Parents, how many times have you heard THAT question?
Remember your first road trip with your kids when you had more than one cherub and ruckus was sure to happen any minute or, even tougher – parents traveled with kids and without DVD players in vehicles? Did the kiddos drive you nuts??
Well, this weekend was our turn – our first-ever road trip with ‘the kids’ – my husband’s soon-to-be 20 y/o daughter whom we recently found (long story with a great ending), and her fiancé. While they’re visiting us from another state, we hopped on the highway to take them to meet her paternal grandmother for the first time. We rented a minivan ~ our MacDaddy Family Ride….. quite different from what Husband and I are used to driving… but plenty of room for our new family.
Then it happens: somewhere along the Turnpike, in between singing 80s classics, the kids play-fighting, stories about poop (yes, I’m telling the truth…apparently, you’re never too old to tell poo stories), and crazy other stuff, I look over at my husband who’s been waiting 19 years to have this experience.. and he’s grinning ear-to-ear.
Just then, The Daughter yells, “Are we there yet?” from the backseat.
Husband and I start laughing. Her other half (the other ‘kid,’ though 22) chimes in with the same question.
The Daughter says: “Mom told me to give you guys the full family car ride experience!” With that, she repeats the question with her best whiny voice, “Are ….we…. there… yet?”
Me (a thought in my head and a lump in my throat)…. “No, kiddo, we are just getting started.”
And no one seemed to mind that the DVDs stayed in their boxes. 😉
Recently I wrote about who’s left behind when dads walk away, a topic I’m all too familiar with…. as a dadless daughter and as a veteran teacher. The effects, like scars in the cracked earth, leave little doubt about the devastation.
But about the same time I wrote that post, I discovered a dad and his blog … a dad who demonstrates the other side of the story …. the ones who stay, the ones who walk the walk.
Over at Coach Daddy, Eli’s description of girl daddingwill leave you grinning. It is, at once, refreshing, funny, and definitely worth a click!
As a ‘dad-less’ daughter, I know kids are left behind to wonder why. Why did he go? Why didn’t he want me? What did I do wrong? Why didn’t he want to be around? What could I have done differently to make him stay?
Or, worse yet, kids left behind think mom pushed dad away, and surely, if mom had done things differently, then dad would’ve stayed. It’s her fault.
As a teacher, I see the fall-out, too. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes blatant. Always painful.
Last month, I asked my juniors and seniors to develop a written piece for National Day On Writing (#NDOW). I provided three photos and asked students to choose one (or more) and write about it/them. The piece could be fiction or nonfiction, personal or not, metaphorical or literal. As always, my kiddos did not disappoint! Heads dropped. Pens and pencils began moving. The room was silent. The feeling, intense.
They wrote with focused purpose until the bell rang. They came back the next day and insisted we continue without interruption. We revised and edited (this was tougher to get them to do, but required).
By day three, we shared at our own comfort level. If a piece was too personal, a student did not have to share the content, but everyone had to discuss the process with his/her partners. What an amazing three days!
During the writing process, emotions were raw for several students.
One young man, an accomplished football player and struggling student, was stuck during the first day of writing. When I asked him how I could help, he was speechless. I ventured carefully, asking which photo he chose. The dark, stormy one. I wasn’t surprised, based on his expression. Then I suggested he create a bubble map to organize his thoughts. Several students were creating their own that day:
Tears began to fill his dark eyes. He hastily brushed them away. I backed off.
A few minutes later, when I came back around, I noticed a few words on his paper: dad, confused, success, failure. He looked up, met my eyes, and said nothing. I quietly moved on and left him to reflect and write.
By the third day (sharing day), my student had written a brief piece and discussed the process with his partners. His content was his. His process, he was ready to discuss … mostly.
Fast-forward a month, to this past week.
My students have been honing their ability to identify and interpret figurative language and author’s tone in print and non-print text, and assess the impact of each on a reader/viewer. As I worked with small groups, various students had interesting, funny, and thoughtful ideas, examples, and questions to share. Then came the group with the young writer.
As we finished our small-group discussion and began to clean up before the bell, my young football player-turned-writer said, “Mrs. Kyle, I want to show you something,” as he took out his phone. I get a kick out of this line from students, because I never know what I’m about to see! 😉
As he swiped through his phone and found what he wanted to share with me, he mentioned Will Smith, and said, “I have this video clip that you just reminded me of, when we were talking about tone. Watch all of the emotions Will Smith goes through and how his tone changes.” With that, he hit play. The video clip was in his SAVED YouTube list.
As we watched the clip together, leaned in over his phone at the conference table in our classroom – his back to his classmates – I could feel other students looking on, but no one interrupted. My young writer watched my face for reaction as we watched the clip together. Tears filled my eyes. I looked up and saw they filled his, too.
As the clip ended, he said softly, “This makes me cry every time I watch it.”
I replied quietly, “It made me cry, too. My dad left when I was very little. I always wondered why. Thank you for sharing it with me.”