For our final Head Start visit of the school year, we begin at Sam’s house, our trailhead. From here, we venture down the narrow and rocky trail which meanders back to a one-room log cabin. Along the way we gasp at the turbulent stream below and collect acorn hats. When the cabin comes into view, we imagine who might live there. A horse? Mr. Sam? Spiders?
Now on the cabin porch, Sam explains the concept of graduation, thus preparing our ‘friends’ to find their graduation certificates. When we open the door, our crowd flows in, searching for their names and pictures. The better readers helpfully shout out names as they scan the array of certificates propped against the wall, windows, and wood stove. Although the taped-on lollipops tempt them to do otherwise, our ‘friends’ then relinquish their certificates to the teacher, thus freeing up their hands for the coming fun.
Directly below the cabin, the stream flows and ripples over rocks and under fallen branches. Enticed by this sight, we zig zag down the steep hill to the shore. As if by instinct, everyone gathers rocks and launches them into the rapids. Other than the basic direction of “don’t hit anyone,” we allow them to do whatever they please. Inevitably someone dips a toe in, looks back to shore, waits to be scolded. But we don’t say a word. So he (most often she) goes in deeper, past his ankles, with his friends following suit. Shoes and socks are deserted. I ferry ‘friends’ through the rapids as Sam encourages rock climbers on the far bank’s biggest boulder. Everyone is in the water, screeching, splashing, and free. The loud, the restless, and the disobedient now can do no wrong, for we are already doing the most fun, wild thing imaginable. For a change, they are praised, not scolded, for getting wet and dirty, for being children.
This is the world we grew up in. This is the world we want to share.