Gloria is a dear classroom friend. Well, that’s an understatement. I have a hard time making my fingers type that she is a puppet, because she is the best thing that ever happened to my classroom. She is the kind one, the shy one, and the one who is… well, different and not pretty. She is real. She is the best friend. Gloria spends most weekends with children and their families. From decorating Christmas trees, to attending graduations, going out to dinner… the long list is a testament to Gloria.
This is what happened today:
“Can we bring Gloria outside to play?”
Gloria has never played outside at school. It hadn’t occurred to me to include her on the playground. When the question was posed, I thought this was a good idea. Leave it to children to think outside of the box. They know Gloria far better than I do. She’s their best friend.
So, Gloria was brought outside. At last. She was busy in the arms of children. Then, I looked across the playground and saw her on a swing, being pushed by Lexi. I watched for a long time. This is what friends do, and Gloria is a friend.
A child on the playground who had never seen Gloria before asked, “Who is that?” Aaryan replied,
“She’s just a person.”
Just a person. Yes, she is. She is you and me. She has a soul.
Gloria is different, and that is why I wanted her to be part of my classroom many years ago. If I could help children understand and accept all people, I knew Gloria would be the one to do that. Oh, she has. Ten-fold.
Early on, Gloria lived in a picnic basket on a shelf in the classroom. She came out from time to time at a Morning Meeting. One day I left her out in a chair, and I watched the children hover and clamor over her, desperate to ask her questions. They just wanted Gloria to “be”. She moved from the picnic basket to the couch in the classroom. That was my first wake-up call.
I have had many wake-up calls since then, including Gloria having sleepovers. Today was yet another. I never underestimate the brilliant minds and big hearts of young children. It makes me want to be a child again.
I’m so glad Gloria is a person.