On Fridays we have extended advisory where we usually have breakfast brought by a different advisee. Due to my forgetfulness, we forgot to assign someone for this morning so we all decided to potluck it. As we sat around the veritable feast this morning (honeydew melon, oranges, croissants, homemade cupcakes, bananas, orange juice, donut holes —still warm), we decided that pot luck breakfast was a much better idea than leaving it all on the shoulders of one person. We’re going to try and do this every Friday.
But then the real feast began when I mentioned that I had met many of their parents the night before at Open House and that they all seemed wonderful. I was being spontaneous and a bit playful but I said I wanted to know more about their parents and asked what stories they had to share. It all started slowly at first and then in a rush, stories connected to their amazingly varied permutations of family, reflecting all sorts of complications and absurdities from broken limbs to broken hearts, from accidental wounds and intentional tricks, from gullibilities to skeptical decisions. The energy increased as a kind of unspoken competition emerged, each student trying to top the other with their observations and personal dramas. (It should be noted, however, that there were two students who were definitely engaged but did not share. It should also be noted it is still very early in the year.)
Just yesterday, when I had asked the students in my classes to keep a running list of memories and stories that were important in their lives for a couple of writing projects and activities later, a couple of kids told me they didn’t have any stories. I told them then that we all have lots of stories but that sometimes when we don’t pay attention to our lives, we think those stories aren’t there. One of the students making that comment was in advisory today bursting at the seams with story.
Willa Cather said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” She was spot on. There wasn’t enough time this morning to hear all they had to say…