Thursday, August 08, 2013

We're Only Visitors There

It doesn't matter how you worship, as long as you're down on your knees.  ~Leonard Cohen

All of my jeans look like this:

Apparently, I spend a lot of time on my knees. Whenever I stand or sit on my bottom in class while wearing my jeans, before I know it, little fingers are caressing my kneecaps or fiddling with the dangling threads.

Children shouldn’t have to crane their necks and shout to talk to the adults, at least not while in school, their school. I stand to move from place to place, but otherwise strive to stay on the childrens’ level, eye-to-eye. I now live with permanent damage to my shoulder from throwing so many baseballs, especially water-logged ones, but that’s okay because now that I can’t throw a lot of baseballs, I don’t need to. I’m now doing the same thing to my knees, I suppose, dropping down on them over and over; crawling around at my age. I’m thinking of buying a pair of volleyball kneepads. Maybe I could get a bunch and color coordinate them with my sneakers.

When my daughter Josephine was born 16 years ago, the world below the knees was re-opened to me. I experienced it at first as a distantly familiar place, like in those movies where the adult is suddenly transported back into the imaginary adventure land of his youth. As children, we’re intimate with the view from underneath tables, but as our bodies grow into a world built for adults, we leave it behind only to revisit it with our kids, or if we’re one of the lucky ones like me, with our students.

There was a time when I always played on the floor, read on the floor, slept on the floor, watched TV on the floor. I still remember the odd spring system visible on the underside of the love seats in our family room. The “room” under my bed was as familiar to me as any other room in the house. We played in the crawl space; it was one of our forts.

It’s the special world of young children. We’re only visitors there. And the only way to get there is on our knees.

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1 comment:

Jennifer said...

As a mom, all my jeans become the same way in short order. Several children seem initially disturbed by my holes and frayed clothes and sometimes try to cover up my knees. Are they thinking about the clothes being broken, is the sight of knees so surprising, particularly in cold weather? Perhaps children need to be in charge of patching clothes. Nice observation about the world that opens up when you join children, I'm so glad to be welcomed to the floor.