Here's one of my latest inner brainstorm sessions....
I'm convinced that the world would be a better place if all the folks with children under the age of 18 broke up into towns between 5 and 10 thousand in population. It would also help if extended family groups, for the most part, ( lovers, haters, fighters, and all) stayed within that same town or general vicinity. This thinking, of course, is based on my recent move to this little town where I'm teaching. It's different here. The kids here have something kids in big places don't have. They are accountable and they matter. Everyone here belongs to everyone else and is connected through time, place, and experience. I'm not just Ms. Ferguson, Johnny's 4th grade teacher. I'm Ms. Ferguson, whose cousin's cousin married Johnny's aunt who lives on the place just across the fence from Ms. Ferguson's uncle on her daddy's side of the family. If this sounds confusing, it is. Confusing in a lovely, connected, sometimes twisted, and yet validating sort of way. I'm somebody. And so is Johnny. We belong to people and those people know us and expect certain things from us. And Johnny and I will go on living here and Johnny may end up being my principal or my superintendent one day. Or, Johnny may end up fixing the flat on my tire or changing my oil and I'll be no less appreciative of him or interested in him as a person because we're connected and we always have been. Johnny will go to my funeral and comfort my children and my grandchildren.
Sure, there are a few downsides this sort of near "incestuous" sort of living. Johnny's 2nd cousin who works at the bank could divulge exactly where and how Ms. Ferguson spends her monthly paycheck. What's more, alot of folks would be very interested to know. Thankfully, I'm not tempted by casinos or nightclubs because that sort of information could travel across the county quicker than I could make the short drive home.
All in all, though, I'm all for the small town connectedness that I've discovered here. It's exactly what I need at this point in my life and I consider it a blessing. And, I can't help but think of so many of my former students in Granbury who I believe would benefit greatly from being connected like this. I met so many 7th graders last year who seemed to just need a place to belong and to know that they mattered to someone.
*whew* That felt good. I think I'll write more often!
love and grace,