Today, the boys and I read a few more chapters in Beowulf. The part we read is one of my favorites. It's after the killing of Grendel and his mother, after the death of King Higlac and after Beowulf has ruled for fifty years over Geatland. It's the part of where the dragon is roused and waked to anger due to a stolen cup. The narrator explained the origin of the dragon's treasure, how it had been brought there by the last survivor of an extinct race of people. The description was melancholy as he described the swords that will no longer be polished, jeweled helmets that will crack because of no one to wear them, that his people have been swept away by greed and will live no more.
After the reading, I had the boys start on their essays for the credit exams which will be given next week. The topic: Explain how one experience can change a person's life in a positive way. They had no idea what that meant. For most of them, they hadn't experienced anything that has changed their life for the better. I decided that I'd share how some negative experiences changed things for me. After the sharing, some of them were able to start writing. There were still a few that were stumped.
I explained that I loved watching "It's A Wonderful Life" this time of the year. Most had never seen the movie, but I explained how a man felt as if he'd not made any impact for the good with any of the people in his life. He wished he'd never been born. His wish was granted and he was able to see how all those around him changed for the worse because he wasn't there. Some even died, because he wasn't there to save them.
One boy remarked, "Oh, I don't think I've made any type of good impression on anyone. I'm pretty sure that everyone would be better off without me around."
I responded, "I'm glad to have met you and I'm sure I'm not the only one." Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.