This week was fun.
For our students. For our faculty. For our parents.
This week was fun.
About a month ago, we came back one weekend and our campus had started changing. The mature, sophisticated, orderly halls started filling with cobwebs and spiders and bats and skeletons and all sorts of blackened decor and spooky celebrations. And as the halls started filling with silly and eerie ornaments, the students started filling with anticipation for one of children’s favorite holidays – Halloween. But it wasn’t just our elementary school children that started buzzing, even our older munchkins (our adolescents that oft look more like adults than children and can sometimes put off an air of “too cool for school”), even these secondary students started feeling that bubble of anticipation.
And to be honest, so did the adults across the building.
For as October came to a close, and as our Student Council and student leaders unveiled our Spirit Week thematic days, many of us started revisiting our wardrobes and chatting with our colleagues to decide what we might wear, and what lunchtime activities we might attempt. We started wondering if we might want to act a little bit “young.”
What is it about school Spirit Weeks, and Halloween specifically, that makes people consider altering their external egos for a bit? In a recent article in The Atlantic titled “Halloween is Stupid, Embarrassing and Very Important,” author Faith Hill wrote, “Still, I believe in chasing the ghost of my former lighthearted self. And if there’s one day when I might almost catch up, it’s Halloween: the most ridiculous, inherently childish holiday, and perhaps the one grown-ups need most.” We didn’t know we needed it.
Because for many faculty and students, dressing silly comes with a risk – a risk to credibility, a risk to reputation, a risk to identity.
But as each day unfolded in our little AAS world, more and more started taking that risk. Yes, some brought outfits to school and changed in the bathroom only after they saw that their peers were likewise stepping out of their comfort zones. But many others started planning days in advance. Do I have anything Green, Red or White for Bulgarian Culture Day? What will I wear for Mourning the End of Summer Day (when I’ll mix black with some spicy socks)? How about Pajama Day – are people really going to wear pajamas to school?
Yet, as the hallways slowly filled each day, and as we all started looking around, conversations started changing. We took a break from talking about essays and assessments and started complimenting each other on our creativity, or asking, “Hey…what are you today?” or “How much time did it take you to make that?”
For our elder children and for us adults, the week became a kick of nostalgia – a nudge back to a time when candy was sacredly-precious, when friends could get lost for hours walking the neighborhoods without plans, when the changing of summer to fall to winter meant smells and tastes and memories and special moments with family and friends that we didn’t get at other times of the year.
For teachers, it’s a slightly little known secret that we’ve pirated the fountain of youth. We’ve chosen careers where we’re always around the energy, the curiosity and the whimsicalness of the children who fill our days. We stay connected to the pop songs of the day, the “fashion” of the moment, and the hip vernacular of youth. We hear the rising giggles in the halls and excited voices for what’s possible and can’t help but feel excited as well.
Hopefully this week’s energy wasn’t just for one holiday, but it sparked a spirit that will carry into the approaching darkening days of winter. Hopefully we all can find a way to tap into the fountain of youth by seeing life through the eyes of the children in our community.
I found myself a few weeks ago, sitting at a pizza joint, fascinated by a few three-year old boys, who spent over an hour just zooming in circles on their pedal-less wooden bikes, making “Vroom-Vroom” noises, racing each other around the corners, crashing into trees and then getting back up again, and making new pizza-bike friends with any similarly-heighted littlun that passed their way. It’s fun to be young-like…to get lost in an activity, to be outside in nature, to have no fear about meeting new people. To laugh and make silly noises and live like there ain’t a care in the world. Because the adult cares of the world are oftentimes also just silly noises.