Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slice of Life Challenge - Day 16 - Ode to a Ten-Year-Old Girl

In case this is your first time reading my slices, here is my focus for the challenge: my fifth graders and I are participating in the Slice of Life Challenge this month, and they're writing memoirs.  I thought I'd do the same kind of writing - memory writing - throughout the challenge. I'm going to be writing around photographs and memorabilia.
     When I graduated from high school, my Grandma and Grandpa Deaver (mom's parents) gave me a photo album full of my letters, pictures, drawings, and cards I had made and written for them throughout my life.  When I was too young to write, they included letters from my mom that told about my baby and toddler days.  This is an example of a thank you letter I wrote to them in 1976 when I was exactly 10 years old:

     The picture cracks me up.  I chose this letter over all the others because I think it fully captures what it's like to be ten.  When I was ten, I was full of self-esteem, joy, and happiness.  I liked to fish, hunt, ride horses, and play soccer as well as dress up in pretty clothes and play Barbies. As you can see, there was no self-consciousness, no doubt, no worries.  I was on a pedestal with a smile on my face.  It makes me laugh.  Only 2 1/2 years later that confidence came crashing down.  I entered 7th grade with insecurities, acne, and shaky self-esteem. 
 I remember age ten with fondness, and I think that's why I love teaching that age group so much.
     I'm so happy my mom and dad kept up the tradition and made similar high school graduation albums for my girls, full of their writing and drawings.  They are precious keepsakes.
(Disclaimer - not following any Ode structures!)
Oh, to be ten
carefree and wild
running through the field,
legs pumping strong
hair blowing back.
Oh, to be ten
riding bareback in shorts
pretending to be an Indian girl
fierce and mighty
with bow-and-arrows and braids.
Oh, to be ten
dressing up in finery
feeling beautiful and talented
playing piano
in the recital.
Oh, to be ten
kicking soccer balls, shooting baskets
muscles straining
sweat dripping
Oh, to be ten
casting lines
in the water, waiting, quiet
for that first bite
catching the biggest fish.
Oh, to be ten
treading through cold grasses
carrying a shotgun
hunting dog panting
on Thanksgiving day.
Oh, to be ten
to be anything you want
to be strong and fearless
feminine and sweet
To Be.



  1. Love this poem and the story. Boy, what a wonderful tradition to keep such a book- wish I had thought of it or my parents had. In our last poetry class we used Billy Collins poem Turning Ten ( ) as a mentor text for writing a reflective poem on what it felt like to turn ten- you capture it so well .

    1. Oh gosh - I just went there to read it. I didn't know that poem. It's sad!

  2. Thank you for sharing this memory!! Gauchos and boots!! Your grandparents were amazing gift givers. Not only that, the beautiful art of the thank you letter!! I think it is experiencing a slow slow death. I'm looking forward to checking out your students' slice of life stories. What a wonderful mentor text since students are fascinated by the lives of adults. I'm constantly amazed by that. My favorite is when you have seen them outside of class and then you see them in school and they say, "I saw you at Target." So sweet--especially since your adult self is thinking, "Adorable. I was there too and remember." :)

  3. I was thinking about the Billy Collins poem as I read your slice - just as Chris did. What a lovely slice of age 10, Holly!

  4. This is so cool! I love the gift that they gave you! I remember writing letters to my grandparents too. I love technology but at the same time I fear that we have lost handwritten notes and pictures.