Finding the mud puddle

She discovers the world (Seattle, March 2015)

I got an email from my daughter’s teacher last night. My daughter is in first grade at the Antioch School, which, according to the school’s website, “is the oldest democratic school in the country.” Her teacher, Christine Lipari-Althaus, often sends emails with reminders and information about school happenings. In this message, she was reminding parents that today children would cross the field next to the school to go for the weekly swim at Antioch College. Christine reminded us to make sure our children had extra clothing, because,

“Children often find a way of locating the only mud puddle in Yellow Springs on our walk to the pool.”

Beautiful. Later in the message, she described an all-school meeting where the children worked out together the rules for jumping off the front of the tunnel that was built last year.  Christine described the plan:

“We will jump one at a time, making certain that the ground is clear (no children emerging from the tunnel or cycling on the cycle path). It was also agreed that “no stunts” were permitted and that it is safest, and expected that everyone lands on their feet.”

What I love about these particulars: they describe a childhood that’s too rare today. I often think about the importance of protecting childhood. But by this I don’t mean keeping the child away from the mud puddle, or not allowing the child to jump in a place where they might get hurt. Just the opposite. By having extra clothes when they find the one mud puddle in town, and collaborating on how to jump safely in community, children are given resources that will serve them well forever.

More of this would be a good, good thing.