Weekend Wondering…

Isn’t it interesting how something so simple can bring back a memory?


That’s what happened the other day when I took this picture of a Shagbark Hickory tree at the farm. Oh, how I love the gorgeous Winter-turning-to-Spring blue skies in East Tennessee!


Hickory tree3


I started wondering… Whatever happened to Adrian?


It was 1994, and the elementary students were given the assignment:  Write a poem about a feeling.


Examples were given:  love, joy…


… and the children began to write. All except Adrian. He wanted no part of that “mushy” stuff. No feeling poem for him!


At the time, Renaissance Man and I volunteered at our daughters’ school, and we happened to be there to witness Adrian’s rebellion firsthand.


Fortunately for Adrian’s grade, my natural-teacher husband saw (and understood!) the fourth grader’s hesitancy and walked over to “check out his progress.”


Renaissance Man:  How’s it going, Adrian?


Adrian:  I don’t wanna write about this stuff.


Renaissance Man:  Write about TOUGH.


Adrian:  Tough?


Renaissance Man:  Sure. Haven’t you ever felt tough?


And the natural teacher moved along to another child…


Hickory tree2


After a short time, I watched as my husband walked back over to Adrian, stood behind the boy, and read over his shoulder. And then I saw a faint smile.


Adrian had written his poem about TOUGH… and for a little boy whose grades were less than ideal, he showed a lot of promise! How many times we’ve regretted not keeping a copy!


We only remember a few of his words, but they still give us hope—all these years later—that the little boy grew up well.


tree bark … T-bone steak … ocean waves


The following year our family moved away from Texas. Adrian (and Jamaal) was no longer part of our world, but in his place, Louisiana introduced us to Joey and Chris… and recently Tennessee has brought Travis into our lives.


In every state, city, town, and community, there is a child who needs encouragement. Perhaps it’s as simple as a smile at the grocery store—as part-time as volunteering at a school—or as full-time as becoming a foster parent or a safe family.


For many, many children, life is TOUGH. So I’ll ask you the same question I’m asking myself:  Is there something more you can do to help?

Just wondering…


Hickory tree1



  1. Susan,
    I spent 30 years of my life teaching the Adrian’s of the world. I was a special education teacher and most of my students found their way onto the special education rolls “back in the day” due to parental neglect, poverty, or the inability for the adults in these children’s lives to recognize they simply needed a little “extra” along the way.

    Your husband, natural teacher, was right on! My heart did a flip flop because I was reminded of the hundreds of times I’ve done exactly what your husband did with Adrian. Oh, how I loved these children. They were the force that got me up every morning with new resolve to make their time with me count for something. If nothing else, they would know someone CARED and dare I say LOVED them.

    To this day, I still run into one of these students who are now in their 30’s and unfortunately, the circle of poverty has continued. Yet, when they hit a roadblock in their lives I often receive a phone call or message from a friend of a friend asking me for help. I’m still helping with school issues only it now concerns the children of my “children” past students. I help them navigate the educational system that likes to use Big words and show how smart they are when all these young parents (my students) want is for someone to simplify and just HELP.

    I could go on and on but your post brought back many good memories in the classroom before testing became the buzz word. I could actually TEACH. Many of these students came to me in 2nd grade and didn’t leave until 8th grade. I was much more than Teacher, I was surrogate mother. I bought school clothes, shoes, school supplies, lunch money, field trip money, special fees, and even took one young lady on vacation with our church youth group. I would not be allowed to do the things I did back then, and to that I say What a Shame!!!

    As always, I love your posts!

    • Jane, I so appreciate teachers like you! I’ve spent time volunteering in elementary schools (both during and after my daughters’ years there), and boy have things changed! Often I wonder what happened to common sense—and parental involvement—and advocating for each individual child regardless of their age, color, gender, or economic status. I think your comment hit the nail on the head: we didn’t properly equip the last generation of students, and now their children are cycling through the education system. Of course, this generation of kids begins with increased challenges because their parents often don’t have the necessary tools with which to teach their children… and the cycle will continue if we don’t do something to change the trajectory.

      What a blessing that some of your adult “kids” still have you in their life as a resource! Thank you for being there for them and their next generation. You’re so right… sometimes what they need is simply someone to listen and HELP, not people who try to impress by belittling. So sad…