Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Today, July 28th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

We are currently living through times unprecedented in so many ways.  This being the case, politics is a frequent topic of discussion in our home.  I am nearly certain this is not unusual. Growing up, I remember the word “Watergate” permeating many a discussion in my own childhood home.  Now, nearly 50 years later, I find myself the father of three young daughters, daughters who want to know things, who want to understand the outrage their parents are feeling.  Even my four-year-old wants to understand.  And this can be challenging to explicate at times.

But other times, not so much.

Take, for example, the current administration’s policy of seizing immigrant families seeking asylum and locking them in cages at the southern border.  This particular policy, just in terms of pure cruelty, has not been terribly difficult for my youngest daughter to grasp as reason for outrage (note:  my wife and I do not discuss the fact that many children have been permanently separated from their parents- that detail is left out).  When discussions of politics bubble up, this is an accessible entry point for my youngest.

A few nights ago at the dinner table, current events and politics once again surfaced as our topic of discussion.  My oldest daughters asked, as they normally do, numerous questions, which prompted my youngest daughter to ask why kids and families are  ending up detained in cages at the southern border.  “Well,” I began, “a lot of those families are trying to get away from bad people in their home countries.  They come here because they want to find a better life.”

“That’s like Babar,” interrupted my youngest.  For a moment, we all sat, silently processing her statement.  What was the connection? I wondered. She continued, “Babar was trying to get away from a hunter who got his mom.  Remember?”

A beat.

“Oh my goodness, you’re right, honey.” I suddenly caught onto the connection she was making to Jean de Brunhoff’s book, The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant.  “It’s like Babar! Babar fled from the hunter to a city where he found someone who was kind to him.”

I never cease to be amazed at the way children can connect, the way stories help them make sense of their world. Kissing the top of my daughter’s head, I affirmed her, “Great connection, sweetheart.” But inside, I felt so saddened by the context of her connection.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

8 thoughts on “Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge”

  1. Yes, the connections that kids make are incredible, but what struck me about your slice was the space that your family has created for connections to be articulated & heard. It has me wondering about how to replicate that authenticity in a classroom. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Great connection, sweetheart.” But inside, I felt so saddened by the context of her connection

    I, like you, praised her connection but in a skip felt saddened by the fact that she has to make these kinds of connections. The world has never been perfect, especially the world of politics, but this is a whole new level.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a world we’re living in, Lanny. I love that you’re having such rich conversations in your family, but sad that you have to have them about such injustice. You may be shaping a leader who will change our current reality. I miss your perspective at school, especially now!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for allowing me to be a fly on the wall at your dinner table. Your conversation inspires me to keep reading to kids. They need stories to help connect and understand their world. I just might place Babar on my hold list at the library for curbside pickup. I might need to reread his story to help me understand my world. Also, know that you have years and years of political dinner table discussions ahead of you. My now 31-year old daughter came to dinner Sunday and we had a similar discussion. Now as adults, we discussed working to make positive change, or as John Lewis (who is on my mind today) would say, make “good trouble”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally! Not sure I’d actually recommend Babar (it’s a bit odd if you ask me), but the connection she made was all her own and definitely not one I’d come up with!


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