Sunday, January 29, 2012

Playing Cards on a Tuesday Just Because

10:45 on a Tuesday.  We’re leaving the computer lab and a student asks, “Is it time to go home yet?”  Now, at the beginning of the year, I get asked that question, literally, all day long.  But it’s January now.  Our daily routine is well established and the kids know, for better or for worse, they’re stuck with me until 2:35 each and every day.  (Don’t get me wrong, they’re still 6-year olds, and I do still occasionally get the “Is it time to go home yet?” question, but it’s typically toward the end of the day, not the beginning.)

I looked at the student who asked me this, giggled politely, and said, “Buddy, we haven’t even had lunch yet.  Sorry, but it’s not time to go home.”  He sighed the sigh of a weary 6-year old, smiled, and waited as the rest of his classmates lined up behind him to go back to class.  While we were waiting, I inquired, “Are you tired, or do you just want to go home?”  He looked at me, and with complete and total sincerity said, “I just want to go home.” 

I like to think of myself as being pretty entertaining, well to 6-year olds at least, so when one of my students wants to go home early, well, I want to know why, and so I asked  him. He smiled and replied, “Well, I want it to be time to go home because my mom said she’d play a card game with me today after school.”  Ah, ha.  So it’s not that he wants to leave me; it’s that he wants to spend time with his mom.  Fair enough.  Actually, more than fair enough.  And for the record, I don’t blame him one single bit.  In fact, it’s moments like this that make me love my job as a First Grade teacher so much. 

I love that this kid can't wait to go home and play cards with his mom.  It’s a small thing, isn’t it? A simple, little card game.  But to a child it can be the highlight of a day and something to look forward to all day long.  In a way, I’m envious.  I have teenagers now, and I must confess to being more than a little bit jealous of the mom who gets to spend time today playing cards with her little boy.  I’m also envious of the child, who is ticking off the moments of his school day so he can get home to his mom and play cards.   

More than anything else, though, I’m excited.  I’m excited that, amid all of our modern technology, there are kids out there who still enjoy the simple things.  I’m excited that, amid all of our modern technology, there are moms out there who still enjoy doing these simple things with their children.  And, most of all, I’m excited to hear all about this little boy’s special time with his mom tomorrow because, almost as fun as the event itself, First Graders love sharing their adventures, both large and small, and so I know that during our Share Out time tomorrow, his hand will go up and he’ll tell us all about the fun he had playing cards with his mom.  I can’t wait! 

It's moments like this that make me stop and remember how important it is that we parents never underestimate these simple times with our kids.  It seems the world is spinning faster and faster these days; we're all in a rush and sometimes it's all we can do to keep up with the bare necessities, like making sure everyone is fed and clothed.  Who has time for games?  

Well, we all should.  Because guess what, folks?  Blink, and your kids are standing in line waiting to take their driver's tests, or they're walking out the door for a  babysitting gig, or they're off to see an R-rated movie because, well, they are now old enough to do so.  

I forget a lot these days, just ask my poor husband.  But I will never, ever, ever forget the time, a few years back, when the father of one of my students just randomly showed up one day to have lunch with his child.  The look on that little boy's face was one of pure joy and wonder.  The term "over the moon" comes to mind, though in reality, his expression was even beyond over the moon.  Way beyond.  The way he proudly walked with his dad to the lunch line is a moment I will cherish forever.  

I had tears in my eyes as I walked back to my room and I thought, "This is what it's all about."  It's not about fancy trips (though those are nice) and it's not about buying our kids the latest, greatest gadgets (though those are fun).  No, it's about creating these small moments with our children, moments that, when placed one on top of another, day after day and year after year, form the foundation of a blessed childhood. 

So let me ask you, what are you doing next Tuesday after school? Because if it's not playing cards with your kids just because, well, it should be.  

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