Last week we had a few beautiful days here in New York. On my way to school on one of those mornings, I was thrilled to see that trees were flowering, bushes were budding and new flowers were coming up out of the ground. When I got out of my car, I was immediately bowled over by the scent of fresh cut grass. To me, that is the smell that promises the coming of Spring. I stood outside and inhaled that scent for a few minutes, savoring it, before heading into the building.
Beauty is hard to find in this corner of the city. In order to see it, you have to look past broken windows and run-down houses, some burned by fire and others boarded up because they are no longer fit for anyone to live in. You have to look over the garbage on the sidewalks and ignore the broken down vehicles in driveways along the street. Despite all of those things, on this particular morning, it was there.
As I walked down the hall to my first class, I was smiling. From around the corner, one of the 4th graders came running up. “Do you want to read my poem, Ms. C?” he asked his excitement clearly visible in the lilt of his voice and smile in his eyes.
“Of course,” I answered.
I know this boy pretty well. He is the product of a broken home, living in foster care, struggling to make his way in the world. At the same time, he has an irresistible energy, an impish look on his face, and a constant smile. He always hugs me when he sees me, and tries very hard to be ‘good’.
Quite honestly, when he said he had a poem, I was a bit shocked. I know he likes to draw, but didn’t know he liked to write. So, I was interested in the fact that he had written one, and was more than happy to read it.
The simple poem was written on a piece of paper torn from a spiral notebook. The left hand edge of the paper was shredded, and the lines of writing were scribbled all the way around the paper. It took me a moment to figure out where it began, but eventually I found the title. Written with a dash in front of it, the poem was called “-Things we see Outside”.
It took only two lines before I had tears in my eyes.
-Things we see Outside
At the window, the air smelled like grass.
I saw flowers on the side of the school building.
We saw cars in the parking lot – gray and black ones
And the lunch room door with a gray doorknob.
It felt like a nice day and nothing would go wrong.
The tree had little green leaves like puffy hair.
Two blackbirds walked together in the grass.
To make the story even better— I asked him if I could make a copy to hang in my office and he gladly agreed. Then I headed to class. Ironically, the classroom I was going to was his teacher from last year. When I walked in, this poem was on top of my books and I thought I would share it. I explained that it was written by one of her previous students, and she listened along with the class as I read it out loud. The kids clapped when I finished and all wanted to talk about the things they noticed on their way to school today. The teacher sat there with a huge smile on her face, and said, “You just made my day.”
A young boy’s thoughts, a moment of sharing, and a difference was made.
I hope each of you will take a moment this week to share a story, write a poem, take time to look at a picture drawn by a child, or just stand outside and smell the fresh cut grass. Any one of those things will make a difference in your day!