Thursday, February 13, 2014


I have to admit that even as a tween and teenager, I never got the allure of the type of boy I'll call "the pretty boy". You know the type - they are usually slight of build, but big of hair. Think Justin Beiber, before his spiral of lawlessness, or those guys from "One Direction" (although, if you put on their song "That's What Makes You Beautiful" I will dance EVERY TIME!) Even then I liked a guy who looked like a MAN as opposed to a BOY - not that any male at all was looking at me in those years!!! But, OMG - do the girls love them!!! In an English as a Second Language class I am telling stories in all this year, there is a classic "pretty boy" (from now on our refer to him as PT) - eyelashes that all the girls both want, and like to gaze at, a thick head of well cut hair, and a self confidence that makes the crowded halls of a middle school part like the Red Sea. And, of course there are the girls - lots of them - all wanting to sit by him, run their fingers through his hair, get him to brush their shoulder with his hand. In this particular class our PT had two girls vying for his affections - one a cheerleader - her long, long hair adorned with sparkly clips and bows. The other a scholar - in a class of students with limited English, it is she who knows enough English to help others, and tries hard to read a new language that mostly does not make any sense! For weeks I watched as our PT sat between both of the young ladies, gazing at the cheerleader, before asking the scholar for help with his school work. The girls seemed to hold each other no malice, and they laughed with each other at the adorable little things he did and said, but one day when I entered the classroom, I noticed something was VERY much different. It was almost like a boxing ring - in one corner it was the PT and the cheerleader, and, as far away as she could possibly get while staying int the classroom was the scholar - her arms crossed, eyes down, scowl on her normally sweet face. I would have had to be in a coma not to realize what has taken place since my last visit - the cheerleader had won. But what the cheerleader had taken in this little contest was not just the PT, it was the scholars self confidence as well. Where normally her hand would raise and wave to tell me she understood the story, or knew the answer, or would translate another students Spanish, so I could understand it, today she just almost laid there, present in body, but definitely not in spirit. My heart broke for her, and I wanted to yell,"Don't let this define you!! Do you know how many guys like that will come and go in your life?? Do you realize how amazing you are - having come to a new country, and having to learn a language from scratch??" But I couldn't, I could only hope that one day, she would see herself as I and her teacher saw her, and realize that the PT wasn't even worth her time. But then, a wonderful thing happen. My plan that day was to tell a "silent story", where I would mime a short story, and then have them tell me, in English if they could, what they thought the story was. The students did really well, clearly they were all able to visualize the tale, and most were able to , with help, tell me what is they imagined. The scholars take on the story was both imaginative and sweet - she not only captured the facts of the story, but the spirit and meaning behind it as well. I told them that I was going to take one of their versions of the silent story and enhance it a bit, and tell it to them the next time I came, AND I wanted them to vote who's story they liked the best. They wrote their choice on little pieces of paper, which I placed in a hat, and as I pulled scrap after scrap their was one name that showed up on all but two papers - the scholars!!! She smiled for the first time that day, as I announced her name, and I made her take a bow, as all the class - PT, and the cheerleader included chanted her name. Because of the snow, I have not been back yet, to enact the scholars story, but I look forward to it, and hope to give one of the best tellings of my life. Having me tell her story may not soothe the ache she feels when she looks across the classroom, and sees the PT and the cheerleader together, but maybe, just maybe, as she hears me speak her words, she'll be reminded of how much she has to offer, and what she is daily accomplishing in her new life, and that life is A LOT more than pretty boys!!!

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