Mid-Michigan was frigid over the holidays, with temperatures barely above single digits, and it hasn’t let up yet. Winter is not my favorite time of year. And yet, when I was in the 4th grade, I wrote a poem called “Winter Is My Favorite Time of Year,” which was printed in our little school newsletter.
I have Reynaud’s disease, which means my fingers and toes are almost always cold, due to reduced blood flow. Reynaud’s disease isn’t dangerous, it’s just a nuisance, and makes cold weather a particular kind of misery.
For years after I wrote that “Winter Is My Favorite Time of Year” poem, my grandmother taunted me with it. Whenever I complained about the cold, she’d smile slyly and say, “But I thought winter was your favorite time of year.” Not any more, Grandma.
Another 4th grade memory that remains clear is one involving music: My Catholic elementary school had no band or orchestra, but we did have “music appreciation” class. I remember one time the nun in charge played a record of classical music and told us to draw how it made us feel. And then she graded us on our efforts.
Honestly, what criteria could she possibly have used? Is there a wrong way for a child to feel when listening to music?
To make matters worse, I couldn’t draw. Still can’t. But there are other ways to be creative.
During January, I’m participating in a month-long brainstorming event, during which I will try to generate 30 children’s book ideas. I will not be generating 30 books, just 30 ideas for books. The writing comes later.
I think I can do it, if I don’t grade myself too harshly.
Here’s to nurturing creativity—of all kinds—in 2018!
Paulette Bochnig Sharkey