Some children simply don’t know how to play. Let me be more specific. There are some children that we know have a very difficult time playing properly and safely with their peers. I know who they are and oftentimes when I am called to the playground I know it is them that I am coming to remove.
I’ll never forget the day I was called to the kindergarten playground because a young man had pushed and hit two girls. They had done nothing to deserve being hit or pushed. And though neither child was injured, I was still upset. Upset because this same young man continues to make bad choices despite the consequence he receives and/or the counseling that I provide. I truly believe that the way he plays at school is the way he plays at home and he doesn’t know any better.
Once I was able to get him to my office, I tried to talk to him about what he had done and why it wasn’t acceptable. No response. It is always frustrating when a child ignores you, but I have gotten used to it and I know not to take it personally. I was at the point where I had to decide what to do next. Do I give him a consequence or do I simply counsel him? Maybe I do both.
The one thing that I was certain of was that he owed the two girls an apology. So I called the two little girls down to my office. A place I don’t think either had been before. They came in and sat down in my chairs. I don’t believe their legs were even long enough to allow their feet to touch the floor. Both girls explained to me what had happened and it was pretty cut and dry.
It was at this point that I asked the young man to make an apology to the girls. He was determined to do no such thing. He wasn’t budging. I asked him again. Still nothing! This was making me angrier by the minute. These girls deserved an apology and there was no good reason that they shouldn’t receive one.
So I asked the girls what they thought we should do. Without a second’s hesitation, one of the girls, in her sweet five-year old voice said, “Maybe we should make him a present.” What!? Did I hear her correctly? This child just got hit for no reason and her solution to the problem was to make the boy a gift?
I told her that her idea was very sweet, but that she didn’t need to do that. I think the other girl looked at her like she had three heads. I’m sure her face looked much like mine when I first heard her solution to the problem.
But just stop for a moment and imagine the purity and goodness that was in this little angel’s heart. Maybe she was able to see what I was not. Maybe she could see it in his eyes. That what this boy needed was more love. Not punishment. Clearly whatever I have been trying so far this year has not been effective.
I’m not really sure what message I am trying to convey in this post. I think more than anything I wanted you to feel, if just for a moment, the warmth of a beautiful soul. Maybe I just wanted you to know that she is out there.
I have been doing this for quite some time now. And I have found that there is very little that surprises me. This week was an exception. Because while I hadn’t planned on issuing too harsh a consequence for the young man, I would have never thought to have made him a gift.
But you know. Maybe that is exactly what he needs. And it took a five-year old little girl to point it out to me.
Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.