In preparation for reading Romeo and Juliet, I asked my students to write today about how they would describe the loves of their lives. After some excited giggles and chatter, they got down to work and wrote for ten minutes or so. Afterwards, all the boys raised their hands and asked to share. This so rarely happens that I had to run with it. Boys sharing their own personal writing about love?
Of course the boys wrote about the girls they loved being “hot.” Many of the “hot” girls they described were famous tennis players or models. But like many young people, their descriptions bordered on vague. Many boys wrote, “she’s the hottest girl in the world, maybe even the whole universe.” Another wrote, “She’s so hot, even the cats whistle.” I had to laugh.
Another boy, who usually doesn’t write that often, filled half a page of describing his dream girl and he ended it, “When she goes away, I return to Earth,” which I thought was not only poetic, but pretty much true. When it was time for the girls to share, one girl wrote of her true love:
“He would tell me how my eyes shine and how much he loves me…and he would like me the way I am. He would make me happy and I would make him laugh. I know this boy is hard to find, but I would go to the infinite to find him.”
It was at this point that I realized that mine and my 7th graders’ impressions of love weren’t really that different from each other. And then I thought, of course, about the Man in New Zealand and how my students’ simple, innocent words so perfectly spoke to my feelings about him. Thirty days remain until I see him again and it is all I can do to wake up and go to work and stay focused there without totally drifting off into daydreams about getting off the plane and seeing him. When my students asked me to read what I’d written during our ten minutes of writing, I shared that this Man in New Zealand teaches me daily about trust and love and longing and adventure. He teaches me to be a good person. He is an honorable person, one who I feel lucky to know.
My students’ words about love were so pure. Who doesn’t feel like they’re up in the clouds when they’re in love? Who doesn’t return to Earth when they’re away from their love? Who doesn’t want to be accepted for who they are? Who doesn’t want to make someone laugh for eternity? Who doesn’t want a love who is so beauitful he or she can even make cats whistle? Sometimes I have to shake my head at how true my students’ words ring. They are some smart cookies.