Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

SOLSC21, Day 24

I love writing along with my students, and somehow, each time we do narrative writing, I invariably return to the same story from my childhood. Yes, I make a list of possible stories, just like I ask them to make. I narrow down a couple to write long and strong, just like they do. I write 2-3 quick flash-drafts, just like they do. But when I have to pick that one special story, I always, always end up picking the same one year after year, with different grade levels, as personal narratives or memoirs.

It’s the story of how we lost our dog when I was around eleven years old. Tiger was the most adorable Alsatian you have set eyes on, I’m sure – Friendly, cute, handsome, well-behaved. We got him as a pup, and being our first dog, he was the apple of everyone’s eye. He adored all of us too. He loved my dad the most, because my dad really is a very doting dad. I loved Tiger. To me, an introvert, Tiger offered that perfect escape from having to go out and make friends and do playdates and boisterous games. It was a wonderful time.  I don’t want to recount the details of the end, because those details always leave me very disturbed. Suffice it to say that even as a child, I stayed upset for weeks, maybe months. We had other dogs after that, but I never really grew too fond of any of them. I wouldn’t even play with or go near them. To this day, when my daughter begs for a puppy, I always find an excuse. Instead, we have fish and a turtle. 

My story with my students reaches that revision stage where I ask them to think, “What is my story really, really about?” Mine ends with my dad being the support that helped me understand loss. It ends with a long drive to his farm, just the two of us, where we laid Tiger to rest. It ends with me watching him at the wheel of his jeep, wondering how he must feel; he loved Tiger more than I did. Finally, it ends with me realizing that Tiger took a part of us with him, but finding closure and solace in my dad’s assurances and in the comfort he gave me.

Published by Shaista

I have been teaching in different capacities for 15 years now, from kindergarten to middle school, to even adults. I LOVE teaching, LOVE change, LOVE trying out new things. Immersion in newer teaching techniques has, for better or worse, changed me forever.

6 thoughts on “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

  1. You talked about the process in this piece but I ca really feel how Tiger’s passing affected you. I, too, have a few stories I come back to again and again with students. Thank you for sharing this part of your story.


  2. This really is a beautiful story. I can see why you keep coming back to it – there’s really so much there. You know, whenever there’s a story that keeps tapping me on my shoulder, I sometimes wonder why. Is it that there are still lessons I still need to learn or explore, that I’ve left untouched? Is it because it resonates differently with me at the phase of life I’m in? It makes me wonder what’s left of this Tiger story – what corners are still somehow unexplored…


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