Kindness Day

 

Have you heard the news? Blogging is back. (We'll see how I do.)

Today is a holiday at my university, so when I got the invitation from the middle school home-school association to come volunteer, I decided to accept it. I could give the school a few hours of my time, support my daughter, and maybe help myself out of this long-lasting winter funk. 

I got to the gym and soon learned that I was the "coach" of a team of kids running around the school on a massive scavenger hunt meant to build skills of kindness.  The first hour, I shadowed a wonderful P.E. teacher, but the second hour I was on my on. My "team" was naughty and full of baloney. One boy kept throwing himself onto the ground, crying out "I've fallen!" One girl ran ahead and herded everyone into the school elevator. Boys were wailing on each other, sitting on each other's heads, and generally being rambunctious kids. I couldn't seem to get their attention to participate nicely. I was just walking along, "Hey, Team! We're supposed to be going to the Fitness Room!" "C'mon, Team!" "All right, Team, let's stop hitting each other--it IS Kindness Day."

At one station, in a classroom, the kids were supposed to write an intention on a small sheet of paper. Sample intentions were "I will pick up trash around the school" or "I will be kind to someone who is bugging me." 

I was still having trouble getting their attention, getting them to focus, so, as we were finishing up, I wasn't surprised that one boy handed me his paper.

I was a little annoyed.

"You're supposed to keep that."

"It's for you," the boy said. I looked at the paper. It said "Thank you!" and then he had signed his name. He slipped off down the hall and proceeded to tackle his buddy. 

 

In Memoriam: Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers died today at 76.

As it happens, my daughters, 8 and 11, are reading about him now. Sharon Creech’s novel in poems Love that Dog is about a reluctant reader and writer who comes to see the power of poetry by reading Walter Dean Myers’ poem, “Love that Boy.”

Just this morning, my older daughter was telling me, again, the plot of the book. She’d been enthusiastic about it three years ago when she read it in school and not, reading it to her sister, a less precocious reader, she’s enjoying it all over again.

The story hinges on a boy forced to write poetry in a unit in school. Walter Dean Myers work lies at the heart of his transformation from reluctant reader into proud poet.

The best tribute on a writer’s passing is to read his work, so do that first. Then, if you have a young reader in your life, I recommend Love that Dog.

Or, we can just start here (the poem, which I grabbed from here, is reprinted in Creech’s book):

Love That Boy by Walter Dean Myers
Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, son!"

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.