I’ve been thinking about stories over the past few days – the ones we read, the ways we connect through sharing them, the ways we write our lives as stories.
I just turned the last page on The Year of Billy Miller with my son. I started to sniffle as I read the last few pages – good tears – and B. could recognize the way Kevin Henkes had drawn me in and created a connection with me because he felt the same way a few chapters earlier when we read Billy’s poem.
I’m anxiously waiting for a couple of my students to finish Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock so I can talk to them about it. So far, I’ve had one talk with a girl who had the same reaction I had at one point: enough horror and anger to toss the book aside…only to need to pick it up soon after out of a desperate hope to know how it turns out.
Even if it causes heartache, we are drawn to finish those books that break our hearts – like the student who emailed me about how reading See You at Harry’s last week.
I’m grateful to have those chances to connect with my students because I’m reading what they read. Those moments bring us closer together by realizing we’re both part of humanity and blessed with emotions. Even if there are better than twenty years between us in age.
As one day fades into another and exhaustion seems to chase me long before nightfall, I’ve had to write and rewrite and retell just what I don’t exactly know is going on.
So I focus on the positives – that I’m making it through the school day, that I’m around my students who amaze me daily, that I’m going to summon the energy to clean off my desk tomorrow no matter what, that I powered through a mile fun “run” on Sunday with a little help of company from one of my students.
That my parents watched B. today on his day off and fixed dinner tonight so I didn’t have to.
That I now have the most adorable red hat that a student made to take to Boston.
It’s the little stuff that makes the story of my days brighter.
And all of it is far more interesting than my newfound love of warm honey-water & spearmint cough drops or that my students seem to recognize my husky/ragged/tortured voice as mine (one even told me it sounded “cool” – oh heavens!). Or that I fell asleep at the dining room table right after dinner while my mom watched the news.
The news had a horrifying story on that made me think about how we learn to build our own stories and ourselves as characters in those stories. Another young person committed suicide as the result of bullying online – another kid who bought into the meanness directed at her as part of who she was and how her story was destined to turn out. I cried to think about how I wish I could’ve told her – and thousands of other kids that we get to choose how we see ourselves and how our stories turn out…not the bullies. But I wonder if she would’ve believed me. I wonder if my students believe me.
I wonder why they don’t tune out of these sites if they don’t add anything positive to their lives.
As you connect with others through stories written and unwritten this week, think about what you’re adding to their tales.
Check out other Slice of Life posts today at the Two Writing Teachers blog and connect with other bloggers through their stories.