My favorite preschool epigram:
Yesterday, Charlie L. was crying. I saw what happened. Dennis crawled down through our climber head first – an impressive and challenging physical maneuver. Charlie tried to follow him a bit too closely and got his cheek in the way of Dennis’ foot. It was an accident.
I lifted Charlie from the climber partly to sooth him, but mostly to get a closer look at his face. It hadn’t looked like a big deal, but it’s always good to check. The intensity of his tears abated almost instantly, although they continued to flow. I could detect no visible marks. As I walked Charlie a few feet away from the scene, I said things like, “That was an accident,” and “That must have hurt.” Within seconds, still crying, he started to wiggle his legs, indicating he wanted me to put him down.
The moment he hit the floor he was moving back toward the climber, still crying.
When he got to the climber, he clambered back to the spot where he’d been kicked, still crying.
He stood on the climber, still crying. He turned his head from side to side as if wanting to make sure we all heard him, as if making an announcement: I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m here!
Marcus’ mother Mitchelle responded, but I intercepted her before she could scoop him up. She said, “But he’s crying.”
I answered, “I know, but he’s also climbing. I don’t worry about children who are crying while they’re doing stuff.”
Watching Charlie stand there on the climber crying, I was reminded of my own daughter Josephine, who used to actually get mad at me if I tried too hard to sooth her. After a few minutes she’d say, through her tears, “I just have to finish my cry!” which was my signal to back off and let her take care of herself. That’s what was happening with Charlie. He’d wanted his feet on the floor. He’d wanted to get back up on that climber. Against Mitchelle’s better judgment, I think, she watched with me.
Still crying, he then attempted the maneuver he’d been trying when his cheek had come into contact with Dennis’ foot. By the time he was back on the floor, he’d stopped crying.
I asked him if he wanted a tissue and he answered, “Yes.”