“Dear Grandma and Grandpa,” the letter starts, written in childish print on the lined “letter to someone you admire” contest page.
“Thank you for taking care of me when I was growing up.”
The letter writer was in third grade.
Every year we have our Newspapers in Education events, complete with writing contests that we in the newsroom have to type up. It can be tedious and frustrating: I’ve got a school board member to call, a cooking show to preview, a new solar-panel business story I pitched yesterday and now must write, inches and inches worth of underage drinking charges to type on deadline, and a web page feature to develop by next week – and here I am typing a third grader’s letter to her grandparents in which she thanks them for her childhood.
That of course she is still very much in.
And we’re all frustrated when we type these but really it doesn’t take that long, they’re short. And as I move through them one by one it makes me smile, then laugh, and I forget the astounding arrogance of one man and the colossal foolishness of others in the simple ‘thank yous’ written in pencil.
Apparently Mrs. L—‘s third grade class has been studying soldiers, because maybe half of the little girls writing letters addressed them to soldiers.
“You are so brave, strong and loveable!” wrote one, turning the period of her exclamation mark into a heart. “When I see you guys you can teach me everything you know.”
The flag featured prominently in each.
When I see you holding that flag, I know you’ll never give up,” wrote one child, who also offered her condolences for those lost.
“You did your best,” she reassured them.
There’s a thank you from a boy to a girl who taught him to watch the puck, not the player, when playing goalie for his elementary hockey team (I didn’t even know there were such teams…). There are several to parents, or grandparents, in which food features heavily. (Apparently the mothers of that third grade class are good cooks, and buy decent presents, mostly.)
And there are a couple to the gym teacher, “even though you make us sweat.”
And I type the last one and turn my attention back to the more pressing calls on my growing list but I’m still smiling.
Because how can you help but smile after writing “I admire you because you teached us how to bowl?”