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The secrets of life: cookies and crayons

The way I see it, the only major difference between me and Harris is that he knows who Pokemon is, and I don't. Harris has brown, curly hair just like me, and like me, he spent Sunday morning coloring and baking sugar cookies with a bunch of 5-year-olds. Though I was the teacher and he was a student, we were both exhausted after a long day of kindergarten religious school.

"Sometimes when I get nervous I make noises," Harris told me on the first day of class this year as he burrowed his hands under his chin and yelped like a small cat.

Sometimes when I get nervous, I make cat noises, too. When Harris does it, though, it doesn't seem quite as odd.

Harris was upset when he didn't get to finish coloring his worksheet during class. Instead of artistically scribbling like the other children, Harris had spent his allotted time telling me stories about his family and his friends at school. I know I should have reminded him to get to work, but I really liked listening to him talk about his older brother and his dad. Harris' stories sound a lot like mine.

On Sunday, Harris and I both enjoyed vanilla wafers and apple juice during snack time. We gave each other high fives for being good, and we both took home notes to give to our parents. (I always like my mom and dad to stay informed.)

When Sunday school was over, I wanted to go outside and play, like Harris, but I had to go home and do work.

Harris' mom took him home, but my mom was too far away to pick me up. I had a lot of trouble navigating through the one-way streets of downtown Charlottesville. Even after living here for a while, I don't know Charlottesville's geography that well. Harris has lived here for five years, but I doubt he could do much better.

I was pretty tired from a long morning of singing and Bible stories, so I took a nap when I got home. It seemed like something Harris would do -- though he probably didn't have as much reading to do. And somehow I still don't fully understand the neurology of the brain, even after all that reading. I doubt Harris understands it either. He's a smart kid, but he probably got more out of a morning of stickers and crayons than he would have gotten out of an afternoon of highlighting and note-taking. I can relate.

Sometimes, people ask me to take a stand on certain issues in my weekly columns. I have opinions on all of those subjects -- safety on Grounds, student self-governance and the honor system included -- but I don't have much more reason to share my views in this forum than Harris does.

Lately some of the only questions I feel prepared to answer are, "Where's the red crayon?" and "Can I go to the bathroom now?" If it's okay with you, I'd prefer to use my space in this newspaper to write about some of the things in life that really excite me, like the kids in Harris' Sunday School class and freshly baked sugar cookies.

On the matter of personal opinion, though, I will say this: I hope that Harris gains as much from his classmates as I do. They aren't all as similar as Harris and me, but that doesn't mean they don't have as much to contribute. Last week Harris' friend, Danny, spent 15 minutes in the bathroom and emerged with his blue Osh-Kosh overalls on backwards.

"I thought I could do it by myself," he said as we readjusted his clothing. "But I guess not."

I told Danny that sometimes we learn best by watching other people do things that we haven't yet learned to do. That's what it means to grow up.

I'll probably be up much later than Harris will tonight, and my mom and dad won't tuck me into bed. Even if Harris' dreams are filled with Pokemon and mine are about today's midterm, I still say we have a lot in common. Like Harris, the best part of my week involved cookie dough and sprinkles, and I don't like it when my teachers don't call on me in class. And, more than anything else, I wish I had more time to color.


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