I’m lucky enough to have a classroom up the stairs. There’s a great view of the footie pitch, so on a daily basis, recess for 120 kids provides full entertainment and distraction.

It’s a screechy layer of four to five chaotic footie matches, all sound and fury, all happening, all at once.

We’ve been talking about how to make the pitch more organized, how to involve kids in some sort of antidote to the chaos.

But for, now football is life. And life is messy.

In general, players delineate by division, and age. But there are moments where just before ES is at recess, a few wayward high schoolers wander over and kick things for fun.

So today, I see Rhino and a few of his Grade 11 buds gather for a quick game of World Cup. It’s usually either teams of two or every player for himself.

When did he get so big?

I watch as this high schooler disguised as a man finds so much joy in holding the ball at his feet, making deft touches inside and out, walking around friends turned defenders. He smiles while doing so, and his joy is mine too.

I’m not sure if he’s ever going to the next level as a footballer, so for now, I am content with watching him be beautiful within the beautiful game.

He is connected, smiling, with friends, and I’m lucky enough to have a birds eye view of the action.

And in this moment, the elementary school kids make their way out for recess, the signal for the high school kids to exit the pitch.

But Rhino lingers. The allure of ball and goal is too much for him to get away.

I’m considering the politics of high school, the awkward phase where peers matter so very much, and the push away from family in full effect. Where being vulnerable, or authentic, can feel like a spotlight. Where self-consciousness opens, closes, and too often wins the day.

He’s finding his place

but I think he still needs us

On his way to the pitch, Elephant spots his big bro immediately, waves, and hops in his direction. Rhino waves back.

And for a moment, I’m not sure what kind of reaction older brother has in store for younger. He is surrounded by peers, and I wonder if self-consciousness trumps brotherly love

It’s been a tender stage for Elephant, fifth grade can be rough.

He loops over to Rhino and I can tell he’s looking for some love. I worry that this might not be the moment he’ll get some.

And then, my favorite favorite moment of the day happens

Elephant dashes into Rhino’s arms, Rhino welcomes him with an earnest hug.

And plants a gentle kiss on his forehead

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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