Monday, August 11, 2014

"you are not even trying"

I parked my car at a community center today, getting ready to go for a run at the track. As I unrolled my window, I overheard a male adult talking to a young child who was seated on a two-wheel bike on the sidewalk next to the track.

The man kept stating, over and over again, "You are not even trying. I am not going to keep helping you if you are not even going to try."

I stared at the child, who I would guess to be about 5-years-old, as he sat on his bike with a gigantic helmet bobbing on his head. I watched as this child just looked at the man who continued his rant: "You are not even trying. I told you how to ride a bike. I told you all the tips and you are not even trying. If you are just going to sit there then I am done. It is up to you, but you have to try or I won't help you any more."

I was thinking many thoughts in support of both the man and the child. I was thinking how easy it is to just assume that the man is being too harsh and I should feel bad for the child. I only got to hear this specific section of their life, this day, on a bike at a track. Maybe there is more to it.
Maybe something amazing or difficult happened earlier? Maybe something amazing or difficult happened after I left?

Still, the words haunt me enough to write about it here: "You are not even trying."

I was thinking that maybe the boy WAS trying - perhaps the boy was trying to figure out how to please this man or how to remember one of the possible zillion "tips" the man had given about bike riding. I was thinking that "trying" and "doing what I say" are two quite different things.

I can be hopeful that the man calmed down a bit and was able to give a different message to the boy later that had to do with "take your time" and "it is pretty tricky to balance a bike so let me know how I can help you."

By the way, this is not a post about parenting as I am unsure it was a father/son, and, more importantly, I don't blog about parenting. This is about hearing something such as a phrase while out in public and then reflecting on it from an early educator lens. Maybe the man and child were tired, hungry or frustrated. Maybe they both needed a break. We have all had times like that. I have definitely had times like that.

Monday, June 2, 2014

"the world is my rope swing"

I was tempted to NOT write any post to go with this title as it is oh-so-lovely on its own. However, credit for the quote should be given. So, here is the story.
I am a lucky blogger in that I occasionally happen upon friends' stories or photos that capture my attention and I ask if I can share them with Zella readers.
This is just such a case.

"T" on one of his adventures - boots, cape and absolute focus while balancing on a log.
My dear friend and former colleague Megan has an adventurous 5-year-old boy "T" who loves exploring and inventing.

This is Megan's recap of how the quote from "T" came about:

"It all came about while we were driving to school the other morning. He enjoys playing with ropes. They become anything from snakes, weapons, tools and in this case, zip lines. While driving, he had tied a rope to the passenger head rest in front of him and the other end to the safety handle. He said he made a zip line and had a little ninja figurine sliding down it. Then he noticed the slack of the rope and that it made another zip line, just shorter. He began joking around that I got the short zip line. I went with the joke and it made him laugh to think he had a longer zip line than me. He then proceeded to share the longer one with me and began talking about various lengths of zip lines."
The quote came after his playing with his ninja figurine and creating the zip line:

As an advocate for children to make their own play choices and to be an active agent in making meaning of their world, I had one of those crinkly smiles on my face when I had first read "T"s quote and Megan's story. THIS is what I would wish for all children: The sense of freedom to create, the continued drive to play and be playful, and the gift to trust in one's relationship to something as an individual.
"T" seems to know at age 5 that he has power and has a place in the world - with or without a rope swing.

[ My special thanks to Megan and "T" for allowing me to share a slice of their family life here on Zella. Cheers to more adventures with ropes and ninjas. ]

Friday, May 16, 2014

" we're in ireland "

Children are story tellers and live their own stories.

Two girls, ages 3 and 4, went on an extended adventure one afternoon in the school yard.

They brought one clipboard, two pencils, and a huge stack of white and yellow paper.
As they traveled along, they would giggle and run and giggle more. At one point, they sat down in the sand area and took out their clipboard. A teacher asked if they would like anything written down: "Yes!" 
This is the story they shared:

"We're in Ireland. We are going to skate, eat fortune cookies, see the big ornaments, drink hot cocoa and eat bagels."

And, off they went.

Where did your children go today?