This story is not about me and my daughter. It is about a glimpse I had into some mother-daughter moments with students from my school and their moms. It happened on Saturday, at a district-wide event: the annual Multicultural Festival. The event includes performances of music, dance, poetry and speeches by students from elementary, middle and high schools, as well as displays of work by students that show how diversity is embraced and practiced in our schools. Our display featured “Where I Am From” poems written by 5th and 6th grade students to celebrate family heritage. We also had a table with writing materials, a copy of our mentor text (“Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon- 2015-16 Kentucky Poet Laureate, author and teacher), and a description of our writing process. Several of the student writers were scheduled to come throughout the day to interact with visitors, to share their poems and to encourage the visitors to try writing a poem.
A was the first student to arrive. I was a little worried when she first walked up to our display, because she was by herself. Since the program was at a local mall, in addition to approval for displaying the students’ work, I had requested in the permission form that a parent come and stay while their student was at the festival. It turned out that her mom was there, waiting nearby in the food court. A helped me finish setting up the display. I reminded her that her job would be to talk to visitors, ask to read her poem for them, and see if they would like to try writing a poem- and if they did, she could explain how we wrote our poems at school and guide the person as they started their poem. I suggested she could practice with her mom.
She went and got her mom and brought her over and introduced us. Then she pointed out her poem and asked her mother if she wanted to hear her read it. Of course, mom said yes. A proudly read her poem. She got a lot of smiles and a big hug. Then she showed her mom the materials on the table and asked if she would write a poem. After a brief protest, “Me? Write a poem?” mother and daughter went to work. What a magical moment to watch! Heads bent together, they laughed and talked happily as A showed her mom the brainstorming sheet we had used to gather ideas and mom began jotting things down. I even overheard A say some of the same things I had said to the students as we worked together at school! Proud smiles were on both faces when a draft of the poem was done. And, of course, I had a big smile, too.
A was an enthusiastic promoter of our display. She got a couple of other visitors to read her poem. She even got the district director of curriculum and instruction to sit and write a poem! It was a revelation to watch A. All too soon, it was time for her to leave.
I was at the table alone for quite awhile before M and her mom arrived. M read her poem and got a hug and smiles (and a big laugh) from her mom. She, too, explained to her mom how she wrote her poem and got mom to try it. When I asked her if she learned anything she didn’t know about her mom and their family, she grinned and nodded her head. There weren’t any other visitors for M to talk to (she might have been too shy anyway), but it was a great experience for her to share with her mom.
And those mother-daughter moments made my day!