Small Moments: Hale Reservation

9:05 PM Edit This 2 Comments »
“You can do it!” “Go for it!” “Let her have a turn!” These exclamations may seem simply motivational to the average observer, but for me they are evidence of transformation. Usually from the same kids I hear “you’re mentally retahded!” or “he wants to make out with you, because he’s gaaay” while they barrel down the hallways of the elementary school. Oh, fifth grade.
Last week the fifth grade at the elementary school where I work went on a field trip to Hale Reservation, a nature reserve just outside of Boston that functions primarily as a summer camp for youngsters. We spent the day on ropes courses, doing team-building exercises, and playing silly games. Sounds easy, right? Well, as an aide for a 10 year-old girl with autism, I had some apprehension. I was worried about having my little friend scamper up a tree just to freak out 100 feet in the air, and I could just see myself having to climb a tree to retrieve her and being scratched and clawed the whole way down. I had visions of the munchkin being excluded from group activities, not necessarily openly, but definitely passively. But what I saw last Wednesday gave me a new respect for the children at school.

First of all, my darlin’ scampered up those trees and then dove down the zip line like it was nothing. She was much less inhibited than even some of the tough guys in her class. Then what I saw during our next activities was really amazing. The kids had to get from behind a log to a wooden platform several feet away without touching the ground between the two. There was a rope swing that they could use as a tool, and so the plan was to swing, one at a time, from behind the log to the platform. It would have been easy for the kids in the class to send the little lady across first to get her over with, or even to save for the end and hope for instructor aid or for someone to say that they could just call it a day. But they didn’t. They coaxed her across halfway through the class, with cries of “it’s your turn!” “Come across!”
I’m not saying that these kids are angels 100% of the time. They make each other cry practically, and sometimes they practically knock me over in the halls when they’re sprinting to the bus with instruments and basketballs. Perhaps that’s what made the moments we shared so special. To quote Dr. Seuss, my heart grew three sizes that day.


David's Holla Atchya! Blog said...

What's this new job? What school in what town are you employed? I'm glad there are good natured fifth graders in Massachusetts, and that you get to interact with them.

Lauren Palmer said...

Newton Public Schools, I'm a Behavior Therapist at an elementary school. I love it!