As a precursor to this post, you need to know that my daughter turns 2 on Tuesday , so I’m a bit sentimental. Also, we are finishing up another school year, so I’m a bit reflective too. Sentimental and reflective makes for good blogposts for some, but not for others. If you like this kind of father/teacher stuff, keep reading.
My daughter had the great idea to go searching for rocks in the front of the house and, at the same time, go riding on her scooter (which is more like me pushing her as she holds on to the handlebars). Like any two year-old, she also wanted to be in the backyard playing on the slide. So, being the great appreciator of fun that she is, she tried to combine all three. To do this she put the rocks on the scooter and commanded Papí to guide the sediment on wheels magically across the grass pathway without loosing one of her precious, lifeless spheres.
The rocks, scooter and little girl
So, I got to thinking, “Why don’t I let her try it out on her own.”
“No!” she screamed after having read my thoughts. “Hands, Handlebars, Now. Please.” she continued.
“OK, if she won’t do it on her own, let’s see what she does when the rocks fall off,” I said to myself hoping secretly that she would get frustrated with my “maneuvers” and either take control of the situation herself or abandon the rocks altogether so we could have some real fun (and by that I mean more manageable fun for Papí) on the slide.
After she put the rocks on the first time, I “accidentally” took a curve to quickly.
“Uh oh,” she said, and quickly picked them back up and returned them to the flat scooter.
Again we went into motion. This time, I crashed into a rise in the driveway cement, tossing the rocks again.
“Uh oh,” she said again, this time smiling at my “clumsiness.” The five rocks were back on the scooter in seconds.
“Oh no! Grass!” I screamed as the rocks went tumbling again to the turf.
“Uh oh. Rocks fall?” she questioned inquisitively.
“Yes hunny, they keep falling. Don’t you want to go to the slide? Let’s leave the rocks and scooter here. What do you say?”
“Papí! Hands. Handlebars. Now. Please!” she replied.
It was then that I realized that she was not going to relent. She wanted her rocks, her scooter, her slide AND her Papí in the backyard and she couldn’t make that happen herself; she needed me.
A student of mine popped into my head. This student has been difficult to motivate all year. Every time I set him up for success, he, like my daughter and the rocks, preferred to ignore the opportunity to do it on his own and waited for someone like me to step in, take the handlebars and help him maneuver the difficult terrain.
Back at home, once we all (rocks, scooter, Papí, slide and little girl) finally got to the backyard, a Monarch butterfly landed on my white, sunlit T-shirt. I scooped it up, knelt on one knee, and showed it to my bewildered princess. It was the first butterfly she had ever seen up close.
We watched the reincarnated caterpillar fly away. My daughter, still amazed by the sight, walked slowly and pensively to the slide and climbed. I too was in deep thought. Had I not given in, her first close encounter with the Monarch would have been much later in life.
What a wonderful early birthday present for her.
What a humbling lesson on perseverance for me.
What a tremendous gift of new life for my students these final weeks will be…