People are amazing. What wonderfully complex and entertaining things we are. I have never met two people that have been the same, and I never will. There is nobody out there exactly like me, and most of you are probably glad for that. That being said, it is amazing how similar we all are. We all have hopes and dreams, and even fears.
I spent some time in the first grade today. I haven’t had a lot of time in there lately because of kindergarten testing. THAT was fun….25 minutes with a single kindergartener to find out they are way more interested in turning pages than reading what is on them. First grade is so much more…..mature. Isn’t that amazing? One year and they are different animals.
The boy I got to work with today was a cutie. His teacher told me he was ‘afraid of letters’ so would I please ‘work with him.’ Okay….I wasn’t quite sure what being afraid of letters looked like so I was intrigued. The assignment we worked on was a journal entry entitled “What I Fear.” First off, let me just say, there is no way I would tell a group of twenty first graders what my greatest fear was. I am on the playground, I usually have pockets, and…well..they are first graders. Nope, I’m keeping my deep seeded fear of spiders to myself. The teacher was braver and admitted to the class that she was deathly afraid of snakes. She proceeded to tell the kids that fears are things we needed to over come…except she saw no reason to over come hers because touching snakes was unnecessary. Yes, she is a character.
The little boy I worked with had already started on the pictures for his ‘fear entry’ when he joined me at the back table. To say he drew with a heavy hand would be a slight understatement. I swear I could hear the pencil groan and the papers in his notebook meld together under his pressure. He was very deliberate in his drawing. There was no sketchy lines, or fixing of curves. It was a dark, purposeful picture of a monster chasing two boys. I tried to talk to him as he created his masterpiece. He didn’t say much, only that he was afraid of monsters and that the one in his picture was chasing him and his brother.
When he took a break from forging his lines, I asked him to write his sentence. He did it haltingly, asking for each letter as he spelled out monsters. He wrote his letters with the same heavy hand as he had dawn his picture. At the end of the first sentence, “I M afraid of MonSTerS.” I urged him to write the next sentence. He stopped and looked at his picture for a moment.
“I don’t want to write more words. I just want to make my picture.”
I told him the teacher wanted him to write a little more. He said, no, and proceeded to begin erasing his entire picture. I watched as he carefully rubbed his eraser over each and every dark line he had etched into that paper. The words disappeared as slowly as they appeared. The boys disappeared from in front of the monster, and then the monster finally disappeared. Now and then I would encourage him to just turn to a new page if he had changed his mind, but he wouldn’t do it. He worked on erasing until only a shadow of all his hard work remained. He looked at the somewhat empty page for a moment and then turned to a new page.
“How do you spell Tarantula?” He asked me, pencil poised. And before I could start spelling he had started drawing a huge spider on the new paper, using the same dark, heavy lines as he had on the monster. When he had the spider finished (shudder) he wrote “I am afraid of tarantulas.” Across the bottom and scooted off to the next activity for the day.
I sat there for a moment, remembering the feeling of watching him erase all those dark lines. It was a strange feeling, almost a haunting, yet cleansing feeling. What if we could get rid of our fears like that? Put them all down on paper and then just erase them. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but is it that mighty? What about addictions and other mental issues. Could we just list them out or draw a picture of them and then just erase them? That would be so cool. I tell you what, the first thing I would do is draw a self portrait of myself. Then I would take my mighty eraser and get rid of those ‘muffin-top-love-handles’…..not that I’m ‘afraid’ of them, but….then I wouldn’t feel so bad making chocolate chip cookies tonight. Cause I said so.
Photo credit: http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1920&bih=952&tbm=isch&tbnid=C1y3EHHD7OsgZM:&imgrefurl=http://www.nyconthecheap.com/2012/08/free-cooking-class-with-cookie-monster-chef-rocco-dispirito-at-nypl/&imgurl=http://www.nyconthecheap.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/cookie_monster-eating-a-cookie1.jpg&w=341&h=346&ei=18xGUO72OaqTiAL_hYHwDg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=1545&vpy=137&dur=512&hovh=226&hovw=223&tx=96&ty=127&sig=114757908013112425886&page=1&tbnh=141&tbnw=139&start=0&ndsp=52&ved=1t:429,r:9,s:0,i:99