Me thinking about accepting the pipe
I have a little issue. It has gone undiscussed here on County Road 21, on account of it failing to meet the last little part of the true, simple, BEAUTIFUL criteria. The issue is waking up.
I used to work with someone who routinely got up at 4:30 am. One of her babies had started her on it. He was an adult now, but she had kept the schedule. I felt sorry for her. Wondered why she wasn’t trying to fix it. Rising at that time without soldiers, or an extremely exciting trip to embark on seemed unimaginable.
Unfortunately, I no longer require imagination to see early.
Chris, I say to myself at 4 or 4:30 as I fill up the wood stove, are you still out there? I don’t remember the routine. Are you drinking coffee and reading the paper? I didn’t have a Fraser, but I’m up now. Top of the morning to you. If you’ve stopped getting up early, don’t tell me. It makes me feel better to think there’s somebody else out there.
I tossed and turned for a few nights at 2:00 a.m. with no results other than sleep loss combined with boredom. The next night, I took off the gloves and fought back. Cleaning the bathroom in the middle of the night was surprisingly rewarding. I went back to bed pleased that at least I hadn’t been bored.
2:00 went away. 4:30 though, seems here to stay. What did I do wrong? I wonder. Occasionally, I roll over and see that it is almost 5:30. I smile madly. I slept in! Successful mornings are followed by a careful examination of conscience. What did I do right? What do I do to deserve that again? It will be ok, I tell myself, the day I figure out exactly the way the points are tallied.
A few weeks ago, I helped with a birthday party. Little girls dropped bowling balls on the floor with tiny nudges. Half the time they walked away before their ball even reached the pins. There were no real attempts to aim, the balls were heavy enough. Rolling, or dropping equalled success. It was new and it was fun.
No one understood the score or where it came from, but it appeared on a screen above us. After a while the girls began to watch the computer. In fact, they watched it more than the pins or the ball. From there, they derived the meaning of it all.
“I’m good at this,” said a girl delighted.
“I’m bad at this,” said another resigned. “Me too,” echoed a third.
You’re not good or bad, the numbers are almost random at this point, I wanted to say. The things you are adding up, they don’t equal the thing you think they do.
It was bowling, but it was a glimpse of the obvious. Children should live freely, without thinking it’s all a tally about whether they are good or bad.
The switch to a new school was a long time coming, but a difficult decision to make. Girl two was thriving. The grass is always greener. What if. But Boy two’s situation demanded that we find alternatives.
I could do it for the others as well, but here are boy two’s first days.
Day one (visiting day): Hi Mom. Can I stay at this school?
At dinner time, unprovoked (the rest of us were chewing): I learned about molecules today.
We tried to be nonchalant. (Later we discussed. When was the last time he came home and said he learned something? We couldn’t remember.) So what do you know about molecules? asked my husband. How do they work?
A clear explanation of molecules in three states of matter followed. We stopped eating and stared.
The boy who does not like morning was out of bed, dressed and ready to go. That day he learned about electrons and began a unit on electricity. He sparkled telling us that there would be a project at the end. One year someone had made their own burglar alarm.
At pick up, I could see his cheeks twitching with the smile he was holding in. Staring straight ahead with failed attempts at normal, he held a guitar. He climbed in the car and his grin won. It had been music day. He was required to study an instrument. The teacher said she had an extra guitar and would he like to learn it. He worked excitedly on music theory, then strummed his guitar for the evening.
How was school?
Same as usual. Which for this school means great. It was a really good day.
Hi Mom. We started learning a poem today, but I think I’ve got it, except one part, want to hear it?
A recitation of Frost’s, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” followed.
What’s that book?
It’s a book on penmanship. I asked the teacher if I could bring it home to work on it. The other kids know all their lower case letters. Some people call it cursive. At my school, we just call it writing. Want to see what I’ve done so far?
Boy two likes school now. He may even be a morning person, we can’t tell. Girl one is more peaceful than we have ever seen her. She also brings home her work with new pride and intent. Girl two remains in love with all creation.
We are optimistic, but honeymoons happen. There are no perfect schools. Time will tell if we’ve stumbled into where they belong for good, or even if the goodness we found can hold its own enough to keep the doors open.
Education either provokes wonder or it lulls it to sleep. Fifteen minutes from our home, in the middle of some farmers fields, is a tiny school who prefers its students awake. To this little school, I say, thank you for the wonder.