Friday, March 16, 2018

Looking Forward To Our Days

When I tell myself the truth, I can't fail to recognize that part of the vision for childhood that I lay out on these pages stems from the vision for the life I seek for myself: one in which I rise in the morning looking forward to the day. That's what I want for the kids I teach. A life of anticipation beats a life of dread any day. 

I've grown enormously these past couple decades as I've tried to become proficient at serving as an important adult in a child's life, in my case in my role as their teacher. But one thing that has never changed is that I've always, from my very first day, tried to make our school a place where children want to come. I've not always been successful, not with every child, but by and large, from what I'm told, the kids wake up on school days anticipating the day ahead, which is to say, their lives.

I'm proud of that even if it's a dream destined to be revealed as, at best, temporary and full of compromise, and at worst, a complete fraud. That's okay because I prefer to live out of my good intentions, however naive, than my worst fears. I think I owe it to children to try, at least for a few years, at least for a few hours, to give them that gift, the experience of knowing that their time with me is going to be a good part of their day, at least most of the time, not as a product of mere optimism, but rather as a conclusion they draw themselves from the preponderance of evidence.

Of course, I don't always wake up looking forward to the day. My seasonal allergies are at their peak right now, for instance. I've been living for a week with swollen sinuses, sneezing and snot. If I've been able to sleep at all, I haven't been rising with anticipation as much as a determination to, nevertheless, get up and make a place where children want to come. I'm not promising a place where bad things don't happen, because only a god can do that, but I am, every day, trying to keep the promise to set the crap in my life aside in order to pay loving attention to what the children are doing and help them when they need it. And so in that sense, even on my bad days, I can still awake in a kind of anticipation, if only because I know I'll be temporarily forgetting my toils as I live in the moment with the kids, the gift I receive in return for my own.

As the children get older, it will in large measure be up to them to create the life to which they awake, but for these few short years, for the short hours they are with me, I try to do what I can, everyday, even on my worst days, to help them. And for me, I get to wake up knowing that whatever else is going on, I'll spend those same hours in a place and with people who arrive looking forward to their day, which is in many ways my dream for myself come true.

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