I drove a half hour back over mountains roads past the new farm where they are putting up fence posts and the older one with the cows shading themselves under a stand of redwoods. I wonder if they would let you milk the cows someday? I remember each time I look at them because you ask me at least once a week. I made it to your school just before noon, stopped in the office to see where your class might be. I walked past the kindergarten area, the office and down a path under the tall redwoods and span of oaks to your play yard. The picnic tables surrounding the redwood tree are the same ones your daddy ate under when he went to the school. Your shark lunch kit was there, by itself, in the sun… hot today. I expect you left it out there at morning recess. I picked up a jacket I saw in the dirt, shook it out and went to hang it on the lost and found rack, saw one of your missing jackets and then noticed the one I had picked up was familiar too. Yes, all yours. You are all over the place at the school. Everywhere. Everyone know everyone there, I feel warm and fuzzy at the school. Glad you are known. You can pick a leaf of kale just once a week, I hear, or you’d strip the plants bare if allowed.
A first grader, the daughter of the wine maker up here, a preschool buddy of your sister sat on a bench with a third grader drawing a picture, talking and laughing. A class was out at the field for PE, I could hear the joy, the glee as they ran for the ball, the teacher, too. Four of five children had shovels out at the parking lot getting compost for the garden. They were working hard loading it into a wheelbarrow. I hoped that’s what you were doing. You weren’t there. Five children from the kindergarten ran up the walkway following their teacher heading back to their classroom. Three girls worked outside at a table, older girls maybe fifth or sixth grade, talking about a project they took notes, made plans. The school was quiet, busy, and I could see inside the rooms. One was empty, sweaters and papers as if left in a hurry. Another had children reading in their seats, a small group with an aide. The after school room was set up with an art activity, the central hub of the campus.
I took your lunchbox into your class, ten children were working at their desks, your teacher moving between them. Talking quietly. You were not there. I collected your winter jacket and a raincoat from the hooks near the door. No wonder you had to borrow my sweatshirt. And put the salmon a fork and crackers in the kit in your cubbie. Your teacher told my you were in the library. You were one of twelve children with a classroom aide.
She worked one on one with a child and the rest of you had headphones in front of computer screens. You were doing math, fully engaged, surprised when I tapped you on the shoulder, jumped up and hugged me. I steered you back to your seat and told you I had put the fish in your lunch kit and put it in your cubby in the classroom. Stay and eat with me, you begged.
I left anyway, leaving you to that beautiful scene, in that wonderful environment and hoping you’d get your turn at the compost heap soon.
If you can’t make it there buddy, we’ll search for something that works better. I think its a perfect place to work out the kinks, and will help the teachers, some of whom are working very hard to support your learning. I can see you are working hard, too. Its a good place, keep at it.