Things haven’t been going well this year, yet this is the happiest I have been in a long time. More than anything, I really love my job, because I sometimes hate my job, if that makes sense.
I go to work with the weight of the world on my shoulders, and then I have these little rascals (okay, sometimes, angels) running around, pulling, pushing, screaming, chewing, crying and doing everything that a kid does, and it, in a way, takes my mind off things.
I find myself tested, again and again, and through these experiences, I have learned important lessons in humility and patience, among other things.
1: Let loose
These children, being different in their own beautiful way, are a constant reminder that, although we find comfort in the boxes that society has pushed us into through years of routine and ‘appropriate’ behavior, we need to get out sometimes. We don’t just need to think out of the box, we need to jump out, from time to time, and let loose. We need to, before we lose ourselves completely. The world has already taken so much from us.
2: Do what you mean, and mean what you say
As we grow up within civilized walls, we learn how not to be rude, and how it is to be polite in situations. It gets harder to be assertive about things, in that we find it hard to say no to people sometimes, and we often find ourselves doing things we don’t really want to do, as a consequence.
We pretend to like people that we don’t really like, and we have conversations for the sake of having them. These children have no qualms about saying yes or no (verbally, or non-verbally) to things they want or don’t want to do. They do as they please, and while this can be either good or bad, the lesson here is that we need to know that we are in control of our own lives. While we are part of the gears that keep our society moving, we, again, should not lose ourselves (or our will) in the process.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. You may have the occasional daydream every now and then, and some elaborate sleep dreams, but none of these would be comparable to the ones that children have. The world can get darker every day, but that only makes the light inside of you shine so much brighter. Reality is what you make of it- it is what it is to you and only you, and that’s all that really matters. Live the life you want, both on the inside, and on the outside.
A lot can be going on in the ‘real world’, but nobody can stop you from picking strawberries and jumping on magical trampolines in your own world. Sounds simple enough, but we forget.
4: Travel light
This has been particularly relevant to me. I think about a lot of things, and I keep my worries close all the time. I overthink things, and I care too much about what other people think. These children are free in all of the ways that I am not, and it is not because they do not have any problems or worries. Children do have problems, and they do have worries. It is a lot more challenging for them to tackle these problems and worries when they do not know how to communicate them to adults or peers, yet, they do something that we can all learn from- they don’t waste today’s tears on yesterday’s sorrows, or tomorrow’s worries.
When children fight, they usually don’t take a long time to make up and hug it out. With teenagers and adults, things and people get awkward. People hurt people, and then there’s the hurt from people leaving, or choosing not to stay.
Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned from the children thus far, is that we so often forget to live. We get so wrapped up in our supposed ‘lives’ that the routine becomes us, and we become the routine. The routine will kill us, said somebody wise. Children make the most of every moment. Every second is spent exploring, playing, dreaming, and doing everything that a child does, which is essentially living in the moment. We come in, and we tell the children what to do- sometimes they comply, and sometimes they don’t.
While it is in our interest to help the children developmentally, we must think about what is really important for the child at that point in time, and shift our focus accordingly. Losing the trust of a child may not be worth learning a few new Dolch list words.
Because we are so accustomed to systematic approaches, we sometimes find it hard to adapt to different children who are very different in terms of who they are and how they communicate and express themselves. An approach that may work for one child, may not work for another. Sounds simple, but again, we forget. We forget that, often, it is not the child that is rigid, but that we are, and unless we learn to learn with the child, instead of teach in the way we think we should, we cannot hope to do the best we can with the child.