That didn’t happen by itself. I remember because my father asked us to tell a story about our day. Every. Single. Day. Every morning he sent us out into the world, telling us to take notes and bring back some stories. We did. We learned to pay attention to the world around us. We didn’t know we were becoming writers or developing a deep understanding of narrative arc. We were just trying to outdo each other at the dinner table.
When I read the writing of my third graders I remember. Children speak of ordinary moments with matter-of-fact reverence.
We are going to cook out tonight.
We saw lightening bugs.
There was frost.
We got a new fence in our backyard.
We are going to Golden Corral.
We had movie night.
We made pizza.
I rode my bike.
My soccer team won.
I got a library card.
I saw a possum.
We don’t create memories, we live life. Beautiful memories are the fruit of creating life together in the most ordinary ways. Celebrating small moments together makes the big moments sing across time. A trip to Disney is special, but don’t think for a moment that the magic of childhood is contained in a magic castle. The kind of magic I am talking about is not in the castle. In fact, it is more mystery than magic because it won’t be controlled or manufactured. It fleetingly waits to be discovered.
As their third grade teacher, I am teaching my young writers not to miss the majesty of the the moment they come in talking about. I am teaching them to see the story of their lives. I am teaching them to fall in love with the world. The weekend homework has been the same for for over thirty years: Look at the world with the eyes of a writer. Don’t forget to look.