Posted in Professional Development, Writing

Summer Writing Prompt 1: Room for Memories

After last evening’s blog entry, I was moved to write while hopefully inspiring others to do the same.  Although my blog was originally intended for me to reflect on my teaching and related practicies, I do have some followers.  Perhaps those of you who read my blog will feel moved to write as well.  Please do so and include it as a reply to this entry.  I love reading writing from others.  As I often tell my students, you all are way more creative than I could ever imagine being.  So, let’s get writing.

Borrowing from Kate Messner’s book 59 Reasons to Write as she said I could.  No, I didn’t ask her directly, but the book said so.  However, if I had her digits perhaps I would have called her, maybe.  I love pop culture references.  Anyway, before I digress too far down the teeny bopper rabbit hole, I will continue.  I thought that one of the first writing prompts suggested in the book, created by Jo Knowles, would be a great place to start.  While her prompt was very focused and specific, you know me, I’m all about choice and creativity.  So rather than keep it focused on just the kitchen and your childhood, let’s open it up a bit.  

Choose a room from any house or place in which you have ever lived.  Now, think about a memory or something that happened there.  Craft a story, poem, song, play, or any sort of piece about that room and memory.

Here’s mine…

A loud THUD! was heard as the incredbily tall basketball player collided with my son causing Jeffrey to crash to the floor in a sea of traumatic memories and tears.  So, I guess I should back track a bit so that it all makes sense.  Please, step with me now into my writing time machine.  Watch your step and hold on tight as it may be a bumpy ride for some.  14… 13… 12… 11… yes, we’re going even further.  10… 9… 8… don’t look out the window if you get sea sick.  Things are flying by very fast.  We’re almost there.  7… and 6…  

Jeffrey is six years old and in the first grade.  He came to be in our family when he was five and three quarters.  He suffered great trauma prior to being placed into foster care.  While we never learned exactly what happened, we do believe that whatever did happen, happened in a bathroom.  

So now for the scene.  We had taken Jeffrey to a Dartmouth Men’s Basketball game. There we were sitting in the stands watching an exciting game.  Well, full disclosure, Dartmouth has never been good at basketball and so they were getting their butts whopped.  Anyway, Jeffrey said he needed to go to the bathroom.  So, I took him, which was good because I too needed to relieve myself.  

The Men’s Public Restroom at the basketball gym was quite nice.  There were several stalls and plenty of urinals.  The sinks lined the wall opposite the urinals.  The lighting was subtle and just right.  The urinals were auto flush and the sinks had sensors to turn on the water.  We’re talking state of the art.  So, we go into the bathroom, which Jeffrey was a little hestitant about at first.  He’s always had a fear of bathrooms.  In the smaller restrooms, I needed to hold the door open while he was inside so that he didn’t feel trapped.  It’s so sad to imagine what might have caused this great fear for him.  Because this restroom was larger, I was unable to hold the door open for him.  He went to the urinal closest to the door and did his business.  I saddled up at the urinal next to him.  As I am older and my bladder doesn’t work quite as effeciently as his, I was still going when he finished.  “Wait for daddy, please,” I told him.  Just looking at his nervous expression, I knew this would be a real challenge for him.  I finished as quickly as I could.  As I finished, the auto flush on the urinal Jeffrey used went off, loudly.  This of course startled him.  He freaked out and ran out the door.  Meanwhile, elsewhere in the arena, the Basketball Team was making their way out onto the court for the seond half of the game.  As Jeffrey shoved open the door with the force of 200 bulls, the basketball team was running by to get to the gym.  Because Jeffrey was clearly not in the now and was thinking about some triggered memory from his past, he did not see the basketball team and ran right into the thigh of one of their players.  He bounced off his leg like it was trampoline.  Jeffrey fell to the floor and burst into tears.  The player stopped, apologized, and tried to help.  I thanked him and let him know that the tears had nothing to do with him.  

I picked my son up off the floor and held him in my arms as he cried.  Where was he mentally at that moment?  What horrific experience had happened to him in a bathroom?  Why was he so scared?  I wish we knew the specifics of his past traumatic experience, but I’m afraid we’ll never know.  Even after years of therapy, the truth seems to be deeply buried inside Jeffrey’s subconscious, which is probably for the best.  The good news is, bathrooms no longer seem to terrify him.  In fact, he even closes the door when he’s going at home, which is great beacuse boy, he can sometimes be quite stinky.

There it is.  That’s my story.  Now, tell us yours…

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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