This week we wrapped up a double unit in Language Arts. We used some idea from Jess Lifshitz on teaching kids to see beyond the single story. (Check out her links here.) And we did a shared read of The Outsiders, still thinking about that single story - in this case of the Socs and the Greasers. It was a lot.
I'd never read The Outsiders until this summer. I knew that it was a book we'd share in my move to seventh grade, so I bought a book, a t-shirt, and read it on the way to our summer vacation. When I posted a photo on Instagram while wearing said shirt, many former students went nuts, commenting on how much they loved the book. My son, Luke, looked over my shoulder to see what part I was on regularly. He couldn't believe this was my first read of one of his favorites. I tried to explain, I knew as a kid that it was "sad", and I was not a kid who liked to read sad books. I hadn't seen the movie for the same reason.
After reading it, though, I got it. What a beautiful book. Sharing it with three groups of kids was a special experience this year. Watching the movie with them, however, was another level.
We started watching the movie on Tuesday and the kids were a trip. These "stars" I grew up with meant very little to most of them. Some of them knew Emilio Estevez from The Mighty Ducks. A couple of girls knew Swayze from Dirty Dancing. A few knew Tom Cruise. Several knew Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid, but they all thought I was lying when I said he was 21-22 years old at the time the movie was made. Most of them had no idea who Rob Lowe is, but several informed me he was cute. (Agreed.)
It really was a brilliant movie adaption from a book, but for the first time in a long time, I realized the side of life I was on. I'm certainly middle aged, but wow. These icons of my youth are older than I am, but I could see here the kids they once were. Some aren't even with us anymore. The kids laughed at me because I only cried once, and it wasn't where they expected it. Not at any of the character's deaths, not at the end, but right in the middle when Ponyboy recites Frost's poem to Johnny.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
And with that, I wept. Looking at my fabulous students, I was struck with the fleeting nature of childhood. We've lost several members of our community this week. One gone far too soon. My emotions have been running on high, so that absolutely contributed. But looking at my students, realizing it has been thirty years since I sat where they do, yet it seems like yesterday. My heart broke open and the tears escaped.
I was left with the sense of gratitude that I, like Pony, have never grown tired of appreciating a sunset, of finding the good in others, of diving into a book. And while I find it hard to believe I've reached the age of 42, I'm grateful to movies like The Outsiders that can make me return to my youth, if only for a little bit. Now to find Rob Lowe's autobiographies. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed him.