Tuesday, April 09, 2019

This Fellowship Of Love Cat

Love Cat is a tradition that goes back to my first year teaching at Woodland Park. A strangely realistic stuffed pillow, Love Cat resides in a cheap suitcase, the only surviving piece from a set of five that I received as a high school graduation gift. She goes home with a different four or five-year-old each week for a seven night stay, returning to class with a page or two added to her My Visit With Love Cat notebook, telling the story of her adventures. She or he, as it is alternatively called, depending on that week’s guardian, has been to the supermarket, out to dinner, to the top of the Space Needle, and to Mexico twice over these 20 years of service as our mascot. She is tattered and torn, stained and worn, mended by needle and bandaid. She looks her age, which is by my estimates at least 45-years-old.

I introduce LC near the beginning of the school year. Each week’s destination is determined by a blind drawing from “the hat” so to speak. Needless to say, there is both great joy and tears during the first few weeks, with a least one child needing to be consoled. I hear parents whispering to their children, “Maybe you’ll get it next week,” sharing wisdom about having to sometimes wait for good things.

This year was no different. There was disappointment and confusion, dashed hopes and envy during those early weeks of LC, but as the shape of the project began to become familiar, philosophy began to emerge. Children started saying things like, “Maybe I’ll get Love Cat next time,” and “That’s okay, I’m going to have a play date with (fill in the blank with whoever was this week’s lucky one).” Tears disappeared entirely as the weeks passed and as more and more of the children gained the experience of having already had their turn. Children began to turn to one another just before we drew names, saying, “I hope it’s you,” or “That’s okay if you don’t get Love Cat, it’s better to be last,” and otherwise demonstrating that they understood their classmates feelings, empathizing.

A commradery as emerged among the children, the kind that can only come from the shared ups and downs of an emotional rollercoaster. If there had been competitive or selfish feelings in the autumn they have by now been replaced by a sense of everyone being in this together, the product of this journey they’ve been on through one of life’s more challenging aspects: not always getting what you want, when you want. They agree with one another that this is a “fair” process, that everyone will get a turn, but that waiting can be awfully hard.

By this point in the school year, we are down to just a couple more children still awaiting their turn. For the last several weeks, something has begun to happen that I don’t recall from previous years: those who have already had their visit have begun to spontaneously erupt in cheers as I show them the name of who is next, leaping of their feet, hugging and congratulating their lucky friends, overwhelming them with well-wishes, while simultaneously encouraging the few who are destined to wait for another week with the good news, “That means it’s almost your turn!”

It’s a beautiful thing, this journey these children have been on together, this fellowship of Love Cat. Where it once divided them, it now unites them. They have traveled the peaks and valleys together and now it is clear that we will any day now find ourselves in the promised land, a place we only arrive at by putting our arms around one another’s shoulders, whatever may come.

I've published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you! 

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: