by a hair

October 2, 2012


Each morning I greet the elementary students when they arrive at school. I stand at the gate and shake each child’s hand with what I am aware is a rather sing-song-y “Good Morning.” There are a few who dash in for a hug, which I quite happily accept, but most are more on the reserved side. And then there are 2 siblings who have such noticeably firm handshakes that I asked one recently if she had been taught how to shake hands. Sure enough, she informed me that her mother had taught them how.
Morning duty entails a fair bit of policing, so far as play goes, along with answering questions about various items of concern–oftentimes about their library books or library class. Then, once the hour has come for school to begin, I line everyone up into their grade levels and we work on whatever poem we are learning at the time. The last one we did was “Eldorado,” by Edgar Allen Poe . . . one that I particularly enjoyed memorizing myself when I was in high school.
At any rate, morning duty is, for the most part, all about routine. I laugh at myself sometimes for my love of routine when it comes to education and childcare, but I really do believe that it is crucial in that developmental period.
But the past few mornings I’ve felt the need to stretch my own little routine boundaries. Instead of simply allowing the soccer ball to be passed around a bit, until it became a bit crowded, I surprised the boys by intercepting their ball yesterday morning and joining in, in between handshakes.
So this morning I announced that it was “Girls’ Morning,” and that the girls were going to get to participate in races. I dredged up my old Cross Coaching self, and briefed them a bit before we began a round of interval races. I’m used to getting excited about seeing girls get to participate in sports here, but this morning I was especially thrilled about it. Maybe hoping that it will spark some bit of future aspiration.
I’m afraid I was a bit let down shortly thereafter, though. As I walked back to the library, one of my old middle school students called me over to her P.E. spot. She proudly pointed to the top of her head, and I laughed, seeing immediately what she wanted me to see: her hair was carefully pinned into a bow-shape, clearly modeled after the shape my own hair tends to take when I pull it up into a half pony tail and add a hair clip to secure it. “You should take a picture!” she said. With my camera in hand, I couldn’t very well say no. So much for inspiring dreams of athletic prowess. inspiring creative hairdos is not exactly what I was going for, but so be it: guess I’ll take what I can get :-)

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