Got a call from a parent yesterday morning telling me that her son would be late to school. Remembering the boy's week-long hyperactive enthusiasm for the Thursday night concert his dad was taking him to (Jimmy Buffett! His first concert, and it was going to be his favorite singer! Could anyone in the world be luckier than him?) I said that I understood and that I hoped he'd had a wonderful time at the show. His mom immediately became apologetic, saying she'd been afraid that he was going to talk about it at school, and that it was just a really good father-son opportunity, and of course they would never usually consider such a late night during the school week and.... And her apology made me really sad.
It is really humbling when I stop to think about what I remember of my own fifth grade teacher. Almost nothing. She yelled at me for reading books under the table and she had black hair. End memory. I have lots of really strong memories of being that age, but almost none of them take place in the classroom.
I don't want to suggest that the classroom isn't important, but it's not the MOST important thing when it comes to a complete, happy childhood that carries you well into adulthood. And a complete, happy childhood is more important than math class on the Friday morning after the best night of your young life. Let the kid sleep at home, and don't worry about apologizing to the teacher.
(Added to this thought is the guilt that I feel anytime a parent comes into my classroom and we're doing something other than sitting in our seats learning, by golly! I want to protest that I really DO teach! Often!)
On the same topic, one of the things that I love about this age group is that they literally were born yesterday, and so things that I have long taken for granted are often presented to me as wonderful miracles, and I get to appreciate them in a different way. Case in point was this boy showing off his concert tee shirt, "And you know what's REALLY cool? Look at the back; that's all the cities he played on this tour! See Raleigh? That's the show I WENT TO!"
My large circle of musician friends (J being the most important of them) are mourning the death of Prince. I feel a little awkward in this larger social conversation. Everyone I know is sad! But my strongest Prince memory is that the lyrics to Darling Nikki were printed in a lot of the "Music and Satan are basically the same thing!" religious tracts that I could read in the back of church as a little girl. Services went on for a long time in are small town Illinois store-front church, and there was very little to do if you were a kid. My favorite tracts were the OhNoSecularMusic ones and the one called "Turmoil in the Toybox." Apparently a lot of seemingly normal toys were actually Satanic, which was thrilling and interesting in the bright light of a Sunday morning, and scary at night.
But anyway, I can't really talk to my friends about Prince. Our experiences just don't match up.