I enjoy going to art fairs. I have pieces that I’ve purchased from Chicago area fairs hanging on the walls of my home. But the one I attended today was not a juried fair. There was no art for sale. It was a forum for students to be celebrated. Student art from every school in each of the districts that feed into the local high school was on display.
My grandson was one of 30 students from his school to be selected to have his drawing as part of the show, so we had a special reason to attend. He was so excited as he lead the way toward his school’s display in search of his piece. It was a typical 3rd grade drawing of a cartoon character, done in blue marker. He explained that they had to use markers for this particular drawing because that’s what the teacher told them to use, but that since then, they have done other things with paint. For a few minutes, he was the artist and we were learning from him.
He smiled and posed as his dad took his picture in front of his drawing, obviously proud of himself. What a great way to celebrate children!
I had actually forgotten about him until the other day. I happened to be standing in the hall as his class was heading out at dismissal. There he was, with a huge toothless grin on his face, eyes smiling up at me as he raised his hand for a high five. I obliged his request and he ran out to his mother.
That’s when I realized that I hadn’t seen him in quite some time and had forgotten about him. He had much of my attention about 6 weeks ago, when for some reason he reverted back to his habit of crying almost every morning. It was a struggle to get him into class.
Then he suddenly stopped and I forgot about him. Until the other day.
I can’t let that happen again…not for him or any other child. Every child who passes through these doors deserves to be seen…deserves to be noticed…deserves a high five.
I had forgotten about him, but he made me see him again the other day.
Procrastination? Yes, that’s one way to look at it. Lack of inspiration? Probably. Either way, I have failed to write and post for the last few days. And I’m not happy about that. After failing to fully participate last year, I was ready to give it my all this year and post the entire month.
I’ve always found the weekends to be the most challenging writing days for me. One would think that finding the time to post on weekends would be easier than during the week. But Saturdays are filled with the usual…laundry, grocery shopping, laundry, dry cleaner, bank, laundry…I know everyone gets the picture because we all have Saturdays. I use my desire to relax and recoup for the upcoming work week as an excuse to make Sundays my lazy day. I fully intend to write, but before I know it the day is gone.
None of this explains Monday at all…except that I totally forgot.
My intention for today was to find renewed inspiration. After an unusually hectic day, I sit here, not really inspired, but attempting to post anyway. It’s not much to read, but I’m hoping it gets me back on track.
I turned left off the main road onto the very poorly lit neighborhood side street. Driving an 8th grader home after the social studies fair wasn’t taking me that much out of my way. It wasn’t so much a favor for his mother as it was a way for me to get home myself. It was already 7:30 pm. The fair had ended 20 minutes earlier, and it appeared that his ride might not be coming for another half hour or so. Hence the decision to take him home.
The ride was only about 7 – 8 minutes. I filled the expected silence with a little chit-chat about his project and a few jokes about making him listen to my music. However grateful his mother was for the help, to say he hated being in his principal’s car at that point would be an understatement.
As he exited the car, thanking me for the ride, I assured him that it was dark, so none of his friends would see who drove him home. With a slight grin, he closed the car door and ran up the driveway to his house.
And I continued on the dark street, heading my way back to the main street that would take me on my way home.
I found it! The speed bump that the kids are always complaining that the bus hits everyday.
I didn’t expect to hear a compliment. I shrugged it off when it came my way with an “Oh, no, that’s not me”, assuming the conversation we were having would just continue as it had been. But this parent was persistent. She repeated what she had said to me with a supportive admonishment of “I meant it, it’s okay to accept a compliment!”
And that’s what has stuck with me and run through my mind over and over the last few days. Is it just me, or do others react the same way when a compliment comes their way? What about that interaction made me feel uncomfortable? Or was it actually embarrassment?
I did ultimately acknowledge her kind words as we continued our talk. I have to admit, however hesitant I was to accept it at first, I walked away feeling proud.
I also have a new goal. I will work hard to GIVE more meaningful compliments because I know how it feels to receive one.
I was talking with a colleague yesterday about this month’s SOL, reflecting on some of our pieces and on what this process of participating in the challenge means to us. I think of it as a kind of “retreat” for us as writers, focusing our thinking back on the power of writing for ourselves and on our role as writing models for students.
I recently had an opportunity to sit in on professional development with a writer who has authored and co-authored numerous professional books. She shared with us that she had received the final piece for her latest book from her publisher. She was actually giddy about the fact that she was going to spend the evening reading it over one last time before it was going to print. How cool it was to see a writer who was excited about the prospect of looking over her work just one more time.
I noticed that many a winner at the Academy Awards this past weekend commented on how many drafts of their acceptance speech they had written and discarded before they arrived on stage. Those few written words meant so much to the person speaking them that they had to be the right ones. The winner for best screen play noted that he had started and put aside his award winning piece at least twenty times over the span of five years before he felt it was good enough to tell the story. He was determined to get it just right and not give up.
We’re not far into this month, but I’m already thinking about the few pieces I’ve posted, wondering if I should have added a sentence here or changed a thought there. We teach students about writer’s craft. We model for them as we notice craft in picture books and short pieces of text. We encourage them to explore their inner writer.
I’m going to end this with a question, not for the reader, but for this writer.
Am I finished? Is this piece complete?
It was still there! The strong smell of garlic hanging in the air. Sharp. Pungent. Stinging.
He thought I was crazy when I mentioned it last night. I’m sure he felt that I was criticizing his culinary decisions.
I thought it would be gone when I got up this morning, but it wasn’t. Did he notice it like I did? Or was he “nose-blind” to it?
It’s not a criticism of his cooking. As a matter of fact, dinner last night was delicious. I just didn’t want to be reminded of it again today as I was getting ready for work.
I’m about to head home in a few minutes. Will I notice it when I open the door? Or will the aroma of tonight’s dinner greet me instead?
I won’t say a word if it’s still there. I’ll eat with him, wait until he settles in for an evening of TV…and light a scented candle.