If you have a tendency, as I do, to slide toward feeling down, depressed even, or like things are bleak– I highly recommend taking a young person to school every morning. Or once a week. Or whenever you can. It’s such a better way to start the day than the national news. It’s for real, and it’s interesting. It turns your whole perspective inside out. You can take your own child. If you don’t happen to have a child or children, or yours are grown up; someone else’s works fine. When I walk into my daughter’s school, despite many things that are hard or not right for the young people–it is, much of the time, a completely exuberant, interesting, lively and hopeful place full of energy and enthusiasm about the coming day.
With the recognition that many of the young people get tired and less attentive (or for some, more awake and more attentive) as the day wears on– this year our public school instituted “Flip Day”– a day, which happened to be yesterday, when we were exactly half-way through the school year and they flipped the schedule. So the things they were studying and doing in the afternoon are now in the morning and the morning things are now in the afternoon. Lunch is still at lunch-time.
Our households had gotten a message the night before that the young people were encouraged to wear flip flops (yes, it is very cold here), clothes inside out, flipped out hair, or other things to recognize “Flip Day”. Though I overslept and my partner was ready to take off to get daughter and our neighbor’s girls to school, I threw on clothes at the last minute and we both drove daughter and two sisters from up the street to school. Normally only one of us would drive, and normally they no longer need us to walk into the school with them, but I had to go in and see it.
In honor of flip day, they set up a long table and two electric griddles and the assistant principal and a teacher were flipping and then distributing pancakes. Our assistant principal, who always dresses for the occasion, was in a big apron and chef’s hat along side the other pancake-flipping teacher. A third teacher was standing at the table distributing the words and singing a song with made up words about “Flip Day” over and over and over like an endless tape loop. Children came through the doors with backpacks and coats, excited, or sleepy or not quite with it, but they quickly gathered up close to watch the pancake action and get their pancakes.
Last night when the day was done my daughter said, “can we get those pancakes some time? they came in a blue box.” And the most amazing thing, for my sweet-tooth girl emerged. My partner asked, “how did they do this? were there plates and forks? was there syrup? Jam? butter?”
My daughter said, “no, just a pancake– on a napkin.” “And you liked it without syrup or jam or honey?” Vigorous nodding. Flip day indeed.