It was bound to happen. Working with kindergarteners (and a few in early elementary), I was bound to get a runner. Actually my runner is a sweet little guy who is really more like a three year old in a five year old body. Thankfully his body is also small for his age. But, gosh, he’s fast.
My fifty year old body discovered a couple of important things today. One, I pee when I sprint. (Ok, that isn’t new-news, but it is definitely *bad* news.) The other more salient learning is that this empty-nester’s mother instincts are still strong when children are in danger. This was good to know. I caught, I held, I counted to five while we both caught our breath and I realized that it was tears that filled my eyes. At the end of the day, as we walked happily hand in hand to the bus, we were best buds and I’m glad of it. Three year olds scream and bolt and jump on your last nerve, and then the cuddle into your arms and share the very essence of the sacred. This little guy, in a five year old body, brings it all.
I am relishing the sweetness as I nurse the weariness tonight. I have no doubt he will be doing double time over the next few months, catching up in his new school and soon his behaviors will be more age appropriate. This three year old drama will come to an end, but so too will the three year old charm. All too soon he won’t think it’s cool to hold a teacher’s hand (though thankfully many of my little ones still do). Soon he won’t try labels like “princess” and “mom” when he forgets my name, but for today he does and even as I correct him, I smile. In between the tantrums and the chase, he plays a mean game of dinosaurs (and by “mean” I mean “good”), shares noteworthy drawing skills, and has made a new best friend in the class. He’s a runner, yes; he is also a charmer.
Nursing the both/and tonight, I’m struck that life is built this way. We build scrapbooks with the high points, but even if we don’t take pictures we know that every peak is paired with a valley. And though we revel or despair at the extremes, foundations are built with the solid ground in between. Perhaps it is important to note that, though I’m compelled to write about the drama, most of the day was pretty routine with colors and toys and waiting in line.
Tomorrow is a staff work day and the kids will be having a three day weekend. I will miss them (really) but I am also glad for the break. It’s a both/and, which is a win-win.
Today I am noticing, today I am giving thanks, today I am saying a prayer of safekeeping for a precious little one over a long weekend.
Note: This is the third in a new series entitled “Kindergarten Lessons”, reflections on my work as a classroom aide with young children who have emotional and behavioral challenges.