507. As Children Grow

I once had a chance to see several people I’d known as children, all in the same room on the same evening: my sister, who is seven years younger than I am, my daughter, who is now a full-fledged adult, people I’d taught as children and are now teenagers, children I’ve come to think of as my grandchildren (even though technically, they aren’t related to me), children I’m helping teach now, two of my nephews, and other children who are just starting out. And my parents, who knew me when I was a child, were there, too. They’d all come together to be part of a concert of songs I’d written over the years.
It was heavenly. It’s not something I could do every day (heavenly moments are rarely available as daily fare), but I didn’t spend even one second of that time sad that it was going to end. Nor did I have the empty “morning after” feeling I was worried I might have the next day. My dreams keep coming true (not all of them, but a lot of them), and I’ve learned to just enjoy that when it happens.
One of my favorite parts of that evening was the chance to see children grow. In my mind, I imagined my very young friends and relatives becoming third graders, then adolescents, then young adults, and so on.
I remembered struggles I’d witnessed in some of the people there – struggles that resemble ones I’m witnessing now in younger people – and was able to celebrate the victories they appeared to have won. It gave me more hope for the ones who are still struggling. Of course, everyone is struggling in one way or another, but I’m glad I got a chance to see the triumphs. Teachers usually miss out on a lot of that; children move on and move away.
So much for the struggles. There was also a chance to see how many of the strengths I’d seen a long time ago had turned into greater strengths. I had already known many of the reasons I love to work with children, but that evening brought many of my reasons together for a while. I’d already known I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with children and writing about them and the people who work with them, but now I know it more.
I don’t ordinarily use this column for personal notes, but this time, I will. Thank you, Sally Rogers, Anne Louise White, Joanne Tuller, Phil Hoose, Ann Morse, Nina Fischer, Alan Frank, Eric Kilburn, Dean Stevens, and the forty or so other people who worked to put that whole evening together. You put a lot of yourselves into the evening, and you all make a great combination.
Children grow. I know that can be a pain, and I know it can be sad. But pain and sadness aren’t the main thing about that growth. It’s beautiful.

Comments are closed.