Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Kids

When I was an elementary school teacher, the fifth and sixth graders were on one hall, the third and fourth graders on the next. We all shared a bathroom, and occasionally my fifth graders would show up at the same time as the third graders. I would marvel at how small they looked, at how amazing it was that in only two years these little kids would be big, grown-up fifth graders. Sometimes I would wander down the first and second grade hallway, openly gawking at the tiny people sitting at the tiny desks. When my cousin entered the Kindergarten there, my mind was blown even further. I wondered how someone so small, helpless and immature could possibly be expected to pay attention in class, to learn his phone number, to use glue successfully. He seemed like such a baby! How did those teachers have the patience?

Then I had my own kids, and I learned some patience of my own. But I forgot how little those third graders had once seemed. I saw each milestone, from rolling over to walking to using the potty, as just another indication that my babies had grown up too fast and were really no longer babies. Especially Connor- as he has matured and learned advanced vocabulary and skills, I have been quick to see him as a big kid. And being a big kid means big responsibilities. I expect him to share with his sister, to obey his parents, to not whine too much, to stop crying just because he has the wrong bathtub toy.

One day when I found myself frustrated by his inability to live up to those big expectations, a wise friend said to me, “Stephanie, he’s just a little kid. He’ll grow out of that someday, but not when he’s four.” I cried for about a half hour after that conversation. Of course! How did I lose sight of that already? He deserved more patience than I had shown him that day, and probably on some other days as well. I was expecting him to be ready for the fifth grade hall, when he wasn't even ready to use the glue. So I've learned that when I get frustrated, it's best to stop, take a deep breath, and listen for Sassy's voice in my head. "He's just a little kid." I'd better enjoy it while I can.


Unknown said...

Nobody hears RJA's voice in their head saying, "Put him in the closet."

Mrs. Katherine said...

I knew it was Sassy before you said it!