The Guardian

It is graduation season, and I am saying goodbye to my wonderful sixth grade class.  As they head off into their adolescence, and all the challenges, joys, and discoveries of that tumultuous time, I ponder how I hold them– forever in my mind– at age 12.  Here is a poem I am reading tomorrow night at their graduation ceremony, and it is featured at the beginning of my book, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus. 


I am the guardian of your 12 year old self

I bear witness, child one second

teenager the next

developing a sense

of what is right

what is wrong

and all in between

pushing boundaries of childhood

like water on the levees

intense daily interactions

reading, writing, thinking

talking, laughing, brooding

until poof! you’re gone

like summer in Vermont

or a flock of birds overhead

flying fast out of sight

I squint to see

the tiny dots disappear.


So when I see you in town

at the grocery store

don’t think I’ odd

because I stop in my tracks




because while I’ve stayed

the same in the mirror

you’ve gone through a

swirling metamorphosis

when I wasn’t looking

you’ve danced, sung

played, changed

and done more than

I’d ever known

or could teach you.

I’m looking for the relic

for the tiny piece

of your preadolescent

clumsy, shining self

searching the pictures

in my mind

head spinning.


So when you see me

on the street

stop and say hello.

Tell me who you are now

and I will tell you

who you were then.

image:  by Ro’smom on Flickr under Creative Commons

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