Three Days on an Island

My daughter was working on an essay last night, and she started it off by asking me to read her first para. I did. It was junk. I told her so.

In retrospect, I could have been kinder. But I wasn't. And she got the message. Now, its really important when you give criticism to be very clear about what you really want to see. And , for me at least, I have to keep an image in my mind of the ideal case. That is, I pictured her, in a flash - writing a great essay. Somehow that came out. Thats important because thats where I really center with whomever I am working or playing with - I really enjoy visualizing the end of the trip at a good place.

But I told her. Her entire approach is trashed. She started out with "If I were on a desert Island I would experience many wonderful things". I turned to her and said.. ok... tell me precisely what they asked you to write an essay about. Give me their exact words . Now, this may sound like you are being a jerk. And maybe you are, a bit. But so what. I had to hear it. Thats the kind of person that I am. I wanted to listen, very intently to exactly what the teacher asked her to do. And so my little Straight A student said, exactly what the teacher said.. " Suppose you are on a desert island, stranded for 3 days. Write an essay about your experience." ...

So I turned to her (while I was, of course, playing WoW) and I said .. "So, why are you trying to assume what they have asked you to take for a given? You're already on the island! Just start from there. " She tried to rewrite her first paragraph, from "What if" to "I wonder what if" or something like that.. and I just told her, no. Throw the entire paragraph away.

Then she closed her eyes.. and started again. "Day one. I find myself on a desert island.." . It was classic.

She was about halfway through the essay and she turned to me in exasperation and said "I already have two pages, and I am not even on day two yet." and I just smiled at her and said "keep going. its good". Then , she gave it to me when it was done. I sort of read it, and didn't read it - for edits. Pointed out that she had written in a convention ... she used italics to indicate her thoughts . So I told her she didn't need to set that off with commas.

Then, when it was done. We all climbed up into my big english bed and we snuggled together and I read her story to us all and it was great - there were the lines that made me and my young son sleepy (I had been very sick for the last two days..) like ...

Day 2: I awoke with a start. Where am I? I pondered on it for a minute and then I remembered the tragic accident that happened yesterday. I stood up and walked outside. I grabbed the canteen and went to get some fresh water. After that task was fulfilled, I snatched the spare clothes and changed inside the cave. Then, I lit a fire and started to cook some eggs. While waiting for the eggs to cook, I washed my clothes in the river, and then hung them up to dry on a tree. I took the eggs and put them onto a smooth, clean stone. After I ate, I searched for food. As I was walking, I saw something rustle in the leaves. I stopped. Then, I heard it again and it was in the same spot. I started to move towards it. I pushed my way through the trees and came out into a clearing. I looked around, and caught sight of a horse! I walked over to it, talking to it soothingly. It looked very sad and worn down. I pulled up some grass and offered it to him. He took it willingly. Sitting next to it was a saddle, a bridle, and a bow and arrow with a quiver. I saddled and bridled him swiftly and before I got on him, I grabbed the weapon. I spent the rest of the day riding and hunting, and by the end of the day, I was exhausted. I had caught two bucks and I had mapped out most of the island. I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the ground.

It ends with a modern day conquistadore - and the sound of a faraway engine drawing near.

I slept so hard I felt like I had been shipwrecked on a desert island and had fallen asleep on a hardrock cave floor..