There were lots of things to write about this week, but unfortunately no time or emotional bandwidth to write. I just know that Frederick Buechner says to pay attention to things that make you cry, and there were a bunch of those this week.
For example, today a middle schooler wrote an essay about the assassination of the president of Haiti this summer. She described exactly how he died, because it was reported in minute detail in the news. She said it was the worst way of dying she had ever heard of, and she's not wrong. I wish she didn't know all those specifics. I wish I didn't know them. She ended with a list of things the people who didn't like the president could have done instead, if they weren't happy with him. One of them was that they could have sent him an email.
How do you even respond to this? I really don't know. I told her that her piece was hard to read because the true things she wrote are so painful. But, I said, she had done a good job. I fixed her spelling.
Here's Billy Collins writing about a teacher who tried to tone things down for his students. It wasn't very effective. I find myself wanting to protect my kids from the world, but it's really not possible, is it?
The History Teacher
by Billy Collins
Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.
And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.
The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"
The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,
while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.