becoming better for the sake of our children



Today has never happened until now – nor will it ever occur again in any history; live it well.

This simple storybook mantra was postered on my classroom wall at DPCC for many years, and I will never forget the 3-year-old who began sobbing when I first read it to her. “Why?” she demanded to know, “Why?” I suddenly remembered asking the same question through tears myself: it was in 3rd grade during gym class, a bully punched the glasses off my face – and instead of fleeing or fighting, I hugged him hard. “Why?” I asked, sobbing. “Why?”

The years sometimes behave like days, and days like years – and the world sometimes punches us in the face. Living into what the 21st century has in store for us as parents, we find ourselves sometimes in tears over losing what’s golden about the time we have with our children, over what the world has in store for our kids. Such feelings are part of the human condition as long as we’ve been writing words, and every age has its reasons.

Consider 1949: just four years after absolute evil failed to take over the world but still robbed us of far too many lives, busloads of newly-alive people were growing up fast everywhere, particularly in the U.S. – and Decatur was no exception; so the Presbyterian church at the corner of Sycamore decided those little folk needed a place to be together – and with teachers to boot. Thus, here we are, three-quarters of a century later without taking a break – a mission to serve a changing world on the other side of a nightmare.

We’d sometimes like time to stop, wish that that all hurtfulness would pass us by; but we know it won’t because it can’t. The most we can do is be so bravely kind as to venture something totally untried for the sake of what a world newly reborn needs, just as Decatur Presbyterian did for so many children who’d never before attended school so young. My favorite thing to remind my teachers is that our enterprise as a preschool/kindergarten is absolutely, historically new – and that is important to remember because it reminds us of the reason novel solutions are found, why the best things are quite often made up.

“Because tomorrow can’t start until yesterday is done,” I told my little student, and she smiled beyond her tears and her few years. “Here,” said the new kid in class who’d not made any friends yet, as he handed me my glasses – and the answer to my question.