"Be Present" & Other Lessons Learned From a Preschooler
When I started working in the preschool field, I was strongly encouraged not to get too close to the families. “This is a job, don’t allow yourself to get too close” was something I often heard. But as I began to teach, I realized that these children and their families are more to me than just a job. They are a part of my life. And while I am supposed to be the one teaching, I have learned some pretty valuable lessons from them, often times without even realizing I’m learning it until one day it hits me like a ton of bricks…or a pat on the back from a small boy.
Lucas came to my class three years ago with very little speech and very little emotion. At first I thought he was just “testing” me, but I quickly learned that Lucas wasn’t the typical cookie-cutter child. Lucas wasn’t “pushing my buttons.” He couldn’t communicate. I shared my concerns with his mother and together we embarked on a journey that would make a huge impact on my life and my heart. Lucas began receiving speech therapy and I worked on learning different ways to communicate and understand. There were times I would ask my director to move him to another class.”I can’t teach him” I often told her. Her response was the same every single time “He’s yours, figure it out.”
As time ticked away, Lucas and I developed a push/pull relationship. Some days he would push me to the brink of tears and other days, he’d pull me by the heart strings and make me work harder. The first day Lucas spoke clearly, everyone in the class cheered him on. Me? I cried of course. Lucas? Well he hugged me, patted my back and quietly went back to his seat. I knew then that we were on the right path.
The school year came to a close in late May and on the last day of school I was tired and ready to go home. I was diligently working to get everything packed up and put away for the summer when Lucas came up behind me and called my name. I quickly answered with a “what?” He said something I couldn’t understand and again, I answered him quickly as I wanted to finish the task at hand. As I turned around and looked at Lucas he was standing there with a smile and said clearly “Tarla I love you.” Yes, I cried again. I picked Lucas up and held him tightly as I cried and told him that I loved him too. Sweetly Lucas patted my back and said “it’s alright Tarla.” That afternoon I knew that I had been taught one of my biggest life lessons ever. Because of that sweet 4 year old little boy, I became a better teacher. Lucas helped me figure out how to teach outside of the “box.”