These trees were made for climbing
Disclaimer: look not for reason or moral in this story. It is just a piece of my day. It's a daylog.
"I work with kids". Thus I have begun a few daylogs, and thus I begin this: I work with kids, age 5.5 to 14 years. I like my job. I get paid for playing games
, drawing, painting, running around and having fun
... Not bad, when you think about it. I also get paid for dealing with troubled kids
and parents, and for trying to navigate through confusing and sometimes nonsensical rules and regulations
obviously only created to make my life - and everybody else's life - more difficult (insert deep breath here). But that is another story.
Lining the playground around the house where our institution is located, are a lot of trees. Some of them are rather tall and have a lot of nice, stout branches placed appropriately along the trunk; just right for little hands to grab a hold on. These trees were so made for climbing.
Just last week I was standing by a window, looking out through the topmost branches of the tree outside. I wasn't looking at anything in particular, just resting my eyes. But it slowly dawned on me that I was in fact seeing a child. A small girl, aged 6, perched on a pretty slim branch, grinning like mad and waving - not to me, but to a fellow climber in the next tree. They were some ten metres off the ground, sitting in trees that leaned out over our fence, so if they were to fall out of the tree they would land in the middle of a busy street (well, not really in the middle of, but close enough). A little lower, but on the way up, was a boy. He had a determined, slightly apprehensive, look on his face. It was clear he was not about to be outdone by girls.
What does an experienced paedagogue do in these circumstances? I don't know what most would do, but I'll tell you what I did: I turned my back to the window and sedately descended the stairs from first floor to the ground floor. In my thoughts I went through the things I would have to do when I found the kids on the ground; first aid, calling for help, getting a new job (probably as a clerk in a 7-11)...
Outside kids were screaming around in 'Moon-cars' and on roller skates, or just generally screaming in a 'I am having so much fun can yall hear how much fun I am having' kind of way. I dodged a few attempts to run me over, stopped to pick up a boy who had just taken a nose dive over the handlebars of a bike (nothing serious, and nothing a cuddle and a "That was a spectacular stunt, honey, well done!" couldn't handle). I walked around the house to stand under the tall trees. No kids lying on the ground, which was good. Sounds of giggles from the treetops, which was also good.
I looked up and saw three girls and a boy, clinging to what looked like twigs, dangling their feet in the air so high above me. A shoe came tumbling down, and more giggling could be heard.
"We are up here", they called. "I know", said I. "But maybe you shouldn't be quite so high up?"
Silence ensued. I picked up the shoe. "One shoe is no good", I called. "Kick off the other one too". Another shoe came bouncing off the branches.
"Do we have to come down?"
"No...", I said calmly. "But if you fall down, you have to go to the emergency room by yourself, 'cause I have work to do, and so do the other grown ups".
Slowly they climbed downwards, until they were just three or four metres off the ground. The smallest of the girls looked thoughtful. "But if we all fall down, we can go together, right?"
I pulled my trump card: "Yeah, but then you won't get ice cream. We are getting ice cream later, because it's Friday you know. Anyway, you should climb the trees out front; then you can see when it's ice cream time."
Needless to say, this did the trick. They made ground contact and swarmed off to perch in other trees, not nearly as tall, and not leaning over a busy street. I stood for a while looking, remembering my own tree climbing days. I could - and would - go as high as possible, hanging from branches that ought to have broken, standing on twigs that wouldn't have held a large bird... Always competing with the other kids for the best and highest place to sit. And never, ever worrying about falling down. Injuries and bad things happened to other people, we all knew this, my friends and I. And we were never really proven wrong. Not until the world of hurt that is known as 'The teenage years' hit us, that is...
I talked to the kids' parents when they came to pick up their kids. They, very wisely, said: "Well, kids will be kids", and so we left it at that.
There is no moral to this story. The trees are still there, the kids have been cautioned, but climb them still. They don't fall down, just as we never fell down. Somehow bad things still happen to other people. I so wish this would be true everywhere, always.