Since it's the end of a school year, I am once again stricken with the deadly virus "senioritis," curable only by spending lazy days lolling about a body of water doing jacksh** for weeks on end. This is not to be confused with "senior MOMENTS," which don't seem to be curable at all, especially as I progress through the menopausal years. But I digress.
If you're not aware, I have the very greatest job one can have - I teach High School English. Yes, I did type that with a straight face and nary a sign of a snort. I love my job, I love my students, and I love my coworkers. However, sometimes one just needs to go outside and play, especially when senioritis is rampant and not just among the actual seniors. How can I justify a day to play, I asked myself, since everything in Indiana must somehow be tied to an educational standard in our current public school climate (thank you evil Governor Mike Pence). Aha! We just finished the outstanding novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It's emotionally draining and vivid and engaging and everything else that a book taught to weary eleventh graders should be. I decided that, if we were really going to understand the beauty of the kite fighting parts of the book, and the importance of kite flying in Afghani culture, we really needed to go fly kites.
With Mary Poppins singing to me in my head (there may have been a little dancing there too), I got some cheap kites from Amazon, and waited out the horrendously rainy spring. When a stellar day finally came, my class and I trekked to a local park and let loose. If you have never seen nearly-adult kids run amok with kites, you are missing out. Mere words cannot explain the looks of sheer joy on their faces as they ran with rainbow kites stretching behind them against a Simpsons-opening-song-blue sky. It was as though these young men and women transformed back into little boys and girls. They screeched and pointed and ran with pink cheeks. I was overcome by whimsy and ran with a kite myself, only to realize that video of that event ended up on a Snapchat story, which will likely come back to haunt me one day. I was shocked and a little saddened to find that this was the first kite flying experience for nearly a third of the kids.
We stayed out that day a little longer than we should have - after all, there was grammar to do and a test to prepare for - but seeing my students like that was worth it.
All this got me thinking about how kids are expected to behave in this generation, with rigor taking the place of recess and the huge push for high achievement. Now, I am certainly not saying that rigor is unimportant, or that achievement should not be sought AT ALL. But what about fun? Recess? Running with a kite and just being a kid? Experiencing life rather than reading about it? I think the world would be a happier place if we could all just go fly kites from time to time.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.