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Two Benches

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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One of my favorite websites is unsplash.com. It is breathtaking. I have perused the collection of photos numerous times and the one above is without a doubt my favorite. I do not have words to explain why. It just is.

Maybe it is because I like to imagine myself sitting on one of the benches. Reading my favorite paperback while sipping on a latte from a local cafe. Comfortable, because I am wearing jeans, a hoodie and some tennis shoes. Relaxed, because I have absolutely nowhere to be and absolutely nothing to do.

And yet I can’t help but wonder if inserting myself in the photo would lessen its beauty. Should I keep my distance? I will make every effort not to disturb or alter. I must. Beauty like that which is seen in the photo above is precious and must be treated as such. I will be careful.

A careful observer might not even notice me if the photo were to be retaken.

The sound of a nearby siren startles me and I jump. I am able to catch my drink, but not before I spill some on the bench. It will dry in time. I simply move over. It is a big bench and I am by myself.

My cell phone rings. I know I shouldn’t answer it, but I do just this once. It turns out that my friend is nearby and asks if I have had lunch. He offers to split a pizza and I can’t refuse. I do manage to read a few pages before he shows up, hot pizza box in hand.

I quickly remember that the one end of the bench is still wet so we move to the next bench. We eat and talk at the same time. Catching up quickly since we haven’t seen each other in months. The pizza doesn’t last long. It may be greasy, but it is the best in town. We notice that when we go to throw the box away that there is a stain where the box once was. We clean it as best we can, with what few napkins remain. But with very little success.

After an hour my friend tells me he has to go and we promise to stay in touch. I return to my book, but something seems different. I look around and realize that I no longer belong in the photo. In fact, I think I have damaged it. What was once pristine and innocent is now altogether different. Almost unrecognizable.

What have I done?

Children come to us much like the photo above.

And yet far too often we forget that they were beautiful and magnificent before us.

If we are to enter their world then we must do so with caution. And maybe if we are lucky they will teach us and show us how to be beautiful and magnificent once again.


Why do they treat us like children? they said & I said why do you treat them like adults?




their eyes opened wide & they began to laugh & talk all at once & suddenly everything


looked possible again.


Brian Andreas

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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

  • Guest
    Jonathon Wennstrom Saturday, 23 April 2016


    Thanks for sharing. Your post reminded me of the Leonard Nemoy quote "There are no perfect moments, only perfect memories". The real world is never as perfect as our imaginations. That's the beauty of art. As you said, hopefully the children will change us more than we change them.


  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Sunday, 08 May 2016

    That is an awesome quote Jon. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means much to me. I agree, I gain much more from children than they do from me.

  • Guest
    Jennifer Hogan Sunday, 24 April 2016

    Jon, once again you have written a beautiful story that unfolds and has the reader reading between the lines, facing truths that once seemed too daunting, or feeling hope in a hopeless space. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world.

  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Sunday, 08 May 2016

    That means a lot to me Jennifer and your support over the years has been nothing short of awesome. I am lucky to get to experience so many wonderful moments that inspire me each day.

  • Guest
    Allyson Apsey Sunday, 24 April 2016

    Jon, You weave magic with your words. I love the message of our children being like the beautiful untarnished photo. If you observe them, listen to them, and avoid laying our bias on them, we can keep them untarnished longer. They are beautiful, like the photo! We have so much to learn from them.

  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Sunday, 08 May 2016

    Allyson I have enjoyed reading your blog very much and feel lucky to have connected with you. Thank you for your kind words and I look forward to learning and growing together.

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