Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones

Today I was a chaperone for the Brownie Trip to the Maritime Aquarium. It was the culmination of their year-long study of water. While we were watching the seal feeding, I happened to be standing next to a preschool group. Most of the children were settled peacefully on the concrete steps of the tank except for one little boy who was about three.

He was having a terrible time. I am not sure what upset him but he was crying for his Mommy. He did not want his caregivers and was struggling against them. One older woman, kept telling him to stop - he was not being “nice”. I hate that. Nice has nothing to do with a three year old and a meltdown. Anyone who works with children knows this.

This little boy could not self-soothe and he was resisting efforts to restrain him from kicking and writhing on the floor. Clearly in despair, he looked at the older woman and said “I don’t like you!”. She replied back, “well, we don’t like you either! How about that!”.

Tears welled up in my eyes. Tears are welling up again right now as I remember her voice and the look upon his face. How dare someone say that to a child! How spiteful. Who is the adult? Who is the child? That boy needed comfort, love, understanding. Sticks and stones did not break this child today but words most definitely hurt him.

I wonder if his parents will ever know?


Theresa said...

Oh my! I don't even have words! How can anyone speak to a child that way? His parents are trusting these people! What that did to his self esteem! I am just appalled at people. That woman should not work with children.

I was a pre-school teacher before I had my girls, and I remember taking trips and for some kids, being in a strange and different place without their parents is very frightening. Pre-school teachers need to keep that in mind. We always had one or two kids that were upset, and we would take them for a little walk away from the group, maybe point something out to them to try to change their focus or just hold them and reassure them that they are safe. It's so simple. All children really want is love and acceptance.

Jessica said...

It bothered me all day. Mostly I am upset with myself for not saying something but I was not sure in the middle of heated emotions, flailing arms and legs and loud cries if my opinion would have mattered. In hindsight, I should have said something to bring awareness to the woman on behalf of this little boy and it will continue to bother me that I did not.

On a more pleasant note, I am really enjoying your blog and smile at how similar our lives are! Today my daughter and I are outside on our patio furniture (also new) enjoying the day doing our lessons together!

I hope you find time to enjoy a great spring day on your deck too!

Jeri Ann said...

I've encountered similar behavior at the Y during swimming lessons. Since I only hear the exchanges instead of see them, I don't feel comfortable saying anything, but I still feel awful about it. Anyone can have a bad day, child and adult alike, but it's up to the adult to behave like an adult, not react like another child who doesn't know how.

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