I spent yesterday morning working with some children at a reading program with an organization I volunteer with - Optimists!!! Anyone who has known me longer than 5 minutes will hear me speak about the Optimists, because I really enjoy the work that we do to bring out the best in our young people, our communities and ourselves (the mission statement). We decided to read the group of mostly boys the first chapter of 20,000 leagues under the sea - which I will confess right now that I have never read. The story was interesting, about a sea monster, and the boys were really enjoying listening to George reading it, for at least 4 minutes, before they began to wriggle in their chairs. The wriggling soon turned to jumping around, talking excitedly over one another, and running up and down the corridor. George (who by the way is a retired teacher) was beside himself, trying to get these boys to sit down, and be quiet and listen to the story. They were having none of it! I really began to appreciate the hard job that teachers have, when dealing with a classroom full of students that is like a pot of water on the stove. At first all is quiet, then slowly, gently bubbles begin to come up from the bottom of the pan and a small rumbling starts, until this erupts into a full rolling boil, with the cover flying off! I don’t know what the solution is - I can see the pros and cons of helping children develop the ability to sit still and focus on the task at hand, which may be needed later in life. However it is also abundantly clear to me that children are made for play and movement and laughter, and sometimes they can’t contain it! And trying to suppress that is pure frustration for us adults. So here is a poem I wrote, pretending to be a child, showing his frustration with us grown folk who want him to sit still.
Sit still? But teacher I want to play!!!
I want to play in a castle down by the sea,
Shanice and Tyrell and Tierei and me
I want us to run with our toes in the sand
I want us to make adventurous plans!
I want us to jump into the glorious surf
And lick ice cream cones out for all they are worth
I want us to feel that sweet icy chill
On our tongues as we eat them! And then I’ll sit still.
Calm down? But teacher I want to jump!
I want to leap on a trampoline! High!
I want it to propel me up to the sky!
So high in fact that I touch a cloud
As we jump in the air and we squeal really loud!
I want to peep through the window of a plane
I want to be up in the sky with the rain
I want to be tossed by the wind! To be blown
Back down to the earth. And then I’ll calm down
Be quiet? But teacher I want to shout!
I want to yell at the top of my voice
Play red light green light with the other boys
I want to sing loudly, as if in a choir
With some voices low, and some voices higher!
I want us to chant and to beat on the drums
I want us to whoop till our voices are numb
I want us to sound as if we are a riot!!!
Please teacher lets make noise. And then I’ll be quiet
Walk in the corridor!
Walk? Teacher I want to run!
I want to sprint! Its so much more fun
I want to gallop around like a colt
I want to sprint just like Usain Bolt!
I want to race outside in the field with my friends
To shoot through the fields until the day ends!
I want to play statues – run then stand still like a rock
Until someone unfreezes me – then I will walk.
Grown ups move so slowly, they just drag their feet
They’re slow when they speak, they’re slow when they eat
Don’t they know it is so much more fun to zoom
It would be so much faster to get around the room!
They sit still by the computers for hours on end
Instead of playing outside with a friend!
I will run and shout and gallop and climb
Life is so short – lets play ALL THE TIME!!!
And on that note - I hope we all get to play a bit today. I send you big love from a small island.
PS if you live here in Barbados and have a child or children that can’t sit still, I highly recommend Nature Fun Ranch. My nephew went there with his class on many occasions, and decided he needed to ride a horse, because clearly he couldn’t run fast enough with his own two feet. Above is one of the photos we took there when he got his wish, and it was such a fun time. Nature Fun Ranch is also one of the projects that our Optimist Club works with. If you are really curious about what we do, check us out on social media on Instagram and Facebook, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and come along and see for yourself!