Friday, December 08, 2017


I have the best job in the world. I can think of nothing I'd rather be doing with my time on the planet, yet each Monday morning I reluctantly pull myself from bed, reluctantly get dressed, and reluctantly make my way to work. And this is nothing compared to the feeling I have upon returning from a holiday break. Just one more day, I beg the universe, even as I know that I'm returning to a place I love and where I am beloved, a place of joy and purpose, a place that feeds my soul. It's not until the children start arriving, however, that I find myself back in my element and those feelings disappear not to return until the following Monday.

When parents ask why it is that their kids so often resist coming to school when it's clear that they love being at school, I use the example of Monday morning. Transitions are hard for everyone, harder for some than others, and that doesn't change as we get older. The difference is that we adults have had decades to figure out rituals and philosophy and mind games to help us over the hump, whereas children are still new at this. If I had a parent to push back against on Mondays, believe me, I would.

As adults, however, we have nothing to rely upon other than our sense of responsibility to get us out of bed in the mornings, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. And kids don't have to like it either. The transition each day from home to school is the biggest, but there are typically two or three other transitions throughout our school day, places for us to practice the rituals, philosophies, and mind games we're going to need as we get older. One of the things that eases my Monday morning transitions are those little choices I get to make: maybe I'll sleep in later and take the bus, maybe I'll get up earlier and eat a proper breakfast, maybe I'll do things in this order or that order. That's why I typically survey the children prior to any transition, going around the room or playground asking the children if it's time to "bang the drum," our signal for transitions. Many tell me "right now" but most request two or five or seven minutes more, an accommodation to which it is easy to agree. Some ask for "one hundred minutes," to which I respond by letting them know what they will be missing if we don't make the transition in a timely manner, a bit of information that almost always causes them to nod and agree to some smaller number.

Some are still reluctant when the moment arrives, but generally speaking, we manage it with philosophy instead of tears. No one is told how to handle the transitions: most pitch in with tidying up, some even take the lead, while others mill about or even hide in a corner, children making little choices to ease the transition. Most importantly, there are no adults commanding them to do anything other than, perhaps, move out of the way.

Too often we expect more from young children than we do from ourselves, something I am reminded of every Monday morning.

Books make great holiday gifts. Maybe someone you know would like their very own copy of my book!

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