As I walked out of the classroom with K’s term report in my hand, I stared across the huge expanse that is their playground, trying to spot two tiny figures and one larger figure. My eyes settled on K & V, excitedly running and dancing across the basketball court with their father in pursuit. My mind wandered to my favourite lines in ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran. (Though to be able to choose a favourite verse in that power-packed book is impossible. Maybe I could say these are my favourite lines about children.)
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
I continued to stare into the openness and a smile crept up on my lips. One of those unconscious smiles reflecting a happy thought inside and not particularly directed towards anyone on the outside. I was holding an envelope made of recycled newspaper. There was artwork stuck on the cover – K’s version of her dad. Coloured in bright colours very typical of her. Bright blue. Bright red. Bright sunshine. Two figures waved out to me and all three started their walk back towards the main school building. Little V made several pit stops and detours.
The report card was not a card. It was 5 sheets of paper, each sheet painstakingly written by hand. I instinctively tried to match the handwriting with the teacher. Extremely neat and straight small cursive writing by the petite and young class teacher. She doubled up as the math teacher. The strokes were small and youthful and logical.Free-flowing long strokes running across the page. Her slightly older English teacher. This hand had written many essays where the thoughts flew faster than the words on paper. The bubbly and spirited language of the science teacher. She made science fun, I could see that.
Different strokes but they spoke the same words… wonderful student, very interactive, responsible, diligent, confident. And then adjectives that I have seen earlier but always elicit a bit of surprise… helpful, considerate, team-player. I hear it repeatedly – she’s such a pleasure to have in my class; she grasps so quickly and then walks over to friends and helps them understand, maturity beyond her age…
She is mine but she does not belong to me. She is a free spirit. I have placed no burden of expectation on her. That has given her wings to fly. That she chooses to soar is also what her soul desires to do, not what the body has been conditioned to do.
‘…but seek not to make them like you…’
Many times I see a very different side of her. And I tell myself that she is a child and away from the glare of the teacher’s eyes, she feels safe enough to be herself. A little less helpful. A little more of a team leader. A little less mature. A little more of a child. My child. In the House of Tomorrow.
The three figures walk up to me. ‘So, she’s a rockstar?’, the father confidently asks. K grins shyly, the warm glow of knowing your parents are happy and proud.
‘Always’, I say, ‘she’s a rockstar.’ Of her own accord.