I’m grateful for the way my seventh and eighth grade students smile back at me as I greet them at the door of my classroom. Many of them even ask how my day is going. Surprisingly few give me the stereotypical adolescent scowl that one might imagine on the faces of middle school students.
Lately I’ve being trying to be mindful of the fact that my students will generally reciprocate the same attitude that I project upon them. This is not the case for all of my students, but it honestly is the truth for the vast majority. Sometimes it’s easy for me to fixate on the negative behaviors and attitudes of a mere handful of students, when I should be focused on the overwhelming number of students I have who truly want to give their best effort.
The rush and flow of millions of gallons of river intermingles with high pitched kid laughter. The river slaps, pushes, and forces its way over the tops and sides of rocks that have been worn smooth, compliant, and accepting of the inevitable nature of their fate, as they are positioned in the path of the river’s relentless downstream pursuit of the Pacific Ocean.
Unaware of the river’s loudly proclaimed domination of the silent, subordinate rocks and similar other little battles and harmonies that take place in the natural world that surrounds them, My daughter, J. and her friend R., pretend the day away.
Today they are still little enough to stand atop a giant sailing vessel (a large river rock) harpooning a killer squid (a shadow in the depths of the water) as giant bubbling rapids (small undertows in the current) threaten to overtake their vessel. Today they are not worried if what they pretend appears as silly to anyone else. They are not out to impress or to make a statement. Today they still know how to play and how to live completely in the moment.
They are on the cusp of adolescence, but today they still hold onto days of pretend worlds and magic.