When Cole was 18 months old, Joe and I decided to give our hearts to The Chicago Waldorf School community, and we never looked back.
When Cole was about two, Joe and I attended a Waldorf School orientation. It was a small gathering in a family living room. We chatted for a bit with other parents, and tried to figure out who the odd guy sitting in the corner was. He was rather bedraggled-looking and seemed very shy. This man was introduced as our speaker and a Waldorf Teacher. The moment he began speaking about the children he taught, he was transformed from a caterpillar to a butterfly. There was no doubt this man loved not only to teach, but the children he taught. Joe and I fell in love with the education and enrolled Cole in Waldorf parent-child classes when he was 18 months old. Joe and I alternated taking him to the three-hour class each week.
After three years of Parent-child classes, Cole moved into Waldorf early childhood for one year, and then it was time for kindergarten. Like most parents, we were concerned. We were leaving Cole for a full four hours for the first time. The Waldorf teacher did not dismiss our concerns. She did not bounce around and tell us how much fun Cole would have or how much he would learn. She took Joe’s hand; She took my hand; She looked at us and said, “I will love Cole.” We knew we were lifers.
For the last eight years, Cole has had the same teacher and classmates. Some of Cole’s classmates were in his parent-child classes and early childhood classes. They have been together for 14 years.
Our class of eight years has been a true village. Not the simplified village often thrown around in a Hallmark moment of “Sure, I will bring your child home. It takes a village,” But a real village. A village of parents and kids which, over the last eight years, has faced real life issues – sickness, death, economic strife, to name a few. Sometimes we have handled the issues with strength. Other times we have fallen woefully short. Our village has seen great love and great sadness. Sometimes, I lost faith in our village. Joe never did. He never felt that the village down the road had more to offer or fewer problems.
Joe was a constant on most school trips. He policed seven-year-old kids across busy Chicago streets, helped fend off crazed raccoons, slept in tents surrounded by thrashing nine-year-olds, and helped cook endless meals. He was shushed at assemblies by moms more often than I can count, (uh, this never went over all that well) and built a class sukkah without having any idea what a sukkah was. Cole explained it as a dwelling made from fruit and twigs where Jewish people lived sometimes. Joe picked up his hammer and saw. Joe participated in many ways in Ms. Moskowitz’s class, but the one thing he did best, loudest, and strongest was applaud.
Today at end-of-year assembly, and tomorrow at the 8th graders’ graduation, the heavens will burst with Joe’s pride for eight years well done, for the 8th graders he is “crazy about,” and the teacher he privately called Mighty “Mouse”kowitz since first grade. Joe’s heart will burst with love and pride for the 8th grader whose tie will match his soccer shoes. His best pal. His best gal, will be holding him close to her heart. The clapping other parents are shushing will be Joe’s!
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