Hearing Their Voice
One of the things I miss about teaching is reading what children have written. My sister teaches some brilliant eleven year olds who fill that void for me. It was time to help evaluate their sea life reports.
Among the many instructions given to the students before writing their papers was to be sure to use your own words. “Let me hear your voice.” My sister also told them that I would be reading them and that I am a writer.
I took notes while reading their work, and I shall share their gems of wisdom with you.
“The gray whale needs your help to continue to be the amazing creature that it is by calling the cops when you see one getting killed.”(I'll keep this in mind.)
“A leatherback sea turtle burns calories even while sitting. One time a leatherback swam all the way from Indonesia to California just to eat jellyfish. The kids mostly spend their time in the tropics.” (Imagine! Burning calories just floating around in the tropics!)
“When a mother sea turtle lays her eggs, she will just leave them and go off and live her own life instead of trying to stay with her babies somehow.”
“Humans catch sword fish for only two reasons; to cook them or to stuff them and put them on their walls.”
“Cuttlefish are so good at camouflage that they can be a male and dress up as a female and mate with other males. They aren't very pretty but they are well protected. They do not stay in one place for too long.” (I think I can understand why.)
Bottle nose dolphins have a way of keeping their reproductive organs on the inside of their bodies until they need them so they won't slow them down when they swim. (Ahem.)
“Bat rays pile on top of each other during mating season. They can tell who has already mated, who is ready to mate and who isn't mature yet.” (I did not find out exactly how they tell.)
“The male hammerhead shark bites the female until she finally agrees to mate with him. The scalloped hammerhead is a slammer with a hammer.” (It is a wonder this species has prevailed with such an impolite courting method.)
“Barracuda rarely attack humans. If they do it is because they are wearing shiny jewelry.” (I am going to assume that it is not the barracuda wearing the jewelry.)
“Salmon can smell over a continent away. That's how they find their river. They have a special salt gland that allows them to live in both oceans and rivers.”
“The common dolphin sleeps with only half of his brain at a time. The awake side keeps watch and makes sure he doesn't drown.” (I believe human mothers share this amazing skill.)
“You can tell the age of a walrus by the number of rings in his tusks. They can grow as long as three feet! The longer the tusk, the more important they are to the group.” (Can we do this? Well, the tusks would be cumbersome, but think of the importance for some of us.)
“Bottle nose dolphins have bigger brains than humans do. Can you visualize how smart they'd be with the proper schooling?”
“Skates suck up food from the ocean floor and if they suck in a vegetable, they spit it out quickly. They lay their eggs in little mermaid purses.” (Little mermaid purses!)
“The great white shark grows and regrows a thousand teeth a year. It will taste test anything that looks like it might be food.” (So try not to look like a sea turtle when you are swimming in the ocean.)
While reading their papers, I learned that the shallow open ocean waters are called the neritic waters, the giant squid is red and his eyes are a foot in diameter, and there is an interesting crab called the “decorator crab.”
Decorator crab? Now that's something! After discovering, at an early age that my astrological sign is a crab, I have avoided taking part in all things associated with the positions of the orbs in the cosmos and their resulting effect upon my personality. Well! Now I discover that there is a crab that accessorizes herself with tidbits she finds on the ocean floor. OK. I'll “be” a crab if I can be a decorator crab. I love the things I learn from children.
When the children's papers were returned to them, they asked eagerly, “Did your sister hear our voice?”
Yes. Yes I did. I heard the voice of a promising future.