Friday, March 16, 2012

After the Dazzle of the Day is Gone

After the dazzle of the day is gone,
Only the dark, dark, night shows to my 
eyes the stars.
After the clangor of organ majestic, or 
chorus, or perfect band,
Silent athwart my soul, moves the symphony true.
                               -Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I read this poem for the first time in a children's book about baseball. In Deborah Wiles's, The Aurora County All-Stars, 12 year old, House Jackson finds a note from Mr. Norwood Rhinehart Beauregard Boyd, who died before him at the age of eighty-eight. The note read, 

"Your mother gave these words to me;
Now I give them to you as treasure for the days ahead.
Look for me in every atom that you see."

I read Aurora County All-Stars for the first time a number of years ago after I discovered and fallen in love with Deborah Wiles books. The second time I read it was when Timmy was reading it and I decided to reread it so that I could refresh my memory  and Timmy and I would be able to talk about the book together.

Today, I read the first chapter to Ryan's fourth grade class. I love to read aloud in my children's classrooms. It's one of my favorite things to do. Recently I asked Ryan's teacher if I could do something different. Instead of picking up in the middle of a book that she has started to read aloud that I might not have read before which then makes it difficult to read if you don't know exactly what's going on, I asked if I could come in once a week with a book that I had picked out and just read the first chapter. My thinking was to pick books that have great beginnings, read the book in such a way that will get the kids interested, get them "hooked" if you will, and then stop reading to them. At the end of the reading, I leave the book behind in the classroom and the next day, the teacher decides who gets to read the book first. I've been doing a lot of thinking about those "reluctant readers," those "dormant reader," those students that can read but chose not to, and how to get them more interested in reading. Parents and teachers have to be a little passive-aggressive when it comes to getting those "dormant readers" to read. Kids are smart and we can't just tell kids you need to read because it will make you smarter. When I walk into the fourth grade classroom, I am not their teacher or their parent. I am just Ryan's mom who came into read to the class. I don't tell or ask them to read the book after I'm done reading, I just simply place it in a bin and tell them I will see you all next week. No pressure. 

"After the dazzle of the day is gone"...dazzle...what a great word. One of the definitions of dazzle is "to amaze as with brilliance." Synonyms are awe, overwhelm, and overpower. Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed and overpowered by our hectic schedule, so many places to be, so much to do, so many important events coming up: birthdays, first communion, tournaments, boys trying out and making travel teams. This is all good stuff but instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all, I want to feel dazzled by all this good stuff. 

Today I was dazzled by the attentive listeners in Ryan's class while I read.  I was dazzled by how well Molly's class listened while we painted leprechaun hats and their concern for the student that was absent today and might not get to make a hat. I was dazzled by Timmy at basketball practice and by how much he has grown as a basketball player this past year and the comments that I get from coaches and other parents that tell me how great he is not just as a player but as a leader that generates team spirit. And I was dazzled by the fourth grade musical show. 

The final song they sang was...take time in life, take time in life, take time in life, we have far away to go. I really needed that reminder...take time in life.

As the dazzle of the day is gone, and the clangor of my day of students and basketball and a musical is over, I sit here in the still silence of my study writing this, the symphony that I hear playing in my head is gratitude for this crazy, noisy, dazzling life.

I found this picture on my camera. Shannon took it. She told me she was looking for signs of spring. Isn't it dazzling?

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