By Kelsie Castro
“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”– Gilbert K. Chesterton
I stood at the top of the lookout watching as the sprinkling of rain we had been playing in started to become a shower. What we thought would be a romp through the puddles outside had quickly become a storm for these California children.
“Hurry, get inside everyone!” a voice yelled, urging the remaining children still running to gather into a small shelter that had been built. Even with just a sprinkle of rain our group was determined to create a space to protect themselves. Complete with a wooden roof and fabric rug, the shelter was the perfect place for the children to find solace in the storm.
As the children ran into the shelter, I glanced inside to see a sea of smiling faces looking back at me with a wild sort of joy in their eyes. Nearly all of the Olive room, with the exception of myself and Isabella, had managed to squish their bodies into the tiny space. Smiling I thought about how just hours before we had been problem-solving through so many of them feeling “crowded” in our large meeting space.
Losing myself for a minute in the serendipity of the moment before me, a voice from inside the shelter reeled me back in.
“You come in too Kelsie.” it said, “This shelter is for everyone.”
I looked over to see Olive climbing out and followed as she guided Isabella and I into the space she had made for us next to her. Squeezed in tight with children draped across my arms and lap, I joined into the roars of laughter that were now flowing from our small safe haven. For just a few minutes, we sat their huddled together, one long piece of fabric stretched over whatever parts of us it could reach. We talked about the rain, shared stories, and laughed together as little drops of water escaped through the cracks in our roof. For a few minutes, we came together in that small little space. And in that little bit of time, somehow, all the problems from earlier in the day were washed away.
Reliving this moment now, I can’t help but notice the symbolism of what we shared and how reflective it is of our experience as a classroom this year. In the couple short months we have been in session, it has been a rollercoaster for us all. We’ve braved many highs and many lows, and of course still have so much more to come. We have had many serious discussions, some disappointments, and a whole lot of problem-solving that we’ve needed to work through. We’ve been through an ebb and flow of conflict and collaboration, and are doing a lot of hard work to help us all come out on the other side of it.
What I’ve come to realize through that process though, is that it is actually these moments, where children struggle through something hard together, that are the most meaningful to their relationship as a whole. Just like on this rainy afternoon, times of chaos or confusion also breed a sense of connection between the people experiencing them. As we go through this hard thing together, we must wonder, reflect, and eventually work with each other to figure out how to make it through. It is times like this where conflict is inevitable and collaboration is grown, that challenge transforms into an opportunity for deeper connection.
This is the story that has played out for us this past year and the story that I believe we will continue to tell as our conflicts and challenges help us build our community. With this in mind, I realize that it shouldn’t surprise me anymore to see something like a storm bring children together in such a beautiful way. Soaking up the energy around me that rainy day, I couldn’t help but be caught up in this moment of connection. Something that could easily have been a source of conflict for our whole group had become a model of trust, support, empathy and encouragement. Holding each other tight the whole time, the children had literally come together to weather the storm…and together they made it through.