Saturday, April 11, 2009

Child Honesty

I remember the date and the day vividly. It was Wednesday, October 29 at about 1:15 p.m. and I was standing on the rooftop play area watching our Lower Elementary (grades 1, 2, and 3) children run and play during their recess time. One of the highlights of my week is the fact that I get to spend time with children in an unstructured time and spell a teacher who might otherwise have the duty.

On this chilly but sunny day, I was stationed at my usual post where the fence that protects the rooftop heating and cooling equipment forms a corner. To my left is the geo-climbing structure where you can always find a child hanging upside down talking to a friend who is sitting underneath on the deck nearly nose to nose. And, to my right is a runway in front of the large playscape where children race around, chasing each other in an endless game of tag. I love watching how the children engage with one another — sometimes parallel play, boys often wrestling one another to the ground, girls forever doing cartwheels, and others chat in serious conversations. For teachers, child play is a beautiful thing to watch.

While minding my own business and glancing at the city rooftops thinking about what I had to do once I returned to my office, Lucy, a first grader, stood in front of me and said, “Dane?” I looked at her with a smile and replied, “Hey, Lucy.” Having my full attention, Lucy asked, “What are you going to be for Halloween?”

She caught me a bit off guard, but I furrowed my brow, projected a pensive look, thought for the better part of 20 seconds, and said, “Ah, I, I guess a clown.” Without skipping a beat, Lucy thoughtfully replied, “You look like a clown.”

I stammered with appreciation, "Thhh annnk ew, Lucy." She turned and engaged another friend with the same Halloween question.

Was it my nose? Was it my smile? No, it had to be my bow tie. I know she was serious in her response, which was totally without disrespect. I believe it was her way to say that I would be a good clown to trick or treat, and her honesty was priceless.

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