Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Life Reflected

"The unreflected life is not worth living"
- Socrates

Hannah finished the Second Grade last Friday. 

Our final few weeks were less rigorous - a winding down of sorts. We enjoyed reading The Trumpet of the Swam; this would make a fantastic summer read aloud for boys and girls alike. I think we both found great satisfaction in finishing... 

...and various other endeavors she took on this year.

In lieu of an official report card I closed out the year with a letter. This exercise  has served us well - bringing greater continuity and a sense of accomplishment on the part of both student and teacher. 

In our home the month of June gifts us with the longer view. We've made it through the moment by moment and now have the chance to step back and see what's taken place.

"...We began our school year with two simple words: diligence and gratitude. On the first day of class you looked these two words up and carefully penned their definitions on a piece of paper. Then we talked about them – what it might feel like to put them into practice in your handwriting lessons, on tired days, during exciting field trips, on mornings at the beach and on your fifteenth day of memorizing math facts. More often than not I witnessed your careful and continued hard work Hannah. I received a feeling of appreciation from you. I’m so grateful for this..."

"...Our chapter books carried us to far off places like Egypt with Lillian Trasher, India and England with Mary Lennox, New Zealand where you met Milly and imagined becoming her friend. We spent time on the deck of the Mayflower with Mary Chilton, traveled all the way to Africa and back to the States with Phillis Wheatley and over to Philadelphia during the Civil War era where we met a young Quaker who happened to share your name. We read The Hundred Dresses, My Father’s Dragon, The Moffatts, and The Trumpetof the Swam – all of which captured our imagination and also made us think..." 

"...Another aspect of school life that I know I really enjoyed this year was the field trips we took. We picked apples, pet donkeys and made apple pie. We explored a replica of an Ancient Roman Villa at the Getty Museum in Malibu. Witnessing a real mummy was amazing (and so was the food we ate at the Bistro that day). We took a trip down south and meandered through the original farmer’s market in Los Angeles, rode on the top deck of the trolley and then ate the best vegan lunch either of us had ever had. We invited friends to join us on an entirely different sort of day at Trader Joes where you found popsicles in the money safe and chilled out in the walk-in freezer for just long enough. We greeted the baby sea lions at the Carp Bluffs with the Thomas family and spent one warm afternoon recording bird songs while hiking the Arroyo Verde trail..."      

Each collection of moments begs reflection. They needn't be fancy - just true. I've found that they tend toward the positive - toward growth and joy...towards what went well. I believe that it is human nature to look past the dramatic sighs, the tears and inevitable bumps that move each and every one of us a bit further down the path of refinement. 

Reflections are in their essence more holistic, more cumulatively forgiving and within this realm rests lots of room for grace. The opportunities to share them with our kids are endless.

the end of a sports season 
following a dance recital
another school year coming to a close
right smack in the middle of something that feels hard or near impossible to finish
or simply just because
upon returning from vacation
as they prepare to take on something new

So go and live those moments - collect them, sit among them and then share these written  words with the little (or not so little) people in your life.