Saturday, June 23, 2012

Being Trusted By A Child

Last week, a boy who I've only known for a few days called out to me "Mommy, look!" as he drew my attention to how he'd successfully installed a pirate flag on our sandpit row boat, before correcting himself sheepishly, "I mean, Teacher Tom, look!"

At least once a day a child will call me "dad" or "daddy," or more rarely, "mom" or "mommy." There is nothing that flatters me more. Usually it happens in a moment of excitement, perhaps in the midst of an ah hah event, or when I'm being invited to share in a personal celebration of an achievement or creation, like a pirate flag being installed in a sandpit row boat.

I take it as evidence that I've earned a place as an important adult; never, of course, as important as a parent, but at least as an acceptable surrogate. I try to remain always conscious of the incredible honor it is to be entrusted with these children of loving parents, but it's when these slip-ups occur that I'm most aware of the even greater honor of being trusted by a child.

I think I earn that trust by listening.

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, then they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.   ~Catherine M. Wallace

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Kierna C said...

So true but I really hadn't thought of it like this before, thanks for this one. I usually find the child who says it is totally mortified when they realise their mistake.

Teacher Tom said...

I wouldn't say the kids are mortified, Kierna, but they usually laugh about it. (Laughing about mistakes is kind of an ethic around here.) That said, I just know that they wouldn't make the mistake if they didn't "holding me" in a place reserved for trusted adults.

Julia said...

I teach preschool, and even though I'm a woman, I get called "Dad" pretty frequently too. I always take it as a compliment, rather than reading too much into it- I think of it as they know I'm not their mother, but I'm still pretty important!

Lisa A said...

I always feel flattered & honoured when the little ones I teach call me mum accidently. I work hard to gain their trust and security as I believe children can only reach their full potential and beyond if they are in an environment where they feel safe, secure and confident to explore the unknown. Having someone around that you know you can turn to, allows them to challenge themselves further...the sky's the limit!

Miss Trayers said...

I think that's a great way to look at it as well. My parents always tell me they get called my name at home too, so I guess it goes both ways! :)


Mr. Patrick said...

As a teacher of much older students, I can say I've never been called "Dad" by a student by a student who didn't trust me. I average about two to three a year, sometimes more depending on the kids. And I also believe it's the second highest compliment a kid can accidentally pay you.

Doing something that you taught them without you around is the highest.

--Mr. Patrick

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