Friday, December 8, 2017

Feeling the Love - Ignoring Everything Else

Ms K's 4th graders sent me letters.  All of them thanked me for stickers and stories and smiles; some of them wondered why I never came to visit them any more.  Where was I?  Did I go to other schools?  Was I busy?

I was missed in the cafeteria.  Their letters reminded me that, sometimes, I even gave them two stickers each.

As the complimentary closures moved from Sincerely to Love to Your Prince Grandchild, I felt more and more abashed.  I emailed Ms K and a plan was laid.

I spent the morning replying to each letter, paying careful attention to my penmanship.  I plated brownies sized for 10 year old hands.  I put them in my bag, on top of the book I was leaving and the one from which I'd be reading.  I added business cards proclaiming their wonderfulness, found the biggest stickers in my drawer and drove to become their Surprise Reader.

It wasn't much of a surprise once they espied me walking across the playground.  I admitted to nothing, t for inscrutable while trying not to laugh.  But soon I was seated on a table, reading  aloud from Thce D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths  while Ms K displayed the illustrations on the white screen on another side of the room.

The technology was new to me.  I thought they'd have to pass the physical book around. Helplessly, I handed her the book I'd be leaving as I told the class about Mrs. Kleiner, my own 4th grade teacher, my first role model and my all time favorite teacher.  Their letters mentioned the stories I told about when I was a little girl, so I waxed eloquent for a while before I wondered aloud if they knew what the Greek myths were.

"Sure, some of us read Percy Jackson."  

My heart sang as I saw the shy smiles on the faces of those readers; kids who love books are so easy to love back.  We began at the beginning, with an overview and a map (I love maps) on Page One, introduced Gaia, took a detour through Ceres, then jumped ahead to Hera and Zeus and Argus and the beautiful white cow who could spell her own name.  We ended with the Pantheon, their Greek and Roman names in calligraphy beneath golden line drawings.

Did they see the huntress, Artemis/Diana?  Diana... Wonder Woman?!... not the Amazons but like the Amazons... and she's even older than I am left them gasping.  
Which goddess I would I be?  I had to stop and think about that.  I reviewed my options, considered Aphrodite (because, why not?) and decided on Athena.  Wisdom with a sword - I like that.

I left them with the 4th grade version of my elevator pitch on civic engagement - you live and learn here therefore you have an obligation to speak truth to power because democracy is a contact sport so contact your legislators because they can't know unless tell them how you feel.

They left me with a full heart and a happy soul.

Being plugged into nothing more hi-tech than Ms K's whiteboard was a perfect way to spend the day.

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