What is a Child?

guest post by Debbie Harris

Today I encountered 180 pairs of feet prancing into our building. At least 60 of them were running, 40 were galloping, tiptoeing, or stomping, and an undetermined amount came in backwards and sideways. There were many smiles, exclamations for a shiny new pink backpack, a tooth lost the night before, and multiple queries, “Do we have art class today?” A littered trail of mittens, papers, pencils, wrappers and hair bands were left in their wake. The long wide central hallway we nickname “The Runway” has three staff at strategic points along it’s length to tag the disappointed runners heading to the K-2 section of the building who, sullenly, trudge back to the doors and return at a downtrodden walk, clearly feeling they have been robbed of something great.

Those more crafty at heart, veer off The Runway early, speed walking into the loop that spans the perimeter of the classrooms. Here they can parade past all the classrooms, greeting teachers, chiding and teasing fellow students, thus taking as long as possible to reach their destination. Bragging and exclamations of disbelief are common in the loop, as stories of events from the night before, or some great tidbit of information is released.

At the sharp ring of the bell, chaos culminates in something resembling order as belongings are hurriedly crowded into unyielding lockers. Silence once again has the upper hand in these hallways, but is never quite complete. There is the swish of shoes along the carpet as lines proceed to various destinations throughout the day. Somewhat regularly, there is the loud hurried thump-thump-thump-thump of a rushing student, sure that his speed will be unchecked in the empty corridor. There is the wailing of the unfortunate one who took a swing in the nose, or was out in the cold too long with unsubstantial gloves. Faint echoes of laughter, song, question and thought drift along as they ebb and swell.

Who are these little people who always have another question on hand and whose voice default volume is deafening? Why is it that gravity is constantly getting the better of them, and potential energy is never experienced because they can’t ever be still? How does the word “game” release such a tsunami of energy and enthusiasm? I wonder.

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