Thursday, July 28, 2011

Campus Brats

I'm very lucky to have my office in a dedicated building on the fringes of campus life. The building was formerly someone's home. I often wonder who built it, and what kind of family lived there before a fraternity bought it. When the university purchased the property, the building went through a few functional experiments before it became the home base for the program I direct. The building has two full bathrooms, bedrooms for overnight guests, laundry, and a fully functional kitchen. This building offers students, staff and faculty a space for easy conversation and a bit of repose. We've even opened it up for a local playwriting group to share their work once a month. The space has so much potential for people to meet and to converse. It's a gem.

It's also a great place to take the kids if I can't find a babysitter or a play date to keep them occupied out of school. Except for when the building is going through renovations. These last two weeks, the walls got a fresh coat of paint and the floor is getting refinished. Since I have every mobile tool invented, my office is more nomadic than ever.

Now that the kids' summer program is over - I have to find even more ways to keep them engaged while I try to focus on research, strategic planning and email. As much as I love working from home - I still need to be on campus for meetings. Often, the kids accompany me to meetings. They sit pretty quietly when they have to. I don't expect them to behave like angels for longer than an hour. They respond well to rewards and threats. Threats are usually rewards not earned. I'm lucky in that a reward can be as simple as playing in a fountain, a ride in the elevator all the way to the top, or climbing statues. Occasionally there's ice cream. This is how the campus brat is bred.

In my efforts to provide opportunities for my kids to explore and try new things, I often find myself exploring with them, the very things I take for granted. I happen to work for an institution that has one of the most beautiful pieces of property in town. It's full of green spaces; trees that provide shade for many benches, beautifully manicured lawns, public art and a few water features. Much of the campus is pedestrian friendly; not only does this cut down speedy student drivers, it also calms down the noise. I can even take my dog to work if I can manage to keep him quiet in my office. He loves walks on campus - especially barking at the Asa Packer statue in front of Memorial Hall.

Today, I had a meeting rescheduled from the morning to the afternoon. Normally, this is not too much of a problem. But today, it was a major inconvenience because I had to move around an entire day of possibilities for the kids. Instead of the morning meeting time at Wilbur Annex, we found ourselves at the fountain pool in the back of the building. There was a shady bench next to the water feature, so I sat down to check email while I let the kids wade in the water. What started out as "don't get your underwear wet" soon turned into a hopeless cause. I couldn't deny their play. After they got drenched, we took a few detours to other sculptures. Each one was a chance for climbing, imaginative interaction, or just plain, "what is that?" curiosity.

I was again, learning from my children's example that creativity comes from abandoning all constraints. To look at the world through a child's eyes is to rediscover innocence and imagination.

Well played, kids.

#42 of 90in90 for #LUBlogTribe

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