Friday, December 29, 2023

Appreciation is a Holy Thing

After reading a story, then singing our final song together, 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 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 always started on the first day of class each year because there was always that one child who genuinely felt the urge to hug me, to receive a hug from me, then others saw it, thought, "I want some of that," 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 said, "I believe that appreciation is a holy thing." We were saying goodbye to one another, of course, but we were also saying thank you, expressing our gratitude, showing our appreciation, not in payment for any particular favor, but simply for the time we had together. It started spontaneously, then, as the year progressed, became a sort of ritual, each child making it their own. There were some who rushed to be first, others who waited for the crowd to thin. Some didn't want to let go. Some come 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 hug their classmates.

It was a beautiful way to end our time together, topping one another up before heading off into our separate lives.


"Teacher Tom, our caped hero of all things righteous in the early childhood world, inspires us to be heroic in our own work with young children, and reminds us that it is the children who are the heroes of the story as they embark on adventures of discovery, wonder, democracy, and play." ~Rusty Keeler
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