on his blog, The 7 Day Mental Diet ( on August 18th.  He wrote the poem August 13th

After his post I include the comment I wrote on his blog in response to his beautiful poem.  Enjoy!

 P.S. We will be having another retreat soon!

God Is Within
by Lefty

I was giving a retreat this weekend with a few other people. The theme of the retreat was a book by Emmet Fox “The Power Through Constructive Thinking”. My part was what has become a passion for me, “The 7 Day Mental Diet”. I do another session on Dream Boards and finding your dreams/heart’s desire. After the first session and our morning meditation, I made a connection between 2 phrases that I have heard many times before.

The first one was Friday night, one of the presenters, Mike, said “God would not destroy something that he had created”. The next day, a participant named Jack read our morning meditation. In it were  words we hear quite often: “God is Within”.

The connection came as Jack said those words. I did something that I have never done. I wrote a poem. Reading poetry is something that I do not do. It is a chore. Most poetry does not make sense to me. I have been listening to a subliminal track to remove writer’s block, so when I had the idea to write my thoughts in the form of a poem, there was no resistance.

Here is the poem.

If God is within me
If God is present within me
If God cares about me
If God is my Father

If I am suffering, then God is suffering
If I am melancholy, then God is melancholy
If I am happy, then God is happy

God would not punish me
For God would be punishing himself
God is always directing me towards happiness

It was a very powerful weekend. 29 men on retreat, not one of us left without shedding a tear, both of sorrow and joy. To be a part of that is to be as close to my God as I can be. I thank every one of the men there that share their heart with me.



Joseph Anthony wrote:
Your poem, inspired by Mike and Jack, inspired the following reflections:

For years I believed I was unlovable. For years I believed God was out to get me. For years I believed God was everywhere, but inside me. My house was filled with too much filth and debris for Him to even want to set foot in it.

Over the last three years however, these false beliefs began changing. And when I read your poem (especially on the day you wrote it, infused with the light of the retreat), I had such a sense of validating hope. God IS inside me. God WANTS to enter into me, ESPECAILLY when I feel unworthy. God DOES care for me. God WANTS me happy. And God would never destroy or punish something He created. Anything that even remotely appears to be destruction is simply transformation. After all, the caterpillar literally dissolves in the cocoon before solidifying into a butterfly, and that process seems rather destructive. There is never a question of punishment—consequences yes, admonishment, perhaps, but punishment, never.

God transforms what He creates. And that is such a comforting truth. I am not a finished product. God is constantly molding and fashioning me to fit the dreams He has for me. Sure sometimes the pressing and kneading hurt, I imagine dissolving would feel uncomfortable too (but who knows? Someday I’ll ask a butterfly, but it probably wouldn’t remember). Anyway, there is much hope in your words and in the very fact that you wrote them. I am grateful that God decided to embellish you with a poet’s touch. Truth, when carved into poetry, becomes beautiful and more accessible to the soul.

May the Muse be with you!

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

Made in Our Image, A Creation Story


The Creator and Creatress sat together on the banks of a little spring, sculpting lumps of clay they had scooped from the ground.  They kneaded and molded in silence, dipping their fingers occasionally into the water.  At first they made two perfectly oval eggs, and then they shaped five pointed stars from the center outwards.  As they worked, they sang.  And as they sang, their fingers moved to the rhythms of their songs, blurring their fingerprints all over the clay.

They fashioned limbs and heads from the points of the stars.  They formed elegant curves and lines.  They rounded parts here and straightened parts there.  They increased parts here and trimmed parts there.  They used their fingernails to delineate patterns of hair and sinews of muscle.  They carved intricate ears like the insides of seashells.  They painstakingly trimmed the ends of the limbs with fingers and toes.  And all the while, they sang.  And all of the while, their song infused the clay with light and remembrances of the sound.

They adorned the figures with concave and convex parts to fit together in exalted ways.  They garnished the eyes with delicate lashes and the lips with a glossy finish.  They patted and pressed, smoothed and engraved, and decorated the figures all over with the tiniest of hairs knowing this would heighten the sense of touch.  They traced spirals on the pads of the fingers and went so far as to bedeck the bottoms of the toes with swirling patterns of widening ripples.

And as they worked, they sang.   And as they sang, enlivening the clay with pigment and breath, they could not help but weep.  They could not help but render these First Ones beautiful.  They could not help but impress them with passions and crown them in glory.  They could not help but pour over them tears of devotion.  They could not help but establish them with strength.  They could not help but invest them with power.  They could not help but saturate them with creativity.  They could not help but embellish them with little kisses and lavish them with hopes and dreams.  And finally, they were finished.

“In your image,” said the Creator, bowing to the Creatress with the woman he had formed.

“In your image,” said the Creatress, bowing to the Creator with the man she had formed.

And the First Ones stood there, blinking in the light.  As things began to focus they found each other’s hands and looked deeply into each other’s eyes.  Mesmerized with holiness, they traced each other’s faces and then, for the first of countless times, looked up at their Makers in wonder.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog