This week saw the final session of the creative writing class I teach. For the past 9 weeks I have taught ten 4th and 5th graders how to tell stories. Along with ten dedicated volunteer mentors, we have coaxed funny, scary, or deeply personal stories out of these children, turned them into short plays, and put them up on stage, performed by ten professional actors. It’s such an incredible experience to see the students – especially the shy ones, or those who aren’t academically brilliant, or even those who are brilliant but can’t find a safe outlet – open up and pour out these wild and creative stories, and form bonds with the adults they have come to trust. Even though organizing 10-year-olds is sometimes like trying to wrangle cats, I love it and keep going back year after year.
This session one of the students lost her mother during the program. She skipped a class, but was back the following week, smiling, participating, and being her usual brave, strong self. At the end of the last class we play a game where everyone in the group has to share two likes and a wish. This little girl said she liked her dog and all the mentors, and she wished she could have her mom back.
I know that kidnapping is illegal and immoral, but for just that second I wanted to take that little girl home with me. While not all of us get to have children, I think that all children should have a good mother. This little girl had one, but lost her, and for a second I entertained the thought that maybe I could take her place.
It was a fleeting thought and a stupid one at that, and while I try to make sure my actions are legal and generally rational, no one ever said the same had to apply to my thoughts.