Friday, August 20, 2010

Poetry Friday: This is the Stuff

I teach a poem every day to my middle schoolers. (This is all part of my effort to be Nancie Atwell when I grow up.) On Fridays, though, we do songs. I ask the kids to bring in songs and then we discuss the lyrics like poetry and listen to the music together. I have learned a lot of new vocabulary this way (thank you, I don't accept songs I consider inappropriate, but I often have to explain to my students why I have come to this conclusion. This makes for some interesting conversations. Some of the lyrics are difficult to discuss in any meaningful way, since they make little sense (at least in my opinion), but I can usually find a metaphor somewhere or some alliteration to talk about.

Some days nobody brings a song, and then I share some of the music I like. I call this "Old Lady Music," and it is surprising how many students actually enjoy some of the things I play by Paul Simon or Sting or one of my other favorites. The song below is one I have shared with my students as well. It feels very appropriate for this time in my life as I am adjusting back to life in Haiti after six months in the United States after the earthquake.

This is the Stuff
by Carolyn Arends

Riding along on a big yellow school bus
Elmer's glue and a brand new lunch box
Writing my name for the very first time
With a pencil that was bigger than me
From jumping rope and skipping school
To doing things that grown-ups do
Life goes by like that big old bus
If you miss it, it's history

Paper dolls and paperweights
Scraped up knees and hearts that break
Dreams to dream and plans to make
Love to give and love to take

This is the stuff
The smallest moments
This is the stuff
I need to notice
This is the stuff life is made of

Walking along as my life unravels
Looking back at the road I've traveled
All the things that matter most
Have caught me by surprise
Misty eyes and silent prayers
Promises and secrets shared
Friends that keep you up all night
Laughing till you cry

Life's made up of little things
Ties that bind and apron strings
New beginnings, old routines
Love and heartache in between...

I don't know the people on the video, but this song is in the background. It's really the perfect song for a video like this; a baby doing things all babies do, things that aren't really exciting unless it's your child. When our kids - especially the firstborn - are babies, we take pictures of everything they do. Why do we lose that sense of wonder as they get older? Why don't we realize that this is the stuff life is made of? Why don't we take pictures of our kids doing their homework, or make videos of eating dinner together as a family? It could all be gone in a second. These are the little things to appreciate while we have them.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.


Tabatha said...

I can imagine that discussing lyrics could be awkward sometimes! There are times when I hope my kids don't understand what the singers on the radio are saying.

Very poignant song (and questions) you're sharing today!

I always say that the age my kids are is always my favorite age. :-)

all things poetry said...

Hi Ruth,

Love to see you mixin' poetry up with music! They are so close!

And you are right every day is a miracle!

Laura Evans

Janet said...

I love this!

Once, I took a video of my daughters' feet under the table as they were having one of their long conversations about nothing. So I guess I agree with you about capturing those moments of "the stuff"!

AnneShirley said...

As someone who would love to be exactly like Nancie Atwell too, I also do poetry every day with my students, and love it! But I like the idea of mixing it up with songs occasionally too. Might have to keep that in mind for something to do toward the second half of the year, to mix things up a little bit.

Mary Lee said...

Great song!

Great aspiration (to be Nancie Atwell)!!

Happy New School Year!!

Tricia said...

I had a conversation about song lyrics with a dad-friend of mine a few months ago. I mentioned that when I now listen to songs from my high school years, I sometimes realize that I had no idea what the lyrics really implied...

I sometimes take pictures of my kids working on homework - but usually when it's a special project, not something 'ordinary' like practicing spelling lists.