Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Connection And Love And Tears And Cars

When I entered the room, the first thing I noticed was a two-year-old I'd never met before clutching a big-eyed spider stuffy, attempting to sooth himself. He wasn't crying, but rather repeatedly catching his breath as he attempted to suppress irrepressible. I have no idea what had gone on in the moments before I arrived. I sat on the edge of a soft chair, made eye contact, and opened my arms him in invitation.

Slowly he edged toward me. I was visiting his school as part of the 2023 Play Iceland experience. This was my first day here, but he had been coming as long as he could remember. He leaned into me, curling into my arms, his head resting against me. In the other room, one of his teachers was singing rowdy Icelandic songs as I began to purr random English language words:

You are sad
And I am here
Your friends are in there
Singing together . . .

It didn't matter what I said, of course. What mattered were the vibrations that passed from my chest into his tiny body. He stood a bit stiffly at first, but soon began to melt into me, hanging increasingly limply in my arms. I thought for a moment that he had fallen asleep, but his eyes were open, continuing to brim, without spilling over. Occasionally, he would convulse with what was left of his emotion. We sat like this for a long time.

Most of the other children were engaging with the songs, listening, jumping up and down, wiggling, attempting to sing along, imitating hand gestures. Every now and then the music would send them spiraling into the adjacent room where we were, inspired to dance in a bigger space than one room allowed. A few of them paused to consider the two of us in our embrace. Some of them joined us for a moment, hugging us both, standing beside us, trying it out before rejoining the others.

Meanwhile the boy's body had become entirely limp, relaxed. I said, "Let's go in there now," and slowly stood. He stood with me, taking my hand. We joined the others, against the wall. He nestled into the nest I made with my legs. A few of the other children noticed us. Several moved to sit around us in solidarity or welcome or fellowship. Many looked at me to smile. Many more looked into the boy's face in curiosity or sympathy.

One child, after connecting with us for a moment, raced from the room, returning with a toy car, which he handed to me. I took it, placing it on the floor beside me. Moments later he returned with another vehicle, then another, then another, then another. As the Icelandic songs continued apace the pile of vehicles grew. Then the child retuned empty handed, his supply depleted, I held a car to out to him. He took it, running off. When he retuned, I handed him another car, then another, then another, then another, until, as the singing finally came to an end so did the pile of cars.

Then we all stood up. Lunch had arrived -- fish and vegetables -- and I left them to it.

I'd travelled thousands of miles to meet these children, to learn from them. They had greeted me as I was and as they are, including me in the song of their day in this place of connection and love and tears and cars. 


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

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