Not bad for a fat girl


Poetry Under the Stars


We had an event at our elementary school Wednesday evening called Poetry Under the Stars. It was the first year for this event, but I think it will be back in the future. At least I hope so.

Our phenomenal powerhouse of a PTA president approached me with the idea of hosting this event, and she asked for my thoughts. I’m not shy about putting in my two cents, and I do love kids and poetry, so I shared my thoughts and agreed to help out.

A flyer went home asking kids to a submit a poem if they would like to read at the event. The response was overwhelming. Old favorites showed up (there was plenty of Shel Silverstein shared) and original poetry by our own students was submitted. We took them all.

The kids arrived at school in the evening with their families and blankets and fortified themselves with hot cocoa and cookies. Then they entered the “Poetry Pit” for the event. One of the very few benefits of having a school that was built in 1975 is that there are giant concrete “pits” with stair-step levels that allow access to the lower level classroom of our split-level school.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t a benefit most of the time, but for our event the pit was transformed. A microphone was hooked up, and beautiful starlight illuminated the back wall, which displayed some cool fifth grade artwork.

One by one our little poetry buffs made their way to me and the mic and read their poems for the appreciative audience. Even a few of our kindergarteners shared poems, and they were adorable.

I have to tell you, in my role as MC I got to stand near every kid as they read, and during the entire event I think there were only three mispronunciations. Incredible. Those kids were prepared and confident!

In all we had kids sharing poetry for nearly an hour. Last I heard there were fifty-one kids who read a poem. Fifty-one kids showing up for literacy, and all of them brought along people who cared about them. What an amazing thing. What a wonderful thing. What a community commitment to our kids.

Say what you will about testing and common core and “kids today,” but events like this one remind me that I still have the best job in the world.


Stuck on Hope

My boy ten years ago.

My boy ten years ago.

I have this writing assignment that I have to do. It’s way overdue. In fact the course ended. Still, I want to do the assignment. My teacher is a friend and amazing writer herself. She has been overly patient with me. Maybe I need a swift kick in the rear to get it done. I WANT to get it done. I just can’t seem to do it.

I think I’m stuck on the prompt. The focus of the class is using the experience of parenthood as a framework for writing. The particular prompt I’m stuck on is “hope.” It seems too big. It seems too vague. How on earth do I even poke a stick at this one?

I imagine that the idea is to form some sort of concrete response to the prompt as it applies to my son. I tried this approach, but it seemed stilted and dishonest. Yes, I have lots of hopes for him, but they all came out as a kind of bland pablum. I couldn’t bring any passion to the piece. It worried me.

Am I a bad mother? Do I truly believe the things I  wrote? Why wasn’t there any fire to the piece? It could have been written by any parent for any child. It didn’t seem connected to me or my son at all. In fact, it seemed as impersonal as a piece of trendy wall art picked up from the local craft store. You know the ones with the pithy sayings? Of course you do. You may even have them in your home. If you do, I’m sorry for not agreeing with your design aesthetic. Live, Laugh, Love. Yeah, right. If only it were that easy. Some days it just isn’t.

What it boils down to is this, I hope he knows, really knows deep in his core, that I love him and that I’ve always done the best I could for him. I hope he understands that although I mess up in a hundred different ways every single day, I believe that the choices I make are ones that will ultimately help him to be a successful person. I hope he figures out all the stupid stuff that life throws at him, and I hope he manages, somehow, to get his grades up so he has as many options for his future as possible. I hope he understands that he has options. Maybe that’s not personal enough, but it feels pretty personal to me.

I hope that boy grows to be a man that the boy can admire. I hope he remembers his worth and his sense of kindness and his playfulness. I hope he navigates acne and braces and learning to drive and making smart choices without too many permanent scars. I hope his life is rich and fulfilling. I hope he loves and is loved deeply. I know, it’s starting to sound sappy again. I can’t help it. I love that boy. I hope, no matter what comes his way, he always remembers that.