Outdoor School

Under the Linden tree, a small school blossomed today. Because everyone is an expert about something and a complete idiot about other things, the girls took turn being teacher and student.

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Lessons covered a wide range of topics. There were English spelling and vocabulary lessons, lessons on Polish orthography, simple mathematics, art, and chaos theory — otherwise known as scribble-scrabble

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It’s always fascinating how kids want to play things that they don’t really want to do in life. Already, just in kindergarten, L was complaining almost daily, “I don’t want to go to school.” Ask them to clean and it’s fun for a few moments, but then too boring. Suggest that they play like they’re cleaning and they’ll do it for hours.

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School started up again in the evening, when guests arrived after the opening of a mutual friend’s photography exhibition. The Girl took over as full-time teacher, though, providing lessons in English for all guests, then testing them on their recently acquired knowledge. This was somewhat tricky as she’s still not the best speller in the world. Even guests who’d had some English were stumped with “shgar.” The Girl, unphased but ever aware that it was a test, switched to English and said, “Tata, how do you spell ‘sugar’? I don’t think I got it right.” I spelled it out, then she proclaimed “Dobra!” and continued her test.

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Soon, L brought the chalkboard out of the “maly domek” and began quizzing everyone. D’s neighbor, who accompanied her to the exhibition, got grilled on “I” — the poor lady was forced to repeat it at least half a dozen times. A demanding teacher, that L.

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The dog, of course, was entirely uninterested in learning any English commands. “Look for your ‘give'” doesn’t even make sense in Polish (Szukaj daj) unless someone explains to you that the dog as associated the command “daj” (give) with the toilet plunger he loves playing fetch with. 

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As the final week of our time here in Poland disappears — where did five weeks go? — it’s evenings like this that I most appreciate. Frustrations and irritations of the day (fish and guests smell after stink after three days; there’s no telling what we do after 35) seem to disappear in the cool Polish evening and I find myself hoping, wishing, that every day could end like this.

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