There is something about rain gear on preschoolers that is so redolent of childhood. Yesterday Brandeis was overtaken by tiny galoshes and yellow raincoats, as the several hundred little people who were dry behind those layers of rubber trooped into our school for a date with our middle schoolers at our annual preschool Hanukkah party. Seeing all those bright boots and flushed cheeks took me back so immediately to my own memories of jumping in puddles on Spaulding Avenue in Berkeley, feeling invincible even as the water leapt to all the permeable cottons and invariably left me soaked.
And certainly, it was the vulnerable side of childhood that I saw as those little people step wide-eyed into our gym, peering dazed into a sea of friendly middle school faces, looking for their assigned Lions or Turtles or Giraffes, and eventually finding that one student who had sent them a hand-written note at home. I’ve heard so many stories about those notes over the years—the child who gets into Brandeis and exclaims, “Mommy, I’m going to Max’s school!”—and again yesterday, while I was chatting with a dad in the back of the room, he described reading the note to his daughter as calming her nervousness, knowing that her mother wasn’t able to be there that morning.
We welcomed all these little people to Brandeis by sharing some of what binds this community of learners—singing songs, dancing, curious tinkering, and exploration—and of course, eating delicious food. But the image that will stick with me, and I expect the one that will stick with many of those preschoolers, is seeing so many of them cuddled on the laps of their middle school buddies, snuggling up as they listened to stories being told. Those kinds of human connections are so important—for all of us, at any stage—and especially for our growing young people, both the lap-sitter and the lap-provider. I can only imagine how good it felt for those little ones, on such a cold, cold wet day, to be welcomed with such smiling warmth.
Wishing you all weekends full of such warm connections, my friends.