Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ideal Conditions

The family was taking a Christmas vacation walk to a nearby market yesterday when I found myself in step with 11-year-old Richard. He is just about the same age as many of my students, and without thinking I posed a question to initiate conversation. A warm December breeze swept over the skyline of Atlanta to our right. His parents had moved here when he was two, and I knew he considered this town his home.

"So where do you think you might live when you grow up?" I asked him. 

He shrugged.

"Here? New York?" I named the town where he was born. "Washington where we and Nanny live? California? Arizona? Minnesota?"

"Maybe here," he answered, "or Bermuda." 

I knew he had been there on a vacation a few years back and loved it.

"Some place warm, but not too hot," he continued.

"What about snow?" I asked.

"I like it," he agreed. 

I considered the parameters. "Maybe you would like living in Colorado," I suggested. " They have a little bit of everything that you want-- warm in the summer, snow in the mountains."

He nodded, and then his eyes lit up.  "Yeah! Maybe I'll find a little hole in the mountains and dig it out! Then I'll cut some trees for hardwood floors and build a fireplace. I think I'll live in a cave in the woods!"

I smiled and nodded and listened the rest of the way as he elaborated with evermore enthusiasm and detail on the concept of his cozy little cavern.

Even after 23 (and a half!) years of teaching sixth grade, I will never tire of that whimsical mashup of faith, fiction, and fact that most of us bring to the threshold of eleven and the rest of our lives. How revitalizing it is to spend time with people who believe that anything really is possible.

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