TH loves hugs. They love to be held, cuddled, carried, and cared for in a most gentle way. His heart is tender, and he feels with a ferocity that is unwavering. He feels not only for himself, but for others also. There have been countless times when he has provoked the entire class to a more empathetic response to a story, an event, or a situation.
OP loves hugs as well and also enjoys the gentleness of her caregivers. She also loves to care for others. Many parents have experienced this whenever they arrive on our school grounds. Before they can even enter through our gate, OP has proclaimed their presence to all who are within an earshot, but most specifically, to their child. She likes to make these connections, to help, to bring joy to another one of her friends at the news of their parent’s arrival.
One day I came out to the garden after my planning time to find these two engaged in pretend play with one another. OP was a “Momma Dragon,” while TH carried out the role of the “Baby Dragon.” “Mommy, I’m tired,” says Baby Dinosaur. “Ok, Baby, time to go to bed,” replies Mommy Dinosaur. TH walks gingerly over to a toy storage box at the side of the shed. He climbs on top and pretends to sleep. OP soon joins him on the box, and after she sits down, he soon rests his head in her lap. His face tells me he’s content, while her face tells me she’s enjoying her recurring role of caregiver.
As I watch their play continue to unfold, I pause the cycling tasks in my head in order to appreciate this moment. Here is OP, caring for TH in her familiar, gentle way. And here is TH, resting his head in the comfort that he so adamantly enjoys. Here are two pieces of our community, finding purpose and comfort in the embrace of one another.
Community is like that. We come with all that we have and all that we are, and somewhere in the midst of our messy muddling, we find connection, solace, and peace. Sometimes this comes easy, and our relationships quickly fuse into the mosaic of a collective. Sometimes it’s hard, and it seems like we’d sooner find comfort in a complete stranger than we would with those right in front of us. And sometimes, but only sometimes, we just transform into dragons.