This picture was taken tonight, from the doorway to the lounge in our dorm. We have our piano in there, and a whole bunch of our musical instruments (as well as lots of outdoor toys). It is very common to find a student playing the piano — and almost just as common to have Owen sit down on the bench with them for a nice long stretch of time.
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By far the question I get the most — when people find out that we are living on campus — is, “So, what’s it like for your kids?” Or, “how have your kids reacted to it?” Or something along those lines. People seem genuinely curious about the experience of raising kids on campus. I wish I had huge chunks of time to blog about this, because I too find it to be a sort of fascinating topic. I mean, really, what happens when you put young kids on a college campus that has historically not had kids living on it?
What I’ve thought about so much is the importance of just letting it happen, and the importance of sharing our kids. It would be so easy to keep a very tight reign (and we oftentimes need to; obviously there are times on campus and places on campus when we have to be extra diligent about our kids’ interactions and whereabouts). The challenge is to just let go a little and let our kids bond — independently of us — with students. When we let go and share, amazing things happen.
What we’ve seen in the past year is the ability for people to connect and bond and build relationships — even 8/9 year old people (or 4/5 year old people) with 19/20/21/22-year old people. In fact, I think there is a specialness about the relationships that these two age groups can form. Younger kids are craving feeling truly connected to older/cooler/hipper people (who are not their relatives, parents, or their parents’ friends). And college aged kids are craving feeling truly connected too. We are all just trying to find our way in the world, and our place in it. We all like feeling connected. And sometimes it is just very satisfying to bond with someone very different from yourself.
Kyle, Owen, and Meera are the only kids living at Lehigh. They are very well known on campus, and they have lots of very real relationships with lots of very amazing students. They get a lot out of all of these relationships. And vice-versa; I can see that the bambinos also have a huge impact on the students they connect with. I don’t know where all of this will lead, what impact it will have on the bambinos, or how this will play out in the long run. All I know is that right now I am confident that it is something special and something good.
It is hard to capture any of this in photos. Because it feels like I’d be infringing on something if I were to try to snap a picture. So, most often, we don’t take pictures of our kids interacting with students. But sometimes we quickly grab a snapshot (often with our iPhones in order to make it feel less invasive and more ‘normal’ — taking photos with phones is, after all, part of the daily status quo of life on campus).
After the piano session, they switched to African Drumming.
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Our 2013-2014 Head Gryphon, Jon, is an astounding, incredible, absolutely wonderful guy that we have been quickly getting to know. Above: Jon has his door decorated with Meera’s artwork. Below: Jon has added a second basketball net in the hallway (adding on to the one we already had over the lounge door) — so he’s created a mini basketball court in the hall… where he, Kyle, Owen, and many other residents, have already spent hours and hours and hours playing Hall BBall.
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Above: Sayre Lawn, at dusk, a few nights ago. Meera has slews of the female residents wrapped around her little finger. Here she was leading them in some sort of elaborate chase/tag/hide-and-seek game. Below: Meera at Rathbone Dining Hall. She’s become well-known for her ice cream creations for dessert. She catches many students’ attention with her absolute unselfconscious delight in eating ice cream. I observe so many college-aged young women coo over her and watch with wonder as they see a 5-year-old eating happily without counting calories or worrying about fat grams. I think it should be a requirement that every college dining hall have healthy little girls eating in them… just as a reminder of what healthy body image, and healthy eating, looks like. On a campus that is just teeming with eating disorders, it is good to have a Meera around. And Meera just loves the dining hall! (You can see why! ICE CREAM FOR DESSERT!!!)
Below: Meera on the Slip-n-Slide on the Sayre Lawn (not afraid to put on her bikini after eating that ice cream!).
Below: Another piano scene. I took the picture from outside the building, looking in.