In my last post I wrote about the rewards of parenting and grandparenting and promised to share two essays written by my twin grandsons who are in the third grade this year. This is Connor’s. The assignment was to describe the most beautiful place in nature he could imagine. He also drew this picture. Enjoy.
An Amazing Day At The Beach!
“When I’m at the beach I always wake up to the beautiful sound of birds and the tide rolling in and out. Then I chomp down my breakfast, throw on my bathing suit and run down to the beach. I can always feel the sand sifting through my feet like an hour glass. Then when I finally get there I go out to the beautiful aquamarine and white sea. I can hear the seagulls flying overhead. Then I go boogie boarding and feel the cool breeze in the air and the foam in the water falling around my neck and I feel like I’m flying. Can you imagine that? Then I go up to the sand and try to collect shells. Once I even found a crab shell. It had specks of bright red but most of it was a beautiful tangerine orange color. Then I eat a wonderful dinner and sometimes go for a walk on the beach. I saw an amazing sunset that was purple like a grape and red like a cherry. Have you ever experienced something as amazing as that? When we were walking back it started to rain but I still had an awesome time! And I thought to myself what an awesome day! I hope some day you can have such an amazing day as I.”
Connor copied his story in his best handwriting and handed it in. As far as he and his classmates knew, this was the end of it. But their teacher had a surprise for them. She thought this activity would be much more fun if the parents wrote letters in response; so she put each child’s essay in a large envelope, added a page of instructions, sealed the envelope, put the name of the family on the front, and at the bottom wrote the warning “Adults Only” in red ink!
When she handed out the envelopes a few days later, the children had no idea they had anything to do with their essays. She simply told them something top secret was going on, and only the adults could know about it for now. But, she assured them, it wouldn’t be long before they would be let in on the secret. So on the back of their envelopes the children wrote in large letters, “Please Don’t Show Me! Top Secret!” and took them home to their parents.
Our son, Matt, wrote back to Connor; our daughter-in-law wrote to his brother, Jake. (I’ll be sharing their stories next time.) Both responses were returned to the teacher in sealed envelopes. What happened next is the coolest thing ever. Along with his job as an economist Matt is a gifted screenwriter, (he even has a Hollywood manager), so instead of a regular letter, he wrote a script! At the age of three Connor had carried a stack of stapled papers around for weeks, adding scribbles from time to time to his “script.” Can you imagine how he must have felt when he opened his envelope and saw a script from his father, written just for him, inside? I’ve included it below.
I love everything about this assignment. Is there a third grader in the world who doesn’t love mysteries, secrets, and surprises? Who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a warm and personal letter from a parent praising a job well done? Who wouldn’t think writing is so much fun they’d want to keep doing it? Providing exciting and personally meaningful learning experiences is what education should be about.
AN AMAZING DAY IN ST. THOMAS!
INT. OFFICE – MORNING
A rectangular black desk sits on a floor of white marble
tile. The surrounding walls abound with smiling faces,
moments in time captured and preserved in frames of wood.
With warm hearts and innocent eyes, the smiling faces (three
brothers at various ages) look down on a MAN who sits at his
desk, reading a piece of paper.
The man is slender and in his late 30’s. He has coal black
hair with flecks of gray. His eyes are big and brown, just
like the boys in the pictures.
On his desk is an opened envelope that reads…
PLEASE DON’T SHOW ME! TOP SECRET!
With a big smile, the man places the paper on his desk. We
see the title of the paper. It reads…
AN AMAZING DAY AT THE BEACH!
The man turns to his computer and begins to type.
Connor, I am so very proud of you.
Your writing, like the day you
described, is truly “amazing”.
When I read your essay, I felt as
though I was actually at the beach.
I could hear the seagulls and feel
the sand between my toes. What a
special day that was. And, what a
truly astounding job you did of
capturing that day forever in
If it’s alright, I’d like to share
a special day in nature with you.
I’m certain that I will not be able
to express myself as beautifully as
you did, but I will try.
Here goes. My day begins like
EXT. ST. THOMAS – U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – MORNING
SUPER: JULY 1, 2000
The crystal clear turquoise water washes in and out over the
soft, cotton-white sand. Seagulls dance in the cool breeze.
An iguana slumbers on a nearby cropping of palm trees.
EXT. OUTDOOR CAFE – MORNING
The man (late 20’s, no gray hair yet) sits across a small,
cloth-covered table from a beautiful WOMAN (late 20’s, green
eyes, the prettiest girl you’ve ever seen). The two sit
eating breakfast with big, eager smiles on their faces.
EXT. BEACH – MORNING
The man and woman relax on chairs as they gaze out at the
endless blue sea. Islands once inhabited by pirates dot
the tropical landscape. Sail boats with sheets of white
flapping in the wind float across the tranquil horizon.
EXT. OCEAN – AFTERNOON
Beneath the sea the man and woman swim with masks and
snorkels. The man points out a delicate reef of white
speckled coral. Urchins, anemones and sea fans in shades of
lilac and crimson cling to the reef and wave to and fro. A
school of blue and yellow fish swims past. It is amazing.
INT. HOTEL ROOM – AFTERNOON
The man stands before his FATHER (late 50’s, black hair and a
mustache). Both men are wearing black tuxedoes. The FATHER
helps the man straighten his silver tie.
The father smiles, holding back his tears.
Hopefully, one day I’ll be doing
this with my son.
EXT. OCEAN BALCONY – SUNSET
The woman stands next to a PRIEST, before a crowd of FAMILY
and FRIENDS. She is wearing an elegant white gown and
holding a bouquet of white lilies. She is the prettiest
thing on Earth. The sun sinks slowly behind her into the
ocean. Shades of tangerine shimmer across the bay.
The man sees the woman for the first time and cannot help but
cry. Wiping tears from his eyes, he walks toward her.
EXT. OCEAN BALCONY – SUNSET – MOMENTS LATER
The man and woman hold hands and stare into each others’ eyes.
Seagulls float overhead. Palm trees rustle with the breeze.
An acoustic guitar plays in the background. Just then…
A seagull poops on the woman’s dress. The two cannot help
EXT. OCEAN BALCONY – SUNSET – MOMENTS LATER
The man and the woman share a kiss. The crowd cheers. They
are now husband and wife.
EXT. OCEAN BALCONY – EVENING
The night sky is alive with the twinkle of a million bright
stars. Music plays from a nearby ballroom. Everyone is
singing and dancing.
EXT. OCEAN BALCONY – EVENING – LATER
With glowing sparklers in hand, family and friends make a
tunnel for the man and woman to run through. Everyone
EXT. BEACH – EVENING
The man and woman walk hand in hand on the peaceful, moon-lit
This was the best day ever.
Maybe one day when we have kids
we can come back here.
That would be great.
By the way, how many kids do you
think we’ll have?
One maybe two.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we had
I don’t know about that.
The two laugh and smile as they walk on. Holding hands, they
disappear into the darkness.
INT. OFFICE – MORNING
The man takes the essay and lovingly places it back into the
envelope. He returns to his keyboard and types…
“Man, like the other animals, is originally simply the puppet of instinct, just as the infant is. Unless he is moved by instinct, he remains