Monday, January 24, 2011
Today at school we learned that one of our students has died. One of our children has died. In the most tragic way a child can die. This child, this 12-year-old child, who was too young to learn that pi has nothing to do with apples wasn’t too young to know that there is a level of pain and sadness and hopelessness that can run so deep that you can’t think of any other solution.
I was dreading coming to school this morning because I had no idea what to say to my class. This isn’t the kind of thing that they go over in teacher’s college.
When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see a student waiting for me. Now, you need to know that this is a student who rarely does homework and is constantly reading or playing with toys or even sleeping(!) instead of paying attention during class. But this is also a kid who loves to bake. So last Thursday, when he asked me if he could have an extension on his project, I said, “Fine, as long as you bring me some lemon squares.”
And here he was. Here for help with his project…and to give me lemon squares.
An hour later, I stood in front of my children and they stared at me and I stared at them and neither of us knew what to say.
But then I remembered the lemon squares. I looked at their maker, but he was already engrossed in a book he had smuggled in, his deed of thoughtfulness and generosity already forgotten.
“Who wants a lemon square?” Every hand went up. So a boy passed out napkins and one by one, each child came up and got a lemon square. And then we ate our lemon squares and talked a bit about our friend who had died and it was… ok.
Later in the morning, we wrote a kind of group/individual poem. This is how it works: you write one line of a poem and then pass it to the person next to you and then they read your line, add their own line and then fold the paper so that the next person can only read the last line written. And so on and so on until it gets back to its author. I love this poem activity because you get to contribute as an individual but still be part of a group. For some reason, these poems almost always turn out amazing.
This is one of them:
Lemon squares saved my day
With their lemony goodness
and gooey centers
with a chocolate exterior
and whipped cream
with all the fruits you can name
Like strawberry, and blueberry and blackberry
And apples with raseberry
in a smoothie
A mesh of colours, wonderfully delicious until the brainfreeze
A slushie on a warm day
Hot chocolate on a cold day
Snow angels on the lawn
Today I learned that when life gives you lemons, make lemon squares. And it will get better. And will be ok.
And that if a kid never does his homework and reads in class and doesn't know anything about Pi but knows when someone really needs you to bake them a pie, he is going to turn out just fine.