Today was hard, even harder at moments than I had anticipated. And I had expected it to be a serious challenge. My third graders did not seem to be aware of my struggles and I was grateful for that. In the afternoon, I decided to read the book I had planned in case any of my students were feeling the same loss and sadness I was feeling, even though none of them seemed to be.
Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Beth Griffin and illustrated by Maribel Lechuga is as beautiful as its title would suggest. The young girl in the story, Lily, is in the car with her grandmother on the way to grandmother’s home where she will now be living. Why she is no longer with her parents is never explained. But Lily’s deep sadness is clear. Her grandmother suggests they find ten beautiful things as they travel. Lily is skeptical but, not surprisingly, they do it. It doesn’t magically fix everything. It does help. That’s what I needed today. (My students didn’t need it the way I did. They did, however, have some great discussion about it.)
As I prepared to read the book, telling my students that I had a new book to share with them, one girl (one I’ve written about before) said, “I pledge allegiance to the book, of the United States of the Book.” Another student jumped in and revised it, “I pledge allegiance to the book, of the United States of the Library.” They tried for a bit to add to it, but weren’t quite there yet. The first student did add, “And I pledge myself to read this book even thought it is 200 pages long.”
I told them that if they wanted to write a pledge like this we could add it to our morning routine and recite it each day. I would be totally on board with that.
I’m still struggling. I still feel weighted down. I am still finding it hard to smile and to not just start crying at random moments. But I did smile plenty today. And many of those smiles were a result of third graders who, in spite of most of our year being virtual, know me and care about me. They continue to remind me of the beautiful things.