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Archive for July 8th, 2014

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


Kate Messner leads teacher writers in a writing camp this month.

Kate Messner leads teacher writers in a writing camp this month.

For the third year, I signed up to participate in Kate Messner’s Teachers Write Camp. Kate gathers a wealth of children’s writers to coach a growing group of teachers in writing. I believe that a teacher of writing must be a writer.

I will not be able to write for every prompt, but I am trying to start strong. My method for starting strong is to read the prompt for the day. Then get out my journal and write. I do not read anyone else’s writing until I write first. This works for me for two reasons; I don’t get caught up in reading and avoid writing, and I don’t prejudge myself by comparing my writing to others.

So today I am going to share my draft response on my blog. The prompt can be found here.

Playground Danger

The playground merry-go-round was a big round wooden platform. Jutting out of the center were four sets of painted metal bars. Standing or sitting, this was my second-to-last least favorite playground equipment. The worst was the see-saw. (Once my brother let me drop from the highest position, and my butt was sore for days.) On the merry-go-round, I always got dizzy and disoriented, especially when Dave would spin me real fast.

On this day, the merry-go-round was the gathering place for the Girl Scouts as we waiting for our moms to pick us up after the meeting. Jacy was the leader. She was always the leader. I could not avoid her condescending look.

“Come on, Valerie, don’t be such a baby. Come play Catch me, if you can! I get first spin.”

Jacy’s chest puffed out a little higher as she grabbed the edge of the platform to begin spinning us. Around, around, faster, faster. My stomach spun with every turn. I closed my eyes. Then a sudden stop.

“Gotcha!” yelled Jacy. She had both hands on Francis’s dangling legs. Francis was it.

I took a moment to breathe and gather my senses. Jacy jumped on right next to me, sitting with her legs stretched out straight, daring Francis to catch her. I scooted toward the center.

“No fair, Valerie!” Jacy’s voice whined. She grabbed my arm. “You have to stick your feet out.”

Maybe if I stuck my feet out and down, I could slow the spinning, get caught, and get this over with.

Spin, spin! Caught!

Francis grabbed my feet, and I slid off the merry-go-round to the dusty dirt below. Bam! I could feel the bruise forming. The bottom of my jeans shorts were brown with dust. I stood up, dusted off, and didn’t let on that both my bottom and my pride throbbed in shame.

My turn to spin. Like my brother would do to get us going faster and faster, I grabbed a metal bar and took off in a trot, then a run. Letting go, I watched legs blur past me. I grabbed the longest ones and held on tight. Snap! A snap of bone.

Jacy let out a scream to break cathedral glass. Everyone stared. Then a flurry of mothers.

Jacy’s mother picked her up while my mom held her dangling leg. Her leg was in an awkward position. I looked away. Jacy passed out. What had I done?

Our Teachers Write hostess for today, Nora Raleigh Baskin says that to write for children, we have to get into the mind of a child. This was a true incident that I fictionalized. I actually don’t think I was the one who broke her leg. But the incident has stuck with me all these years.

Thanks, Nora, for inspiring my writing today.

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