I am going to share one story from the week.I will highlight what gave me joy, hope and pride.
Maya: He used a polite voice.
Matan: He was the nice one, He didn't say mean things like the other mountains who argued.
Mason: Hashem gave the Torah -full of mitzvahs- on him.
We are on the playground. Children are running, climbing, playing in the sand.
Inside two children are playing. One decides to go to the window and tell Child A to "GO AWAY". I overhear this and step in to remind this child, Child Z, the playhouse is for everyone and Child A may look through the window, or walk into the playhouse or climb. Child Z continues to tell Child A to "GO AWAY" multiple times.
I remind Child A he can be right where he is and he can choose to do what he wants to do as long as he is being kind and respectful to his friends and toys.
I step away.
A few moments later Child A climbs through the window of the playhouse.
Child Z makes a very poor choice causing Child Z to have to leave the playhouse and lose a privilege.
Child Z is crying and very upset. In a few moments Child Z calms and asks for her privilege back.
Morah: Do you know why you lost it?
Child Z: No.
Morah: Let me show you. (I ask her to look at something) How did this happen?
Child Z: (looks, eyes get wide, cries) ME.
The crying after the incident was the crying of "I am losing what I want".
The crying when she said "ME" was that of recognizing she had hurt someone. I looked in her eyes, at her slumping shoulders, her hanging head, and I felt her body get heavy against mine. I feel confident Child Z was feeling remorse. When I reflect on the moment and place myself back in it, the thing that comes to my mind is: She is feeling something powerful. She was demonstrating to me she was thinking of her friend in that moment, it was no longer about her. She had moved beyond her own instant satisfaction, she was experiencing empathy. It is easy for children to share in the joy and happiness of their friends, it is significantly harder to share in their sadness.
Morah: How can you fix this? What can you do?
Child Z: I don't know... Child A what can I do to help you feel better? (no prompting)
Child A: (IN A KIND, UP BEAT TONE) You could say sorry.
Child Z: (stands up, no longer leaning on me) I'm sorry Child A.Child A smiles.
Child Z sighs and smiles.
In that simple response, Child A did a powerful thing, he showed Child Z thoughtfulness, consideration and love. Did he consciously plan it as we all sat there? I don't believe so. I do believe it is in his nature, as it is in every child's nature to love and forgive.
In that happy answer of "You can say sorry" with a smile of acknowledgement, all was fixed and forgiven.
Child Z's body changed. The heavy weight that had descended on her lifted.
I feel her friend's kindness helped her. I feel the values upon which The Gan is founded were embodied in Child A's warm smile.*
They each went on to have a very happy day.
Normally I share names of the preschoolers with quotes, I chose to be vague for this story.
I do not want to take away from the wonderful people the two preschoolers involved in this story
are-on any given day they are stars-but what struck me on this day, causing me to think about it for the rest of the afternoon and onward, was how brightly the outcome shone.
*I felt that the combination of Child Z's acknowledgement of the consequences of her action, and her experience with empathy was cause to return her privilege to her.