Two weeks ago, I saw a 1st grader crying out on the playground. He was really wailing. I had seen him many times last year crying and was unable to interact with him, but this time I was in the right place at the right time, so I went up and stood next to him. I asked what was wrong and he wailed, “I want my mom!” I said, “I’m here” and put my arm around him and just stood there. His 3rd grade brother stood a few feet away shifting nervously around as balls and running classmates whizzed past us.
The little brother continued to cry vigorously, with lots of tears, clearly feeling a lot of grief. I thought about Hand in Hand and the tool of StayListening and just stayed close. When he would quiet down a bit, I would say,”You missed your mom this morning?” and that would get him started again. Since I had about 30 minutes, I wanted to push him towards that grief with my supportive arm around him.
That happened a couple of times and as it did, I kept watching the older brother grow more and more uncomfortable. I knew I couldn’t leave him out dangling alone with his own feelings so I asked him to come closer and when he did, the little brother began to cry even louder and I was able to put my hand on the older brother’s shoulder. That then sparked the older brother to put his face in his hands and he began to cry. I just told them both that I was there for them and that it was okay to cry.
Well, the bell rang and both boys didn’t move a muscle, but just continued crying. So, realizing they probably needed some connection time, I invited both of them to come to my room at recess and we could hang out a bit. Boy, kids are resilient, adapatable creatures because in a matter of seconds, they pulled themselves together and were walking, albeit not necessarily with a skip in their step but at least not in a heap, to their classes.
Well, that was 2 weeks ago and almost every day one of those brothers comes to play. I try to do PlayListening during our Special Time by allowing them to choose what they will play, most often a board game, and then I purposely lose a game or protest vigorously when they are winning. Mostly the older brother comes. I think he needs support being the support for his younger brother. Now, when they see me, the smiles on their faces make having to work and leave my own child behind (maybe I need some listening time on this because the tears just began) worth it.
I will continue to have faith in teachers, whatever system they teach in and do the important work of spreading word of these tools to anyone who listens. Our children, and those of others, are worth it as well as the joy of really connecting with another human.
– A Teacher in Torrance, California