Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Pausing To Reflect



I knew that we were going to be spreading a new layer of wood chips over the surface of our junkyard playground at some point this summer, but it surprised me when I arrived at school yesterday. My first emotion was one of disappointment, because while it does freshen the place up, giving it a pleasing scent of cedar, I knew that it had also buried a lot of our smaller bits and baubles, things that might not re-surface for months, if ever. On second blush, however, I remembered that the kids have been kicking up quite a cloud of unpleasant dust here in the dog days, something with which this new layer of chips would definitely help.

As the children arrived they likewise had mixed feelings about the changes to their space. One boy hopped on a swing and immediately started bawling, "The swings are too low now! They're for little kids and I'm a big kid!" And he was right, the thick layer of chips under the swings left precious little room for his legs to hang. After his initial reaction, however, he got to work digging out a new hole deep enough to accommodate a full pumping of the legs.


Meanwhile, another group joyfully grabbed shovels and immediately began a digging project, searching for the bare earth below.

But, over all, the new surface was simply remarked upon, then forgotten as the kids settled into the rhythm of their play.

After awhile, I began to hear the diggers discussing the prospect of a hole that penetrated to the center of the earth, perhaps even going all the way through to the other side. The older boy on the swing overheard them and said in a voice of authority, "You better not dig too deep because then you might get to the lava and it will erupt on us."

The diggers paused to reflect on that, then decided amongst themselves that this was exactly what they were going to do, dig to the molten core to release the lava. They dug out a circle of bare dirt, informing one and all to be careful because if they fell in they would be "burned up."

Before long a team of ninja fighters roved into the area, posing fiercely, boasting of their powers, and thereby (from what I could tell) defeating bad guys. The diggers paused to reflect on that, then decided amongst themselves that their pools of lava (by now they had several) were actually bad guy traps. They informed me that as a good guy, I was immune to the lava, and no longer needed to worry about falling in. The lava would only burn bad guys.


It was around this time that a loud wail went up on the other side of the swing set, a boy suddenly bursting into tears as if injured. As I approached, the crying boy pointed at another boy who was standing some distance away, "He hit me!" At this, the accused, behaving very much like a guilty party, took off for a distant corner of the playground. As I consoled the crying boy, I learned that he hadn't actually been hit, but rather had been told that he was going to be hit "a lot of times" and it had, naturally, frightened him. I asked, "What can he do to make you feel better," to which he replied, "I don't think he'll tell me he's sorry." I asked, "Would that make you feel better?" When he answered that it would, I suggested that we at least talk to him.

By now the tears had ended. He took my hand as we started down the hill, looking for his nemesis, but didn't immediately spy him. I said, "It's like he disappeared," to which the boy replied, "Maybe he's a ghost," a joke that let me know he was no longer harboring a grudge. We made spooky ghost noises together for a minute, then he released my hand and returned to his play.

Back at the bad guy lava traps, I was informed that they had, in my absence, trapped several bad guys who had hit people "a lot of times."

Not long after that, the boy who had earlier been crying was running toward us, his face flushed with joy. He was being chased by the boy who had threatened to hit him a lot of times. "Help! Help! I'm being chased by a ghost!" And behind him, the ghost wailed and moaned in mock ghostly misery. They had obviously made amends, racing away in their game of chase.

The diggers paused to reflect on that, then decided amongst themselves that their bad buy traps were actually ghost traps. "The ghosts fall into the lava and get dead."

The older boy on the swing informed them that ghosts were already dead.

The diggers reflected on that, then decided that their lava traps made the ghosts "extra dead." Then they went back to their project of digging in the new wood chips.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The "Walled Garden" Of Childhood



Most children, most of the time, are eager to grow up. Adults, on the other hand, tend to not be so keen on the idea. Naturally, we know that it's inevitable, and it's why we put so much of our blood, sweat, and tears into parenting or teaching, but if we had our way, we would extend childhood just a little longer, keeping them in their precious garden for as long as possible. We express this wish in many ways, I most often hear it come out in the well-intended admonishment to "let them have their childhood," an expression I myself have used here on this blog and elsewhere.


We've come to think of childhood as a sort of special, protected place where we put our young humans as they develop into adults. Ideally, we say, childhood should be a time when our youngest citizens needn't worry about the pressures and grind of adulthood, where they are protected from such concerns as paying the bills, political upheaval, and the other angsts of modern life. This isn't, of course, true for many children, as poverty and other disfunction brings the word crashing down upon them, but our fondest wish is for children to all be free to pursue their passions in a safe and beautiful place. In the great scheme of things, the whole idea of "childhood" is a relatively new one, a story about human beings that we've only been telling ourselves for the last few hundred years, with the idea of an extended protected childhood emerging even more recently. And by and large, I'd say that most of us consider this to be a sign of progress, even if we sometimes bemoan the excesses of such phenomenon as helicopter parenting.

Of course, children were not consulted in this process of building what John Holt called, "the walled garden of childhood," and now they know nothing else. We take it as perfectly normal that humans must spend the better part of their first two decades on this planet, mucking about in a place that is not the "real world," but rather a dumbed down facsimile. From their cribs, to their homes, to their schools they go, as we protect them in the cocoon of childhood, and if one of them should seek to break free, we tell them "No, you may not vote in the next election even if you have a strong opinion." We say, "No, you may not get a proper job with proper pay," "No, you may not live where you wish," "No, you may not have adult friends other than the ones we pick for you such as teachers and the ones we already know," "No, you may not own property of your own," "No, you may not walk away from school and find your own way to educate yourself." When they object, we tell them it's for their own good.


And we believe it's true: the world is full of pitfalls and dangers that our children, having always lived in their walled gardens, are unaware and to which, in their innocence, they may fall victim. How do we know about these pitfalls and dangers? Well, because we, as adults, no longer live in a walled garden and have ourselves, or known others, who have fallen victim to the pitfalls and dangers, forgetting that our own parents likewise tried to protect us within the walled gardens of youth to no avail.

I'm not the first person to point out this dynamic. Indeed, most reflective parents and teachers have thought similar things, wondering where the balance is. Often, we see that the walled garden as overly-protective, but instead of releasing our children from it, we arbitrarily make it more unpleasant. From John Holt:


. . . (T)he people who built the garden to protect the children from the harsh reality outside begin in the name of that same harsh reality to put weeds, and stones, and broken glass, and barbed wire into the garden. "They'd better learn . . . what the world out there is really like" . . . But if our concern is to teach them, not protect them from the bad of the world, why not let them out into it where they can see and learn for themselves?"

The human newborn is the most helpless of any newborn in the animal kingdom. They need adults to protect them, and we do, but it seems to me that we've gone too far. The destiny of every child is to leave our protection and fend for themselves in the big, bad world. And children still need their childhoods, but if the goal is to prepare them for life outside the garden, perhaps we need to consider that the real world is a better teacher, and leave the garden gate open more often.

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Monday, July 29, 2019

The World Beyond Her Four Walls



 "Children grow up and discover that the world is not as it seemed from within the four walls of their homes. Humankind as a whole does the same." ~Carlo Rossi, The Order of Time

She was on our playground for the first time, a two-year-old there in the world beyond the four walls of her house. I know that in her short life she's already known other walls as home, having recently moved to Seattle from elsewhere, but this was her first time here on our junkyard playground, a place that her mother told me was unlike any she had ever been. But even if she had been on other junkyard playgrounds, this was still the world beyond her four walls.


Her mother stayed with her, which is what parents get to do at cooperative schools, but she had summoned the courage or given in enough to her curiosity to roam away from mommy. She was standing alone there in the big world, not looking worried, but also not looking comfortable. Near her on the ground was an old pepper grinder that has recently turned up. I picked it up and said, "This is a good toy," then I held it toward her.

She paused a moment, looking at me and then the grinder. It might have been my imagination, but I think she nodded, as if to say, I'm going to take your word for it, before wrapping her fingers around it. She then studied it for a moment, feeling it's smooth polished wood surface before cupping her hand over the round top. The set screw is missing (which is likely why the grinder wound up amongst our junk) which meant that she could easily remove the top, separating the machine into two parts. She peered into the hole of the grinder that housed the drive shaft (and pepper corns in it's previous life as a tool rather than a toy), then looked at the round top which she held in her other hand. She then attempted to put it back together. It took a couple tries to get the drive shaft through the small hole in the top.


Then she took it apart and put it back together again.

Then again.

Then again.

I said, "It's a puzzle."

She looked at me blankly for a second as if considering this, then smiled faintly and shook her head. This was not a puzzle. Or, at least, this was not what puzzles look like within the four walls. After several more tries, she discarded the top, then picked up a pebble which she inserted into the drive shaft hole. She then dumped it out. Then she did it again.

Then again.

Then again.

I sang a line from a song by the great Tom Hunter, "Fill it up and dump it out and fill it up again. Dump it out and fill it up and dump it out again."


She liked that. She showed me by smiling before going through the process a couple more times. She then retrieved the top and threaded the drive shaft back through the hole the way she had previously taught herself to do it. While she was down there, a shovel caught her eye, so she picked that up too.

I said, "That's a shovel."

She thought about that while looking at me, then said, "Shovel," holding it up. Then she held up the grinder in her other hand and said, "Puzzle." She was fully outside her four walls now.

I had to go on to other things then, but the next time I saw her she was trying to hand the grinder to another two-year-old, who didn't want anything to do with it. She then took it apart and put it back together again before holding it out to her again saying, "Puzzle." The other girl looked at her blankly for a moment. It might have been my imagination, but I think she nodded, as if to say, I'm going to take your word for it, before wrapping her fingers around this thing that didn't look like the puzzles she had at home.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

"We're Going To Take Your Treasure!"




We've made rules in our classroom, together, by consensus, and among the first agreements we made with one another was, "No taking things from other people," an echo of the Biblical commandment to not steal. There are anthropologists who argue that prior to the advent of the Agricultural Revolution around 10,000 BC there was no such thing as "stealing" because there was no such thing as property, but, I expect, the urge to snatch some rare or special thing from the hands of another, if only to take a closer look, was still an urge with which our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed to deal. And that's really what we're usually talking about in preschool. Stealing implies taking something with the intention of illicitly and selfishly transferring ownership while snatching falls more into the category of uncontrollable curiosity.


Whatever the case, in our modern world these two distinct urges get lumped together, especially in the minds of young children who, through their play, are forever attempting to tease out both personal and social meaning. Yesterday, a group of boys were huddled together in a corner of the playground they have "built" for themselves.


"Guys, guys, I got a plan. We need to take those jewels."

"What jewels?"

"Those guys, over there, they have a bucket of treasure and we need it for our team."


They were referring to their friends, boys with whom they often play, but who were on this day playing separately. They had spent the past half hour or so collecting small shiny objects in a bucket. They were bits and bobs that anyone can pick up from the ground around our place -- florist marbles, beads, pieces of toy jewelry -- but they had named it "treasure" and now it was this treasure that these other boys were scheming to make their own.


There were a few moments of intense conversation, quiet, secretive. I couldn't hear their words, but their intentions were clear: they were planning an incursion to wrest control of that bucket, which they were going to hide and hoard somewhere in their hideout. Before long they attacked running toward the boys with the treasure, whooping, making fierce faces, wielding sticks like weapons.

The boys with the treasure looked confused at first, backing away a bit.

"We're going to take your treasure!"

"No, you're not! It's our treasure!"


The moment was tense as the two sides stood face to face. These guys have often played fighting games together, but I know these children, I've taught most of them for three years. Physical violence wasn't in the offing even as their bodies, tense and aggressively posed, seemed to indicate it. It was a moment both real and pretend, this stand-off above the sand pit. I recall moments like this from my own childhood. I knew their hearts were racing. I know that some of them at least were feeling that they were now in over their heads, that they didn't really want to "steal," but just to snatch, to see and feel and hold the treasure that these other boys had made from debris that had always been there.


It lasted a few seconds as everyone stood posed, then one of the attackers dropped to his knees, dropping out, and began running his fingers through the sand. Then one of the defenders backed away, turning his back. One by one by one I saw their shoulders drop as the tension left their bodies, leaving only two boys still standing in opposition to one another, while the others milled around no longer part of the game.


"We're using this treasure!" the defender said forcefully. "You can use it when we're finished!"

"Okay!" his friend answered from under his glowering brow as if making a threat, "We will!"

And then it was over, the aspiring robbers returning to their base, apparently satisfied with waiting for their booty and the treasure collectors once more scouring the ground for sparkling items to add to their cache.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Too Much




Every now and then a Facebook friend will announce they are taking a break. They feel they're spending too much time on social media. Their stated end is usually some version of creating more balance in their lives. Other friends talk of work-life balance or even of working towards some sort of spiritual balance, the kind espoused by Eastern philosophies. We tend to see balance as an obvious good, something toward which to strive in all areas of our lives, except perhaps for love: most of us, I think, would take as much love as is offered . . . But, of course, as the Beatles sang, "The love you take is equal to the love you make," which suggests that there is a perfect balance there as well. We tend to see it everywhere as a kind of perfection toward which we, in our own best interest, should strive.


I've worked toward balance myself, in all aspects of life, but not as often now as I once did prior to spending so much time with young humans who, generally speaking, care nothing about balance, unless it's the physical kind one strives for, arms out, while walking along the top of a wall. Indeed, most kids I know are happiest when they are out of balance, when they are fully engaged in the activity of their own choosing, be it jumping on the bed, digging a hole, or eating ice cream: they don't want it to end and pitch a fit when we tell them it has to. Too much balance is boring. Routine can be deadly. When left to their own devices, children tend to keep playing until the tedium sets in, and only then do they, of their own accord, move on to something else.

Children don't worry about getting "too much," unless it's of a bad thing. They don't see the point of balancing the "good" with the "bad." That's an adult concern: we turn off the TV or take away their video games in the interest of balance. We tell them they've had too much candy, or too much party, or too much time awake and that now they need to balance that with sleep. We're not wrong, of course, we can tell they've had too much by how they are behaving or because we know about the longterm consequences of too much sugar, but who among us doesn't sometimes wish we could just go all in? In fact, who among us hasn't given into a whole bag of corn chips or a full day of binge watching or several drinks too many? These are things we tend to do when the kids aren't watching, of course, because we want to role model the virtue of balance, but we all need to sometimes give in to excess. We then tend to suffer the consequences of having been so out of balance, which is why we then strive during the days and weeks afterwords to re-balance ourselves by living more virtuously.


We've learned the hard way about excess and we try to protect our children from those dangers by forcing them into balance, yet again, who among us does not keep repeating the "mistake" of excess in our own lives? Did we learn the lesson ourselves? Or is it possible that balance isn't necessarily the pure good we think it is? Perhaps excess is necessary.

Maybe William Blake is right: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Maybe Mae West was right: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful." Maybe Anais Nin was right: "Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terror, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them."


And there's that word again, "balance." Maybe balance isn't a middle way at all, but rather a seat on a teeter totter with "excess" sitting on the other end. It seems to me that what I've learned from children is that we're wrong when we envision balance as a kind of a scale and our goal is for it to hang level. It's more accurately viewed, I think, as a kind of ride that goes up and down: a place of highs and lows with bumps at both the bottom and top. That's at least how I've experienced life at it's best.

In the end, balance, like any form of perfectionism, is an impossibility anyway, and as the kids already know, even if you can create it on a day-to-day basis, it is a deadly dull place to be. So we always rock the boat a little, knocking things once more out of balance, because without excess we can never aspire to wisdom.




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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Working With The Third Teacher




I was recently leaving a downtown store. When I came to the exit door, I saw that it had a handle. I grabbed and pulled. The door didn't budge. I then, counter-intuitively, pushed and the door swung open. This is a prime example of a failure in design: a handle means "pull" and a push plate means "push." Indeed, every time you see a sign on a door reading "push" or "pull," you're looking at a design flaw that someone has clumsily attempted to correct.

Design flaws are all around us. My local Whole Foods has begun offering discounts to Amazon Prime members. To take advantage you open an app on your phone, then hold the bar code under a scanner which is located beneath the checkout screen. There is no beep, no green light, or any other indicator that your code has been read, which means that every single person who uses it winds up fuddling around, trying their phone at different angles before finally, in frustration, engaging the cashier in the following conversation:

"Did it work?"

"What work?"

"My app thingy."

"You mean your Whole Foods Amazon Prime code?"

"Yes."

"Let me see . . . Yes, it worked."

And you thought the "Paper or plastic?" question got old.

This too, is a design flaw that a simple beep or bell or light would fix. These sorts of design failures are all around us. Every time you see that pedestrians have worn a path through a lawn instead of sticking to the sidewalks, you're seeing evidence of design not working. My father was a transportation engineer who was fond of pointing out how design flaws were causing the traffic jams we were experiencing. He would say, "I'm sure it looked beautiful on the drafting board, but the engineer forgot to consider how actual people behave."

When I first started teaching, I set up our classroom as I would have a living room, thinking in terms of seating and "traffic flow," making sure the passageways were wide enough, that there were no places where one could get "trapped," and so forth. The reality I discovered once actual children were on the scene was that I'd created a race-track that said, quite clearly, "Run in circles," and that's what they did. After weeks of scolding the kids about running inside, I finally re-arranged the furniture and the behavior disappeared.

One of the aspects of the Reggio Emilia model for early years education that I think about often is the concept of the three teachers: 1) the adults, 2) the other children, and 3) the environment, which is where design comes in. Quite often, I've found that repeated troubling or trying behaviors have little to do with the children themselves and everything to do with an environment that forgot to consider how actual children behave. Things hanging from above tend to tell children,  Jump or Swing or Hang. Long open areas say, Run. Echoey spaces say, Shout. Dark and confined says, Giggle and Whisper. Bright and busy creates a different vibe than muted and uncluttered. And design flaws are not limited to the physical space. Sometimes the aspect that needs tweaking has to do with the schedule or the expectations or even the school's philosophy, all of which I consider to be part of the children's environment as well.

Of course, it's not always about design flaws, but whenever I find myself forever correcting the same behavior, I begin to suspect that's what it is. And it's amazing how often even a small change, like moving the furniture or replacing a handle with a push plate, can make all the difference in the world.


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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Teaching Ourselves About Yellow Jackets



Last summer we had a problem with yellow jackets on the playground with several children falling victim to these striped tough guys. In doing our research about the best way to control them, we learned that yellow jackets are among the most aggressive types of wasps, capable of both biting and stinging repeatedly, and that they are mean enough to fight you for your food or, apparently, just attack you because they don't like your look.

When we caught sight of our first yellow jacket this summer last week, we went into action hanging our traps. The first thing I did was read the instructions to the kids, and in particular the line, "Keep out of reach of children," which we discussed. Since the traps aren't toxic, we surmised that the manufacturers were mostly interested in keep kids away from yellow jackets. It was step-by-step process one that might have gone more smoothly had I done it by myself, but when we have "real work" to do around the school (like repairing the cast iron pump or transplanting in the garden) I like to do it with the children. The trick to these traps is a pheromone that attracts the pests who climb in through holes in the bottom only to find that they can't climb back out. 



Within seconds of hanging our first trap, it attracted a curious yellow jacket, and within minutes we had trapped our first one. Children of all ages gathered around, asking questions, speculating, and making predictions.

"How do they get in?"

"Why don't they tell their friends it's a trap?"

"Maybe they like it in there."

"It looks like some of them are fighting."

"I bet that one flew away to tell the other yellow jackets!"

Checking on the traps quickly became a regular activity, with children swarming to the scene each time someone announced, "We caught more yellow jackets!" or "I see one trying to get in right now!" I suppose that some people reading this might think we're foolish to let the kids hang out around the trap if these insects are so notoriously aggressive, but it was clear that they were far more interested in the pheromones than us.

Yellow jacket "nest"

In between moments of checking on our "pet" yellow jackets, a group of the older children began to play a game of yellow jackets, building a nest in the lilacs not far from where we had installed the traps. It was more or less like any other "family" game with the addition of periodic buzzing flights around the playground, as well as pretend biting and stinging. At one point they all flew over to the art table where they drew their own yellow jackets with oil pastels based upon what they had observed. We noticed the differences between the yellow jackets and the similarly stripped, yet harmless, hover flies that were hanging out around the garden. The children, as they are prone to do when left to think, together, for themselves, created a perfect, age-appropriate curriculum around yellow jackets.

As the children went deeper and deeper into their yellow jacket play, flitting between what they observed happening in their physical world and the the world they created through their thoughts, questions, and insights, I found myself both excited for them as well as melancholy for how rare moments like these are outside of our little bubble of play-based learning. How many adults would have succumbed to their catastrophic imaginations and not included the children at all? But perhaps even worse, how many well-intended adults would have felt compelled to "scaffold" the children's learning by injecting themselves with yellow jacket songs or art projects or library books? How many of us would have felt compelled to take over their self-directed learning by guiding, directing, or leading, rather than standing back and allowing it to emerge from the children themselves? How many of us would have rushed into this "learning moment" with our adult agenda, robbing the children yet again of their most fundamental right: the freedom to think for themselves?


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Monday, July 22, 2019

"Everyone Who Is A Problem Is My Teacher"



Teaching preschoolers keeps you humble. Even after decades, the moment you think you've seen it all, a child comes along who let's you know that you don't. That is both the blessing and the curse of our profession.

Not long ago, for instance, I found myself with a three-year-old who solved most of his conflicts by hitting or shoving other children. And he had a lot of conflicts. Indeed, it was almost as if he sought out reasons to disagree. This is not such a rare things, of course, but what struck me as most odd was that he didn't show any visible signs of emotion: no yelling, no crying, no grimacing or glowering. To me it appeared as if he were just going about this business of hitting and shoving like another child might go to work on a disassembled puzzle he found on a table. In contrast, of course, he left plenty of obvious signs of emotion among the victims of his hitting and shoving. And making matters worse, he often continued pummeling children who he had already reduced to tears until an adult intervened. Infuriatingly, he didn't even seem to go easier on younger, smaller children, treating them to the same sort of violence without discrimination. Someone along the way had obviously managed to convinced him to "use his words," which manifested most often as him saying to a child, "My turn!" as he delivered his first blow, or "Share with me!" as he shoved a child to the ground.

As you can imagine, I spent the first few days with this boy, trying everything in my toolbox; shadowing him, trying to anticipate him, stopping the violence physically when I could, and talking, talking, talking. I needed to get him on my bandwagon, I knew that, but how? I started our day together being his best buddy, hanging out with him, showing him cool things, complementing him. When he engaged in hitting or shoving, I tried reasoning, but he wasn't having it, cheerfully changing the subject, no matter how sternly or sincerely or pointedly I delivered my message about the importance of not hurting other people. I offered him suggestions for alternatives to hitting or shoving, again with no luck. The only time he showed emotion in conventional ways was when I thwarted him in his efforts, taking his hand for instance in mid-punch and saying, "I can't let you hit people." Then he would shout and cry, but not, it seemed out of any sense of remorse, but rather because he was now mad at me for preventing him from getting his way through hitting or shoving.

One day, I caught his arm from behind before he could deliver his first blow to a child who was blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. He had simply wanted the toy she was holding and was going to get it the most efficient way possible. At least that's how it seemed to me. He immediately reacted to me violently, twisting his body this way and that in an effort to free his arm from my grip. He then tried to hit the poor girl with his free hand, so I grabbed that one too. I had dropped to my knees and so we were face-to-face. He showed no emotion as he struggled against my grip. I said, as calmly as I could muster, "I can't let you hit people."

When he continued to wrestle, his eyes still on the toy he had wanted, I said, "I'm much stronger than you. I'm not going to let go because I'm worried you're going to hurt people," still striving for an even, calm voice.

It took several minutes, but finally he began to settle down, still tugging and pulling, but with lesser and lesser urgency, but he didn't stop entirely until the child with the toy moved farther away. Then he turned his back toward me and fell into my lap. I was still holding his arms, which were now crossed over his chest, with mine crossed there as well. It was almost a if he were using me as a blanket in which to wrap himself. I said again, "I'm holding you because I'm worried that you will hurt someone. If I let you, go will you hit someone?"

He didn't respond verbally, but seemed to almost sink more deeply into my lap. I let go of his wrists and simply held him for a moment. He made no effort to escape. After a couple minutes I said it again, "I'm holding you because I'm worried that you will hurt someone. If I let you go, will you hit someone?" He still didn't respond, so I continued to hold him. Then after a time I again asked the question, "If I let you go, will you hit someone?" This time he answered, "No," so I let him go. I was prepared for him to chase down the child with the toy he wanted, but he didn't. From that point on, I approached him with an offer of my lap and a hug, something he always accepted. The behaviors didn't disappear entirely, but they did lessen both in frequency and intensity.

That boy was only in my life for a few weeks so I never really got to know him, and certainly not enough to seriously entertain my suspicions about sensory integration or other potential "causes" for his behavior, but I will never forget him because of what I learned from him that day.

A couple nights ago I attended a meeting with one of my early mentors, a man named Tom Drummond. At one point, discussing a completely different topic, he said, "Everyone who is a problem is my teacher." And that's why I'm thinking of that boy, my problem and teacher, today.


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