I hate it when teachers talk about the Real World, as if patches of TP stuck to bathroom walls with no other adhesive than shit were not real, as if the occupation of teaching and the pursuit of a learned mind could not stand without the crutch of commerce and threat of paycheck deduction, as if the chorus needed one more monotone voice: You’ll need this for 5th grade because your 8th grade teachers won’t put up with high school work will be different from post-secondary degrees land a good job.

I’m for relevant curricula laden with text-to-world connections, cultural literacy and resume lessons; I’m also for planting seeds in the mulch of escapsim, for preparing students for communities not just as They Are but also as they Can Be. Most of my students feel the weight of a limited future already without the pending revenge implied by my version of the World, a place none other than adulthood’s true horror.

There are 100 days left until the first day of school in the fall, and even though my students have a large countdown in the cafeteria, I tear pages from a smaller countdown in my room. It’s near the end of the year. These kids may not yet be eager to coordinate their Velcro binders with their First Day ‘fits, but they are nostalgic about school and optimistic about life, especially the seniors.

I hope someday their heretofore hypothetical bosses allow them to be childlike. I hope my kids look back in their yearbooks and read, taped to the back inside cover, about a strangely familiar kind of spirit:

You wake up one morning fascinated by everything.
You eat OtterPops in the summer because that’s how you know it is summer.
You make a kite out of twigs, dental floss, and some brown paper napkins.
You find something crawling under rocks at the end of the driveway.
You look for hayseeds in needle cushions.
You curl up in a ball in the grass.
You master the monkey bars.
You invent a game where players must flap their arms like wings.
You let your shadow show your hands how to make puppets.
You re-read your favorite books.
You jump on hotel beds.
You are loyal to any group you belong to.
You float through your sorrows with water wings.
You and your best friend pinky-swear to be nicer with thumb wars.
You study World History because you are intensely interested in the world.
You understand why religious figures go to mountains to make big decisions.
You listen to waves clapping on the waterfront of the Puget Sound, on the rocky shell-lined shores of Alki, stand by a string of foam left behind by the tide, and you say to the sky, Thank you, thank you.

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