Friday, May 31, 2013

Having trouble with their emotions? Wait a moment.

We recently had a day where all I could do was shake my head.

We rallied the children to go outside for a walk,
all the while, one tenacious child complained about going, because
she was not dressed for the weather...
although the day before had been in the high 80s, this day was in the low 60s, cloudy, with a continued breeze. This is spring in Washington, DC, varying, one day to the next.

Thus, one day, shorts, next day, jeans.

However - not for this little one.
For her, rules and order are required - if shorts yesterday, then shorts today.

She refused to put on the light jacket that her mother had hung in her cubby.
[There's a classic preschooler perspective - I'm not wrong; it is the weather that is wrong.]

I knew this was going to be a difficult walk.

We headed outside for our daily walk, all the same.
This little one would suffer the natural consequence of not dressing properly.
(Being a bit of a softie, I planned to shorten the walk.)

We stepped outside the school and her tantrum accelerated.
Here, outside in the air, was proof that it was chilly.
Why walk and work up a sweat when one could cry and yell?

Sharde, our beloved teaching assistant, took this child aside and worked one-on-one with her, challenging her to see how several classmates were also wearing shorts and not complaining.
"Let's all be together, one community. We'll warm up as we walk. It's not so bad out here."

I let Sharde work with her while I continued to lead the line away from the school.

The children were more or less happy with the walk when all of a sudden, as luck would have it, it began to drizzle.

Yes, it was no longer just cloudy, windy, and cool, but let's have some continual drizzle, too.
This was turning into Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Even for the teachers!

Now, it wasn't just the one child falling apart.

Many children were complaining.
I heard a chorus, "Ms. Ingram, Ms. Ingram! It's too rainy! We need to go back!"

I turned to the two line leaders -
"What should we do? Turn around and get back to class and have a dance party? [we needed exercise] Or stay on our walk, because this rain is light?"

To my surprise and amusement, the two leaders chose different options.

[What a day! What strong and different feelings this class has, today!]

I again gave the decision back to them.

"You'll need to discuss this together and come to the same decision."

Back and forth, the two children bickered. "Go back!" "No, walk!"
I studied the line leaders.
One was a first-born, used to calling the shots, "Go back!".
The other was a second-born, relishing the position of opposite, "No, let's walk!!".
No compromise in sight.

The children behind the leaders grew louder with complaints - "Let's go back! It's raining too much! Let's turn around!" 

The drizzle and wind increased - or was it just the complaining?
Ugh. What a disaster this walk was turning into. 
The child in the back with the teaching assistant was howling in pain and frustration. 
All the children were yelling.

I bent down to talk to the leaders -
"It seems like everyone is very unhappy. I'm going to insist we go with the majority feeling - let's go back to school."
The sweet second-born - who had been so adamant that we continue walking - quickly agreed, as if it had been a non-issue for him all along, "Ok, Ms. Ingram! Let's go back!". 

I turned the line around,
only to have the entire second grade class pour out of the school to the front entrance area,
holding a large butterfly cage.

"What are you doing?," I asked.
All my preschoolers - noticing the butterfly cage - quieted down to hear the answer:

"We are releasing our butterflies today. We have thirty butterflies! Would you like to watch?"

We were almost back inside the school.

It was still drizzling.
It was still cloudy and breezy.
It was still cold.

But no one was crying or yelling anymore.

The Big Cats stood and stared, in awe, as these lovely butterflies were released into the air.
Butterflies floating into the sky,
some wandering onto shoulders, hair, even outstretched hands of these enthralled preschoolers.
Big smiles on all faces.

The earlier misery was completely forgotten.

What a great walk we had!
We saw butterflies!

1 comment:

  1. Each moment, learning, and every day (even with my recent 5th-6th graders) is a new day, is it not? Happy to hear that the butterflies wiped all the drizzle away!