I couldn’t go to the school today. I woke up at 4:30am to my back muscles spasming. After getting out of bed, I found myself on the floor, yelling for help. Vincent ran into the office and pulled me up and carried me like a marionette doll back to the bed. It’s because I shoveled snow on Sunday and now my back is staging a revolution.
So, I have taken ibuprofen, had a hot bath, had cold packs and am now drinking a cup of coffee, thinking about empathy and conversation in children.
Last Friday at the school, I was in a miserable mood. I felt hot then cold. I was exhausted. I had been going to bed each night at 6pm and then sleeping until 5am. It was not a very good week and by Friday, I had a bad attitude.
In the gross motor room, a four year old child asked me “Are you having a good day?”
I found this to be such a thoughtful question. He could see I wasn’t so happy. And, he decided to ask me a question about the state of my day. I find this incredible. Also, because kids sometimes don’t really know how to make small talk. This seemed like something he had seen modeled in his life and he was using now.
I told him that I was feeling really stressed.
“What’s stressed?” he asked. He has a chalky voice. One of the other students, a bit rudely told him earlier,”your voice sounds like you always need to cough.”
“Stress is when everything is annoying,” I said. “Like everything feels irritating.”
His eyes opened wider as he thought. Then he ventured, “Like everything is bigger than you?”
“Yes,” I said. “Exactly.”
“Like when you are in the mirror room and you see all these mirrors of yourself and then outside there is like a huge chair!” he continued, excited to think about this stressful feeling.
So this part may seem totally nuts, but I know exactly what he’s referring to. In Buffalo, at the Albright-Knox Museum is an exhibit that has a mirror room in it and also these really big furniture pieces. Kids can go into the mirror part. I did it when I was little and now the exhibit is back. This artsy kiddo was constructing his understanding of my adult filler word “stress” by mapping it onto his experience at the museum. How cool!
This is brilliant. Also, stress is totally like when everything is bigger than you and there are all these mirrors of yourself looking at you and kind of judging you, like, “why are you so incapable of brushing things off?” and you know outside the room is a gigantic chair. It’s just waiting there. And, it’s huge.
(okay going to go get some more ice).