At three minutes before homeroom, I was already tense with the noise. I stood in the middle school hallway listening to the cacophony of slamming lockers, dropping books, thundering feet, and raucous voices.
Last night I had been reading Robert Frost, and I thought wistfully of that hour by the fire. And then I realized that this moment of clamor in the hall connected with that quiet one. Robert Frost had been writing for me.
A Minor Bird
I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;
Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.
The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.
And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.
What I was hearing there in the hallway was the key of the middle school song. I quit trying to silence the song. And as I listened, I began to see again what I loved about middle school kids.
Caught between childhood and maturity, some of them were twice as tall as some of the rest of them. They missed recess and wanted to drive. They were the center of the universe one minute and awash with sympathy the next. I never knew what they would do—cry in the restroom or strut in the hall. They were fist bumping, high-five slapping, secret-telling, curious, energetic people who told it like it was.
They kept me young and gave me grey hair. They honed my humor and sharpened my wit. They made sure I was never bored. And they kept me laughing—that, is as long as I appreciated the key of their song.