My Son’s First Poem

He is in 2nd grade, and despite his teachers’ best efforts, he isn’t loving poetry writing. He has cranked out a few poems on how the color ___ is like ____ and how playing with his friends makes him happy. He has lived on the lighter side of poetry, and it hasn’t quite suited him. This morning that all changed.

He started a poem with “_____ is de wrst tcher evr.” He started unloading on a teaching assistant in his class who has tried with mixed results to get him to work this year. She hasn’t engaged him. She does her job, but she doesn’t really know him. And after a year of focusing on his academic output instead of trying to get to know him, he had had enough.

The poem poured out onto the page in a tone of unhinged anger. “‘Where are your SeeSaw activities?’ she says for the 1000th time,” he writes before taking a break to deface the teacher’s name on the first line. He misspells stupid, dumb, lame, and bg fat lier in quick succession, attaching lines from each word to her name before crossing out her name all together. As if this were not enough, he sticks out his tongue and starts flapping spit all over the page in a fit of inspiration and rage.

“Good,” I say, “now, what are you going to add on to the poem? When the teacher tells you to do the work, how have you reacted?”

He voices his repeated efforts to call out to the adult world that this hasn’t been working, and this person isn’t working for him. He writes, “I click ‘leave the meeting,'” and just for good measure he ends his poem with


Welcome to the complicated world of great poems, my beautiful boy. Now let’s talk about some revisions before you turn this in on SeeSaw.

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