Friday, March 29, 2013

A Gift of Presence

More than ninety days ago, I arrived at Tumbleweed as one of the Preschool Teachers. I was (and still am) enthusiastic, caring, and devoted. However, the experiences did not guarantee a super-perfect-preschool-teacher-on-the-job. To be sure, I am not invalidating my experiences or textbook knowledge.

Being a preschool teacher with a roomful of 16 youngsters on a daily basis, I have directly experienced children defying the presumptions of myself and many a scholar. I have been privy to child behavior that many think improbable, if not impossible. I have seen and heard "developmental stages" being blown to smithereens. Of course, I have also heard lots of poop jokes, so my ego stays well checked. The past ninety-something-days has all gathered itself in my head and tossed a salad on my once strongly held beliefs about children and a teacher’s role in their lives.

I also realized I bring to the relationship what I have carried with me for many years: all the good, bad, ugly and delightful. But it was all laced with a misguided spice born from reading too many books about too many things I knew too little about: Children. So, I have had to put in my time....not reading, not workshopping, not networking. Instead, I have been really nosy in the company of children, day after day, diaper after diaper. I listen in on private conversations. I embed myself in their lives. And what I have seen and heard shapes what I now hold dear.

Children are more capable than adults give them credit for, physically, emotionally, mentally. They are nothing if not resilient. They can overcome and even thrive in the midst of my educational stumbling and bumbling. The fact is, what I believe and thus practice has and will continue to change over time. Yet, there is one demand I have tried to make on myself without the use of excuses... A mindful mantra if you will: BE PRESENT

These words are a reminder of what is the most important to-do thing I do. Whether a preschooler has a story to relate in seemingly unrelated terms or has a knee that creaks and requires a lap for one minute short of eternity, I must be there for them. Ears hearing. Face expressing. Body comforting. These are the moments so necessary to a youngster reaching for brilliance in emotional grad school. Nothing I do will cost these youngsters more than my half-attentiveness, a crime worse than absence.

With my presence, might it be merely a few seconds or a seemingly hour-long-minute, whatever form it takes, my preschoolers will find reason to continue present-ing throughout their lives, and certainly, some sweetness will follow.  


  1. What you state here is so true! When I was a little girl my parents where there but not PRESENT, they were always giving half their attention to me and my sister. In my experience that always made me feel like if myself and my stuff where not important, the enthusiasm to tell them if I had a good day, or if I had a problem and need counseling just disappeared as I grow old, even as an adult this days my mother doesn't even know what my favorite color is, my little son told her once because he asked her and realize she didn't know. I am not saying that what I feel now and used to feel then, should happen to any child, but as you know, every and each soul is different, I am just sharing my experience because sometimes involuntarily we generate patterns, because now that I have my own child, my childhood memories came back and I am struggling with them, I know what is correct to do but something sometimes keeps me away from doing it, is difficult but with profesional help and guidance I know I will make it right one step at the time.

    "Ears hearing. Face expressing. Body comforting." Might sound simple but as we grow older and the adult responsibilities absorb us, we just forget, we think that THINGS like toys or TV can "can entertain" the kids while we have decent and quality time to share with them. what you state here is so important and meaningfull, I will share with everyone I know.

  2. Yazmin, what you shared is so beautiful!! Being present is the most challenging practice--whether it is being present in a relationship with another person, or just simply being present in LIFE. I find myself often "react" to the present situation, instead of "responding"...being with what is happening in front of me. It takes me to put aside what I think/feel it should be, and letting myself (or say...allowing myself) to embed in another's experience.