On changing seasons, rain boots, and strange magic

For so many of us, this time of year means taking our kids shopping for bigger clothes, reviewing school schedules that list “bigger kid” classes, and comparing back-to-school pictures with those of years past. It’s a time of noticing that bewildering phenomenon– the kids are growing. Really growing.

The weather starts to try on cooler temperatures, sporadically at first, as if to get us ready. As if we could ever be ready. But the seasons will change; our kids will grow. The best way I can participate in times when I might be reluctant for change is to notice the magic– to look for beauty and to let the astonishment bubble up.

A few years ago I worked as a preschool teacher for a three-year-old class. So this time of year I often think about that enormous season change that is starting school for the very first time. This poem comes from my teacher-self, written as a note to my assistant teacher, Dianne, who was a true partner in noticing magic. Thanks to Callie Feyen and Tweetspeak Poetry for the prompt that inspired this poem!

Sunflowers

Remember when the kids put on those shiny little boots
(bought by excited or nervous moms
on a special trip to that shoe store
with the trains, and the matching raincoats?
Completing the checklist, they’re ready for school–
at least on paper).
Remember how long it took,
helping to wiggle thirteen sets of small feet
into those rigid rubber rainboots?
They needed our help with so many things.

In late spring we tromped out to the playground
in those still shiny boots
each plump hand squeezing tightly several seeds
like gold pieces,
or wishes,
and they poked the striped seeds into the soil
with a blessing–
a ritual to mark the
last day of school.


Just one summer has passed,
and now sunflowers line the playground fence,
tall enough that the kids can stand under them.
Bigger boots on their feet,
making bigger footprints in the muddy mulch.
And those bigger boots,
the kids put them on by themselves.

No longer my kids;
It’s a new year and I have a new class.
But in some ways they will always be
my kids.
They play and my heart smiles.
They have learned to take turns
on the slide.
Now they teach the “little ones”
the rules.

The sunflowers look like big yellow faces
wearing floppy hats
and they are nodding their heads in approval.
Blooms so large, heavy with seeds
we will soon harvest.

And I’m standing in a moment
called morning recess,
amidst a chorus
of buzzing bees
and play-song
wondering,
What is this magic
that makes them
grow
so
fast?

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