Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Train Track Back

His mother left and he didn't like that. He stood at the hallway door crying while I sat with him, although he soon made it clear that he would rather that I give him space so I did. Earlier, a couple of his three-year-old classmates had spontaneously tried to comfort him with hugs, but he had rejected those as well.

I remained near, however, and as the intensity of his emotion began to ebb, I went back into the classroom to retrieve a couple train cars. I put them on the floor beside him, saying, "When you're finished crying, here are some trains to play with." He stopped to look at the trains. I said, "I'll get you some tracks too." I returned moments later with a couple pieces of train track, putting them on the floor with the trains. I wasn't trying to distract him, but I wanted him to at least have some options.

A classmate, one of those who had earlier offered him a hug had been watching me and, I guess, found my efforts inadequate because the moment I stepped away, she stepped in, assembling the tracks for him. She then said, "I'll get more," returning to the classroom for additional railway sections. As the boy whimpered at the door, she began assembling a track, one piece at a time, down the center of the hallway. By the time she was finished, she had built a track from him back into the classroom. She said to him, "I finished your track," then went back inside to play.

He was finished with his cry by now, squatting to examine the train cars, an engine and a cargo car. Over the course of the next twenty minutes then, he slowly engineered his train along the track until he arrived at the classroom doorway where the track his friend had built came to an end. The rest of the way he was on his own. From there he could see his classmates playing with the rest of the trains and tracks. He sat there fiddling with his two train cars for a long time until finally he crossed the threshold and joined the rest of us.

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