I was checking math problems and a child came up and put her arms around my shoulders. She fixed her sparkly eyes on mine and said, “Mrs. Campbell, I have a question for you. Were you as joyful at my age as you are now?”
I loved the question. I know that children wonder if they will still be joyful when they grow up, but I have never had a child work backwards and wonder if a joyful grown-up morphed from a once-upon-a-time joyful child.
This week we flip our calendars to December and enter a season marked by joy. But here is the weird thing… when you start paying attention to this season, you find the implication that joy is something you can buy or wrap or give. Count the times the word joy is used in a holiday commercial and pay attention to the context. You’ll be amazed at what you hear and see. Tonight I heard voiceover announcement: “Savings that give unstoppable joy…” Unstoppable joy? Really?
How does joy work? I know how it works in the classroom. It works through shared trust, shared traditions, shared jokes, shared music, shared expectations and shared experiences of singing, dancing, learning, literature, inquiry and discovery. Joy is lived together; everyone’s gift of self counts and is honored and respected. It works like that in families, too.
As a teacher I have become a student of joy. Don’t look for it in a store. It isn’t there. Where do YOU find it?