If you happened to walk to the back of the school property, close to the big shade trees, you may have seen a pumpkin growing through the chain link fence. That’s from my yard. Due to a lapse in careful checking, this pumpkin was too big to pull back by the time we noticed it. We decided it would be fun to let it grow and then carve it into a Jack-O-Lantern. On the first day of school, my daughter got the idea to draw a face on it, and then she added a tie.
All Tied Together
Some of you will know that my ties have become something of a conversation piece at ACES. As soon as students noticed the tie, this pumpkin became identified with me. My daughter said it was so much fun to see kids come to see the “Mr. van Eerden pumpkin.”
At New Parent Orientation, I talked about why I like to wear all these different ties. It is one way that I can make a connection with students. They come over to see which one I am wearing today, or they notice it and say, “I like your tie.” We have short conversation, I may take that opportunity to check their name if it is one I just can’t remember at the time; and the relationship grows a little more. During the first few weeks of school, especially, I like to get out on the playground as much as possible to connect with kids, and my walks in September would often take me over to students who were looking at my pumpkin self.
Building relationships goes way beyond talking about my ties and pumpkins, of course. Relationship is fundamental to how we are created to be. I believe, as I told the new parents, that the line, “nurturing hearts” in our Mission Statement is essentially about nurturing healthy relationships in four key areas: with God, with self, with others, and with creation. A whole blog post could be written on each one of those relationships, so I won’t say much more about that here, but if being identified with a pumpkin strengthens my relationship with just a few students, it works for me.
Now for the rest of the story. The pumpkin is no longer there. Someone poked my pumpkin eyes out, it went from bad to worse and we had cut it off. It actually was quite a traumatic event for my daughter, but you can ask her about that.