Chasing Demons

Rainy days and Spring Break are made for reading (ok for me every day is made for reading). I just finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. If you are like me, and question if you can or will become a writer; you need to read this book. If Jeannette can live through what she did, if she can endure the things she did growing up and find the words to share her story, so can we.  

The story is true and touching. It is funny and real. It hits close to home on many levels for me, and sadly for some of my students.

It is proof of what a school system, school, and we teachers can do to or for a child. It speaks volumes of the influence we can and should have for every child that walks through our doors. And it reminded me of the great teachers that had a chance to make that type of difference in my own life. Some who took it, and some that looked away.

Like Jeannette I too was a child of the deserts in Arizona, and a father that was always looking for the next best way to strike it rich. Who chased his dreams sometimes at the expense of his family, and often at the local bar.

 But unlike Jeannette I had a mom that was stable and hardworking, and made sure her children were cared for and fed. We always knew we were loved, and always knew we had a home to come home to, and two parents that did the best they could for the life and times they lived in.

Sadly Jeannette did not.

Alcohol can do awful things to a family. Jeannette writes of a Christmas that her father came home drunk and after he opened the gift of a lighter from her mom, he set the tree and all their presents (the ones they bought from the thrift store) on fire. No one had a single gift left to give or get.

Her father was a brilliant man. He had been in the air force, had taught them how to read by the time they were four, he had amazing math, science and literary skills. He was a certified electrician. Her mother was teacher.

Unfortunately above all else, her father was an alcoholic.  Her father would tell her that we all have our demons to chase. That is true, but I believe the power you give or don’t give those demons is what makes or breaks you, or a child. Jeannette fought her demons, her moms, and her father’s and she emeged an amazing storyteller and writer.  

Tomorrow I am starting Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. I can hardly wait.


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