With summertime and energy filled teens, there’s never a dull moment at Polo Grounds. Pizza snacks are on hand, and chatter slowly fills the room as the girls walk in. Fifteen minutes later, and it’s full blown girl time, with giddy giggles fluttering like hummingbirds inside our classroom. Everyone is laughing and catching up with each other, exchanging exciting pieces of news from the week prior: someone bought a new dress, another had an adventurous day at the Children’s Village, and another had a meal outside the ordinary. We’ve all become friends now, so all of this chatter is just as necessary to our sessions as our writing exercises. (I’m happy about that.)
Last week, I sent the girls home with a writing assignment to re-tell a life defining moment in their lives. Some of them brought their stories in, and some had yet to begin. Some were almost convinced they didn’t have a story to tell, and I asked them to take a moment to dig deeper. My request was met with some discouraged sighing, but gladly, nothing a few jokes couldn’t cajole. Brainstorming was coupled with a chatter that can’t be contained (these are teenage girls, after all) but I was satisfied in knowing that they are writing and trying.
Some of the girls felt concerned that their stories are too personal, too “deep”, too honest. I assured them that in this way, being a writer can be hard, mostly because you offer a piece of your story to share to the everyone, and offer a vulnerability that you may not even know existed. I assured them that they only need to write about what their comfortable with, but to know that their honesty and their story are valuable- you never know who can read it and feel the exact same way.
We talked about the difference between “showing” a story versus “telling” a story, and asked them to recall what metaphors and similes can do to a piece of writing. After a few visits “in my office” (my corner of the room), I was able to chat with the girls and give them individual attention and advice to make their writing paint pictures with descriptive language. Their drafts are getting better, and I hope we can have a few to post on the blog soon!
Coming to spaces like these is the reason why I’m always going to feel young. I still feel like a teenager, talking about fashion with the girls, giggling uncontrollably, and playing both Drake and Stevie Wonder in my iTunes as they write. They might make a few jokes about their mom being the only person they know playing Stevie Wonder, but even they can’t deny that this is classic.
Some things just don’t get old. Like being a teenager, loving music, loving love, and loving the discovery of owning our words. That, will always be a wonder to me.