Stinky the skunk was so smelly.
He had only farts in his belly.
Everyone ran away in fright
when he crossed their path at night.
Til he met his dear friend Botticelli.
This was a limerick written in my classroom yesterday. Its author felt the words flow freely until the fifth line. “What on earth could I rhyme with smelly and belly?” she asked herself. Another poet quickly interjected with the last line you see above. (Botticelli the rat from Despereaux , of course) Said limerick was read to raucous laughter throughout the walls of Room 14 and led to a furious frenzy of pens on paper.
Not an eventful or even slightly extraordinary moment most would say. However, what if that poet was me? What if you knew that the TEACHER wrote that limerick about farts? Would it make you cringe? Would it make you frown? Are you tsk tsking and shaking your head? Does it cross the line?
We’ve talked a lot about content and modeling and what is appropriate or UN in the classroom. I can say with confidence that my particular flatulent limerick did not inspire any grand prose that morning. However, not many consider the limerick form to be that anyhow. It did however open the door to a flood of hilarious and clever verse. Me crossing the line to the other side, the eight year old male side, did not make my classroom fall apart. The ceiling did not fall on our heads. It DID bring us poets together. It DID unlock the door for some reluctant writers (who coincidently did NOT write about farts – who knew?)
It also got me thinking about my colleagues. Our doors are open and our dialogue is as well. We cross to the other side often, even if the feeling is a bit uncomfortable at first. Even if we are uncertain of what lies behind that door, that idea. We trust each other to listen, to question, to try. I’ve come to depend on this over the years and if I am expecting my community of students to do the same, I am so glad that my community of teachers sets the example. I know they’re watching and I’m so glad.