Wednesday, May 01, 2013

"You Did Your Best"

By the time I realized I was just a prop in her play, I was already helping by adding yet one more piece to her very tall tower. I don't do this kind of thing, help kids do things beyond their capabilities. I don't push them on swings or lift them onto high places or even help them out of a physical jam unless it's moral support or if I see panic starting to set in.

But there I was, holding her tower, mostly because she just assumed I would.

"I can't reach any more. Here," handing me yet another piece to fit on the top. "Now, I'll turn it back down to the ground."

She fit together several small curved pieces, shaping a U-turn, which she handed to me. "This connects to the top."

I tried to get out of my predicament, "I can't do it while holding the tower with my other hand. I think you'll need to get a chair to stand on."

"No, that won't work. I'll hold it for you." Okay, okay. I tried to fit the U-turn onto the tower, but it was all too flimsy and the entire top broke into pieces.

"Hey, that almost hit me, Teacher Tom!"

"Sorry. I don't think this will work."

She gathered up the pieces that had fallen. "It will work. But you put these pieces back on."

I tried to claim that I couldn't do it, but she assured me that it would work if I just tried it, so I did. It fell apart again.

She calmly picked up the pieces that had formed the U-turn, reassembled it, then said, "I guess I'll just have to build from the bottom."

"From the bottom?"

"Yes, you hold your part, and this part," handing me the U-turn, "then when I build my part tall enough, we'll connect the two towers with the curvy piece." When she got to the point that the second tower was too tall for her reach, she began handing me pieces again.

I said, "My hands are already full."

"You'll have to put down the curvy piece." I placed the U-turn carefully on its side, then, no longer seeing anyway out of my role in this project, began taking the pieces she handed me, and, according to instruction, clicking them atop the second tower. When they were the same height, she said, "Now it's time for the curvy part."

She waited for me to pick it up. I said, "I'm already holding two towers. I can't reach the curvy part."

"That's okay, Teacher Tom, I can help you." She handed me the U-turn. This tubular building set is actually pretty crappy. It doesn't click together solidly enough. Any structure of size, which this was, is going to be flimsy. 

When the whole thing came crashing down, she reassured me, "That's okay, Teacher Tom, you did your best," then walked away.

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Anonymous said...

:) so funny :) you made my day :) _ kichante

Anonymous said...

This beautifully and simply illustrates the power of respect and trust in our children. Thank you!

Barbara zaborowski said...

She used what was at hand (you) to try to accomplish what she set out to do; you were, in effect, her chair. (And you were closer at hand than the chair.) It's a tightrope we all walk: when to help and when to back off. I think you did just fine.

Cecily said...

I had this set in my classroom once. It is crappy, but clearly only frustrating to the adults who have to deal with it. I may have to pull it out again.