We had a wonderful family visiting this morning to tour our preschool.
It seemed like for the duration of this tour, things were spilling, falling, crashing. At one point, a child accentuated this theme when she had the wonderful and creative and powerful idea of jumping off the bench onto the large magna-tile structure she had built. She looked like godzilla landing on a relatively tiny skyscraper. It was amazing, and totally captured the pattern of the morning. The mom that was here noted, "there must be a full moon or something". And yet while it all appeared to be in chaos, when you looked at the children's faces, or watched their reactions to the baskets of blocks getting knocked over, or the marker block upturning and markers rolling everywhere - they were totally at ease. And this made me feel at ease.
However, when the touring family left, I felt like we were going to need a little reset. Like, come on, the rest of the day can't possibly go on like this or I'll be going crazy cleaning up little messes everywhere.
So I told myself, at circle time, even though I have a million things planned bc of the holiday, it must be a venue for centering and grounding ourselves.
We started circle time in the usual manner. Songs and such. Then we continued the passing out of Valentines, which we did differently this year. Instead of the usual "drop the card in each mailbox" method, the children were carrying their tote bags and personally exchanged Valentines. This brief but powerful interpersonal exchange was so beautiful to witness. The smiles, the eye contact, the seeking out of the person they were trying to hand off a card to, the excitement, the spontaneous hugs and kids telling each other "Happy Valentines Day". I have to admit, it was one of the most special Valentines Day circles that I can remember.
This sense of validation, of personal attunement and connection, being seen, being valued, being thought about. I really think this was so special to the children. Not only is this special to the children, but it is an innate need and necessary part of healthy development. And this is a group of children that really seems to get some of these deeper more subtle aspects of human interchange. I mean, they are still preschoolers, testing boundaries and what not, but they function at a high level - while they don't always act on it, they have an emotional and social literacy that seems to me to be very advanced.
My favorite part of circle lasted about 2.5 seconds. I was about to hand the children my Valentines. My very impersonal, plastic, just bought at Target two days ago, Valentines. Plastic heart-shaped glasses and stencil rulers. I even opened the packages right at circle time as I was explaining to the kids how I would pass them out. It was a poorly planned gift to say the least. But here comes my favorite part. I told them that after each of them got to choose the color of their gifts, I would then tell them something I loved about them. And I saw their faces light up. They were thrilled to hear this! And it reminded me that not only are they special to me, but I am special to them.
Yesterday, I asked each child at circle if I could be their Valentine or if they could be my Valentine. They all agreed enthusiastically except for one resistant child, who came around by the end of circle when she realized that you aren't limited to one Valentine. As one of our circle time love songs go, "Love is something if you give it away - you end up having more."
Happy Valentine's Day!