One of the little girls in nursery is the smartest not-quite-two-year-old I have ever met. She’s very verbal. Great memory, which makes for pleasantly quick associations. She probably wonders why the other people her size don’t talk back when she walks up to them, calls them by name and says hi. The cutest thing ever, with chubby, perfect babyjowls and clear, sharp eyes that size you up and figure you out. I’ve never been so intimidated or blessed to have her in my class. When her mom picks her up at the end of the day she tells stories about how the little girl always looks forward to nursery. Her mom mimics the little voice: “Nursery? Okay!” Then she has to explain to her daughter that nursery isn’t for four(!) more days.
We have a cabinet, three feet square by one foot deep, where we keep the children’s books. For some weird babylogic reason, the tods like to gut the cabinet of its books and hide in the cabinet. They like to close the doors and be in the darkness for 5 seconds and kick open the door for instant delight. Or instant light, which, strangely, is delightful. Sometimes the doors swing open very swiftly, and if a child is standing in the right spot, s/he gets smacked. Or someone gets his/her fingers caught in the doors. Crying ensues. It happens almost every week. I don’t know why the adults don’t forbid the kids from playing in the cabinet. I’m not guiltily averting my eyes; it just that the kids won’t remember not to play in there. And it’s more fun to hear them laughing. Of course, until someone gets hurt. THEN we say no more playing in the cabinet. Perfect babylogic, wouldn’t you say?
Our feature not-quite-two-year-old got her foot caught between one of the doors and the bottom panel of the cabinet. One of the other kids was trying to close the door and smooshed her foot. She began to cry. I opened the door all the way and asked if she hurt her foot. She kept crying. I held out my arms in case she wanted me to pick her up. (She almost never lets me pick her up. I’ve learned not to take it personally.) Her nose was all snotty; her babyjowls were flushed. She held out her arms and I picked her up. We sat in a chair and she still hadn’t stopped crying. I held her close to me and started singing some of the church children’s songs to her. She quieted down and leaned her head to my chest. First the right side of her head, then her left side. She kept switching sides. Initially I thought she was trying get comfortable on my ever-so-ample bosom; then it occurred to me she was listening to me sing, alternating ears, wondering how my heartbeat fit with the tunes.
See what I mean? SO smart.
After five minutes, she was all better and went off to play.
I love children, especially at this age. They are the closest things to God on Earth. They are so present, they’re lives are so simple, pared down to the barest of necessities. They are so dependent; their problems are immediate, yet fleeting. And yet, their problems are what’s most important at that very moment: tend to me now, or the world is over. (Or they get distracted by someone else’s toy and life is good again.)
It would be pointless and mostly heartless to tell a not-quite-two-year-old to buck up, missy. Everyone gets hurt in the book cabinet. Haven’t you seen the other kids get hurt? Children that age still feel unique. The universe revolves around them, and why shouldn’t it?
Time for the preachy parallel. It’s a stretch, but try seeing it out.
It’s important not to lose our sense of uniqueness. Many of us will experience the same problems, and we will even have very similar ways of getting through them. Just because everybody hurts in many of the same ways doesn’t mean my problems aren’t unique to me. Buck up, May. Lots of people feel down. This might help me not to feel alone, but it doesn’t help me to feel special. It’s a struggle to keep sight of the truth: because God created me, He knows just how unique I am. He knows my life’s experiences and ways of learning are specifically tailored to me, even if they happen to be similar to others. He sees my problems as immediate and that my world could crumble–because everything is now to Him–so He pulls me through them. Me. An individual. His child whom He knows and loves more than I could ever comprehend.
He’ll do that for all of us. One at a time. Might take longer than five minutes, but we’ll be all better.