While reorganizing my daughter’s room over the weekend, I picked through some of her books on her bookshelf, browsing titles as I took a nostalgic trip down memory lane. As a Ninth Grade student, my daughter Claudia is as likely to download and read books on her phone or tablet as she is to thumb through the pages of a hard cover book. I reached the top shelf and pulled down one of her favorite books from her youth, Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. In Third Grade, Claudia and her friends read the book in advance of viewing the Martin Scorsese film adaptation Hugo.
I combed through the book and was captivated again by the book’s drawings. Selznick’s illustrations are part magical realism, part builder’s manual, and part science fiction; they are wholly astonishing. I remember as a child creating robots out of radios, mini-helicopters out of spare bicycle parts, and time machines out of car parts. I also remember the wonder and awe on Claudia’s face—and later my son Carlos’—as they read the book as young children, rooted in the world of young Hugo.
One of the quotes from the book reminded me about the ephemeral nature of time—an important character in the story. Selznick writes, “Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.” As we take a well-deserved rest away from The Bush School during the winter break, time may be the greatest gift we can offer our loved ones, even if they are clamoring for a new iPhone or XBox.
Spending time with our families, reading together, hiking, baking cookies, playing a board game, telling stories, or making crafts and collages creates lasting memories and slows the metamorphosis of our children into adults. Looking back on how much has changed, and how fast Claudia and Carlos have grown, I value the precious and priceless gift of time each day.
I am fortunate that during the school year I get to spend almost six hours a day with your funny, thoughtful, kind, and creative children. We will miss them over the winter break. Please take the next two weeks to enjoy their presence, their humor, and their creativity. Soon, like butterflies, they will transform into adults and fly away.
On behalf of The Bush School family, I wish you a safe and restful winter break.