The Birth of Dirty Little Kids
I started writing poetry for kids in 1982. My daughter asked me to write a poem for her birthday that included the names of all 30 kids in her 1st grade class.
To tell the truth, her request filled me with fear and anxiety and I procrastinated until the day before her 6th birthday.
I had never written poetry before! So, when I finally found the guts to give it a try, I was surprised that it only took me 45 minutes to crank out “Thirty One Kids.”
I had no idea what I was going to write so I just started with the first line:
“This is a story about thirty one kids and how they all fared in the Land of the Ghidds.”
What was a Ghidd? I had no idea where that first line came from, but - at the very least - it rhymed.
It was insane. I knew that I was writing nonsensical gobbledygook but it didn’t matter — because I thought no one would ever see it except a couple of dozen 6-year old children.
Forty five minutes later it was done. I couldn’t believe I had actually created a story and had never given any thought to what the next line was going to be until it had been written. I had no plan when I started. But somewhere during the process it took on a life of its own and just flowed out of me effortlessly.
Ok, I admit it wasn’t very good, but 31 kids loved it!
The next morning I woke up at 2:22 am in a cold sweat.
What had I done? I had written a silly poem for a bunch of kids, and their teacher – a real grown up – would clearly see that I was a no-talent, bad-rhyming faker. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t get back to sleep!
I got dressed and went outside for a walk.
A long walk.
For some unknown reason I began thinking about my best friend when I was 8 years old. His name was Roscoe and he reminded me of Pig-Pen from Charlie Brown.
Yes, Roscoe was a dirty little kid but I still loved him. We played catch and rode our bikes together. We walked to school together every day and we camped out in my backyard. And even though the other kids always teased him and his mother always yelled at him about something, Roscoe never let any of it get him down. He just kept being a curious, fun-loving kid who was always in trouble with someone about something.
Early that morning, at my kitchen table, it only took me about 10 minutes to write my second poem, “Dirty Little Kid.” It wasn’t much better than the first one but every time I read it I had to laugh out loud.
It was Roscoe!
It’s taken me more than 30 years to share my kids’ poetry. I wasn’t an English major and they may not be very good, but they make me feel good.
I hope you and your kids derive some pleasure from them too.