They had just finished reading the poem Lester by Shel Silverstein in pairs. I had them answer the usual questions teachers must ask like, "Who granted Lester his first wish?" and "What did he do with it?" I had them delve into what the author thought Lester should have done with his wishes instead wishing for more. I even probed into how we might describe the rhyme scheme and meter. But then came my favourite question, "If a troll granted you one wish, what would you wish for?"
First came the answers I expected: Ferraris, iPods, cell phones, and getting to meet someone famous. But then one brave soul spoke out, "I wish my mom and dad would get back together." "Me, too," said another, and then another. Someone started to clap. I joined in. Hands shot into the air. "I wish I could see my grandma again." "I wish my brother would come back home and live with us." Students who had wished for trinkets asked to change their wishes. The pain behind these wishes was raw. Miraculously no one laughed at anyone else. For a split second they were a family.
How I'm going to leave them on Wednesday without crying is beyond me.