Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Son, The Writer

"Two of my students just shook my hand and thanked me for a great semester. Almost cried".  A text from my son Joshua, earlier this afternoon. Final day of classes for this semester at the University of Alabama.

It has been a grueling start to his 3rd year.  He's tired and worn out. He's in year two of being a teacher and a student and some days, it's more than he bargained for. He spends half of his day hoping to ignite interest and ideas in young people that are just beginning their college career, and most of them not really sure of anything. And the other half, he spends trying to ignite himself. Keep his own mind fires burning.

He's not a student of Math where the answers are already known, and all he has to do is put pencil to paper and figure it out. He's not a student of History where you simply memorize the dates and the names that have already been created. He's a student of English. A student of Creative Writing. English of course teaches him the words and their uses. But writing, no one can really teach you how to write. They can teach you how to write a business letter. They can teach you punctuation. But no one can teach you the art of words. You either have that gift or you don't. You can either capture people's attention or you cannot.

Writing is a gift. And every day, he has to call upon himself to recreate his gift. To make it new and fresh and readable. Profitable. His ultimate goal is to sell himself. His words. His heart. And his soul. His goal has been to learn how to put his inner most thoughts and creative achievements on paper, and make someone want to read them. Entice someone to listen to what he has to say. And to stay with him, until his story has been told. You can't teach that. You can't spend eight hours a day, five days a week, for three years and teach that. No more than you can teach a painter brushstrokes that will create the Mona Lisa.

This morning when I was driving to work I was just two streets over from my final destination when I saw the school bus coming down the road. With it's red stop flags already out, picking up students. I groaned, knowing that this was surely going to slow me down, because I could already see children lined up, all down the street at their own "bus stops".

As the bus got closer I knew it was my turn to stop and wait for the load up. As I sat there, I watched two little boys, neither more than five or six years old, climbing up on the bus. But what caught my eye, was the mother who was still standing and a little bitty fella, maybe three years old, waving goodbye for all he was worth. He waved at his brother/cousin from the time he stepped on that bus, and kept on waving as the bus was already rolling forward, headed to his next stop.

I was frozen in place, just watching that little guy waving his arms off. My mind went back to earlier days of my own, and watching my little Zach waving goodbye for one reason or another to his big brother Josh. My eyes teared up, and the only thing that made me remember to move, was the guy behind me beeping for me to step it up.

All I've ever wanted for either of my boys was for them to be happy. I want them to become who they think they should become. Be happy and satisfied doing it, and hopefully financially profitable so that their lives are comfortable. Zach, Mims and I are still waving goodbye. Three of four times a year, we line up, watch as Joshua drives off, and wave goodbye until our arms fall off.

Whether Josh decides to teach, make a living selling his words and thoughts, or both, he will be successful. Because he strives for and accepts no less of himself.  Right now he's just tired, and he's ready for his Christmas break. To refuel. To replenish his mind and body with plenty of rest and new thoughts. New, creative ways to capture the attention of his students for semester number two.

Later this afternoon, I received another text which captured every word I've said much better than I could have said it :
Joshua..."My second class wasn't so appreciative, but mostly because they jacked around in my class".
Ma: "One day, they will realize who they had for a teacher once upon a time, and hopefully regret they wasted the opportunity".
Joshua's reply:
"Indeed, their loss. Oh well. Thank little baby Jesus it's over."

Good to know, no matter what, his humor and wit, is always intact. Cause that's how we roll. That's what we're made of...strength, heart and humor.

1 comment:

  1. Just this year I have reignited my creative fire. You have witnessed it. You write, too. It feels so good to put thoughts down and it doesn't matter if anyone else reads them. Motivating students is very hard..especially when you are trying to teach them to trim the fat off their ideas and write their thoughts to the bone. Much of that skill comes after years of living and processing experiences. I have been blessed with great writing teacher....mostly from RFM. I didn't use those skills for many years and that is one of the very few things in my life that I regret. Yay, for Josh. And yay for little baby Jesus helping him along!