Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming Up for Air

From middle school miracle

Today is National Day on Writing, and I celebrate by reviving this old blog. I love to write, but my thoughts have been swimming, surfacing piecemeal. The water feels so wide as some are upsetting or hard to put into words, so I have ignored them hoping they disappear in the deep end, because, like Eva sings, "I know not if I sink or swim."
From middle school miracle

Until today, when I was inspired to swim.

I went to the closet to pick my clothes for the day, struggling to appease competing interests fighting within me - the woman who doesn't want to look like a mom and the mom who doesn't want to over do it so as to embarrass Kennedy, now in the wilderness known as middle school. Nothing is worse than having your mother come to your classroom, nothing except having people notice your mother came to your classroom. The intent to blend in was there, yet I was unable to resist the boots.

From middle school miracle

Her English teacher (they call it Language Arts now, but the nostalgic in me can't let go of quintessential English teacher) is oh, so young and fresh from college, I silently wonder if she has the life experience to teach my daughter about English and literature and the arts of language. Just as my doubts begin to surface in my mind, Ms. H. wins me over, with, of all things, lighting.

I left behind the glaring of the fluorescent lights from the hallway and entered what had here-to-for been an oxymoron to me, a cozy classroom. Pink lamps illuminated the quotes from Twilight scattered across the walls, the skeleton book reports hanging from the ceiling and the faces of the middle schoolers, giggling and gossiping as they sit in a circle awaiting the feather stick ceremony. The institutional levelor blinds were barely noticeable swagged by a medley of pink animal prints. And on the wall, in coordinating pink and animal print words read "writing is a gift." Her room was such an expression of who she was that I almost felt like I was trespassing her personal study, yet the ambiance made my experience there timeless, awakening the middle schooler within me.

"Writing is a gift, and so we share it," Ms. H said. And with that, several members of the class read their Eerily True story - the assignment to pick a frightening real life event and fictionalize it into something scarier. Tears welled in my eyes as I heard brilliant expression in the story of the escalator eating its prey with its steel jaw trap. And that wasn't even my kid. When it was Kennedy's turn to share I sat there paralyzed by my amazement at the depth and complexity of the words forming ideas that jumped off the page and out her mouth.
From middle school miracle

I was witness to the miracle of middle school. This teacher who loves to write, told her students they were authors and then taught them to be such. She refuses to let them apologize for their work, insists that they share it with their peers and then assigns them thank-you note writing as listeners. Writing is a gift, one I wish for every child.

Writing for me is like that breath of air you gasp when you've been underwater too long. It releases those ideas churning from within my soul to the paper (or in this case the internet) and even if it only makes it to my journal where no one will ever read it, I am able to breathe again. Until the next time. And as I reviewed my backlog of half-baked posts I realized I've been under water too long this time, nearly drowning in my own silence.


claire said...

Love it. What an amazing experience and post. So well put- the feeling that our own sometimes sloppy, crabby, juvenile complaining offspring can produce something wonderful; can reveal the surface of the gem inside her.

Glad you are back to blogging... I visited my poor neglected blog the other day. Of course it was never a place to write much and FB has been a good substitute for me, but long-form is more your thing and I'm glad of it.

likeschocolate said...

I am glad you are back! I have missed you for your writting brings me so much joy. You are able to say things that I do not know how to express. You really have a gift to write and to speak.

Bored in Vernal said...

yeah, the boots!! :)

Nikki said...

Love this tender post...keep these thoughts for Kennedy to read and remember someday. Our children amaze me. I cry at them growing up too fast on the one hand and with the other I am thrilled at the wonder of it.

Adventurous Housewife said...

Thanks for sharing your voice. It helps me swim.