I’ve spent more time on elementary school grounds recently than I have in the past twenty years. It’s one of the benefits of having grandkids living close by.
My daughter held tightly to Liam’s hand as they made their way to his room. The door was decorated with Owls, not easy to miss. Emery and I followed quite a bit behind. If you ever have the privilege of walking hand in hand with Emery, you will quickly realize that she is all about stopping to watch an ant, chase the birds, get a drink, and run down the ramps. We dance to school in the morning and play hop-scotch on the broken concrete. She skips and hops and does steps on my shadow.
As the space between Mom and us grew larger, it allowed a group of children emerging from a classroom to force us to stop. Each student was clutching their math book like it was a teddy bear. We stood and watched the parade. When the teacher emerged, I assumed she would be the end of the line. I figured it would be safe for Emery and I to continue.
A few seconds later, a girl burst out of the room, spun on her heals and skipped down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but notice her expression of delight that radiated in the sunshine. Her eyes fixed on the sky. I wanted to hear the music that was most certainly playing in her head.
“Olivia,” I heard the teacher say. It was in a tone that suggested she may have been anticipating Olivia’s choice of direction. As if she knew that Olivia would need be guided. “This way,” she instructed. Without pause, Olivia did an about-face and began to skip down the sidewalk in search of her classmates. She was still looking up taking in the beauty of the day.
I love Olivia. She makes me smile.
I pray that as Olivia grows older, she never looses the courage to be the last one out the door. That she’s not afraid to turn left when everyone else is going right. I hope she never stops looking up and that the sun will always reflect off her smile. And that she is blessed with teachers who gently guide her.
When the sidewalk was once again safe for travel, I glanced down at my little partner. She had her back to me and was pointing to the sky.
“Neenee, look at the birds.”
“They’re beautiful,” I said squeezing her hand. “Come on, Sweetie, we need to go this way.”