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October 4, 2013

Spiritual Anatomy of a Preschool. ~ Grey Aurore Marcoux

 

I remember it like it was yesterday. That dreary, rainy San Francisco day when I had spent five hours cooped up in the tiny Mission district preschool I would one day consider to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

But not today—everything was chaos, we were short-handed on staff and one of my most treasured preschoolers had thought it would be a good idea to pour his milk all over my lunch. That was what was building up inside of me.

So when I found Colin alone in the front room, something that could get the preschool a very serious citation, I was already trying to breathe deeply to control my temper. Colin was holding a medium-sized box filled with rainbow-colored pieces of plastic that connected to make cool shapes such as space-ships, hearts, dogs, cars and whatever else their incredibly imaginative, magical minds could think up. As we met eyes, I already knew what he was thinking.

“Colin, do not throw that,” I said, with all seriousness.

He looked down, shrugged his little shoulders and with a big sigh threw the box up in the air, showering the room in microscopic pieces of rainbow plastic.

Minutes later, as we both worked to collect all the pieces, I lectured this four-year-old on the importance of “boundaries.”

That’s when he stopped picking the pieces up. He looked at me squarely in the face and said, “You’re wrong. This isn’t about boundaries.”

“Yes it is,” I emphasized.

“No,” he matched my seriousness and then followed with, “It’s about love!”

For a moment I was stunned. He was right. That’s when I stopped too, and as I studied him in the darkened front room, toys scattered about, I told him so. We sat there for what must have been 10 seconds (an eternity in the preschool world), staring at each other until he jumped up and threw his little arms around me! Shocked, I hugged him back until he let go and we finished collecting the pieces.

For the rest of the afternoon, I was left with a feeling of awe from this incident and yet it has seemed as if, every day since, I have continued to be constantly moved by the interactions I’m so blessed to have with these little people. They are so very amazing.

“Kids are so cute.” I hear people say this all the time when I fill them in on my vocation, and although I would have to agree 90% of the time, it’s just a small part of what they are; they are much more than that. They are fiercely honest, without inhibition, incredibly sensitive, reactionary, sweetly delicate, loud protesters who say bizarre things, super picky eaters and excellent at knowing how to push someone’s buttons. They are some of the greatest teachers adults will ever have.

Children can teach us so many things about ourselves and help us re-evaluate our beliefs. Want to learn how to stop being so serious and really play? Hang out with a kid. Most of the time, being playful works better then being serious. Want to hear an honest evaluation of yourself? Hang out with some kids; it’ll make you a stronger and more secure person. Kids never mean to be malicious, but they are curious and they are honest. Want to have someone stare into your eyes and tell you full-heartedly that they love you, no matter what? Hang out with a child and build a true connection. If the child likes you, he’ll let you know, and if he doesn’t, he’ll let you know that too (probably with a smile on his face).

Interacting with kids gives us a chance to be curious and learn about ourselves. 

So the next time you have the great gift of interacting with a child, just remember: it doesn’t have to always be about “teaching them something.” It doesn’t need to be about control or boundaries or presents or any number of things.

It’s about making the interactions count in the deepest way possible: it’s about love.

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Assistant Ed: Jamie Khoo/Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: author’s own}

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