Friday, July 19, 2019

Doing Their Job

Some of the younger children still don't like to go to the bathroom alone. If we weren't a cooperative school with lots of adults available for escort duty, it would be a real pain given that our toilets are located down a long hallway which means that the classroom is down two adults (our rules don't permit any adult to be alone with a child that is not their own) for a considerable amount of time when this happens. It's not that the kids necessarily need us there with them in the sense that most have mastered the physical aspects of the process, but rather that they are in the habit of having an adult with them. So most of the time, the adults are there to more or less keep them company as they go about their business.

Our summer program is in a somewhat better situation because we spend our full days outdoors and the toilet is visible from the playground. Many of the kids are happy so long as an adult is visible, which means one of us just needs to hang around near the doorway so they can see us. Still, it's an obligation that temporarily depletes my team of parent-teachers each time it happens. I don't want to make this sound like it's a major issue or anything; it's more of a occasional annoyance.

Last week, a situation came up when a two-year-old, performing the classic dance, announced that he needed to "go potty." I was in the midst of doing something from which I couldn't be immediately extricated, but telling someone who has recently graduated from diapers to wait doesn't usually lead to success. I looked around for another available adult. They were all either likewise engaged or not visible, so I said, "You know where the potty is, right?"

He nodded.

"Maybe you can go by yourself. I'll come as fast as I can."

He continued to dance in place, "I want someone to go with me!"

I was about to say he would have to wait a minute, when one of the five-year-olds offered, "I can take him." She then took the boy's hand, walked him in to the bathroom, and remained with him right through hand washing.

It was an eye-opener for me. For the rest of the week and into this one, whenever a child indicated they wanted to be escorted to the toilet, I would announce to the surrounding children, "X wants someone to take her/him to the potty," and every single time there was a four or five or six-year-old volunteer. For the last couple of days, I've not even always needed to make any sort of announcement, as I've witnessed any number of older children walking younger ones to the bathroom totally unprompted by me.

Yesterday, they took it up a notch. Not once, not twice, but thrice, I heard a younger child crying, only to be beat to the comforting hug by an older child, and in one case several older children, on the spot, caring for the younger children, doing what has now clearly become their job.

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