A favorite part of my day is pickup between 3 and 3:20. Over time, my task has become walking children from their classrooms on the south side of the building to their parents waiting at the gate. It’s a time to connect with certain children I don’t normally see throughout the day. Some students are talkative and like to share what they’ve done that day. Others stagger silently along the sidewalk, still waking up from their naps. My job with them is to make sure they don’t fall off the edge of the sidewalk into the mud. Siblings relationships are interesting and varied. Some older siblings like to smother their younger brother or sister with hugs upon being reunited. Others, given the option to wait for their sibling or not, take off independently.
One three-year-old has a specific system for moving forward. He will move forward if there’s a green light (in his mind), and stops immediately if it’s a red light. If it’s a red light, there’s no moving forward till the light changes. Over time I’ve gotten used to each child’s specific approach to leaving at the end of the day. If I say goodbye to certain children, I have adjusted my expectations of them responding. A few will answer back if I tell them to have a good rest of their day. Others keep walking in silence as if I hadn’t said anything. I keep trying, having faith that they hear me and aren’t ready to speak. One girl who’s given me the silent treatment most of the year all of a sudden had a lot to say this week as I helped put her backpack on her back.
As I daily serve these children by escorting them to their parents, one of the highlights is the reunions between parent and child. Some leap into their parent’s arms every single day. Often the parents are as excited as the kids to see each other again. Several express their joy in quieter ways, with their delight communicated through a huge smile. It feels like an honor to witness this kind of love.
Another part of the pickup routine is walking beside a collection of lovely gardens. I enjoy checking in with all the new growth every day, seeing which seeds are successfully poking up through the soil. I appreciate the daily updates from both teachers and students about their seedlings’ progress. Those little gardens give me such hope. And they’re a metaphor for our small school that, defying all odds, is still rising up toward the sun each day. I am grateful for the brief time I have with the gardens as I help to deliver children to their parents. The entire act brings another day to a close, adding one more day to the string of days through which we’ve successfully navigated these trying times. We are the Seed after all, and our work will always be to reach toward the light.