Three weeks ago I taught my first summer writing workshop for kids ages 7-12. It was a weeklong writing camp held at a local community center. For three hours each morning I tried my best to convince 19 kids that being inside with me was more interesting than playing outside with their friends or participating in the Minute-To-Win-It camp across the hall.
Sometime midday on the first day one of the kids asked my why I have a boy’s name. Whoever formatted the sign-in log each child and parent had to sign each morning had listed my name as Ms. Bobbi at the top of the page.
I’ve been asked that question by kids for as long as I can remember, starting with my grade school classmates. I explained as I alway have, that some names, depending on the spelling, can be used by boys and girls. Bobbi with an “i” is a rare but not unheard of nickname for Barbara, my given name. And besides, I look like a girl so it’s not a problem.
“Except for that hair,” one observant boy commented to the approval of the rest of the class. Clearly they had been wondering why my hair is so short. I was happy to tell them about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and how my husband and I participated in a fundraising event to raise money for research into a cure for cancer in children. In support of the cause we had volunteered to have our heads shaved.
“I was completely bald then,” I said. “What’s up there now is a lot longer than it was a few weeks ago.”
“Cool,” seemed to be the consensus in the room after that. And they seemed to settle into the rhythm of creative writing a lot easier when I brought in a photo of Bald Bobbi the next day and we talked about the stories we could write based on that picture. They accepted me, funny name, weird hair, and all. And I accepted their comments no matter what.
When, at the end of camp, the time came to ask them and their parents to fill out a comment sheet, I trusted them to tell it like it is. They did.
You Are the BEST! – by Enzo
It’s Good. – Rithvik
This was the BEST! She always gives new things to help us write. When I first got there I was a bit confused, but the next day it was great! Maybe I will sign up next year. – Joe
I now know how to write a book with chapters. I also learned a lot of skills. – Simran
I wish my Grandma had signed me up for something else. – Nicholas (Oh well, you can’t win them all and I did ask for the truth.)
Next week I meet a new group of kids for fice days of writing camp. I hope they are looking forward to it as much as I am.