It's an exciting day for me when the public schools have an in-service day and the older siblings get to visit our class, most of whom are former Woodland Park students. Oh, they're so big and sophisticated, but they still remember how the preschool works, and even if they've been gone for a couple years, they step right in and get to work, usually after hearing me say, "I used to know a kid who looked just like you, only a lot smaller." Sadly for them, suffering through my bad joke is the price of admission.
It takes me a few minutes to get used to their greater physical size and to see them for who they are today rather than the toddler who was afraid of pine cones or a 2-year-old who would look you right in the eye and dump out a basket of blocks just, I guess, to see what you would do.
It's good, of course, to just be us together sometimes, all the same age and all about the same size. It's important to sometimes stand together in water that's just the right depth, without the pressures or challenges that come with having the bigger kids with whom to keep up, the ones who like to play out there where the waves are breaking.
And that's how school is most of the time, just us and the grown-ups, who, really are almost another species, while the big kids . . . Well, they're kids.
We're accustomed to adults who can do amazing things, things we really can't imagine ever doing ourselves, but when another kid does it, even an older kid, those distant things suddenly seem realistically within reach.
They like doing the same things we do . . .
. . . only they do it more, or louder, or with more confidence, or perhaps even, as hard as it might be to believe, better.
And when they show us how, we watch and listen more carefully, because that's what you have to do if you're going to play with the big kids. You never know when they're going to teach you something you really want to know.
When I grow up, I'm going to be loving and gentle and friendly, just like you.