Photo taken by Gabor Monori
He had to go. So we went. To the bathroom that is. I had asked him just twenty minutes earlier if he had to go. He responded no, without giving it much thought. Then again, we were less than 100 yards from the park that awaited his arrival.
But now he realized that his bladder was full and he needed to empty it. I quickly checked the first bathroom. Let’s just say it wasn’t suitable for occupancy and leave it at that. The second bathroom? It was fine. So I told my son it was okay to come in while my daughter stood watch at the door.
The seat was down and looked a little messy. So I quickly grabbed some toilet paper so that I could lift the seat without having to bare-hand it. But before I could even finish my son had started. I knew because he was behind me. And my hand was suddenly wet!
Why couldn’t he wait!? I quickly moved out-of-the-way and gently guided him closer to the toilet with my dry hand. He didn’t wait because he was ready and the fact that I was standing between him and an empty bladder mattered not.
Rewind to one week ago from today. My son and I attended a birthday party for a friend of his that he had not seen in several months. They had attended daycare together for two years. But now they attended different preschools. He was so excited to see his buddy again. He must have asked me ten times that morning if it was time to go.
When we finally did arrive I was anxious to see my son and his friend in action again. Yet once we did arrive he clung to my side. He didn’t want to participate in any of the games and he didn’t join the other kids. At one point he simply just sat all by himself. He wasn’t sad and he wasn’t upset. He just wasn’t ready.
Within ten minutes his little buddy had enticed him to play with some toy cars. And for the next hour and half he and his friends had a blast. They ran. They jumped. They slid. It was great to fun to watch.
Let’s return again to this morning. About 7am. I was just finishing my cup of coffee. One of my favorite things in life is to slowly enjoy a cup or two of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. I was catching up on some blog pieces I hadn’t read and I was comfortable. So with an iPad in my lap and coffee on my right I was living the good life.
Then my son came down and was somehow immediately ready to play. At 7am!
Dude. Little Buddy.
Can’t you see I’m…
It’ll be fun, he said. Puppy dog eyes. A tear starting to form. Me realizing that I will actually miss him asking me this question in fifteen years when he is off to college and I am wondering how he is doing and what he did the night before.
Let’s do it, I said.
For almost an hour we played with pretend swords. We were Jedi Knights engaging in fearsome combat. It was pretty intense. Four year olds still are not at the age where they realize that we are taking it easy on them and yet they are allowed to wail away on us with reckless abandon.
We had so much fun.
Laughing. Jumping. Pretending.
The picture below is evidence that this training session was not for the weak or faint of heart.
At this point you are probably wondering what the point of this post is. It did in fact take me a little while to connect the dots. But I believe that they do in fact connect.
In each case the success of the outcome was dependent upon whether or not my son was ready. My intro was designed to be a humorous opening. But it did highlight the fact that when my son was ready to pee. He peed. Apparently it didn’t matter if I was in his way or not.
At the birthday party I expected my son to play the moment we joined the party. But the more I thought about it that didn’t make any sense. He was at a house he had never been to before. Surrounded my adults he didn’t know. And he hadn’t seen his friend in months. It took him a while. But he did warm up and play. When he was ready.
Finally, this morning I saw the flip side of this scenario. He woke up ready. He knew what he wanted to do and he expected me to immediately oblige. I don’t always. But today I did. And it was spectacular.
We don’t ever ask students if they are ready. They simply must be. First period. Second period. And so on and so on.
Everyone learns the same thing. At the same pace. And tests on the same day. I realize that we are constricted by many things that are outside of our control. And I don’t have any answers right now. Merely questions. But I was able to see firsthand. From my four-year old. The difference between being ready and not.
And it was astounding.
What now? I don’t know.
But each and every day I see kids that are not yet ready to receive instruction. And yet we plow on. There must be some other option. Another avenue. I try to help and comfort these children each day. Sometimes they need sleep. Other times they need quiet. So that their brain can simply recover. From the stress that they encounter when they go home each day.
It breaks my heart that I have to place these kids in situations and environments when I know for a fact that they are not ready to handle them. To cope with them. And what happens next is no surprise. They become overstimulated, angry and stressed. The cortisol level in their brains increases to even more detrimental levels than they’re already at.
Science Fair projects?
Okay. Okay. Okay.
But please. Just wait until I’m ready. It will make all of the difference in the world. You’ll see. I promise.