|Nathan gets his trike to go search for tree tigers.|
The first year I started teaching, over twenty years ago, I worked with two-year-olds at a private preschool on the Stanford University campus. My plan was to only work at this preschool for one year to "play with kids" before I began my graduate work in clinical psychology.
Over the course of the school year, Nathan and I became buddies. He would look for me as soon as he arrived at school. He would sit with me at story time. He would seek me out when he needed help.
One day, when we headed outside in the play yard, he called to me to join him at the bike path. Nathan had his hands on the handlebars of the yellow trike, his left foot on the back of the trike and with his right foot pushed the bike like a scooter. He started riding around the circle bike path which had a gorgeous, huge tree in the center. He kept going around and around, stopping now and then to go to the tree - tap, tap, tap - and then ride back around the path.
After a while, Nathan stopped riding. He came over to where I was sitting and grabbed my hand.
"Come, come...come help me look for the tigers in the big tree! Come, come. The tree tigers are calling to us and we need to find them in the tree! Come, come, come!"
I realized later that this invitation from Nathan changed my life - completely, literally, changed my life. His invitation for me to believe in him and to join him further in his world of the tree tigers was my first experience to see the world from a child's perspective. For Nathan, the tree tigers and the bikes and the afternoon outside was his entire world at that moment and I had the privilege to join him.
Because of Nathan, I devoted my career to being a teacher of young children and pursued my graduate work in education instead of clinical psychology. I know every child has their version of tree tigers in their imagination and on the occasion I get a glimpse into that marvelous world, then I can only thank Nathan.