They are other people’s children, yet they feel so much like my own for I spend the better part of each day with these little ones, caring for them and about them, dedicated to their growth and development, in fact, we spend so much time together that we think of each other when, bringing each other small gifts of appreciation; pictures, pencils, books and cards upon return. They are “my kids,” our days with lessons in the academics, life, world of arts and an education in manners and behavior top the list. They are learning to say, “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “may I please”, to earn the prize of a fancy tea party, parents invited. These children care about each other and are in this for a team win, everyone succeeding together because help is given freely and no one falls through the cracks in this room because there is always someone there to catch you. We are all practiced catchers and we all take turns falling.
These children are wise beyond their years and their ears are fine-tuned to the nuances of the adult conversations they silently hear, taking everything in, not always know how to process it so it emerges during group discussions, at unexpected times, during a vocabulary lesson, example definitions. I find out more than I sometimes want to know, about their worries, their fears, and their strong feelings.
Some of these little ones have power at home, demanding attention, voices loud, tantrums forthcoming, while others slink into the crevices of family, observing, while waiting for their turn. Some are parents to their siblings while others live alone in adult worlds, taking on the responsibility of carrying part of the burdens housed in their family
Most of the children are happy, regardless of circumstances, because in this place, the place they live for six hours a day, five days a week, they are members of a bigger family and the communal aspect provides enough for all. There are enough toys, enough crayons, enough pencils, enough friends and enough time, their pride growing daily as they become more accomplished and learn to take pride in their own work, their own creations and their own ideas. “Our job is to come to school,” they say.
“Yes, so is mine.”