Note: I was going to do this as a lesson with my sixth graders the last full week of school. Let them read Kobe's "Dear Basketball" poem, let them write their own version.
But they're done. Their little brains have pretty much shut down for the school year. Mine isn't that far behind. As I was prepping for this lesson, I figured I needed to write one of my own so they could have a model. It's a bit personal, maybe too personal for them. But I think I needed to write it.
You were not my first choice.
Writing was, then reporting.
But that doesn't mean I haven't thought about you,
flirted with you,
dreamed about you.
I guess you were always my backup plan,
My infatuation began with I was just a little girl,
rushing home from school to relive my day's lessons
on Grannie's kitchen blackboard
and giving Grandpa and Rhett homework.
We got a little closer in college,
when I changed my major from Communications to English
and decided I wanted a book-filled office and a big desk,
a classroom full of eager students. Flexible hours.
But then my childhood dreams came true.
A newspaper job! I was a reporter. A journalist. A sports writer.
Spending Friday nights and many other days chasing high school kids for quotes and waiting futilely on coaches to return phone calls.
I was happy. And well paid.
Until dividends became more important than me. More important than quality. More important than people. And the men in ties decided I was expendable.
I lost more than a job,
I lost my identity,
So I floundered for a while,
Working three or four jobs to pay the bills,
Getting mother-in-law Jane dressed and fed and to and from,
Until I couldn't do it anymore.
I got another chance to write and report,
Be a big fish in a little pond,
An old dog learning new tricks.
But the young guy wanted it his way or no way.
And it was my mama's turn to need my help.
Then I found you again
Quite by accident.
Or maybe it was Fate.
It is the family business after all.
Either way, I found my purpose again,
A place to use what I knew and learn new things too.
To meet a whole new generation of children,
Some of them are the children of the children I knew,
In a place where everybody is family.
I'm happy here. But not so well-paid.
That's OK. There are other rewards.
Not just the cups, cookies, lotions and potions, gift cards and notes.
The thank yous.
The success stories.
The laughter and the tears.
The lessons I've taught and the lessons I've learned.
Knowing I may have made a difference now and then.
Some think you were my Plan B.
You were, but not really.
It turns out, I loved you all along.
I just didn't know it yet.