Monday, April 27, 2009

The Little Children

Last week when I judged the speech competition in the center of the state two contestants grabbed my attention.  

The first boy's name said it all.  

Bishop Elder.  

What a name!  I'm not even joking.  Then my mind raced ahead.  What if this kid becomes a pastor?  

Pastor Bishop Elder.

In his name he's wrapped up authority at its highest levels in at least three denominations!  

The first girl who performed also caught my attention.  I noticed she was a seventh grade girl who was performing her own original work of poetry.  Warning bells sounded in my head.  Over the next two minutes she committed every faux pas I ask my own speech students to avoid.  

She began by telling her name, hometown, grade, and poem title.  Of course, she paused to inform the judges that she had written this poem herself.  Then with a nervous smile she bowed her head.  

Slowly her head lifted and across her young face passed a sense of transcendence.  

"It was our God who made the sea and the sky."

She announced these words with huge, specific actions tied to each one.  

For "our" she swept her hands outward before allowing them to swoop back in toward herself.

"God:" Her hands moved from her heart straight upward as her head bowed toward the ground.  I couldn't help but think of a praying football referee signaling a touchdown.  

"Who made the sea:" The last two are obvious.  She represented sea by bringing both hands horizontal in front of her and rippling her fingers up and down. 

"And sky:"  Yes.  It was the classic sweep of hands and arms up, around, and down to capture a brief moment the span of the sky.  

As I watched the display I didn't know whether to laugh or shudder.  In the end I just faked a huge smile.  

All joking aside the poem wasn't half bad.  For a seventh grader, the kid had talent.  She just needed a little more direction.  If a girl like that is willing to get up, memorize and quote a poem, and throw herself into it; then by the time she's 20 she may be doing some phenomenal work.  Although I laugh as I think back on it, I get excited as I look forward to what she might do in the future.  

The final boy made me laugh yesterday.  

I sat down with him at a potluck lunch yesterday when I noticed the kid sitting by himself.  His name was Noah.  I'd love to write more about him, but most of the time he spoke his mouth was full of pasta.  

He said, "I dowww knowww abooow nubbbbun."

The one thing he did say that I understood was when a young teenage girl walked past our table.  

He made a mean face at her then turned to me.  

"That's my sister.  She's evil!"


TwoMuths said...

Yeah, what is up with all the gesturing? I thought that was out of the picture, but every time I go to a competition like that I see more.

And what is UP with the "speechy voice" Seriously, folks. It sounds FAKE, not projected.

Hey do you remember the speechy PCC eyebrows Dr. Priest did his level best to tame? Bwuaah haaa haaa.

Zia's Photography said...

LOL! - "she's evil". Your stories crack me up cuz I can totally picture the people in them.