Well, it’s happened…the first cry of the school year. Mine, that is. Don’t think that I’m a weeping willow – I’m not. But it does happen once in a while, and will probably happen again before the year is over.
The catalyst? My good friend Patricia Polacco! (She’s not my friend…that’s just me using voice in my writing.) As part of our PP author study, I was reading Pink and Say to my students. I didn’t plan to cry. But when I got to the ending, where the author describes the fates of the two main characters, Pinkus Aylee and Sheldon Russel Curtis, I was overcome. This wasn’t even my first reading – I’ve read this book multiple times.Obviously, this is my favorite of Polacco’s works. The story itself is devastating, infuriating, and promising, and when told through Polacco, I just don’t see how one could NOT cry, or at least tear up, at the ending.
As my voice broke and my face gave way to small tears, my students were unsure of what to do. I could see many of them really analyzing my face to see what exactly was happening. Though rapt with the story, they were glancing at each other – ‘do you see what I see?’ Finally I finished reading as tears streamed down my face. It felt good – real, honest, genuine. As one of my students brought me the tissue box, I explained my reaction to the story. “That is one sign of a great writer, folks,” I commented, as I composed myself.
A few of them chuckled, obviously relieved that everything was okay…that I was still the teacher, still in charge, still there to care for them. I’m glad to share my vulnerability with my students. Sometimes by fifth grade, students are trying to be cool and not acknowledge their emotions. Not me – I mostly have my heart firmly appliqued onto my sleeve. I often laugh loudly, I occasionally display my annoyance, and, rarely, I even cry. I am so thankful for the authors who bring me to these places, and I hope that by seeing me, my students want to visit those places, too.