You may have recently heard your child talking about taking a trip to Tulip Tree, and if not, my guess is that you will soon!
For awhile our stroller was out of commission because we were unable to unlock it from the fence. The stroller was recently liberated and the children were overjoyed to hear the news Monday morning. I let my cohort know they would be going for a walk, and their first question was, “Where?!?”
I reflected the question back to them, empowering them to choose a destination.
“Where will we go?!? I’m not sure! I was thinking maybe you could decide. Where would YOU like to go?”
MS: “Maybe, I want to go to the park.”
FD: “Yeah, a park.”
Bee: “Hm. A park. I know a park that is nearby. We could walk past it.”
The children quickly finished their morning snack, eagerly anticipating their foray into the neighborhood.
We dashed upstairs, geared up, and headed to our limo.
I gave the children agency to choose their own seat and encouraged them to climb in on their own, which they were more than willing to do.
We checked in about stroller agreements (We need to stay buckled, the straps in front of us are for eyes – not hands – because we don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, and even though we are right next to people we still must ask their consent before touching their bodies) and off we went!
Immediately I was surrounded by yips of joy and the sounds of laughter rippling against itself. The children were delighted.
Frantically happy is the only apt description I can come up with.
“So many flowers…” gasped SM
“We have those at Elm House!” squealed LR, excitedly pointing out the same yellow irises that do in fact grace our backyard.
“I like the soft ones.” said MS, reaching towards the lamb’s ear growing nearby.
We made our way slowly to the park as the children absorbed anything and everything they could lay their eyes on.
At the park we watched people mill about, laughed at some dogs, and talked about the different plants we saw.
I walked to the front of the stroller and said,
“You know friends, we are quite close to a special place, and I am wondering if you might like to visit it.”
“Where, Bee?” inquired MS.
“We are near Tulip Tree! Would you like to go over and see the teachers and children?”
“Tulip Tree!” yelled SM. “I’m going to go there. I want to see! And ZS too!”
“Thats right, SM! Tulip Tree is where you will be going soon, and our friend ZS is there right now. Shall we go?”
The answer was a resounding, YES!
We walked by Franklin High and SM informed us, “This is where teenagers go to school! See! One right there!” She pointed quickly to a student and the other children laughed. “A teenager!”
We got to the crosswalk and I pushed the button.
“What is he saying?” MS wondered aloud.
“‘Caution, vehicles may not stop.’ This message is a warning that the cars might not see us and stop. We need to wait and use our eyes to make sure it is safe for us to cross.”
“But, Bee! They did stop, see?” MC countered, sounding mildly concerned. Perhaps he worried that our efforts to get to Tulip Tree might be thwarted by inconsiderate motorists.
“Oh, yes! They did! Thank you for noticing and letting us know it is safe. Now that everyone has stopped we can walk across.”
A chorus of greetings and friendly waves enveloped us. The toddlers soaked up the attention of their older peers like blossoms freshly turned towards the sunlight. ZS briefly poked up his head, but was quickly overwhelmed seeing his old friends at his new school, and hid away behind companions and teachers. We called out return greetings regardless, happy to see both new and familiar faces.
We turned around, Elm House bound.
The children were processing their visit with such excitement that I couldn’t tease out individual statements to record. Their voices were folding in and out of one another. No one was frustrated to be talked over, and that is when I knew.
This. Is. Important.
“Would you guys like to come back and visit Tulip Tree again?”
When I got back to Elm House I spoke with the teachers here and the teachers at Tulip Tree and decided to make our visits a daily occurrence.
Aside from the fact that it is clearly what the children desire, I believe this will serve both of our communities in several ways:
- It allows children who are moving up to Tulip Tree a chance to familiarize themselves with the faces of their future peers and teachers.
- It allows children who are missing their older friends a chance to see them again.
- It allows children who are missing their younger peers a chance to see them again as well.
- For children who might be feeling trepidation about moving up, it shows them that Tulip Tree is quite close to us, just right down the block, and it enables us to say, “When you’re at Tulip Tree, we will come and visit you too! We will never be far away.”
- It puts both our communities in the minds of all the children, and I am curious to see what this brings up for them. For instance, this morning we walked over for the third time, and the Tulip Tree children immediately told us what they ate for snack, and then inquired as to what we ate. Previously, questions were not a part of our exchange. We simply said hello, goodbye, and then left. Now that the children know this will be a daily occurrence, they will certainly have thoughts, ideas, and questions about one another. I simply cannot wait to hear what they are!
It was my intention to tell you about our other walks to Tulip Tree this week, as both of them brought up exciting developments for us, but alas, I am out of time. You can look forward to more blogs about our walks soon! Please feel free to add any wonderings, comments, questions, or tidbits from your children down below!