Friday, August 16, 2019

"Appreciation Is A Holy Thing"

After reading a story, then singing our final song together yesterday, the children came forward to hug me, not one at a time, but all together, and there we were, a massive scrum of bodies, wrapping one another up in our arms.

Since my first year teaching, this is the way the two-year-olds have said goodbye to me at the end of the day, and they have taught it to the older kids attending this session of our summer program. I've never asked for it or encouraged it in any way other than, I suppose, to be open to it. It starts on the first day of class each year because there is always one child who genuinely feels the urge to hug me, to receive a hug from me, then others see it, think that's a good idea, and come for their hug as well. I say the children's names as they approach, "Here's my Sarah hug, my Nora hug, my Alex hug . . ."

Mister Rogers said, "I believe that appreciation is a holy thing." We are saying goodbye to one another, of course, but we're also saying thank you, expressing our gratitude, showing our appreciation, not in payment for any particular favor, but simply for the time we've had together. It starts spontaneously, then, as the year progresses, becomes a sort of ritual, each child making it her or his own. There are some who rush to be first, others who wait for the crowd to thin. Some don't want to let go. Some come back for a second and third and fourth hugs. A few don't want to hug, preferring a high five or simply eye contact. Some are moved to start hugging their classmates.

It's a beautiful way to end our time together, almost as if we're all topping one another up before heading off into our separate lives.

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