The Sweetest Compliment

One of the best things about 7th graders is the random, precious thoughts that pop into their brains and out of their mouths. Sadly, most of their comments are totally inappropriate or out of context or just plain weird. In the middle of my lesson they’ll interject things like “Yeah, one time my friend’s dad’s sister had a dog named Athena. ” Or “Can you show me my grade right now?”

I’m convinced that the coffee filter part of the brain–you know, whatever mechanism up there sorts through all the random disgusting neuron beans and brews them into the sweet nectar that is coffee– that part is definitely not fully functioning at age 13. (Let’s be real, some people never develop a fully functioning filtration system.)

But today, one of my students–I genuinely don’t know which one–let a steaming hot, freshly brewed and perfectly golden comment slide through the filter. I could almost smell coffee when they spoke.

As I’m up in front of the room drawing a crazy diagram of Gaea and Uranus and the Titans on the board and basically acting out the origins of Greek Mythology, I heard a student whisper, “Man, she should really be a storyteller.”

Be still my heart.

Victor Hugo said a compliment is like a kiss through a veil, Today, right smack dab in the middle of my holy terror of a sixth period, I got the biggest compliment of my life.

What writer, what English teacher, what human doesn’t want to be appreciated as a storyteller? Isn’t that the ultimate ambition, the ultimate goal? Don’t we all want to be able to capture someone’s attention and transport them, to be able to make a kid see Cronus, the youngest, strongest, and arguably dumbest Titan swallowing the rock he thought was his son? Maybe the story you’re telling isn’t English or literature, or even written with words. Maybe you’re telling someone the story of the atom or the story of a symphony.

I love the thought of being a storyteller. Maybe I’ll add that to my résumé. Whether or not storytelling is a viable career option, I’m going to bed happy.

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