Magic shows itself in so many ways.
On this particular day, it came so unexpectedly. I picked up my two Kindergartners and even before we were out the gate, the one who tends to make a wild child seem calm, was living up to his reputation.
“You cannot be the leader because you’re not behaving. Samuel is now the leader.”
He then hung back and pouted as Samuel and I continued on, counting all the way to 100, with prompts from me whenever we got to a new set of ten (i.e. THIRTY, thirty-one, thirty-two, he’d continue, FORTY, forty-one, forty-two he’d then say, each time we made a shift in tens, a beat was dropped by him and then picked right back up, like he was simply making a stop so he could dosey-do his partner).
And as we approached our classroom (I pick up these boys from their regular classroom and walk what feels like about five football fields to my corner in a regular sized room shared by four part-time teachers) with the pouter still lagging far behind, I gave thanks that the idea had come to me to set up cardboard dividers so that each boy worked in his own space AND that I’d set out the number cards (1 to 10) and dot cards (also, 1 to 10) by each boy’s work area, so I could simply tell this first boy who was being a pleasure to work with to go to his chair and match the cards.
“No,” the other boy said as I asked him to also match his cards. He pushed the cards under the cardboard holding pen and gave his all to the topic of pouting.
“You can do it,” I said. “Which one has more dots? This one or that one?” And somehow his arm didn’t get the memo that he was on pouting and not cooperating duty, and the cards gradually started to be arranged in the correct order from smaller to larger.
“Very good! Now match them with the number cards.”
And by golly if that boy didn’t do.
But that’s not the miracle. The miracle was of such epic proportions that I didn’t see it coming.
In this little dance we performed together, I played the part of observer going from one boy to the other.
“Good job, I’m so proud of you. You got all the numbers right. Now, write out 1 to 10.”
The cooperative boy was maintaining his lead in terms of getting his work done, so he played this game a few times. Cards in order. Write.
But . . . the pouter did manage to match them all correctly. Yeah! 🎉
“Great!,” I said thinking it was so amazing that he’d managed to stay in his seat long enough to pair the number cards to the dot cards. “Now, let’s do it one more time.”
And this time he struggled. Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe it was a fluke the first time.
He pondered, he rumpled his brow, he even rubbed his forehead, BUT he continued thinking, pondering, and that other hand that also hadn’t gotten the memo, shot out and put them all together in the correct order.
“Great! Now write the numbers 1 to 10.”
I gave him his clipboard and marker, stepping away to check on his classmate. When I returned, I found that this little boy who rarely sits longer than 3 seconds, was fully engaged in his activity. And not only was he writing the numbers, but he was writing the box that represented the card AND the card with the various number of dots on it.
A part of me wanted to say, “You only need to write the number;” but then the smart part of me, the part of me that takes a breath before speaking, the part of me that can just observe what’s going on without getting involved, pulled me back and said, “Whoa, down girl! He’s doing it how he needs to in order to learn it. Really learn it.”
Kay, I get it. So I watched. Took a step to the right and looked at the other boy who was also deep in concentration as he wrote his 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . with matching dots beside each other.
And now with a step to the left, I see that pouty boy is no longer pouting. Instead, he’s lost. Lost in the magic of numbers, writing, solving, figuring out.
Step to the right.
To the left.
Licking his lips in concentration.
And I sat down and marveled at the silence that had reigned for at least three minutes, maybe four. And by the time they’d each finished, at least six minutes had gone by, maybe even seven.
The hush was so pronounced that the world shifted a bit on its axis. And then, the world literally stood still. Completely and unequivocally still. So still that Trump’s mouth couldn’t move nary an inch.
When they’d finished, I called out, “Great job boys! I’m really proud of you both.” And turning to the left to pouty boy who was no longer pouting but rather standing looking a bit disoriented by the concentration and focus he’d just experienced, I asked, “Do you think you can be the leader now?”
“Yes,” he nodded not making a sound, in a fog of such deep thinking that I think his world too had shifted off its axis.
And with a quiet I never would have thought possible, each boy lined up, placed his arms behind himself and walked away to re-join their class and have lunch.
“That’s great you only had one boy today,” my co-worker called out when I returned.
“Oh, I had both.”
“Really? It was so quiet that I figured little-lad-difficult wasn’t here today.”
“Oh, he was here. Come take a look at what they did today.”
And my co-worker walked over and stared in disbelief. She could feel the momentous moment that it was. Perhaps her world had shifted too, so startled did she look.
“I’d take a picture of that, if I were you.”
And I did. I took shots of both of the boys’ work. As a celebration of their success, of the quiet that had reigned for around perhaps 8 minutes, 10 or even 2. A silence that can’t really be measured in time but rather by gravity, for the earth’s pull lessened for those full moments as each of us, in our own way, took flight, loosed our footing but somehow stayed grounded all at the same time.
Success! Yeah!!! 🎉