Sunday, November 18, 2007
During autumn of my first grade year, I can remember looking out the window and catching a glimpse of geese flying in their classic "v" formation. I stood up in excitement, pointed outside, and shouted "geese!" to my schoolmates. While I can't remember exactly what my teacher said, I can still feel the burning shame of being harshly scolded by her for disrupting the class. Joy was not fostered in that room, or anywhere at school that I can remember.
What a sad thing. Now that I am a mom, I don't think joy is taught. It's just there. It seems to rise up and out of Jack like steam spilling from a teakettle. So it's particularly unfortunate that during so much of my early schooling spontaneity and joy were squelched. We were encouraged to be quiet and pay attention to the teacher, and unplanned occurrences (like the geese) were distractions from the all important curriculum.
Thankfully, education has changed for the better since the 70s, and Jack will likely not encounter the same attitudes in school. What better way to teach children than to link learning to the things going on all around them on a daily basis, planned or unplanned?
Jack soaks up everything like a sponge, so we try to teach him about the subjects he is naturally interested in. These days it's fun to learn all the part of a train, count anything and everything, and sing abc's. The things he learns will change as he grows and his personality develops, and that'll be fun too.
But beyond teaching concrete things and concepts, I like to be joyful with Jack. He has such a delightful laugh and his face lights up when he has a funny thing to share. He likes to run around the house with a small stuffed animal and hide it somewhere (sometimes a little too efficiently). When the animal is found he laughs and laughs. A few days ago he learned to hop, and he loves that. Running has always been a big joy, and the sight of him running while laughing is pure wonder. Running, jumping, and laughing with him is a fantastic gift. It's reminded me that the joy is still inside me, just like it was that autumn day in first grade. And there's no mean teacher here anymore; no one to criticize me for my actions or behaviors. No one for whom to keep the joy inside. There's just me and my family, and the joy.