Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Stuff of Life

In the Freshman Comp I class I am teaching right now, I gave the students this assignment:

"Write an essay that captures a moment in your childhood that symbolizes for you, the essence of childhood. Tell the story of this chosen moment, selecting events and details that will clearly communicate to your reader the specific details of this sliver of time."

The results are astounding. Intriguing. Familiar. Heartbreaking. Touching. Nostalgic. I wish I could bind them all into a big book: Childhood Crystalized.

The narrations fall into one of these categories:

*Practical jokes gone wrong (locking little brother in the shed in 95 degree weather)
*Moments of fright or danger (falling from a tree, remembering the moment JFK was shot)
*A loss (dog hit by car, accidentally shooting a bluebird)
*A moment of victory (hitting the game winning shot)

But by far, most of the assignments focus on one thing:
the ordinary, seemingly insignificant moments of life.

*planting watermelons in the garden with Grandpa
*fishing at the pond with a friend
*cooking pie with Mom
*kicking an old bottle around on the street with neigbors
*walking to school in the snow
*going with Grandpa to the nursing home to visit Grandma
*riding bikes in the park with Dad
*riding in the backseat of the car with mom at the wheel

This is the stuff of life. And it's the stuff that my kids are going to remember. The everyday, ordinary moments. I want to appreciate the moments more, and hurry them less. I want to breathe them in and get less frustrated by them. I want to remember that I am writing memories into my kiddos everyday, every hour.

What is a moment in your childhood that you still remember? A moment that kind of sums up childhood for you?

Me? It's riding go-karts with my sister in the pasture, the sweet smell of dirt and hay in my nostirls. Chasing each other dangerously around the lake, the sound of cows and birds constantly in the background. Billowing clouds. Bugs crunching. The occasional sight of a snake. Feeling free, being loved. That is the stuff of my life.

2 Wonderful Responses:

Dawn said...

Good stuff.

I remember Sunday afternoon lunches at my grandparent's farm. We'd eat the best meals, all of it grown on the farm.

After eating until we were stuffed all the grandkids would run wild over the pasture. When the big round hay corral was empty we'd tip it up on its side and roll in it. Fun stuff! They had the typical big red barn with lots of places to hide in it.

My greatest memories involve my grandmother. She was a wonderful woman.

Anonymous said...

theres too many to tell em all...we went camping so many times i cant begin to list and my favorite memories all seem to involve grandma and granddad and the motor home of the moment...i saw much of the central region (AR, MO, KS, OK, and TX from the back bunk of a motor home on those long hot summer days....
i remember wading in a creek and losing my tennis shoe in the rushing water and crying cause grandma didnt understand that the cheap tennis shoes she bought hurt my feet...
i remember losing my snoopy watch one s-ummer and finding it at the same campground the next summer....go figure...
sitting on the rickety old porch at my great grandmas old home place and playing paper dolls (that we made from the MCCalls pattern book cause grandma wouldnt spend a dime on those real paper dolls) There were usually 5 or 6 of us girls there...second and third cousins.
amazing memories...thanks,
BTW...did i read somewhere you teach in OK?