I crept up the stairs in the darkness. I yearned for a peek at my sleeping children. I love to watch them sleep. No matter how busy, loud, or chaotic the day is I can always find calmness when looking at the peaceful faces of my dreaming children. I quietly wandered in my nine year old son’s room first. I could just make out the Star Wars themed bed cover in the shadows from the moon. My eyes scanned up expecting to see a sleeping boy, but instead I saw a wide-eyed child staring up at the ceiling.
“Why are you still up?” I questioned. My mommy self kicked in. His first day of camp was tomorrow and I wanted him to be rested and ready for the day.
He sighed deeply and in a agonized tone he replied, “Too many words are in my head. I don’t know if I will ever write them all down.” He then rolled over dramatically taking his pillow with him to cover his head. Before he went to bed I forced him to stop writing, because it was already an hour past his bed time. I have to admit, it is an interesting issue to have -stopping your kid from writing. I admire his tenacity but a growing boy needs sleep. Right? This is an internal argument I have with myself every night. I smiled to myself and kissed him good night and told him that the words would still be there in the morning. Maybe they would be different words, but his words would always be there for him.
My son has always enjoyed writing. This summer he has been independently writing everyday. Stories and poems about his observations and memories. He is a writer. However, he does not enjoy reading. On a daily basis my husband and I have to remind him to take a break from writing and read for a bit. He gets frustrated with us and with the attitude of a tween he says, “You just don’t understand me. I HAVE to write, I don’t NEED to read. Geez.” Before I can explain the importance of reading he is walking away, avoiding my insight.
A few afternoons later, after convincing my reluctant reader to read I went to go check on him. When I walked into his room he was laying on the floor staring off into space, the book Wishtree by Katherine Applegate resting on the floor still in his hand. I tried not to appear annoyed as I went over to him to pluck him out of his day dream. As I approached he lifted his head and said softly, “I was just thinking how Katherine Applegate uses simple words and puts them together and it makes it so special. I want to try it. I was thinking how I can write a poem that way.” Then I was asked to leave so he could get back to the book. As a teacher I have seen the impact of using mentor texts. As a mom, seeing my son discover a mentor text for himself is undeniably one of the most precious moments I have had as a parent.