38 Days 'Til 40 (I Am Appreciated!)

Yesterday, my son Mack came home with a special surprise for me in his backpack. It was a book filled with thank you notes from every student in his class, full of happy exclamation points and doodles in the margin.  I have never seen a more beautiful and satisfying book in my life. Let me explain why.

Back in January, I originally approached Mack's teacher about doing a craft in her class. But she wanted me to talk about writing. But not just any old type of writing. She wanted me to talk to second graders about how to write a non fiction book, specifically a "how-to." My immediate reaction was one of skepticism and a little eyebrow raising, but she won me over with her incredible enthusiasm. It turns out that Mack's teacher has a copy of my book BABY BY THE NUMBERS, so she knew who I was before the school year began. And after giving me numerous compliments and pumping up my ego, I agreed to her plan. She made me feel so wonderful that I would have given her my social security number, mother's maiden name, and childhood pet if she asked me. I was putty in her hands.

I'm no stranger to an elementary school classroom, but I normally teach crafts: junk art, paper-making, cardboard dreidels, and accordion books are some of the projects that I've done. We get messy and loud, and by the end of our time together each kid has something to show for the effort. But talking about how to write, or how I write? That's just blowing hot air into a room. I may know lots of things, but to impart my way of doing something so personal--and in such an official capacity--is sheer hubris. I truly consider myself a maker/crafter first and then a writer, despite the fact that on my tax return my accountant insists on calling me as such. When I tried to change it, good ole Alan (that's his name) asked me if the checks that I've received were for teaching crafts. I said no, that they were for books and articles that I've written. And then he silently waited until I concluded that being paid for a job makes me that person.

Sheesh. Accountants and their need for neat labels. Baby was being put into a corner.

I presented my whole "Look at me, I'm a writer and here's what you do" spiel to Mack's class last Thursday. It went smoothly as far as I could tell, but there was this lingering doubt. When considering the same event, an adult's perspective can be very different from a child's. His teacher sent me a wonderful thank you email that evening, and Mack even tried his hand at positive spinning. "No, Mommy," he said in a comforting tone. "No one thought you were boring."

But this book that I received from Mack and his classmates makes me believe that I do know what the heck I'm doing, whether it's teaching a craft or revealing my writing process to 7 year old kids--such as it is.

Thank you, Mack and Mrs. Stacy Howryletz's second grade class. Now enough of this writing business and let's make something already. It's time to get our craft on!