(smiley face) I know this paper may not be exactly what this essay contest was about. It's just that as I began to write, my feelings started unraveling. I was about to go w/some cheesy generic story, but I thought this was more meaningful. Just thought I'd let you know.
This hot pink sticky on her paper didn't really prepare me for what I was about to read.
We were participating in the Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers essay contest and my students were writing about obstacles they had overcome. (I really wanted one of them to win a trip to the All Star game!) I fully expected to read about students facing their fear of heights....of trying out for cheer... of maybe trying to make friends at a new school.
I was not prepared for the baring of wounds, some deep and ugly, many still raw.
R. was born with a chronic condition that leaves him in pain when he eats certain foods.
N., who is Asian, faces stereotypes and racism on the baseball field.
M. has gay parents and deals with slurs and mean jokes regularly.
D. struggles with anorexia--and he is a male athlete.
A. is on anti-anxiety medication at age thirteen.
B. tries to make sense of his parents' divorce and his being "caught between."
S.'s best friend died.
A's dad has been fighting cancer for years.
On and on it went. In the stable middle class neighborhood, my babies were facing all kinds of struggles that they never shared aloud. All kinds of troubles, and all kinds of courage--courage I felt they really were too young to ever have to exercise. Thirty-six kids, thirty-six trials.
H? Her story was about being shunned for being, they said, fat. I could hardly believe it. This healthy, beautiful girl who in no way had any extra poundage was believing she was heavy. I was enraged. Who dares to scar this wonderful lovely beautiful girl? WHO?? I wanted to find them and, er, set the record straight.
I had to walk away from the papers because my soul couldn't take it.
I don't know if I want to participate in the contest this year.