A Happy Halloween Indeed

Posted November 9, 2021

A Happy Halloween Indeed


By Sarah Kern

It has been over a year and a half since our lives were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been over a year and a half since we had a “normal” school year. It has been over a year and a half since the children have been a regular part of our seniors’ lives — a year and a half without the joy and connection of our time with the residents.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a glimpse of the past, of what it used to be like, every day, with our seniors. The children of All Seasons celebrated Halloween by putting on a parade. Unlike last year, when the children only got to wave to seniors through their windows, we were able to go upstairs for the parades. One of the parades even included a trip into Memory Care.

As the children excitedly dressed for the Halloween parade, the teachers prepared them for what would happen. Leaving the school and riding in the elevator was a new experience for almost all of the children. Walking through the halls, staying together, following a teacher — these were rules the children needed to know. But none of us could have been prepared for what happened when we entered the Memory Care units.

There were the seniors, waiting in their chairs and on couches for the children. The looks in the seniors’ eyes and the joy on their faces was indescribable. Amidst the “oohs” and “aahs,” seniors reached out their hands and held open their arms for the children. And without prompting, the children fell into their arms. They gave handshakes and high fives. They shared the physical touch so many of us have been missing over the last 20 months. The seniors perhaps have missed it the most; so much of the touch they’ve received has been perfunctory as they received care from aides.

The teachers’ eyes filled with tears as we remembered the way it used to be and all that we have missed. It was a glimpse of the past, yes, and also a glimpse of the future, of the coming times when we will all be together again.

Out on a Limb…With a Wheel Chair

Posted November 24, 2014

by Amanda Janquart, Spring Room Teacher

betty

Forming intergenerational connections is a strong tenet of our curriculum at All Seasons. It can be exciting and scary at the same time. I do believe that overcoming fear leads to a deeper sense of accomplishment, and takes us to a point where multifaceted learning happens. The fleeting nature of our lives becomes more apparent as we age. Forming a relationship with Grandma Bette, our classroom grandma, evoked fears in me, and perhaps spoke to a larger cultural issue. It meant opening up to the possibilities of heartache. But it is now harder to imagine what would have been lost if I’d let worry stop me. Along with being the Spring Room’s weekly story reader, Grandma Bette has become a part of our class’ story. She is who the children want to build ships for, make cards for, parade in costumes for. Children push us to take emotional leaps just as we encourage them to do the same. They can plow through countless obstacles without a backward glance. I have been thoroughly humbled by their example.

I’ll share a recap of a recent morning in the Spring Room, one with a focus on our relationships:

There were numerous examples of how comfortable this class has become – with the environment and each other. Outside, they requested the “roll the ball down the hill” game, then moved seamlessly to basketball, which was near the trikes, so riding them was next. They helped each other back onto the sidewalk when tires slipped off (those darn “flat tires” became quite comical), and reinforced what the street signs meant – One Way and Stop. They did all of this with such camaraderie and compassion, calling out support as well as lending a hand. They rocked at clean up too, “Hey, I’ll put that ball back for you” and “Yep, the shed is all shut.” But by far, their strength of relationships was showcased that morning when we went to get Grandma Bette to spend time with us in our classroom. They urged each other to hurry with snack (cheese and apples) so we wouldn’t be late to get her. They cleared chairs out of the way so I could push her wheel chair through the dining area. They very excitedly pointed out new photos of themselves in the hall – “That’s me, Grandma Bette!!!” They warned her repeatedly about how to keep her fingers safe in the elevator. In the room they got to work immediately on what they had earlier planned out to show her – the magnatile rocket, the pumpkins in the kitchen, and the triumphant (if temporary) return of the marble run tower. It was unclear who was most excited; the boys or Bette.  She met one of our stick bug pets and was “served” a few wooden cookies before Amy helped her back upstairs. Before she left, she was already asking about her next visit.

Yes, starting a relationship can feel awkward as an adult. The hugs and handshakes can feel rote, but keep going and get past that stage. I can say that compassion is contagious and if you feel any hesitancy, follow a child’s lead (new beginnings are a constant in young lives and they don’t waste time getting to the point where it feels good). Or, follow the senior’s lead; (they are done wasting time on what doesn’t matter). Oh, how I’ve failed to find out Bette’s perspective in all this relationship forming! Perhaps because it will be a little scary to ask and then listen, not knowing where it will lead? I’m sure to be humbled yet again.