I feel as though I’m a passenger who is along for a ride to where I do not know. It is an adventure for sure. I don’t know whether we will turn left, or right, or go straight to wherever it is we are traveling. I don’t even really know who’s driving–not really. I see something different every day along this unfamiliar road–faces mostly, of children. Never before in my life have I seen so many children for so long. Little children just being children. I don’t remember what it feels like to be a child so I don’t know them. It was a long time ago. So I watch them as I travel this road. I watch them smile and laugh as they hear our story of Saving Libbie the Lobster.
Even today as I stood next to my friend and co-author, Heather Chalmers, in front of about 80 children every half hour telling our adventure with Libbie, my eyes scanned the large room filled to capacity with children and their teachers, and I was filled with wonder. Heather, so comfortable with the children, having been a first grade teacher for many years, became my teacher. Unbeknownst to her, I followed her every move, and pretended I belonged there, although I might as well have been in a foreign country and knew not the customs and the language.
I was somewhat intimidated by these little ones, I realized. Are they a simpler version of who they will someday become, I wondered. I watched the shy children being shy; the talkative ones, talking (despite chiding from their teachers); and the thinkers were very obviously thinking. My knowledge of psychology and experience as a psychotherapist, flooded my brain trying to make sense of the many little personalities in front of me. My incessant need to understand was rivaled only by my joy at hearing the kids laugh at all the right, funny places in our book.
And when I arrived home to my familiar, comfortable surroundings, I sat by my window listening to the roar of the ocean and I wondered where I had been and how I arrived here–to this place in my life.
At sixty-three years of age, I am on the ride of my life. Without much forethought, without a plan, and with no end in sight, I allow myself to enjoy the journey. In many ways, I am like these children I think. Learning quickly from every new experience, my eyes are wide open and filled with wonder. Could it be that I am coming full-circle, becoming child-like again, untainted by the weariness of intellectualism? Whether or not that be so, I enjoy this ride and I am grateful. I will let the experience teach me.
So Heather and I will do this again tomorrow and for the rest of this Literacy Week, in a different school each day. I will again enter this foreign land and hopefully I will emerge knowing it better. Maybe I will meet your child on my journey.