The gift of language

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI wasn’t sure what I would write about today. Or if I would write. I was in a bit of a mood yesterday–one of those moods that’s hard to shake, not easy to pin down, but casts a long shadow. Usually I try to whip up a rough draft for Tuesday’s slice on Monday night. Then I fine tune and post in the morning. I’d had a wonderful poetry celebration in my class yesterday and my students are truly jazzed about poetry. I knew I could write about that. I could even share some of their poetry. But I was in a mood.

I got home last night a bit early after racing around in a downpour, running errands. I had a raging headache. At 6:15 I got into bed. Yes, 6:15. I was asleep before 7:00. When I woke up at about 1:30 am, my mind started racing about, touching on all the things undone or half done or even poorly done. Apparently the mood still lurked. Already, I could sense the flavor of the day. After tossing and turning for a bit, I elected to get up. Perhaps I could get some work done and then tuck in a two hour nap a bit later in the morning.

I puttered around a bit, making coffee, changing over the laundry and finally sat down at my computer. I opened up my e-mail and noticed a note from a parent who had attended yesterday’s celebration. Oh, I thought, how nice, he’s probably written to say that he enjoyed the poetry celebration yesterday. I clicked and read. As it turns out, he was, but there was so much more.

“Hey There –
I just wanted to send you a quick note. I had my 39th birthday today, and it will go down as one of the best, and I am handing over a large degree of credit to you. I’ll be honest, C. made a lovely dinner and my day at work was fine as well. I thought the poetry slam might be the icing on the cake (no pun intended) – BUT…the real kicker was when after dinner/cake/presents L. strolled over to his backpack and begin reading some poems from his poetry notebook. He had his sister and both parents mesmerized as he begin reading prose with an enthusiasm that I have not seen from him in a very long time to be perfectly honest. It ended with me, a former business school grad with a “hobby” of poetry, reading the poems that I used when I proposed to my wife, when I married my wife and some that I wrote after saying goodbyes to grandparents, classmates who passed too early, etc. The point is – poetry for me…something that I never write in a land of bulleted emails, PowerPoint decks and succinct talking points is a true gift of language. A gift that I admire you for exposing  (15)  children to today that I feel might be changed for the better as a result. It’s a long-winded way of saying thanks – thanks for all that you do, and for the passion that you bring to our children and their minds.”

Wow. This letter touched me in so many ways. I’m thrilled that his son, a reluctant reader, opted to read aloud poems on a night of family celebration.  I love that his family listened and then that his father pulled out and shared poems that he’d written to his wife and to others at significant occasions in his life. What a powerful message to his son and daughter!  I could envision the family sitting around, sharing poems, connecting through them.  Finally, I am so thankful that this father took the time to write me to share his own love of poetry and words, to share this moment with his family and to thank me.

I’m struck by the power of language–both poetic and everyday–to unite, to build, to celebrate.  So often in today’s world, language is used to denigrate, to destroy. But this parent celebrated the gift of language with his family and then again, through his letter, with me. He truly recognizes the power of words and poetry, but I wonder if he realizes how far the ripples will carry from his e-mail. How I will carry both these words and my image of his family with me. How they will remind me that our work as teachers may bear fruit at unexpected times, many unknown to us. I will carry his words with me, not just today, but on other days. And perhaps on one of those days when a mood lingers and taints, his words will drift back and shift that mood. It certainly has today.


11 thoughts on “The gift of language

  1. jee young says:

    Wow, what a powerful e-mail from a parent! What an awesome moment it must have been for their family to listen to their child’s poem and then have the father take out his poems as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. vanessaw2007 says:

    It’s rare that we, as teachers, see the fruits of our labors so quickly. This family found a connection through language and language turned your day around. This means so much more than a test score. Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda Baie says:

    We just never know when we thank someone how much it will mean to them. What a thoughtful e-mail, and how wonderful for you, & that your “mood” was lifted so beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not only have you given him something, but he gave you the most precious gift back — the gift of gratitude. I’m so glad he recognized your contribution to his child’s life by sending you this email.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara Smith says:

    I loved the care with which this parent responded – it was more than a thank you, it showed that you had achieved something transformative. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lisakeeler34 says:

    Wow. What an email. This slice makes me think of Kathleen’s- about how we teach our students so much more than academics and if things go well we touch the future. That is just what happened beyond your classroom, with your student and his family. What a gift that you go this email and know about that family moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy says:

    Molly, I find that in today’s world that the gift of a compliment is so rare. People are so quick complain rather than compliment. Consequently, I never check my email at night. What a pleasant surprise and an email to cherish for a long time. Thanks for sharing such a heart-warming post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. danrothermel says:

    Just the story on this cold overcast Tuesday afternoon to lift my spirits. Three cheers for this dad and for the teacher who makes magic happen every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cindaroo42 says:

    Great, insightful, post! It’s a good reminder that we should always take time to say a heartfelt thank you to anyone that deserves it! Glad you shared this note!


  10. Alice Nine says:

    What a wonderful string of gifts! You to boy. Boy to his family… to his dad. Boy’s dad to you. Then generously you gave again to the world of slicers, bloggers, and blog readers. Thank you for writing today. Thank you for your comment on my post that drew me here. These gifts have touched me!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, this is what I needed to hear tonight. Poetry for me is a lifting of voice into the universe to connect with others in a collective chorus. It is the sweet murmurings of the heart. You inspired your students to be touched by the love of language and let it bring a family together in their own personal poetry fest. Would you consider having you and your students offer a digital composition or two to my spring gallery, Spring’s Seeds? See my post for more information please:

    Liked by 1 person

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