Saturday, March 9, 2013
SLICE OF LIFE #9- I WISH…
Having been raised in the Don Graves' school of writing, I believe it's super important for teachers to write in front of kids, or at least with them. We have talked a lot about how authors write about what they know because that's where they can write best. I took myself back to my ten or eleven-year-old self, and started a story about wanting a horse, and what my life was like after I won a contest that allowed me to ride and take care of one for a year. (And in case you are wondering, the wanting a horse part was true. The winning the contest part was not true, although I actually did get a horse when I was in seventh grade).
When I write with kids, I generally try to write about an experience that students, especially struggling writers, could duplicate, if they needed to. I don't usually write stories, then, about beach vacations or skiing trips to the mountains, because most of my low income urban kids have not had those experiences. Instead, I write stories about or cutting my sister's hair with pinking shears when she was four, or sledding down the very fast hill on the street behind our house, or visiting my grandmother. I also don't write tons about my adult life, e.g. stories like becoming a mom (although I often tell the kids those stories) because again, those are not stories that kids can duplicate.
Today, I thought about the wish prompt while I was talking to my oldest son. We had had a disagreement last night, and he had called to apologize and talk through the situation. As we were talking, he said, more than once, "You don't know what life is like for me. You don't know what it's like to be a guy. You don't know what it's like to be African American. You don't know what it's like to be an African American kid at college, where most of the kids don't look anything like you."
And I thought, "I wish my boys had a dad."
People who have followed my blog for a while, know the story of our family. I was a 44-year-old, never-married assistant principal when my boys wandered into my life. They were in the foster care system and needed a forever family. I had always wanted to be a mom and so I brought them home. I don't think our situation is ideal. I think it would have been far better for the boys to be raised in a family that looked like them. I think it would have been far better if the boys had two parents, or at the very least, were raised by a single dad. But none of those things happened. And so I did the best I could. I showed up every day. I made sure they were surrounded by people that looked like them-- at at school, in our neighborhood, and at church. I don't have any brothers, and my dad died ten years before I adopted the boys, but I tried really hard to make sure there were men in their lives.
Even so, right now, I really wish my boys had a dad.
The son in college is going through a really hard time with a girl. They've broken up, and have supposedly both moved on, but not really. This week, my son has had a couple of scary encounters with several other football players that she is dating. And I have talked to my son pretty much every day, and I've talked to one of the coaches, and I've prayed and prayed and prayed.
Even so, I wish my boys had a dad. Because a dad might know how to deal with these testosterone- filled encounters. And I really don't.
And my other son has had a really rough year. He made a really stupid five second teenager decision, and what should have been a fun senior year turned into an absolute disaster- a year of loss and and anger and sadness and might-have-beens. And I think he's coming out of it now, but it's been really, really, really hard.
And I wish my boys had a dad. Because a dad might know how to help him redeem himself. And I have pretty much scrambled and stumbled and clawed my way through the situation.
There's that whole female thing. One of my sons dated a girl for quite a while. When they broke up, her father made the comment that my son really didn't know how to treat a girl. And I suspect he's right. My boys don't know how to treat a woman. Not really. The whole time I have had them, I haven't dated. I've put my time and energy into my boys, rather than into pursuing a dating relationship. They haven't seen, then, the day-to-day workings of a relationship. Their information comes from the brief public encounters of couples that we know or from television and movies. They don't really know how to communicate with a woman, or how to honor her by giving unselfishly, or how to work hard at a relationship.
I wish my boys had a dad. Because maybe he could teach them those things.
And to be really honest, right now, I wish my boys had a dad, because I'm really tired of paying and listening and giving advice and solving problems and worrying and praying. And I wish there was someone else to share the load.
I wish my boys had a dad.