Updated: Aug 8, 2022
By Wm. Walters
Wish I could have been there with you, Mom,
As the kindergarteners all crowded around you
Inside the old Story Tipi while you read them Shag.
I wish now that just once I’d made the time to tag
Along when you took them up north of town and rode
Out on the sandsage prairie to find the buffalo herd
And let each little child reach out and touch the real Shag.
If I close my eyes, I can begin to see the children’s eyes,
Wide open and bright and able to take in the whole world.
I can begin to see your smiling eyes as you watched
Pure joy of discovery and knew the moment was etched
Deeply and surely on the minds of the children
And they would carry it with them the rest of their lives.
You once said about teaching, “I was just having fun!”
Well, that’s the best educational philosophy I’ve ever heard.
There’s just no better way than play to get serious things done.
Not sure Shag and the field trip would work with my college kids—
And where would I find a good buffalo herd in Illinois anyway?—
But still I get to be there and look into the eager eyes of students
As they make their discoveries about language and literature and life.
When I’m teaching, I sometimes feel you smiling on what you see,
And you reach out—across the years and worlds—to teach me.
Wm. Walters has been a professor of English and linguistics at Rock Valley College, in Rockford, IL, for the past thirty-three years. His mother was the kindergarten teacher in a little Southwest Kansas farmtown for twenty-five years.