Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who's Hugging the Grownups?

Seven years ago, I was several weeks into my first year as a lead teacher at the LEAP school in Lexington MA. My students had all recently turned three, and this was their first experience in a classroom. There may still have been a few tearful goodbyes at that point in the year, but for the most part, I had established a happy, safe and nurturing classroom environment.

On that, now infamous, Tuesday morning my curriculum director and class-roommate Sarae came into the room during free play time with an unusually serious expression on her face. "There's been an accident. A plane crashed into the World Trade Center," she whispered sideways into my ear. That instant sent my mind in a million directions. "I need to make a phone call," I said and left through the back stairway. 

I couldn't remember where in Manhattan the Trade Center was. I couldn't remember where Tracey's hotel was in correlation. Was she at work already? After three failed calls to her phone my own phone rang, startling me. 

"Nick, it's Ginna (Tracey's mother and my, now, Mother-in-Law). Tracey's okay. I spoke with her and she's in Queens at home watching the television." My heart settled a bit, but again my mind spun off into millions of thoughts and concerns.

I cautiously came back down the stairs and into my classroom. Everything stood out in vivd reality. I felt the warmth and care that went into the creation of that space, and I wanted to feel comforted but didn't.

By the time I had reach the main play rug, I was surrounded by a vocal and energetic group hug. They had missed my reassuring presence. I was there to keep them safe, and I could feel the trust and love in their collective embrace. My only thought was, "Who's hugging the grownups?"

On a lighter note, here's a video of Sousa's great "Stars and Stripes Forever!"

Kid Quote of the day: "Love is the most important thing in the world, but Baseball is pretty good too!" ~ Greg (age 8)


Ali said...

I remember that I was at Bates in class, and emerged at 9:30 am to be confronted by an eerie, empty campus on one of the most beautiful Tuesday mornings (adding to the eeriness). I found everyone in the dining hall watching TV. Ugh. What an awful day. Yes, who was hugging the grownups? There is something about a child's (or baby's in my case!) unconditional love that can take you away, even if for a minute, from the some of life's more challenging obstacles and seemingly insurmountable tragedies like 9/11. Keep up with the kid quotes; they are like virtual hugs and make me melt. Love ya Uncle Nick!

Anne Deysher said...

I remember that most beautiful blue sky day, too. It was our first day of school for the 3 year olds, and we had two orientation groups. We heard the news between sessions and had to gather ourselves together to greet the next group. All of us grownups pledged to do so without saying anything, and the joy of working with the little children created a sense of normalcy for that precious hour of time....Love ya, too!

Anne Deysher said...

It all feels like yesterday, especially when the day today 9 years later was just as stunningly beautiful.