October 2015: Stopping to Notice

The year is off to a busy and beautiful beginning!

 It’s amazing how hard it can be to just...notice. There is always so much to think about, to foresee, to consider, to worry about, to remember, to deliberate upon, to plan for, to fix, that all our attention is so often stolen from us, lost in the ever worrying buzz of our brains.  We’re hardwired this way. It’s not bad, necessarily. We use these capacities to protect ourselves, and our children, from danger, to solve problems, to learn, to improve at our jobs.

But if we’re not careful, we may just miss the small, significant moments that we’re doing all of THAT thinking for. The very thing we are planning for- a happy moment for our child, a successful outcome in our job- might be missed because we’re swept up in anticipating the next one.   Recess is a perfect example of this. The staff in charge of recess duty each day are on high alert. We are surveying every interaction, game, and race to ensure the children are making safe choices. Sometimes, this worry- important worry, sure, but still it’s worry- can blind us from the magical moments right in front of us.   Repeatedly these past weeks, as we busied about, just for a moment, we hit pause on all the buzzing, and simply noticed. And, boy, was it cool. We saw everything we always hoped PCS would be and more. We witnessed the answers to the question that new and prospective parents ask all the time: “What is it that makes your school stand out?”  On the second day of school, we watched a large group of lower and upper primary girls play on the new boat on the playground. They worked collaboratively to balance the boat on two tree stumps, and carefully planned the distribution of weight to rock the boat according to their plans. All the while, they helped and kept watch on the younger children as they boarded and unboarded the boat to ensure their safety. What makes PCS special? We understand that valuing play for all ages means allowing room for an in depth, hands on, integrated study in physics and compassion.    

Also in the past week, as we visited a classroom to touch base with a teacher, we were interrupted by a disagreement between two students. We watched as the facilitator got down on her knees next to the two students to listen to the problem. She repeated the problem to them as she heard the children explain it, and asked one of the children to speak next to offer a possible solution. Then, she gave the other child a turn. And so on. It took some patience, and a little bit of guidance to understand what to us as adults, may be a simple and easily resolvable problem, but to them is new, frustrating, and uncertain. Within a few minutes, the children found a solution that they were satisfied with and proud of. They would share the item, and use a timer to remember whose turn it was. Of course, this solution could have been handed to them in a matter of seconds, problem done and over. But, the beauty of the moment was the time and commitment to turning the resolution over to them, thereby allowing the children to be “problem solvers.” They may not be experts at this after 20 days, but we’re willing to bet in 20 years, they’ll be ready for a workplace disagreement or two.  There are so many moments, if we remember to be present to them. What a gift it can be to slow down, stop worrying for a moment, and simply notice. It’s so hard to do, and each day, we’re lucky if we catch one or two in the whirlwind of it all - but it’s always the best part of a day.   

~Kathryn & Liz

Kathryn QuigleyComment