The dining room at the AEROx in Massachusetts
, the day after his birthday, I took Py to a little
alternative education conference
at an off the grid retreat center called Earthlands in Western Mass.
There were about 40 people there, mostly educators, and 2 kids: Py who just turned 6, and a 7 year old named David.
In the morning I was asked to introduce myself to the group, along with the other latecomers as the conference had started the night before. I said who I was but I didn't introduce Py. Then, after lunch on Saturday afternoon, as a few more latecomers arrived, the call went out again for new people to announce themselves.
The small dining room was fairly packed. Py, who spent the whole day playing in and around the lodge with David, was on the other side of the dining room from me. A few adults announced themselves and then Py waved his hand and announced himself. He gave his name and said that he was here with his dad, that he was having a good time playing, and mentioned the town that he was from in New York. Then he called out to me "Right, Daddy?"
I don't know about everyone else in the room but I was stunned. I felt so good that a six year old could feel comfortable and confident enough to be part of something that was not only an adult conversation, but the kind of social dynamic amidst strangers that makes even adults nervous.
No one told Py what to say, or even to say anything. I didn't think he was even listening. He did not hesitate and he seemed to understand the rhythm, timing, and attention of all the people around him. His level of self confidence blew me away, and I think others were amazed as well. He hung around for a while and then took off with David to play outside somewhere.
Thanks for organizing the conference. I enjoyed it, got some good ideas, and hope I helped.