Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking Flight

I love after-after-care time. Usually my kids are running in and out of the house, playing with friends, grabbing an apple or a drink and sharing little bits of the day as my husband or I cook dinner. I catch glimpses and glimmers of David's school day in these moments, stories of his wonderful music class with Jan or how Ruth challenged them to draw a portrait. There's always something about Mrs. Carpenter's exciting science adventures or Imogen's leaping back in time in Latin. But today's conversation was something unique, something that both taught us a little bit about appreciation. It went something like this:

Me: So, D, what was your favorite thing in school today?

D: Well, Christian Bok came and did poetry, really cool poetry, poetry without words that just had sounds in it.

Me: Huh, like what?

D: [making the most amazing popping and zipping sounds]

Me: What's that about?

D: Oh, Dada poetry, Mama.

Me: Dada poetry? You are studying Dada poetry?

D: Uh, yeah... [insert a "duh" like sound here]

Me: D, do you realize that I didn't even know what Dada was until I was 13 years old?

D: [shocked] REALLY?

Me: Yeah, and remember last year in Latin when Imogen talked about water and the poetry of Ovid? I didn't know about Ovid until I was 13 either. Or French, I didn't start to study French until I was 13 either.

D: [mouth open] REALLY?

Me: Really.

D: Mama, when did you study Chinese?

Me: [blink, blink] I have never studied Chinese, D.

D: [blink, blink] Wow.

You can imagine that this went on for quite awhile, us rehashing the whys of why it took me 13 years to get to study the things he is experiencing in 2nd grade. Frankly, I didn't have a whole lot of good answers for him. We talked a lot about the way that some schools have changed and why engaging and creative schools like Summers-Knoll are so special and what going to a progressive, hands-on school gives to kids (lots of agreement here). He asked me a lot about what I liked about my old school (reading, which I seemed to do for hours after I finished my worksheets) and what I didn't like (being bored, mean kids) and I asked him what he liked about his (everything) and what he didn't like (leaving at the end of the day). It was one of those talks where you know that it's worth it, that this is the right time for your child to be so enamored of school, that these experiences lay critical foundations for a lifetime.

Truth be told, I think often about the gift that this school is to my son. I think about the families, alums and friends who contribute to our Annual Fund to support scholarships and ongoing expenses not covered by tuition (tuition that in another city would be thousands more). I think of the volunteer hours people put in to make sure the school operates smoothly. I think of the parents who ensure that kids have a chance to meet amazing people like Christian Bok (thanks Christine!). I think about the parents that know my child by name and care about the day he's having and about the teachers who get him and love him and the HoS that I can call on when I need advice. Yes, it's amazingly cool that he studies Dada and Latin and Chinese and learns about Leonardo's Flying Machine. And it's cool that he's doing great math and learning about punctuation and how to spell like a champ and all of those other skills that are needed too. And it's all part and parcel of the bigger broadening and developing of his mind  that will keep his curiosity and thirst for learning alive for far into the future.

Solid ground to stand on, wings to fly.

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