Today I took my two youngest children back in time to a place where my fondest childhood school days were experienced.
Twenty five years ago I was a little girl playing tag, swinging as high as I could go, pretending to rob a train, having races to the top of the jungle gym, rubbing dirt on my hands so the rings wouldn’t give me blisters, lying in the grass in the sun, looking for four leaf clovers, making clover flower crowns and pretending there were trolls under the slide as we slide down the “bridge.”
It was there on that little first and second grade playground of my little mountain school where I made my first true friend.
It was there I first remember conquering a fear as I tried again and again to swing on the rings. I remember leprechaun foot prints, my first standardized testing, what it meant that someone was popular and I was not, and being bullied. I remember the great swelling of love for my few true friends who always knew how to make me forget about the things that made me sad.
As I watched my kids play under the big canopy of trees on some of the very pieces of playground equipment that I had played on, I could see myself, happy, and running from my class room to go off on my next adventure with my friends.
These were my happiest school memories.
When I think of the things I went through, the struggles I had, I truly believe that God put me there on that mountain school playground to save me. I needed that time of stability to be a child. I needed those friends that I made and kept through childhood.
When my two youngest kids wanted to take a break from playing, I took them over to look through the windows of my old classrooms.
Even though the rooms are used as storage now, there are still relics of teachers with displays on the walls and the evidence of years of students. For a moment, I could see where we’d have story time and where my life size drawing of myself hung on the window next to my class mates. I was able to tell my son, who’s going into first grade, what I used to do in class and what I used to play with my friends. I told him about some of the games we made up. I could see the wheels turning in his little head of some of the things he too could do with his friends.
I had no idea what this little trip to the playground was going to do to me.
It was just a beautiful summer morning. Even though I’d driven past the closed down school hundreds of times, today was the first time in twenty five years that I had actually set foot on that playground. It hit me. It hit me hard. And while I am weeping about it now, there was nothing but absolute joy for me while I was there sharing this experience with my kids. My tears right now, are tears of joy and gratitude for those happy childhood memories –some of the very best memories that I have.