Monday, May 9, 2011

The Need To Learn From Children


On Saturday, I witnessed an awesome interaction between my son and a boy who is one year younger. It triggered many questions and thoughts in my head about how we interact with others and on a larger scale, how countries deal with each other. 

Scene I
Four kids of ascending ages from 2 -5 running around trying to open a packet of sliced cheese to feed a cute fluffy dog. These kids are of different social backgrounds, nationalities, religions, skin colour.... just perfect...

Walk in 'me'... "Hey kids, how about you each eat a slice of cheese before you feed the dog?" 

The kids start eating and I get them going by cheering them on... urging them to finish quickly to be able to feed the dog.... My son finished first and was given a piece of cheese for the dog, then the 3-year old and then my 2-year old daughter... They each got a piece of cheese to feed the dog as well... 

The 4-year old was still eating... trying to swallow every bite before he took another... I had to give him a few tips... "Shove it all in," I said... There was just a small piece left and he really could use a push so that he could get to feed the dog with the others... and he did... while my son  was cheering him on... saying, "Come on... come on... you can do this!" ... Knowing that if the 4-year old finished his piece of cheese, it would mean one less piece for him to feed the dog... but he cheered him on anyway... The 4-year old, getting excited during this whole commotion,  received the last and biggest piece of cheese to give the dog.

Scene II
After the last person ate his piece of cheese, it was time to calm down after the noisy cacophony and excitement... so on the second slice of cheese, I asked all of them to sit in a circle with me, around the doggy... and they did... They collaborated... They listened to instructions and did an amazing job... they knew that if they followed the instructions and did what they were asked to do, they would have more fun and would each get the same number of pieces to feed the dog.

Now I have to mention the order of their seating placements because it is essential to the story... my daughter was sitting on my left, the 3-year old next to her, then my son next to him and the 4-year old was on my right, next to my son. 

I decided to give the kids pieces of cheese in ascending order of their ages... so I gave my daughter a piece.... then the 3-year old... I skipped my son because he was the eldest and proceeded to give the 4-year old who immediately exclaimed that it was my son's turn and that I had skipped him... I tried to explain to him that I was going in the order of ages but he insisted that I give my son the piece of cheese first... 

And so I did... I gave my son the piece of cheese but he waited until the 4-year old was given a piece and they both fed the dog together... jumping up and down in sheer exhilaration...

Scene III
When it was time for the next round and they had to settle down again, my son ran and sat next to me, leaving his place for the 4-year old to sit... I realized that he wanted to give the 4-year old his turn first and that he would be last... he actually thought about it... he thought that the 4-year old gave him his turn and so he must return the act of kindness... Everyone was happy then! The smiles.... The laughter... just wonderful and inspiring!

It made me think of how innocent and thoughtful these little ones were .... They cheered each other on knowing that they would have one less "reward" or "chance" to doing something they loved... They collaborated to make the incident fun for everyone... They were kind to each other and thoughtful... They appreciated each others' acts of kindness and worked to reciprocate it.

These are 2 to 5 year old kids and I was in awe of them... I sat there with a big smile on my face and  warmth in my heart... I felt lucky to have experienced such a moment... To have witnessed it.... To have been a part of it.... It made me think about the world and how grown ups react to one another... if children can do simple acts of kindness like that, why then don't I see similar actions in my every day life... Don't get me wrong... I do from time to time but sometimes I feel that I would love to see more... I watch the news and I stand aghast at how countries, religious groups, leaders, and general populations treat one another.

We should watch kids play and interact more often than we do... Not only would their innocent interactions lighten our hearts but they would teach us lessons... I know I have learned so much by watching my children and my students interact... The best lessons are learned from children who are of different social backgrounds, religions, skin colour, races interact together.... They see NO difference... They do not care what the other person's beliefs or points of views were... they do not care about whether their friend is of a different shade... all they care about is having fun, laughing and just spending time together.

Granted that there are many times our children need our intervention to teach them lessons, on how to interact with each other but there are times when simply magic happens and they return the favor ten times better.


Birdie said...

I have a friend that tells a story about her son watching a children's show one day on TV. Her son was telling her about what was going on and the names of the kids. One of the children on the TV show had black skin. As her son was telling her the names of each child she got confused about who was who so she asked her son which one was which. "James is the one in the green shirt". He wasn't the one with the black skin. He hadn't even noticed. He just noticed the green shirt.

And a little child shall lead them...

Tabouleh said...

A beautiful addition to my blog entry.... loved the story... yes a little child can lead them.... so true!