At NCTE this year I attended a session on “Writing What Matters” with Tom Romano, Emily Getz, Mariana Romano, and Linda Reif. Linda shared a poem and asked us to consider a line, a thought, an idea that it sparked and write from it. I started slowly, then picked up speed. I soon realized that my random thoughts were taking me down a different path, so I left room in my notebook to explore that path.
Over the course of my kids’ growing years I revealed things about myself to them – my childhood memories, my time as a young adult, the time before them. Not everything came from me initially, though. Some things they discovered on their own. Maybe from the picture of me in a faded army jacket and blue paisley headband, long blonde hair hanging straight beyond my shoulders, my arms around two boys (one a friend, one more than a friend, and neither one their father), the Washington monument looming behind us. Maybe from the pins in my old jewelry box – McGovern for President, Childbirth Education Association, my mother’s silver violin with the strings you could almost pluck. Maybe from catching a look passed between Allan and me when one of them would do or say something that we recognized as us.
I remember Ann sitting at the computer shortly after she graduated from college, searching interesting cities where she might like to live. “Wait! You can’t just pick a city and decide to go live there!” I cautioned her. “Why not?” she replied. “That’s what you did.” It wasn’t long after that I stood in the early morning light waving goodbye to her in her tightly-packed car as she began the drive to the west coast.
We teach our children through our words and actions, our past and present, our successes and failures. And, hopefully, they take the best part of us.