Writers – how little they are – they are nonetheless, still writers

I have a student who knows he is a writer.  He whipped out pages of stories he has written on his own and illustrations to go with them, all originals.  We are working on creating comic books in class.  I gave the students a basket of figurines to get the brain storms raining and the winds of wonder howling.  I had a bunch of toys from who knows where, but Bat-man and Spiderman and Mr. Potatoe Head, and hearts with faces and hands.  You can imagine the choices the students had.  Anyway, every student picked one figurine to get the juices going.  Although teaching 4th graders, the juices are already so creative and they are so ALIVE with enthusiasm. 

I explained to them that the writing process is a process to help them start at a place, but some writers just jump in with both feet and write.  Some need a list of topics to choose from. We explored different thinking maps (graphic organizers) and had fun just brainstorming.  One of my students got out stories he had written on his own and his detailed description of the second day of school which was a homework assignment.  I had showed them my 4th grade journal, which was a spiral notebook starting with the frist day of school, August 31, 1983.  I read it to them and told them to write a journal entry everyday and maybe when they are old like me they will still have their journal.  It is a notebook with  this picture on it. Remember those cartoons?  I just loved them when I was a kid.  Sandra Boynton is the artist who drew those.

Anyway, on the first day of school I told my students to write down five questions they might have for me or about school in general.  And this particular student who knew he was a writer, had written “I don’t have school supplies. What do I do?”  I saw this in his notebook because I was reading his long rendition of  the second day of school.  Which was hilarious since a 4th grader’s concept of time is so warped.  He thought three hours had passed after lunch to some other subject.

This broke my heart though.  I almost teared up.  This kid is so alive and so excited to be in school and he doesn’t have school supplies.  I might add that school supplies are expensive for parents.  I can’t imagine what it is like to have to pick and choose for your child what you can actually buy from a list that is pretty long and detailed.  I actually watched parents school supply shopping the day before school since I was at Office Max and the stress on parents’ faces was incredible. 

So, I told that student very discreetly that he would never have to worry about having enough notebooks to write in.  I said I would supply him with notebooks for his writing.  I gave him a handfull of copy paper at the end of the day and some white construction paper for his final illustrations.  I told him the white copy paper was for the rough draft illustration.  This child is also a taletned artist.  He was just over the moon grateful without being sappy.  Gatta love kids.  No sap to their sensation! 

I think my magic moment was when I looked him in the eye and said, “(His name) – you are a writer.  You know that, don’t you?”

He looked at me knowlingly like I had pressed a button only he had access to, and shook his head with soft eyes, and said, “Yes, I do.”

Write on brother…write on!

Grandma and Grandpa

My in-laws are our day care and we are so lucky for that.  Look at those sweeties.  They are so awesome.  They are so gentle and loving with my baby B.  Grandma reads to him everyday and sings to him and plays her harmonica.  She holds him and nurtures him.  Grandpa tells him stories and tells him all the things they are going to do like hammer nails and build fences and mow lawns and go to the work shed and go to Dunkin Donuts and Red Sox games.

But I’m jealous.  Terribly.  Jealous they will get to witness moments only human to human contact can create.  Moments this mama wants to see, breathe, be one with.  But it’s better than daycare.  That’s what everyone says.  I don’t have to worry about my little B calling his day care attendant mommy.  I do worry it might happen with Grandma.  She gets to hold him as he falls asleep on her shoulder during afternoon naps. She gets to cuddle him when he’s fussy, legs kicking, arms and shoulders squirming, back arching like a waterfall of wonder, searching for me in his baby mind.  She gets to feed him bottles of my milk, expressed in a lonely room during an eight-hour stretch away from him. Away from my heart. 

Every time I leave little B I feel like my heart is getting ripped out, cut out by a hunting knife, sliced into filets.  Then I cry all the way to work.  Hysterically, not gracefully, with little diamond tears, like a wailing woman who is not right.  Not full, not happy. This emotion curves into a dimension that hesitates nothing.  Just batters me in like a battering ram, pole and all. 

I am struggling with going back to work.  I don’t believe babies should be away from their mamas.  But I have to work.  It just is so.  We developed this plan so I could stay home with little B after this year.  But I am going back on the plan, ripping up the carpet and wanting to start from scratch.  No work for me.  No more stitches.  

How do people do it?  My husband is trying to relate his experience of going back to work.  I am just not into it.  My experience is worse.  I know I am being selfish in my thinking.  I just know it.  But I am having a tantrum.  I want to throw a physical tantrum and scream, “I’m not going to work today or ever.”  I think about it.  But I get up, sluggish, tears dripping, and get in the shower, get dressed, and go, preparing for the surgery in the backwoods, back streets black market of my heart.  Cold knife cutting into my heart, slicing out the bond between mother and son.  What’s worse, is I hold the knife – this is my decision to return to work.  Not out of want, but out of necessity.  (I wonder if any readers are like, really, how damn dramatic she is, come on, a knife, a cold knife, stitches, back woods, black market?). 

OK – I admit it is a little dramatic with the wording.  But it does feel just awful going through this.  I should have prepared more.  I should have had a plan. I should have practiced.  Practice. Yes – that would have helped.  A dry run. A practice run.  Bullshit.  It just sucks and I decided to jump into the shitty shit without swimming laps first and getting in only to the waist first.  But I jumped in and sank to the bottom, submersed in sadness. 

Anchor AwayI hope to figure out the balance. How to come up for air and breathe.


But for now, I know I need to wear my life jacket.  I just can’t navigate this heavy current now on my own.
Life Jacket Needed as I doggie paddle this unfamiliar and uncomfortable water of returning to work.