In the past I have written and shared with readers my responsibilities as a teacher and morning care supervisor. Or at least I have shared my experiences and my philosophy of teaching and developing relationships, a diversity of thought. This may be the first of my posts that you will read. And if that is the case, you really don’t know my philosophy, but I do think a great deal about such things, I can’t help it. Perhaps you will learn a little as you read, a little about me, and a little about this and that.
I arrive at the school at 6:30, most days. I hate waking up early. Sometimes parents are already waiting for me to open the school. I don’t know how they do it, many of them have to get their children dressed, fed, and then drive them to the school. I only have to dress myself and walk to school; the school is right beside my house.
On some mornings I have one particular student (2nd grade) who will follow me around as I unlock the doors and pull the seats down to prepare for students. He will tell me about his new toys, the latest super hero movie, or all about his last football game. Other students will stand near my desk and tell me all sorts of things, sometimes odd things. But most of them are very young. And after their friends arrive they leave me alone and have great fun playing or talking with their friends, and sometimes not. I am going somewhere, just keep reading.
I take books with me everywhere I go. I take books in the morning and normally I can read for about fifteen minutes or so. It depends on how many four year olds I have, because they need a lot of attention. The older students lay their heads down or do homework; they rarely have problems, but the four year olds are a handful. When the little ones first came to talk to me I was a little frustrated, I wanted to read. So I would listen for a moment, and (Sometimes I have no idea what they are talking about.) then I would tell them to return to their seat. That rarely ever works, they come right back to my desk. I realized that when they have no one to talk to, they want to talk to me.
I also realized that when this happens they are only acting human. We are created in God’s image. Our God is a personal and relational being. Transcendent as He may be, we know He is relational. As a result we are also relational; relationships, communication, and interaction are absolutely necessary for healthy living. I have learned to accept the children’s behavior and now I even enjoy our conversations, most of the time (Some days I have to work very hard at this because I am tired and don’t feel like conversing with a four year old.). The students need me to listen to them. First, they need to express themselves, and when no one else is around I am their best option. Secondly, when I listen to them I am affirming that what they say matters. If I don’t listen, they will begin to think that they don’t matter (to me at least). And if that is the impression that I give them, well, then I would be a failure as a teacher and discipler.
I have mentioned this before, but as I reflected this morning I was reminded about the temptation of Jesus. Specifically his lack of human interaction. Jesus spent forty days without touching, talking, or interacting with another human. I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human; as a human it must have been extremely difficult for him to be alone for such a long time. I propose that living in solitude for forty days leaves one very frustrated, sad, depressed, and emotionally unhealthy. We need relationships. I don’t believe that Jesus was as sorrowful as I am suggesting, but I do believe that his lack of human contact made him vulnerable.
If you have ever seen the film Castaway starring Tom Hanks you will recall that he had several mental and emotional breakdowns. He developed a relationship with a volleyball and when he lost the volleyball he broke down, he grieved. At his first opportunity he bought a few volleyballs, the same brand of course. Without human contact he developed a connection with the volleyball that apparently outlasted his involuntary solitude. I believe that the film Castaway best illustrates our need for human contact and relationships.
I was inspired to write this post based upon a conversation I had this morning. A four year old student was quite disappointed to be the only student at her table. I sit at my desk nearby, and so she decided that I would have to be her source for conversation. I cannot remember everything she said. She showed me her two folders with her name written on the outside, written beside her class number. She showed me that the papers inside did not belong to her and told me that the teacher put the wrong papers in her folder.
My wife works at the school’s learning center, so she works with many of the students before they come over to the pre-K program and morning care. Most of the students are unaware of my connection to their previous teacher. I figure that my connection with Mrs. Jovita makes a good starting point for conversation. My wife is beautiful and sweet so all the kids love her. So, this morning I told the chatty student that Mrs. Jovita is my wife. Her response, “I have seen you before, my mind told me that God told me that you were married.” Soon after that she took her two folders and smacked them together as she simultaneously made a smooching sound. Sometimes I visit my wife and sneak a kiss on her cheek during meal time.
If you would have told me a few years ago that I would spend time supervising K4 students I would have laughed. Ironically I want to teach adults, apparently God wants me to work with children. Sometimes I love my job, sometimes I am stretched out. I am reminded of the words, “Jesus loves the little children.” I am also reminded of the following passage,
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18.1-6