Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Nick is sick. He's been achey and feverish since Monday night, waking up drenched in sweat and terrified at odd hours. He's in good spirits, but I know he's frustrated to be missing these last, "fun" days of school. His class is working on a poetry project: each kid writes some poems, edits them (with adult help), copies them neatly into a bound blank book, and illustrates them. I was the adult helper for an hour or so last week and these kids are really writing some great stuff, from the ode to snot by one somewhat mischievous kid, to the acrostic commemorating a lost friend, to the shape poem elongating the child's b-o-r-e-d-o-m with the SOLs (VA's standards of learning tests, for those who don't know). They worked with focus and enthusiasm even though they had a sub running the show and didn't really know me.

In fact, the last time I worked with these kids I was wrangling them backstage at their big dance event a few weeks ago, and I was not their favorite person then. One pair of boys was misbehaving over and over again, and I finally looked one in the eye and said,
"Do you know who I am?"
Nervous nod.
"I'm Nick's mom."
"I know."
"OK, so if you know that, I'm sure Nick has also told you that I'm not very nice. In fact, I'm kind of mean. So you want to do what I say, OK?"
Another, more energetic, still nervous nod. And, for what it's worth, good behavior for the next quarter hour or so.
Given that history, I was glad no one ran screaming away from me. In fact, they brought their poems to me gladly and accepted my corrections and comments gratefully. I felt bad when I had to make corrections--as if correct spelling were the most important thing about their work. (Truly, by the time they're in college, many of them will believe that, or a version of it.) I tried to praise the energy, the idea, the form, first, and then move on to how "tragedy"* is really spelled, or why "putteet" isn't the same as "petite." They nodded and went back to work, hunching over their desks intently.

So that's what Nick is missing this week, though I'm hoping he'll make it in tomorrow. The idea is that he'll take cupcakes in, in the time-honored tradition of celebrating summer birthdays before the end of the year.

Oh, and the title of this post? I'm doing all this--helping out in the classroom, staying home with a sick kid, planning to bake cupcakes--without caffeine. But more on that another time. This has gone on too long already.

*I believe this poem was about being buried by paperwork. It was one of my favorites.

[edited to add: Nick has liked this project so much--and, to be fair, is so bored at home--that he just asked me to go in and pick it up for him so he could work on it at home.]


LindaR said...

For a student to ask someone to go pick up his work when he is sick is among the highest compliments to a teacher I've ever heard of. How wonderful!


kate said...

Oh, I hope he feels better soon. That is frustrating that he's missing out on such a neat project.