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Everybody Needs a Father

January 28, 2012

Ralph Fletcher, in A Writer’s Notebook (for ages 8–12, but really for anyone who writes), promotes the use of notebooks as incubators/ditches/containers/sponges/private rooms/mineralized rocks for our words, pictures, drawings, and scraps. He includes examples from his own notebooks and from students he’s known. This one, from a fifth grader named Stephanie, softened my afternoon of work, making me think not of missing my own father (though that can always be assumed), but of the power and loveliness of a good parent, mom or dad:

Everybody Needs a Father

Everybody needs
a father. Fatherless
children are always
trying to fight
their fears away.
You can’t just
pick any father,
he has to be a
special one just
for you. I know
this girl in
Arizona that
picked the wrong
father and
ended up
running away
and never came
back. If you
don’t know who to
pick lemme tell
you some rules
to getting just
the right father.

#1 It doesn’t
matter what your
father looks like.
You gotta see
way into his soul
to pick the right
one. I know this
boy in Texas
who picked a
father because
he was handsome,
and his father
left him. Just left
without even saying
goodbye.

#2 You gotta pick
somebody who’ll
spend time
with you. Somebody who’ll
go for walks
in the woods
with you and
take you on
trips. Trips that
take you
halfway across
California
but only
seem
like ten minutes ’cause
you’re having such
a good time.

#3 Pick a father
who likes the sound
of little feet
around the
house and
doesn’t mind
a fight with
your brother
once in a while.

From → Teaching

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