Since last week a word has been going through my head non-stop. The word is ‘recess’. I substituted in first grade on Friday and I heard it a lot. After attendance, the kiddos tried to convince me it was recess time. After snack, thirty minutes later, they tried again to convince me a brief recess was in order. And so, the day went. After every activity those seven-year-olds worked hard to con me into opening the outside doors and letting them run free. While I thought it was a splendid idea each and every time, I didn’t think I could get away with it. I can only play the ‘new sub card’ for so long before the principal will call me to the office.

Webster’s defines the word recess as “a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation.” I’ve got to tell you there wasn’t a first grader in that classroom who wanted to rest or relax. They wanted to chase each other. They wanted to kick a ball or toss a ball toward each other. They wanted those pesky face masks off and to scream unhindered. They wanted to move, wiggle, and climb in no particular order or direction and I so wanted to let them.

Adults clamor for recess too, don’t we? After almost two years of clipped wings don’t we want someone to open the windows and let us fly? Rest and relaxation have their merits, but I am ready to throw my head back, twirl and shout my lungs out. I am ready to venture outside without fear, without obstacles, without masks, without distancing, and especially without thinking too much. Does that sound irresponsible for a grown up of a certain age? If so, so be it.

I hate what this pandemic has tried to do to us. COVID-19 has been more than a bully, it has been evil. It has been heartbreaking. It has tried to change us. I’m not going to get into the political and social fights several of our kind have gotten into over this. Health and politics should be treated like church and state. Separate them. Give them their own room. What I want to remind us of is that through all of this, people have stepped up. Not all, but most have. We’ve rolled up our sleeves, we’ve taken care of each other, and we’ve gone out of our way for each other. We’ve been creative. We’ve been challenged. We’ve met the challenge. We have persevered. I hope we have done our ancestors proud. After all, they knew a little bit about heartbreak of disease. Small pox, polio, typhoid, measles, chicken pox, mumps, the horrid list is long. They buried their loved ones too. They fussed about what was right or better. Yet, they survived well enough to bring us into this world. I wonder what their recess looked like?

It’s time for recess. It’s time to run, play, throw balls at each other. It’s time to climb to the top of the monkey bars and beat our chests. Winter is coming. I say, we get ready for the biggest, bestest snowball fight known to man. It’s time to throw our heads back and stick out our tongues in anticipation of that first snowfall. Recess, people! Watch a first grader, they’ll show you how it’s done.



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