Some Days Are Too Good to be True!

I can’t believe I even wrote such a sappy title. Me, the tell-it-like-it-is gal, who never exaggerates. But let me describe a bit of a very recent day. As I was walking down to school, on an absolutely perfect morning, a young boy (7), whom we will call Jack, was biking down behind me. He slowed down to bike at the same rate as I was walking and to say good morning. Of course, all his “goods” were with him, mostly in his backpack, but in his hand he had an oddly shaped object that looked like an extremely large gavel, clearly made of plastic and non-threatening.

There were two teenage boys sort of poised on bikes at the picnic table that is near the entrance to the cellar of the school. They both called out, “Hey, Jack, is that Thor’s hammer?” Of course it was. I had asked him what it was, and he told me that it was Thor’s hammer, but I confess it meant nothing to me. In fact, I even wondered if I had heard him correctly! But the 16 year olds were quite interested in the hammer, and spent some time talking with Jack about it. It was age mixing at its most lovely – building relationships with people much younger and/or much older. They tried to explain the context of the Hammer to me too, but clearly I was culturally insufficient.

Then one of the teens starting doing wheelies. He could go all the way up and down the driveway on one wheel, easily – “that’s nothing”, someone else said, “he can go all up and down his street”. I was thinking to myself, please don’t practice on Winch Street!

I went in and sort of floated around through the building for a short while. The next time I noticed the outdoors, there was a noise like a motor, and I went to the office window to see. Another child (11), had a large and powerful radio-controlled car. It was the fastest remote controlled car I have ever imagined. A fairly large crowd (maybe 20 people and it was still fairly early in the morning) was watching. It came to a stop. I left the window. Sadly, the car had to visit the mechanic shortly thereafter. People who arrive later in the day often think the early part is dull because the school isn’t “full” yet. They miss so much!

Next glance – basketball in full swing with minimal teams (sometimes they are larger than really fit on our little court), the swings were fully occupied, and a group of half a dozen 8 and 9 year old girls were about to start a picnic. And yes, it was then 9:30.

Sometimes wonderful things happen that are a little too subtle to see unless you are totally fascinated by observing such things. In our school, a couple of young girls made friends four years (5?) ago, and were quite usually together. Maybe always together. And until last spring, they were also really not very welcoming to others. They had a lot in common, and of course they built up a lot more in common over the years of exclusivity! Last spring, several families came for visiting weeks, one at a time, from Florida. All were seriously considering enrollment. Two of the families had a daughter roughly the same age as the exclusive duo; one had two daughters roughly the same age. Each time one of the girls came for a visiting week, the exclusive duo happily included her, as if it had never occured to them to do anything else. Now we have four girls from the Florida visitors enrolled – unbelievably delightful each and every one (as were the exclusive duo); all six happy, charming, and loving school. Hopefully they will still feel that way in the February weather!

So all of a sudden we have a cadre (mob?) of happy girls of a certain age. What does it mean? Not that the new group is closed, which I was concerned about; not at all. It means that they will play with everyone, and make days at school better for everyone who interacts with them, outdoors, in the art room, on a field trip, in every part of the school. The whole group is in heaven, and is totally inclusive of people that are younger, older, whatever. This day, I saw several of them playing with the much younger (and sometimes annoying) kids. This morning again, I saw one of them in deep conversation with a four year old girl, who was explaining a “My Little Pony” book cover in detail.

Later in the morning, when they were starting a “capture the flag” game and looking for people to play, I told one of the organizers, who is new, that usually people just roam through the school once sticking their head in every room saying “capture”, and a crowd assembles. She said she was more interested in getting the game going without a bunch of kids who were used to leading it, and having others come and join. Of course, they did. So, think not that the darling girls who are really and truly 100% pleasurable to be with are little wimps or pushovers! They are women who are training themselves to fight for their rights – just in case they may need to!

That same day, I learned from a bunch of teenage boys in the main lounge that breakfast from a certain donut store is “awesome”. It sure looked good and smelled good. Why do I always eat home made breakfast, I wondered? Do all teenagers explain to adults what brand jeans they need or what is good for breakfast bought outside?

At another time a gang of boys, and one girl, were playing war. (Sometimes, by the way, that involves wearing a sling of “arrows” in your backpack; those arrows, even though they remind one of “The Hunger Games”, are as seriously cool as anything I have seen. Those who have them do look like warriors! And the girl who was wearing them that day looked like she would be wily and fast enough to win in “The Hunger Games.”) The youngest of the group, as they approached the stairs to the downstairs said the most startling thing I have ever heard come out of a seven year old boy’s mouth. And he didn’t sound like a goody-goody when he said it, either! He said, “Guys, we can’t run in the school.”

Okay, still in the morning there was one more startling encounter. This was with two girls and a boy, in the 9 – 11 age group. They were putting on their rubber gloves, assembling some equipment and supplies of some sort. I looked at the gloves and looked inquiringly at the kids. They explained that the stream needed some cleaning, and they had worked on it all day the day before, and intended to continue.

Me? I went and planned a blog post! I always wished I knew what my kids did all day when they were students. I hope that this can help people have some clue about what happens here. You have to be able to see and hear between the cracks to figure out a bit of the real significance of any of these scenes.

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.