Wednesday, November 29, 2017
A Day at Hampton High
I am just recovering from my day at Hampton High.No I did not catch a flu bug or the sniffles but to say the day was draining and recovery was needed is an understatement.One probably can't understand why these days are so exhausting for me unless they sat in on one of my sessions. Now I know I do that to myself. I know I could present a very generic hour talking about writing , editing, publishing etc.and I do talk about all those things. But I bring more to each presentation than that. I remember when I did thirteen presentations during my TD Children's Book Week tour in Ontario. Driving to the last presentation of the week I tried to tell myself not to give so much, not to open up so personally to the kids I was seeing in the Scarborough library that morning. I went over in my head all the things I could say about loving libraries and loving to read when I was a kid and almost had myself convinced I wouldn't dig down deep and give the same heartfelt presentations I had delivered and felt proud of giving all week. I had had some amazing interactions in those previous sessions. I'd had standing ovations,tearful kids and warm embraces. I thought if I just kept it light I could get through it and not feel the deep exhaustion I normally feel. Seconds before I parked in the library parking lot it occurred to me that the kids that were filing into that room to see Susan White deserved to see Susan White. There were things I could say to them that belonged to only me. The second I saw the bright and receptive faces in the front row I knew I had no choice but to show up. I have to tell myself that before every school visit but Hampton High holds special value to me and special challenges. It is the school in which I feel the most responsibility to honor my son. I also admire and respect what goes on in that building. So many staff members nurtured Chapin and Caleb and supported Meg and Ashlie. I have a few resentments and heartaches concerning Zac's experience there but those shortcomings exist in every school . I do not dwell on them. I do however feel the need to always honor Zachary White in that building. I drive up and take a quick glimpse at the tree planted in his memory. I walk in the front door and take the opportunity to do so as a privilege. I show up and I don't hold back emotion and feeling. On page 84 in The Year Mrs. Montague Cried Taylor quotes Mrs. M as saying "Don't we look a fright? If someone came in right now, they would wonder what in the world I was doing to you.Tears are shed in my presentations, eyes well up , lumps come to throats, there is laughter and deep sighs. Real feelings emerge and I make no apology for that.I tell of sorrow,of joy, of pain, of comfort, of dreams and failures, of family ,of loss and love. I tell of accomplishments and discipline ,of vulnerability and triumph. I talk non stop and go rapidly from story to story and no two sessions are the same. Kids ask profound questions and always give me their rapt attention.I walk away exhausted but so thankful!