MH, CK, and LT wanted the purple rope swing. MH's hands were holding the rope, and his friends were standing where he would like to swing. All three children were feeling pretty frustrated, each attempting to hold the rope. LT asked me to come over: "Can you help us make a plan?"
Each child proposed their own turn to be first, and we recognized that wouldn't be possible. We paused to think for a moment. What kind of plan could work for everyone?
MH: "Well, I'm holdin' the rope right now, so I think I'm going to go first.
LT: "Alright. Then I'm next."
CK: "No, I'm next, L! I'm gonna be next."
Me: "You guys both really want to use the rope when M is done. It feels so frustrating! We can still work on a plan that will work for everyone."
CK and LT think for several long moments, brows furrowed, big thoughtful frowns on their faces. LT speaks up, animatedly: "Okay. So M will go first. Then me, then you, C. Then me again, then C, and then M!" She looks at her buddy CK, and he answers: "Yeah! That works for me! Does it work for you, M?" M answers: "It works for me as well!"
Does this order make sense to my adult brain? Does it match with what I would have done if I was handing down a solution to their problem? Probably not, and that's the beauty of this moment. It's not just a moment about a rope swing. It's also a moment where these three children are experiencing the interesting, messy friction that occurs when we disagree with someone we care about. These three are meeting one another where they are, they are sticking with a tough spot until they come up with a consensus on a solution, and they are slowing down to make a plan when it's clear something isn't working. This is big, beautiful work. This is the work of relationship building.
I tell them it sounds like the plan works for everyone, and remark that it feels great when a group can work together like that to make a plan! As I begin to walk to another group of children in the yard, I hear LT suggest: "Let's cheer for M while it's his turn!"