Tag Archives: education

What You Missed

What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade
by Brad Aaron Modlin

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,
how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark
After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s
voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—
something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted
Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,
and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.
The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.
And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,
and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person
add up to something.

Middle School

Listening to my daughter talk about her feelings and the dynamics of kid interaction at school, I realize the following:

  1. Middle school is “Lord of the Flies” harsh even when it’s a good school;
  2. People can be really judgmental, including my kid;
  3. A middle schooler wants more than anything to be accepted; the hardest thing to do is to befriend someone who is an “outcast,” because you risk your own social safety;
  4. I suck at listening, despite being a psychotherapist (psycho therapist?);
  5. All my childhood wounds are activated;
  6. I have to WORK REALLY HARD to keep my mouth shut, my heart open, and to accept I do not have control over this.

BEING PRESENT with someone else’s suffering, especially when that someone is the most precious treasure of my life, is the hardest soul task I’ve encountered.