Kids of course.
Laughing, yelping, running, swinging kids burning off the excess energy pent up sitting in classrooms. Some academics argue recess time is part of a good education; others insist it’s a bad use of time; the kids themselves vote “good” in a solid bloc.
There happens to be a sprinkling of happy playgrounds within walking distance of our home. As a retired teacher and semi-retired parent, I enjoy watching the action. [Caution: in these more suspicious times, just don’t sit too close or stare too much!] Whenever I do I remember Robert Fulghum’s book: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I would simply add: There’s also a good deal to learn in playground as well.
Sitting there trying to discretely share my focus on the squirrels as much as on the kids, I can’t help imagining how some of history’s great figures might have betrayed some hints of their future selves. Moses always poking around bushes…Caesar keeping kids in straight lines…Michelangelo scribbling on sidewalks…Lincoln hanging out with the minority kids…Neil Armstrong forever lying on his back looking up at the sky….Nixon pulling the legs off spiders.
Psychologists will tell you there are a great many early predictors in a child’s psyche. Biologists will remind you of genetic predispositions. Sociologists will factor in the venues in which these kids live. Frankly, though, I most prefer the wisdom of the Crossing Guards.
These are the retired neighbors who dutifully help the kids coming to and returning from schools five days a week. These gentle folks see the kids perhaps more as they really are than either their parents at home or their teachers in school. And what I see these Guards see is a noisy, generally happy flock of youngsters who mostly seem to enjoy their little lives and especially one another.
At least during these simpler elementary years. Now if only someone could help them stay this way a little longer. But no, it is in the irreversible dictates of time that they will have to grow older and become — well I hate to be so blunt about it! — become just like us.
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