Friday, November 25, 2022

Topping One Another Up Before Heading Off Into Our Separate Lives


After reading a story, then singing our final song, the children would come 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.

From my first year teaching, this was the way the two-year-olds said goodbye to me at the end of the day. I never asked for it or encouraged it in any way other than, I suppose, to be open to it. It started on the first day of class each year because there was always one child who genuinely felt the urge to hug me, to receive a hug from me. Then others saw it, thought it was a good idea, and came for their hug as well. 

I said the children's names as they approached, "Here's my Sarah hug, my Nora hug, my Alex hug . . ."

Mister Rogers wrote, "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 would always start spontaneously, then, as the year progressed, became a sort of ritual, each child making it their own. Some would rush to be first, others would wait for the crowd to thin. Some didn't want to let go. Some came back for a second and third and fourth hug. A few didn't want to hug, preferring a high five or simply eye contact. Some were 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.

******

"I recommend these books to everyone concerned with children and the future of humanity." ~Peter Gray, Ph.D. If you want to see what Dr. Gray is talking about you can find Teacher Tom's First Book and Teacher Tom's Second Book right here


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