Hello and Goodbye: A Bittersweet Year-End Visit

Covid-19 has uprooted so many schools and learning communities. And while we have done our best to connect with children and families via virtual classes, texts, blog posts, zoom calls, etc, these fall gravely short of getting to see, be and play with each other.

Children, parents and teachers have been missing each other! So Kimberley and I invited families to come for a short physical distance visit and to get a glimpse of our precious play yard one last time before summer.  We offered a final Family Share–an invitation to reflect on what we love about playing together. 


Families picked up their bags of personal items (with a few surprises inside) and selected a colored poster board to make a sign for our upcoming Spread Love Car Parade on Monday, June 1st at 10 a.m.

It feels achy to say hello and goodbye all in one short visit– when we are longing for our usual relaxed, interactive, joyful play together. But these are odd times so we’ll hold the sadness to one side while welcoming seeing our precious friends once more for now…We will host a second visiting day on one of the next rain-free days– likely Wednesday, 5/27 for the rest of interested families. 

Just for fun! Hello, Goodbye Beatles video

 Thanks to Sara (Media Handler) for supplying photos and slideshow!

Day 51 of Quarantine: Glamping in the Living Room

Nichole Aldaheff, HFP Parent

Staying home with a young child has proven challenging during this time of quarantine but the warmer, dry weather has provided us with much more opportunity to stay busy. Not on Day 51. The sky was dark grey and solidly pouring with no end in sight. At this point, it was hard to think of anything new to do, especially inside for the next ten hours.

As I cooked breakfast, I watched T and her dad bring out a sleeping bag and pad and put them on the living room floor. Camping? I wondered if our summer plans would actually happen. I remembered when I bought my first tent as a teenager and set it up in my parents living room. I slept in it for days.


After a two minute ponder, we moved the furniture and the tent went up. I instructed that it would just be up for the day as it was taking up most of the living room. More mattresses and blankets came out and filled the tent. We colored, read books, played games, watched a movie, and ate popcorn within the walls. That night, T and I slept in it. The following day, she and her dad slept in it. We went back to our regular beds, but after a few days, we were back to sleeping in the tent.  It is day 7 and the tent is still in the living room.

When we look back on our quarantine experience, there will likely be many memories and feelings that pop up. Our week of “glamping” will surely be a highlight!

Remembering What Is Lost: A Parent Recognizes the Impact Physical Distancing Has On Her Child

Hillary Montouri, HFP alumni parent

I have recently had this feeling, that people I love are moving on without me. While there is absolutely a tally of parties and dates missed running in my mind, helpful or not, this feeling is larger and more abstract in nature; it is a sense of shared moments lost and connectivity breaking down.

Of course, I understand how physical distancing has created this feeling in me, and I imagine, in others. Although this feeling has some unique qualities, I feel lucky to be able to draw on coping strategies I developed in other times of isolation and social reorganization. I know how to lean in closer to my deep friendship. My brain and my heart remember that with hibernation comes spring and that spring is so beloved not in spite of, but because it is change at its most rich and tangible.

And then I remember that my children don’t have this wisdom of experience. We are the sleepy mama bears leading our cubs into those dens on their first full winter. They don’t remember spring, they just know to follow us.

Today I was playfully asking my 6 year old what he likes to do most with my mother, his grandmother. I suggested we write down his thoughts and create some watercolor art for her. Standing on the firm ground of adult memory, I assumed that my child would name one or two of the thousand things my mom has done with him over the last 6 years. Before we decided to stay physically distant from her 6 weeks ago, she would visit and play with my children twice a week.

My question literally brought my sweet child to his knees. He agonized over this question for a couple of minutes and then assumed a fetal position. He wouldn’t do the project, he couldn’t. I sat confused for longer than I wanted until it finally hit; he didn’t remember. My simple question unveiled a painful truth; he could not recall any specific enjoyable activity with one of the people he holds the closest. His relationship with his grandmother at this point in his life is ruled by physical contact and the reliability of her presence. Both important elements of their relationship have been indefinitely postponed. This archiving of his time spent with his grandmother is a great loss, of course. He doesn’t know when or even how their relationship will again have the effervescent, intimate quality that comes with being together in the same space.

After exploring his feelings and then validating his loss, there was little left for me to do. A facetime call or a long letter would be my coping strategy, but those stand-ins for togetherness are only powerful for me because I know spring and I know my own strength. That facetime call works because I know: many of my relationships will survive and some will not, I can lose someone I love without losing myself, and one day (perhaps in the distant future) I will likely hug my mom again.

To his credit, my little love, full of angst and fear, decided he did remember his grandmother’s favorite color and that she loves flowers. And so, we painted and painted. We remembered her favorite colors and we noted how she might like the wild designs of our flowers. We remembered her in the best way we could. We started to paint spring.

Let’s Make this Fable the True Story of Our Time!

What can each of us do to make this the reality? Let’s value people and our planet over profits. Let’s nourish our full humanity. Let’s work to end greed and oppression. Let’s interrupt ideas of better than and less than. Let’s teach for lasting change. Let’s consume less. Let’s…

Valuing Relationships: Real, Virtual, at School and Online

With schools closed, we’re offering “preschool in place.” This includes daily virtual connections with small groups of children using Zoom. When we first started, K’s mom said he was hesitant to participate. I encouraged her to help him give it a try. K quickly became invested in seeing his friends and engaging in all the activities. He’s become an enthusiastic contributor to the group–animatedly greeting each person by name at the beginning of our group, zestfully joining every activity, and lovingly saying goodbye to each participant before we log off.  

At the beginning of class, children often share what they’ve been doing since our last online classroom. This is an opportunity to reconnect, affirm each child’s experience, notice common themes, and share ideas that families might opt to do at their own houses. When it is K’s turn, his face lights up. He boasts, “We got sand. LOTS and lots of it! We took our wagon and walked all the way there. Then we loaded it up with our shovels. And then I pulled the wagon all the way home.”

K’s describes an adventure beyond what I fully understand. Then it clicks. From our home visit a year and a half ago, I know K lives close to Mount Scott Fuel. I ask, “Oh, did you get it at Mt Scott Fuel?”

“Yes! And there were giant trucks there too! It was a lot of work and really fun.” K’s pride and joy is intoxicating. I want to jump right through the computer screen to be next to him. I want to hang out and play and joke and dig in his sand box together. 

Here’s a glimpse of everyday outdoor play before this extended pause of retreating to our homes became the new norm.


K dashes across the play yard to match the red/rojo strip for our collaborative rainbow scavenger hunt.

K and his buddies hole up under the climber during hide and seek.


K & S punching holes in leaves to make necklaces.


K and J fill a digging machine.

And here’s HFP’s bustling sandbox.


“Preschool in Place” is clearly a far second to the rich and varied offerings of preschool together. And while I grieve the ways I cannot offer the fullness of what I’d like to offer these young friends, I find great comfort in noticing that K has already internalized the fundamental values of HFP –thanks to his loving family and our nearly two years together. We witness this success in K’s heartfelt fervor as he greets each of his classmates and teachers by name– at the beginning of each and every Zoom group, and then again as he says goodbye at the end of group.  K clearly values human connections and invests in relationships. And while we’re apart, K and his brother get to dig in their home sandbox –a rich sensory experience reminiscent of HFP’s glorious sandbox.