Friday, July 15, 2016

What We Do In School

He had awoken with a headache, not a normal thing for a three-year-old, so before coming to school he had been to the doctor's office. They decided it was just a pain in the neck.

I sat with him in our shady sand pit where he was driving a truck carefully along one side of the track that was originally made for our little red wagon.

"I heard you had a crick in your neck."

"Yeah . . . I had a headache so I went to the hospital."

"Does it hurt now?"

"Only a little."

Other children joined us, taking seats on the wagon track that angled from the lower part of the sandpit to the upper. After a pause to clean some sand from the wheels of his truck, he continued.

"I wasn't a crick. It was a stitch and it was not in my neck it was in my head." His eyes were on his truck, focusing on how it moved, his tone matter-of-fact.

A four-year-old boy asked, "You went to the hospital?"

"Yeah. I was a stitch in my head. It gave me a headache."

Up the hill behind us, a group of kids were pumping water from our cast iron water pump.

Beside me was a two-year-old who was dropping leaves and sticks one-at-a-time into the flow of water that dropped in a waterfall beside him and then into a plastic length of rain gutter. He watched each bit as it made its way according to the laws of nature.

Farther down the hill a five-year-old girl used a brass pan to collect the meager amount of water that made it to her. The kids at the pump began filling buckets, which stopped the flowing water. The younger boy kept experimenting with his bits even without water to move them. The older girl carried her pan up to the pump.

Meanwhile the talk about stitches and hospitals continued. "I don't know why Teacher Tom said 'crick.' It was a stitch . . ."

Over my right shoulder a boy waited with his shovel. He and a friend had been digging to control the direction of the flow of water, but now that it had stopped he was dancing around impatiently.

"My head only hurts a little now. The doctor said the stitch would go away and it's going away."

One of the other boys, in the lazy silence that was left, began to tell his own story about pains and doctors and hospitals.

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