Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Fruit Cocktails and Memorial Day Memory
The first year I taught, I had a hard time. That's sort of an understatement of the highest order. I had a miserable time. But I kept going back, day after day, and I made it through the year. This, by the way, was such a baptism by fire that nothing, nothing, no classroom, no student, no administrator, no degradation at the hands of powerful people, no parent, nothing will ever surprise me or grind me down again. Seriously.
In the classroom, I could shut my door and be with my 18-27 first graders (depending on what time of year it was) and be a teacher. Almost all those kids learned to read by the end of first grade. My three favorite kids (every teacher has them, every year) were Pervis, Darrel, and Sophia. Note my oldest daughter's name. That Sophia was a lot more like Maeve than she is like my Sophia, but it got her name stuck in my head and it stayed there for 5 years until I had that first baby.
I could write a friggin book about that year and it would probably be banned, but there were moments that were worthwhile, times that weren't steeped so far in blood and dirt and despair to be worth remembering.
I was in the basement earlier today, looking for something I did not find, but I found these two pieces of paper. I was hoping there would be another, the one by Sophia that went something like "I am Sophia. I am mad. Sophia. Mad Face." But that one wasn't there. Instead, I found these two. The one above is Darrel's treatise on fruit cocktail. In case you can't read it, it goes, "In the afternoon I eat fruit cocktails all afternoon I eat fruit cocktails. I said all after[noon] I eat fruit cocktails." This one was one of those moments when I just liked my job for a split second.
The one below was curled up and hard to get a good photo of. I had these big white pieces of paper (like butcher paper or newsprint on a roll--I found it in my closet and we used it as often as we could because, of course, we didn't have supplies enough to use writing paper every day), and I'd lay them out on tables and assign topics. This one was "What I did on Memorial Day" and Pervis wrote:
"We (celebrated) Memorial Day and we wint to my Grandpa's grave yard and my grandpa didn't have a tombstone and my grandpa grave was two steps from Kevin's and we put a wreath his grave."
I wonder about Pervis and Sophia and Darrel--hell, I wonder about all of them. But this little sentence, this view of life, is one I memorized long ago and keep with me.