I recently witnessed a support group in action – and it was comprised of four-year-olds.
It was the end of a weary day, and I was picking up my daughter from pre-school. As usual, I was in a hurry to get her home. After all, we had a schedule to follow: dinner, some mandatory fun, and bedtime rituals.
I was also preoccupied – dwelling on work I needed to do, wondering if a new doctor would be a fit for me, and whether I would ever accomplish my life’s goals.
I walked into Ari’s classroom and immediately felt distress. There she was, sitting alone, beginning a challenging puzzle, a picture of one of Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings. She was determined to put it together and didn’t want to leave until it was done.
“Mommy, can you help me?” she pleaded in frustration. (She’s at the age where she thinks I know everything. I like that.)
The problem is, I’m puzzle-challenged, and despite the relatively large pieces, this one was going to give me trouble.
I asked the teacher if she minded if I sat down on one of the miniature chairs
that my ass barely fit on and helped my daughter. The teacher gave her blessing. So I took off my coat, sat down, and then floundered.
Three other students came running over; they wanted to help. At first, Ari didn’t want to share her project, but seeing how her mother
didn’t quite know everything encouraged the other children to join, the girl accepted the others’ help.
Through trial and error, the children gradually put the pieces in place. Together. Cooperatively. With remarkable sophistication, they discussed the strategy of how to best complete the puzzle.
Piece by piece, the puzzle came alive. Finally, only four pieces were left. I handed each child one piece and, as he or she inserted the puzzle piece, the group cheered. They cheered for themselves, and, just as important, they cheered for each other. When the last puzzle piece was inserted, the group gave each other high-fives and hugged each other.
I consider myself lucky to have witnessed something so extraordinary in an otherwise ordinary evening. And I was heartened to see that the ability to support fellow human beings is innate in people so young. We adults so often hear of bullying and children who don’t get along, it is easy to forget the other side.
After the celebratory congratulations, Ari and I went home, had a late dinner, and went to bed a tad later than usual. Okay much later than usual.
She loved that I spent time helping her and her classmates with a daunting task.
And I loved that she fell asleep still believing I knew everything.
How have you allowed your inner child to shine through?
Have you helped a child/children to succeed at a task?
Tags: childhood, motherhood, puzzles, support group