Goodbye Baby Chicks

It was time for lunch and I had a conference call to answer in exactly 4 minutes. Coming down the main stairwell, with the smell of tater tots in the air, I ran smack into some kind of traffic jam. It was kids. Kindergarten kids were gathered in a big bloom at the base of the steps- bouquet style, not garden row style. Now, I will definitely miss that call again, I thought.

But, because I was already slowed down, I switched into let’s take a closer look mode. Twenty or so five year olds were gathered around a Target tub that was filled with hay and… chicks. The children were bent close whispering to them, “Goodbye, I will miss you,” and “I love you.” I found out later that they devoted their reading practice for the last two weeks to the chicks. Those fuzzy babies listened to beginning readers, endlessly patient with only cuteness to offer as feedback. The children chose books they thought a particular chick might like and they reread pages if they thought it was not good enough for their chick loves. The kids gave back the gift of reading.

My phone buzzed hard in my pocket but still I lingered. I noticed a man next to their teachers. After a minute or two, I found out that he was the farmer who would be taking the chicks from their Harlem P.S. home. One little boy, with a fuzzy head called, “Are you going to take good care of them?” When the farmer said he would, the boy repeated, “Take really good care of them?” That farmer smiled and answered yes again. And then, he stood there. Patient. He probably had been In a rush to beat the traffic or to meet some deadline or to make some conference call, but he and none of us could stop watching.

This moment was happening and yet it did not just happen. Two beautiful people are called teacher in the room these children class. They made this moment by planting seeds garden style. The right time and the right place and the right container. The kids bloomed in that care-full preparation, bouquet style, to say goodbye to the baby chicks.

I am sure glad I was stopped by their traffic jam!

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