Once upon a time, in the not too distant future…when a child is old enough to go to school – the road to every schoolhouse will be named the “It’s All About You” road.
A child will have come to know himself – and his family and the work of the home; it will now be a privilege to make new relationships – and learn new things.
The primary motive of this road will be to make connections. Good connections are healthy relationships. Connections provide wisdom; connections help build character.
Character helps increase capacities for learning; connections help us grow up and learn and walk into our dreams in the big world.
School will be a “Work, Learn, and Play place.” (W, L & P)
The sign on the door will read “Real life is hard; humility helps.”
The banner on the porch will read, “Hold hands with someone who can help.” There will be background music: “What a Wonderful World.”
Throughout the day – and over the years, groups will form and reform in the hallways and classrooms and on the playground – with people that are alike and different…ages, capacity levels, maturity levels…
There will be no masks and no uniforms.
The W,L,& P store will sell t-shirts that read:
- “when you can’t – find someone who can”
- “growing up happens when you hold hands”
- “trust matters”
- “new habits for a new life”
- “reconnection is recovery”
- “i’m here to help”
- “love conquers shame”
- “self-protection is an oxymoron”
- “your success is my pleasure”
- “forgiveness is freedom”
- “can I remind you who you really are?”
- “celebrating little things in a big world”
The principal of the school will offer new families a contact list; the list will be organized into groups based on others who are passionate and capable – so you will quickly find who you might ask for help when you need it.
The principal will also offer each student a questionnaire – to find out what they are passionate about – and what their capabilities are for helping. The purpose of the questionnaire will be to get to know you – and find the best way to add you to the contact list.
Daily routines at the Work, Learn, and Play place will be for the purpose of building character – and to broaden your list of passions and capabilities.
Children will spend a great deal of time doing real work, always partnering with someone who can help – or with someone who needs help.
Conversations while working will often offer wisdom about owning your influence; it’s important because influence and impact can either build trust or damage it.
Trust, children will learn- is vital; others won’t let you help them if they don’t trust you – no matter how much help you want to give them, or how much help they need.
It won’t take long to realize this kind of work is real learning – and there will occasionally be another questionnaire because a child’s list of capacities is growing – even though the primary motive is always building character.
There will be courtyards and gazebos for conversations – often about building stronger connections with those who can help or those who need help.
When someone gets injured, a few of the most mature ones will huddle close by to offer help with the delicate and life-saving work of reconnecting. One of the helper’s jobs will be to swat away shame; shame always smells injury and comes to add insult.
Children will notice on this “All about You” road, they’re growing deep roots in a well-established community; everyone else is all about you – and you’re all about them. Children will enjoy time alone sometimes, but they will not be lonely.
Classes will teach how to care for the W, L & P place – everyone will clean and mow. There will be no custodians; the children will be the grounds crew.
Frequently – there will be celebrations; someone will have developed a new capacity – for singing or dancing or baseball or art or running. They will be encouraged to step with humility and confidence onto the playing field or the stage to share their newly polished capacities.
The celebrations will always close the same way – the young one inviting the elder to stand beside them. They’ll hug and the maturing apprentice will declare, “I could never have done this without you. Thank you.”
At the end of the day, children will go home. They’ll bring all they’ve learned about connecting and reconnecting to their family. Family members will bring what they’re learning, too.
It’ll be real good that someone in the house knows a great deal about forgiveness and reconnecting – it’s a lesson that often takes years to really comprehend and experience.
Meal time conversations will most often be about forgiveness; life will still be hard and injuries will still happen – almost on a daily basis.
The family table will be a recovery room. Family members will help each other remember it’s not about earning points; it’s about reconnecting.
Reconnecting is recovery. Children and adults will wear this truth on t-shirts.
The sign on the porch at home will be just like the one at school.
“Hold hands with someone who can help.”
Weekends will be sacred times for leisure and rest and restoration. Family meals on the weekend will be for sharing memories and dreams.
Grandpa will share this memory; the children love it when he tells this story:
“A darkness hung over us from the great depression. World War II had changed us – and the way families organized themselves – it seemed right at the time. There was still a lingering pollution produced by the Industrial Age.
Every morning when we first realized a new day was dawning, we became aware of the smell – our primary motive was earning and deserving. We collected points and prizes. We counted and compared.
Children went to school at earlier and earlier ages; the name of every school was the Performance Arena. (PA)
The sign on the school door read “#self effort #try harder.”
The banner in every school lobby read “#survival of the fittest #hide with pride.” There was background music: “…I did it My Way.”
Throughout the day – and over the years, groups formed in the hallways and classrooms and on the playground – cliques and peer groups. Children gathered with people who were most like them; groups were divisive and unkind to other groups.
No one was more mature than anyone else.
Pretending was the norm. There were masks and a uniforms.
The Performance Arena store sold t-shirts that said:
- “perfectionism rules”
- “hide if you can’t”
- “behavior modification – here we go again”
- “get a label if you need help”
- “my capacity is greater than yours”
- “if you can’t – get behind me”
- “addiction offers pain relief”
- “I’ll help you if I can earn more points”
- “shame wars”
- “bitterness builds my case”
- “celebrating big things in a small world”
The principal was required to hand everyone a test; the test was designed to ask nothing about what the children really knew, but rather to discover what they didn’t know.
The grade on the test told children how far back they had to sit to watch those with high scores – who were chosen to compete on the playing field in the Performance Arena.
Daily routines were for the purpose of building capacity – to improve your score on another test.
If children continued to do well on the test, they got a coveted “GT” shirt, which meant they no longer had to stay in class all the time with those who weren’t doing well on the test.
If children consistently didn’t score well, they got a “LD” or “ADD” or “504” or “dyslexic” shirt. This was good because others now could to help them, but the shirts smelled funny – they were made of 100% nylon; they made the children sweat.
The children who were given these shirts noticed that others wearing these same shirts seemed to wear them for life. No one wore any “ADD Free” or “Dyslexia Free” t-shirts.
Children sometimes privately wondered if the help they were getting was going to cure them – or just help them get by. They also noticed the teachers were making the tests easier, and when the children earned more points – the teachers got more points, too.
The whole system seemed somedays like a rip tide instead of a way of actually helping children recover and grow up. Most people noticed. And no one seemed to have any hope of doing things differently.
Children noticed others were sweating, too.
There were locker rooms available for those coming in and out of the PA – they really functioned as recovery rooms because there was a great need for pain relief.
Pain relief came in pills and energy drinks and hand held things with screens and earbuds and in sugar and more carbs.
Some of the worst pain came from the loneliness children noticed on the “All about Me” road. When you’re the only one thinking “it’s all about me;” everyone else is thinking that, too.
Classes were offered in “like farming” – in the early grades they call it “sticker farming.” Sticker farming graduated to backpack tag farming and trophy farming.
It was confusing though, because the same ones who had helped you with sticker farming later threw shame at you when you started “like farming” on social media.
Those that sat long enough on the back rows of the PA eventually stopped sitting there – they traded points for paychecks and started cleaning the arena and mowing the field.
The others seemed satisfied; you might have heard them say, “It’s so good they have a job.”
At the end of the day, children would go home. Mom and Dad would have spent time in the PA, too. School and work were very much alike. Everyone would be hurting and just plain whooped.
Meal time was just a functional thing. Children dreamed about a time when it would be beautiful – and had real conversation; or was that just a story they’d read? “Once upon a time…”
If families talked at all – it was about points. Even the process of coming together seemed to be about points.
You’d lose points if you spilled or chewed with your mouth open or glared at your siblings. You deducted points from your mom’s daily total if she didn’t cook what you wanted or anything you didn’t like. Dad lost points for coming home late.
Everyone at the table had spent so much time on the “All about Me” road – they’d forgotten home could be different.
Many days this routine seemed more like surviving than living.
The sign on the wall at home was just like the one at school: ‘Survival of the fittest. Hide with pride.’“
Then grandma and grandpa would tell the part about choosing a different road.
If you’re listening carefully, you’ll notice their favorite part of the story is finding others who are choosing a different road, too.
It does’t make sense at first – it seems like some sort of trick. The new road is called, “It’s All About You.”
The people on this new road are alike and different…different ages, experiences, capacities, and maturity levels. With these new friends on this new road, they share meals together…At the Table.
They hold hands. They dream. They connect…and reconnect. They look for others…to connect.
We’re launching a new online class on Oct. 1, 2017. It’s called, “connecting and reconnecting…at home.” If you’re hungry to connect with others who want to experience more connection – and healthy relationships -at home, this class will be transformational for you.
Look for a new website remodel…coming soon! Until then, reserve your spot in the inaugural class by following this link to the contact page of this website – and mention “connecting and reconnecting…at home” in the comment section.
We look forward to connecting with you!