Story Challenge Day 11: The Important Thing

Note: Inspired by Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Book, I’m working on these alongside my students. Enjoy!

The important thing about friends is that they are friendly.
They talk to you,
And they go for coffee.
They give you things
And go on walks with you,
And they show you the good and not-so-good
Parts of yourself
You hide from yourself,
And they make you a better person,
And they tell you the truth,
But the important thing about friends is that they are friendly.

The important thing about sons is that they are tall.
They are messy,
And they eat everything in the fridge.
They make you laugh til your cheeks hurt
And smile til your heart bursts
And worry til your hair turns gray.
They park their cars on the street
And spend lots of time on their phones,
But the important thing about sons is that they are tall.

The important thing about husbands is that they are strong.
They take naps on the couch
And clear the driveway of snow
And mow the lawn.
They hold your puzzle pieces together
When they fall apart.
They remind you that you are human
And wonderful
And awful
And amazing
All at once.
They watch boring TV with you and listen to your work stories.
But the important thing about husbands is that they are strong.

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

38 thoughts on “Story Challenge Day 11: The Important Thing

  1. So much to like about this. I like how each part comes full circle with the same line beginning and ending. I like how in each section the strong characteristics for each are given. Each one plays an important part in your life and each one is celebrated.

    1. Thank you! That’s the structure of the book, actually, where it’s just a random detail at the beginning and the end, with the best stuff in the middle. One of my students called it an “oreo” poem for that reason. =))

  2. Love, love these poems, Lainie – I could see so much of myself and my own reflected in your lines. What really struck me was that husbands “hold your puzzle pieces together”. What a testament to commitment and love… all so wonderfully done… and so inspiring.

    1. Thank you! That was a line that (as so often happens in poetry) just snuck up on me out of nowhere. Like, it was perfect without the hard work – which is just the kind of serendipity that happens sometimes in writing.

      Thank you. =))

  3. Yes to this post and to writing along side our students. Thanks for sharing your writing…and the reminder that to teach well we must be practitioners and learners ourselves.

    1. Thank you! I always find that doing what I also ask of students offers me a certain bit of “street cred.” Not to mention the fact that it’s helpful for them to see that struggles and challenges are normal, healthy, and 100% a part of our lives no matter whether or not we’ve earned our “grown-up card…”

    1. First of all, I hope things are okay for you, and that your own puzzle pieces are finding their way back in place.

      Mine has held mine together when they fall apart, when the table gets bumped and the pieces fly everywhere…yeah.

      1. Today they are, thankfully. But the last two days were rough. I don’t handle feeling overwhelmed very well. But he has been so supportive.

  4. The entire thing was delightful and rings the truths of one who’s been there/done that – but this:

    “They hold your puzzle pieces together
    When they fall apart”

    Oh Lainie, it’s been a bitch of a couple of weeks for me, if you only knew how hard this hit right now.

  5. (Alonzo and Eli) – Sons: this poem was pretty funny! And the way you described in made us think that you got this poem from experience. Your use of line breaks made some parts stand out so that it had a rhythm. How did you come up with the idea? We love the work. Keep it up!

    Friends: We think that a lot of the parts of your poem were true, and we are fairly sure you got this from experience. We feel like this is really important to know. We can connect to the part where you said “they sho\w you the good parts and not so good parts of yourself.” We really like how you described friends in a positive way. Keep writing more about it.

    1. Alonzo and Eli, thank you for your thoughtful response! I’m glad you got the humor of the “sons” poem. I like to try and make people smile when I can! As far as the idea for the structure of the poem itself, I took my inspiration from Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Important Book.” I used the same structure that she did of starting with something (or someone) that wasn’t very appreciated, and writing poetry that elevates that thing.

  6. (Oliver and Sophia) Very well done! We like the way you ordered each line of the poems. What made you decide to write about friends?

    1. Thank you, Oliver and Sophia! I tried to be really thoughtful about the way I did my line breaks, so I am glad to hear it helped you enjoy the reading experience.

      As for why I wanted to write about friends, the idea with poems like these is to take something that people take for granted (don’t appreciate). I think friends are a lot more amazing than most people give them credit for!

  7. (Zach and Danielle) Interesting that you picked this topic of sons and friends. It’s also very quirky and very different to other poems. Also what made you pick the topic about sons and friends? Well done!

    1. Thank you, Zach and Danielle! I like that you appreciated the quirkiness of my poetry. it’s funny you mention that idea. Lots of people would say that I (and my way of moving about the world) is already pretty quirky, so I guess that fits pretty well!

      As for what made me pick these topics, the poems I took inspiration from all have things (or people) that aren’t as appreciated as they should be. I think the same is true for both sons AND friends.

  8. (Connor and Swara) We like the way you shared the way you feel about friends. As we read we kept thinking about our friends. What made you decide to write about friends?

    1. Thank you, Connor and Swara! I’m glad you enjoyed my poems. As for why I wrote about my friends, it’s because the poems in the original book were all about things that aren’t appreciated, that often get looked over or taken for granted. I think lots of folks don’t always take the time to appreciate what friends do for us, so that’s why I chose the subject!

  9. (Violet and Ian) We like the way you end each poem with the beginning sentence. What made you decide to say that “The most important thing about sons is that they are tall?” We loved the poems and can’t wait to see where this goes!

    1. Thanks, Violet and Ian! I’m glad you liked the structure of the poem, which I took from Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Important Book.” That structure also answers for the question you have, which is why I chose that beginning/ending line. You see, the magic of these poems is that “the important thing” isn’t actually all that important – it’s the stuff in the MIDDLE that really matters. Read the poem (above) again, and you’ll see what I mean!

  10. (Amay) You did really good listing what sons are capable of! I also love the way you exaggerated their actions. You used really good wording.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Amay! As for the exaggeration, well…maybe my heart doesn’t literally burst, but it does swell with pride. Everything else…the gray hair with worries? The time on phones? The laughing til cheeks hurt? Not one ounce of exaggeration to be had. =))

  11. (Cameron and Sammy) We can’t wait to see where this goes. What are you thinking of next with your poem? You did a nice job writing your poem.

    1. Thanks, Cameron and Sammy! You know, I hadn’t thought where to go next with these poems in particular. Maybe I could write some other “important” poems? I have some other poems I’ve been thinking about writing first, so we’ll see!

  12. (Nicholas and Ryder) We like the way you wrote about specific people and how you described how they are. What made you decide to write these poems? As we read, we keep thinking about how meaningful these people. are.

    1. Thanks, Nicholas and Ryder. I’m glad you felt connected to the writing about these important people in my life, and hopefully it allowed you to think about meaningful people in your own lives.

      As for what made me decide to write these poems, the original structure was about taking things (or people) that are unappreciated or taken for granted. I think sons and friends are BOTH types of people who don’t get the credit for being as amazing as they are!

  13. (Olivia) I like the way you repeated the first and last lines. What made you decide to write about sons and friends? Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Olivia! You know, your comments about the first and last lines, as well as your question, are both connected. You see, I modeled my work after Margaret Wise Brown’s “The Important Book.” She repeats the first and last lines, just like I did. And she uses subjects for her poetry that often goes unnoticed or unappreciated. I think sons and friends definitely need MORE appreciation!

  14. (Yaesol and Dariya) Mrs. Levin, we love how you write your poems so long, and they are very descriptive. When we read them, we can see a picture in our mind! The “FRIENDS” poem reminds me a bit of my friend, even though we don’t drink coffee together. ^^Do you make poems based off of your life? Well done, Mrs. Levin!

    1. Thanks, Yaesol and Dariya! I’m glad to hear you connected to my poems, and that they created mental images for you. I couldn’t ask for more! As for whether or not I make poems based off my life, absolutely! My poem’s narrators are almost always me. Sometimes I write a poem about a fictional scene, but mostly I stick with ideas and emotions that show up in my life.

  15. (Maya and Jackson) Me and Jackson think you are very descriptive about people. Jackson agrees that sons eat EVERYTHING in the fridge! Maya has a question. What inspired you to write about these certain people? Why sons instead of daughters? Nice job!

    1. Maya and Jackson, thank you for your encouragement! I do try and be vivid and descriptive with my language, so I’m glad that came through for you as readers. Jackson, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who has kids eating everything that’s not nailed down! As for what I wrote about sons instead of daughters, Maya, I guess the easiest answer is that I have sons and not daughters! =))

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