|Posted by Nicole Jocleen on December 31, 2015 at 10:05 PM|
I spend my days with toddlers and and am expected to teach them daily but most days I find that they are teaching me.
A couple of weeks ago I sat down at a childlike table and made a gesture for a little boy to come sit next to me. I’ll call him David. I instructed David on how to do the art project that I’d prepared. He gladly did it and within minutes he was done. Another child, I’ll call him Sean, said “Ms. Nicole is it my turn?” I said yes and told David to get up so that Sean could sit in the chair. David gladly got up but before Sean could sit down another child sat in the chair. I’ll call her, Amy. I stood up because I needed to hang David’s art work so that the other children wouldn’t get to it. As I was doing so Sean began to repeatedly hit Amy because he was upset that she was sitting in “his” chair.
After calming Sean down and hanging the art simultaneously I kindly asked Amy to get up. She did not move and it made Sean even madder. I said “Sean it’s okay you’re next.” He continued to cry and Amy continued to resist my command to tell her to get up. While I was up walking around I did a couple of small things before returning to the art table. Once I sat back down I calmly looked at Amy and picked her up out of the chair and told Sean to sit down. Though he was still frustrated he sat down but not before turning to Amy to try and hit her one more time while saying “MY CHAIR!” I looked at Sean and I said. “No Sean! We do not hit” Overcome with frustration he ignored me and continued to lash out at Amy. Watching this I became frustrated and made a surprising decision. I said “Sean get up and go clean up the block area and when you get done you can try again.” Then I turned to Amy and said, “sit back down let’s do art.”
I laughed to myself thinking how much adults are like 2 year olds. In that classroom I’m God-like and though I repeatedly told Sean that he was “next” because it didn’t look like he was next he frustrated himself. He allowed another 2 year old that is not qualified to make any decisions for his life allow him to bring himself to a point of self-destruction. He was so overwhelmed by his situation that he blocked out my voice and my instruction. Even when it was finally his turn instead of just stepping into it with joy he couldn’t get past his frustration over a situation what wasn’t what it looked like.
Then I thought about Amy and how though she was wrong, because Sean failed at his instruction she was able to gain what at that moment was not for her. Now she would have gotten the opportunity to do art, but it wouldn’t been right then.
You may wonder did Sean ever do art? No, he didn’t. Why? Sean continued to ignore my instruction. He didn’t clean up the block area. In his 2 year old mind he couldn’t comprehend what picking up the blocks had to do with doing art. In reality they are two separated activities, but the point was that I told him to clean up the blocks. I needed to see if he would obey me given another opportunity and he didn’t.
You may wonder well what about Amy? You let her get away with “murder.” You’re right because I was more frustrated with Sean than Amy because I chose Sean. I expected more from Sean so when Sean couldn’t act right the disappointment was heavier.
I wished Sean had just picked up the blocks because I wanted Sean to do art. I really did but before I could enjoy his art I needed his obedience.
The good thing about this story is that I am not God and God is not petty. Two year olds are expected to make mistakes and there’s always another opportunity for Sean to do art. I mean we do it daily so there’s always tomorrow. What about us as adults? We don’t know that we’ll be here tomorrow let alone have another opportunity to do ART.