I can't say that I feel like I accomplished much today. I think, in a way, the wind sort of got knocked out of me this morning. In Writer's Workshop, a bunch of the kids decided to write Summer Bucket List stories- things they hoped to do or planned to do over this summer. Thus far, they've all been pretty predictable, trip, pool, eating, playing, yardy yar.
And then one of my girls comes up to me to tell me she's all done and would like me to read it with her. It begins just like everyone else's has- she's going to Mexico, she'll go to the pool. and the park, and shopping, and she's going to get her hair done, and then she's going to visit her Dad's Dad because her Dad's Mom has died. I pause for sort of a second, because I wasn't really expecting the sudden turn in detail, everything up this point has been pretty basic, and then to make the distinction of WHOSE father and that the mother had died was a real temperature change in the story. This page in particular had less color on it, and she's one of my marker queens.
But then again I'm thinking, it's not all that unusual, she is a very detailed oriented kid in regular conversation, so it's not too out of character for her to give a detail like that, she just hadn't up to this point in the story. Turn page. "And then I will visit my Dad's gravestone and put flowers on it." Green grass, black half oval - DAD- written across it with a heart underneath, and flowers. "I'm going to put roses on it," she tells me. "I like how swirly round they are when they open. It'll be pretty." But she says it soft. She says it low. And she says it without a smile. She wants a hug, so I give her a squeeze, and then she's off making a Good Luck on SOL's poster for all of the fifth grade classes (her idea).
Some days I'm not sure what I'm doing. Some days I wonder what good I'm doing worrying about whether or not they know all these facts we think we're supposed to funnel into them. There are two children in my class whose father's have died. One in the last year, and by foul play. I don't know how this sweet girl's dad died, she's never told me, and I feel intrusive asking. But I know she thinks about him all the time. In reading group, when we read about a time machine, and everyone picked to go back in time to see dinosaurs, or into the future to see flying cars- she said she just wanted to go back and see her dad.
I have three children in my class who have a parent who has been deported or never was able to come over to the states with them in the first place. I have two being raised by grandparents, one by a guardian, one who has never met his mother, one who has never met his father, one who counted down the days until his father got out of jail this year. And if it's not a big deal to them, if it's not bothering them, if it doesn't affect them at all- why do they mention it then? Why is it coming up in conversations and in writings? Why would they out of the blue just come up and say a blank statement, give me a hug and walk away?
And I suppose today, and most of tonight I have felt paralyzed by this. They need more from me than a state curriculum, and a reading level, and word work- but am I giving it to them? And can I? Tonight I am a sailboat adrift, there is no wind for my sails.