This is the cover of my mentor text notebook, housing the writing I’ve done with and for children across grade levels.
I believe that every child is a writer, because every child has a story. Every child has feelings and ideas. The writing teacher simply shows how to tap into these feelings and ideas, to give voice to them, to organize them, so that the mind and heart of the writer impacts readers.
Writing is about the human experience: We are all born to shine.
We shine through our fears, our losses.
We shine beyond the choices we make and the choices of others, beyond the things done to us and the things we have done.
We shine no less in our failures than in our successes; in fact, in learning and pressing on, we shine the brighter.
We shine in knowing what to hold onto and what to let go.
We shine when we harness anger before it burns away all that’s of value within us.
We shine by leaving footprints of hope for others to follow, for the human heart runs empty on despair.
We are ALL born to shine. Whether or not we do is up to us.
Reflect: In the book The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip, 1974, a mysterious creature had the power to turn people’s eyes around to see inside their minds; they died from what they saw there. Writer, know thyself. Look deep within. You will be surprised by what you discover – the beautiful and the not. Write – and shine.
Years ago, a woman – tired, seven months pregnant – sat in the front row of a church. The morning sun shone through the stained glass windows, casting jewel-tone light on the baby grand piano, a soothing sight to the weary woman whose busy child was churning her insides. The pianist took a seat and began to play the prelude.
The baby stopped moving. He or she didn’t move again until the prelude ended. After the final notes, the child resumed the high activity.
The baby hears the music, thought the mother, marveling. It was the first of many times she would notice the unborn child’s response.
Around age three, the boy frequently hummed a tune to himself. His mother recognized it: “Amazing Grace.” When he was four, the child started playing cassette tapes of gospel music that had belonged to his great-grandfather. After his fifth birthday, his mother stood in the doorway of his bedroom, watching the boy making tally marks with a dry erase marker on a whiteboard easel.
“What are you doing?” she finally asked.
“I’m counting the syllables,” her boy replied, with a serious expression on his little face. He continued his business, listening to the tape, steadily making marks.
It’s the beats, the mother thought. He’s counting the beats.
When he brought home his “All About Me” book on finishing kindergarten, his parents smiled at this page:
“When I grow up, I will be a qiur drekctr (choir director).”
When he was seven, watching him tinker occasionally on his great-grandmother’s upright piano in the living room, his mother said, “You love music so much – why don’t you take piano lessons?”
The boy shrugged, something of a disappointment to his mother, who expected he’d be excited. She took him to lessons anyway.
He wouldn’t practice. The lessons were abandoned before long.
His mother was sad.
In middle school, the boy decided to play alto sax in band. He began tinkering with the piano a little more. Then one day, when he was fourteen, he said, “Hey, Mom, listen to this.” And he played a medley of Christmas songs on the piano – both hands, all the parts – as if he’d been doing so all of his life.
His mother stood marveling, knowing, tears in her eyes.
The boy played the medley on the baby grand piano for the prelude at church on Christmas Day, to the astonishment of the congregation.
He played alto and bari sax for marching band throughout high school; he developed a love for jazz. Few of his friends knew he could play the piano as well. None knew he could sing. One of his teachers did, however. She sought him out when she couldn’t find sheet music for a song she planned to perform at Senior Awards Day.
“This is a version of ‘Perfect’ by Pink – do you think you can play it?” she asked the boy.
“I think so,” replied the boy.
He had two days to prepare.
One week after graduation, he was hired as the director of music programs at a church, fulfilling his childhood desire of being a choir director.
The rest of the story remains to be written, as it is still unfolding.
I am excited to see where the music takes you throughout your life, Son. Keep learning and reaching.
Much love –
Your infinitely proud mom.
Reflect: Few of us know what we are meant to do so early in life. It’s never too late to find out. What are your dreams, the things that bring you the most fulfillment? Pursue them! What are your gifts? Use them to benefit others. Encourage them to do the same.