Originally published 05/18/2015 on the Play Empowers Blog
***A little back story. I currently have two boys in my program who are working on some SERIOUS social skills. Saying they don’t get along is an understatement. They bicker and argue, push and hit, and annoy each other to no end. They will tear each others papers to shreds, knock down the other childs block tower, and purposely stand in front of the slide or bike so the other child can’t move.
(Have you seen the movie Grumpy Old Men?! Yeah…that’s them. LOL)
As you can imagine…it’s tiring. Yet I am steadfast in my approach; allowing these things to happen, knowing (still learning) when to stand back and knowing (still learning) when to guide them when I’m needed. Working through conflict is the foundation of the social skills needed for their future, and an important step in their learning and development I simply can not ignore or shut down.***
A few months back, I came across a song from Tom Hunter and Bev Bos (more Bev Bos here) I simply fell in love with. It really resonated with me, what I offer in my program, the importance of relationships and being a part of our group, and the essence of what family childcare is about. I find myself singing this song all day…mostly in the morning when they arrive, various times throughout the day, and sometimes even when the children are long gone for the evening.
“We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.
Waiting for you to come to this place.
Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’ve come.
We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.
And if you like to play, we’ve been waiting for you
And if you like to smile, we’ve been waiting for you
Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’ve come
We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.”
The song goes on to include words like “If you like to jump” or “sing”, etc.
During a recent conflict between the two boys I mentioned AND a crying, teething toddler, I began quietly singing this song. It wasn’t so much to distract or redirect them. In all honesty, it was my own way of dealing with the bickering and crying I was hearing; to keep me calm and focused.
At that moment one of the boys began singing to the toddler who was still crying, and in the next verse he sang….
“And if you like to CRY, we’ve been waiting for you. And if you want to SCREAM we’ve been waiting for you….”
He was on to something.
As I sat down on the floor cuddled up with the teething toddler and joining the boys, the other children gathered around and we began to add our own verses to the song.
Rip my papers
Jump off chairs
Make a mess
Paint my body
Spill my cup
Say boo boo butt
(And they became even more silly, of course….nose picking, pooping, puking, burping and farting may or may not have been mentioned. LOL)
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only did they understand the context of the song, they got it. I mean they really got it. They knew in their hearts that they were loved and accepted for who they were.
It’s OK to have emotions.
It’s OK to make mistakes.
It’s OK to be themselves.
That at “Miss Minda’s” house, it was OK to be a kid.
From teething toddlers to temper tantrums, and everything in between.
I am their safe space.
Wherever they were from, I was glad they had come.
…And they KNEW it.
25 years from now, I don’t want their memories of daycare to be endless lists of non meaningful rules, stop lights or sticker charts bribing them for good behavior, or how I dismissed their feelings while telling them to simply “play nice.”
Hopefully, they’ll be no memories of an uptight provider who was constantly telling them “NO”, yelling at them to sit down and be quiet, or to stop bickering.
No one telling them to stop jumping in the mud or quit making a mess.
I’m certainly not perfect. I have bad days too. I work alone and there’s no one here to relieve me when I need a grown-up time-out. But do I really want them remembering me as a cranky old daycare lady who never had any patience for them?!
Thinking about what memories I want them to have of their time here as a child helps to keep things in perspective for me when the going gets tough. If you think about it, that’s a pretty big responsibility.
The children weren’t the only ones to learn from this experience. It was a gentle reminder for me as well, that through it all…good days and bad, teething and tantrums…that I was living my whole purpose…..
Waiting for them to come to this place.
This place of play, of wonder and childhood.
This place of friendships and relationships.
This place of growth, development, and reaching milestones in their own time.
This place where children are celebrated and enjoyed for who they are, as they are, and right where they are.
My hope is that in 25 years, they will look back and think…
“That was my place.”