I am not going to tell you the story about how I had to walk 5 miles to school in the snow everyday because I never had to do that. I am going to share with you how I had to sharpen my own pencils when I was growing up. When I was in school, I had to purchase my own pencils (well my parents purchased the pencils), but I had to carry them to school and sharpen them when they got dull all by myself. When my pencil became dull, I would have to raise my hand in class and ask the teacher if I could sharpen my own pencil. When the teacher approved for me to go sharpen my pencil, I had to stand up on my own two feet and walk 10 feet to the pencil sharpener located on the wall. I would have to crank the pencil sharpener all by myself until my pencil was sharp enough to write. I would have to walk all the way back to my desk by myself and continue my work.
Yesterday, I received an email from Miles’ teacher asking for volunteers to help sharpen pencils. When I saw the email, I was perplexed about why the teacher would need help sharpening pencils. I didn’t think much more about it until Miles came home after school. As soon as he walked in the door, he opened his backpack and pulled out a gigantic Ziploc bag of pencils that appeared to have 750 pencils in it.
I sent Mariah a text message asking if she had volunteered to sharpen the pencils and she said yes. She said the boys love to do it and they need to learn to help out. Feeling bad about my lack of desire to help, I told her that we don’t have a pencil sharpener. She said we have a blue one. This is the blue pencil sharpener.
I sharpened two pencils and became quickly frustrated as the sharpener wasn’t working very well. I began to think about why I was having to sharpen the pencils in the first place. Do they have a pencil sharpener at school? Why did Mariah volunteer to help sharpen pencils? Why am I sharpening the pencils when she volunteered? Why am I sharpening the pencils by myself? Why are Madden and Miles not helping me sharpen the pencils like Mariah said they would enjoy?
As I sharpened the third pencil, I began to get very discouraged, overwhelmed with the amount of pencils that needed to be sharpened, and was ready to give up. I further noticed the pencils were made of some weird material that didn’t feel like real wood. I wondered what happened to the #2 pencil I used when I was in school. I remember I had to have a very specific pencil and any other type of pencil was unacceptable. Why are the pencils today different?
I was beginning to ask myself lots of questions. Are kids even allowed to get up out of their seat to go sharpen a pencil? Do they even understand the responsibility of having to make sure they have a pencil? Do Madden and Miles know how to use a manual “hand crank” pencil sharpener like I had to use when I was in school? The more I thought about this tragedy, I pulled up a picture of a manual “hand crank” pencil sharpener and Madden asked me what it was.
Not knowing what to do and after giving up on sharpening the pencils, I just sat frustrated. I continued to think about the tragedy of the situation. Maybe I was the one with the problem. Maybe I was making excuses because I didn’t want to help sharpen the pencils. Maybe my problem was because I never had to walk 5 miles to school in the snow.