The mechanics of a day can pull us through the hours leaving us none the wiser or more connected. It’s easy to tick off tasks and feel you’re ahead, even if you’ve passed people by in the process.
Recently, I paused the relentless machine and listened.
What I heard were the concerns of people doing their best to make it through. What it was to organise children’s lunches, and get everything done in a day. The housing market. The school zone filled with large homes that demand such high rent. The sense of sometimes being overwhelmed, like you may just be the only one holding up the sky.
The people I listened to were all wise, all thoughtful, and all ten years old.
Children don’t face smaller problems. Their sense of the world isn’t scaled down. They are complete, their experiences are total. We need to acknowledge that.
Teaching is not the work of reductive sculpture. Children have so many people they need to be, other than who they are for us. Often this is demanding, exhausting work for which they just don’t have the tools. To whittle a young person to a shape that only fits our context is unfair. The least we can do is leave them whole.
Lydia Davis writes stories. Some are only a sentence long. Read The Old Dictionary. Do that now.