Poetry On Odyssey: She Is My Mother; On The First Day Of First Grade

Poetry On Odyssey: She Is My Mother; On The First Day Of First Grade

As the first semester of my senior year comes to a close, I am called to remember my very first day of school.

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She Is My Mother; On The First Day Of First Grade

I kept my eyes in my pockets

and I tried to dream. Anxious.

I fell without falling and startled

three times that night.

She put my clothes out

and we'd agreed what she'd pack,

That I would take the bus. White, 53.

She prepared me.

Like she did when the dentist said

"Its nothing, just a little pinch"

She told me already. It's a needle.

With medicine that numbs.

They put it right into your gums,

and it will hurt. But they have to.

So let them and be brave.

When they do it feels like

it will go all the way through.

She promised, it won't.

Keep your eyes in your pockets,

the lights will blind.

I tried.

All day. I observed and noticed.

Find your name, that is your desk.

Raise one finger for the bathroom.

"Stay in line, follow me."

Guided through a labyrinth

lit by long bulbs and decorated

by rules and rainbows.

Everything as she said, was.

I believed and trusted and stayed in line.

I was good.

I took my jacket from my cubby

and my backpack off the hook.

In my hand a sun-yellow paper bus, 79.

Then we bussers separated from

the walkers and I waded into the smell

of gasoline to watch the yellow and black parade.

I felt the cold brown leather beneath me

and watched through long windows

as familiar things faded.

I felt the worry tide rising

helpless to stop the bus.

I waited. I trusted. I tried.

Those were not my neighbors' houses

nor my neighbors waiting

for their happy kids home from school.

Last stop. I stepped down.

No one was waiting for me.

The breeze blew the last

kids home and sent the bus fumes on their way.

The air was wide and alone.

I looked around and saw nothing I knew.

Nothing I could place.

As every child in need,

I cried.

I tried.

She prepared me.

I knew her numbers.

I told them to a stranger in a

dimly lit kitchen, less clean than hers.

She came for me in socked feet.

She held me and I

put my eyes in my pockets.

We drove the one block to home.


As this poem describes, on the first day of first grade my elementary school sent me home on the wrong bus. The images I chose to relate the most the specific images of my memories. I remember vividly the feeling that I was headed the wrong way but was helpless to stop myself. I best recall the sights and smells of the events described in my poem. Because I was only five years old at the time, my memories were not situational or sequential. They were emotional and much of my experiences have been pieced back together by the images in my memories. I relate the presence of my mother throughout the poem but do not name her. In my life, she was ever present, and leaving her care to attend my first day of school, only to be mishandled and misguided made my reunion with her incredibly important. The specifics of my experience, the white and yellow bus names and numbers, and the classroom policies, are all true memories. I became lost, but because of the things my mother taught me, I was able to help her find me. She has always found me.

To be a lost child on the first day of first grade was transformative. I didn't trust other adults very well after that. I had bad dreams for years of being on a bus and watching neighborhoods that look like mine in the yard, but the house was wrong, or half the house was familiar and the other half wasn't. I felt an innate need for independence after that, and the need to care for myself, and to check and double check everything. I was only one block from home but at 3 feet tall, that's a long way.

My Mom moved away this year, and I miss her. I miss her, but I know that she is in me all the time with what she's taught me and who I have become because of her. I miss her, even though I can text her whenever I want. I can call her whenever I want. I think my missing her is really just missing her guiding hand, and the knowledge that if I get lost, she will come find me. She has always been able to find me, even in my darkest places.

This poem is dedicated to her, and every student struggling or lost. I hope this poem finds you, and brings you home.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Proceed Or Halt

When things don't come together, take the hint.

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In life, we encounter people. Some of these people are friends and some make us feel like we want more.

It's fascinating how you cross paths, but things don't always work out as you planned.

At times, there is a gut feeling to go against the way life is moving.

From what I've figured out, you can't force what isn't meant to be.

This doesn't mean that the person you are directing these feelings towards will feel the same way. The hint to take here is that is that you'll keep trying even in a situation that doesn't benefit you. Although, this isn't really good for you or them, because it becomes wasted time. You do gain personal growth of sorts, but don't lose all your time in the process.

The key takeaway here is that if it isn't meant to be, then it isn't meant to be. Period. Things are working out for a reason. Why do you ask? You don't know it when it's happening, but it's life's way of showing that there are better things in store for you. Trust me when I say, anyone who doesn't like you isn't worth your time.

You only stay stuck to it because it's in front of you. You survived before all this. Don't settle for less.

Don't settle for something momentary. You are worth so much more than that. Your effort counts in karma points. You mean well, but this isn't always perceived how you intend it. It's more than you can say for most people though, so keep doing good, but don't waste your time on things that aren't worth it.

Another thing to know is that you should never go in worrying if the other person is going to write back or even see your message. Your effort lies in the fact that you sent the message from square one.

Anyway, take that for what it's worth. Proceed in being a good person, and a halt in settling for less.

You're worth your weight in gold. Don't ever forget that.

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