At my house I have a Schefflera plant that takes up a significant portion of our teeny living room. At well over 4 feet tall at its highest point, the plant reaches out with spindly branches and lush green leaves, giving our northern home a faintly jungle-like feel. The plant is truly huge. We call him Goliath.
Goliath is more of a 4th member of our household than a decorative feature. Here we are: two humans, a dog, and a giant plant. He spends his days sunbathing in front of our sliding glass door; I imagine him communicating somehow with the wild, un-potted trees and brush behind our house.
One of Goliath’s most interesting features is his growing style. For months it seems he is fairly dormant. He looks healthy, but seems unaffected by his surroundings. Even when I forget to water him (read: often), he cheerfully stands his ground, silent, dignified, and without reaction. But every so often he’ll send out a wee green shoot, a teeny delicate finger peeking out from a leaf. Then, seemingly overnight he has a whole new giant arm, leaves and all. It is astonishing how quickly he can grow.
I was reminded of Goliath as I was watching the slideshow of pictures from Lakeside at the Spring Fling mixer last weekend. Many of the pictures were from years past, but a good portion were taken only this past fall at the beginning of this school year. Even from 6 months ago everyone appeared to look so different. Hair was shorter, cheeks were rounder, legs a little less steady. Like Goliath’s seemingly overnight growth, these children are stretching out and growing stronger right before our very eyes!
I was moved by these pictures, as I always am at the idea of time going by and the evolution that inevitably happens along with it. Look at how far we’ve all come, I think to myself. The physical changes are only a small part of the picture. I smile at the littlest ones who are really growing fast, learning to talk, walk, and sprouting their own little personalities and eccentricities everyday.
The kindergarteners too, are unfolding themselves in so many different ways and speeds, learning when to run, when to play, when to rest, when to share. Of course, the grade school children are just being introduced to the juicy and exciting world of learning information and knowledge; becoming people we can learn from and have conversations with.
I’m moved by how much ownership these children have over their own growth at our school. As teachers and parents we are here to guide them, but they are their own people, largely directing their individual path from the very beginning.
The children’s growth is the most obvious, and of course what we are all focused on. However, it is important to not overlook the growth of us as teachers and adults. Let’s face it, the evolution of our children is not always a beautiful, peaceful picture. Growing pains are real, and often they are loud. As adults nurturing these little ones along their path, we must learn patience, calm within the storm, and how to understand what these small people are going through. As we cultivate, we must take care to watch over ourselves, forgiving our mistakes and praising our successes, and recognizing overall that we are all a work in progress.
That is the fantastic, relieving, scary thing about growth. It is always happening; it never stops. As children and adults we have those big obvious moments when we have achieved a new skill, grown another inch, or come to a new sense of our own spirit and selves. But just like Goliath in the corner of my living room, we are all quietly growing, with new sprouts just beneath the surface. Sometimes those sprouts are big, sometimes they are small, but they are always essential to our whole person.
Written by Julie Warren – Extended Day & Summer Camp Teacher
- Lakeside School: Freedom and Independence (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Letters from Lakeside (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lakeside School: View from the Office Window (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lakeside School: Fall Newsletter – Courage (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lakeside School: The Pedagogy of Sledding (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Lakeside School: Sprouts News (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)