Monday, 26 March 2012

Growth



Little Princess and I often talk about the old days

Those old days before more colleagues joined us

Although it was very difficult working on my own as a conductor in some ways I had a much closer relationship with the after-school children when we were alone in the group. On the other hand we talk about different things now that younger colleagues are amongst us and in this way I discover more about the personalities of the children and the children in turn learn more about us.

The children speak to my young colleague about things that they would not now mention to me, this is only natural because I am like a grandmother to them and she is like a big sister. There are also times now when I observe things that I may have missed before. I perhaps notice earlier that something is not quite right with one of them because of having the opportunity to take a step back to listen and to watch. 

I know these children inside out and often know when one of them is worried about something before they have realised themselves, and watching them all while they play together is a great opportunity for me to make my observations.

Those old days that Little Princess and I reminisce about were not necessarily good old days but sometimes quite the opposite.

They were the days when Littlie would get so frustrated because she was too small to wash her hands alone, too small to go to the toilet alone, too small to walk home alone and too small to get off her bike and sit up at the table alone. Those were the days when I would say to her, do not get upset, you will soon be bigger and then you will be able to do it. I convinced her that it was true, that it was mainly her size that was preventing her from being more independent.

She is thrilled almost every day now as she achieves more and more for herself and realizes that what I told her really was the truth. Her hands are bigger and they also open up from a fist more easily, so she can hold on to things. Her arms are longer so she can stretch out and reach things. Her legs are longer so she can stand at the sink and wash and she is stronger and bigger all round so she can get on to the toilet alone. Her legs grow these days as quickly as the spring flowers so that each day it is noticeable how much easier it is for her to dismount from her bike.

She can do all sorts of thing now that she is bigger and growing daily.

Of course, Little Princess knows that her development is not only to do with size. Of course, she knows that as her understanding develops and as she practices things life becomes more independent for her, but it is her ability to transfer the understanding to actions that is so much affected by her longer limbs and body.

A questioning mind

When I first met Littlie she was very little, just two-years-old. She could hardly lift her head but she could always lift it enough to make eye contact and talk with her eyes. Speaking with words was so difficult, in comparison lifting her head and using “eye-speak” were easy!

Littlie still speaks with her eyes a lot, they are full of sparkle and expression but she has gathered a huge vocabulary with many easy to pronounce and useful words that she can say clearly without the need to repeat them. With words like “Echt?”, Really?;  Und?, And?; Wo?, Where?; Was?, What?; Warum?, Why?; Was ist?, What’s up?; she can keep a conversation going for ages.

Speaking days

Over the years I have learnt that for Littlie some days are talking days and others are for doing.

Littlie is very skilled in avoiding “work” that she does not really want to do at that moment by encouraging interesting conversation. We are flexible and spontaneous. Within the programme for the day there is always space for change and as some days Littlie does not have the energy left to talk at all so we make the most of it when we can. On “speaking days” we play games with lots of talking and questioning, we discuss future projects, and sing. Sometimes we have English lessons.

The whole group loves it and all of the children understand Littlie now.

She is really clever with her chosen words, having the ability to get the whole life story out of someone within minutes with the use of her eyes and these few words, and she can listen for hours to stories told by all of the people who love to be in her company.

I am one of these people, and of course I encourage her to say a more and more words herself to contribute to the conversation.

Entertainer

We were out to dinner with her family this weekend. This is an annual “party” for her. She invites the team around her to join her and her family for dinner. It is a lovely celebration of all of our lives. I have been there for seven years coordinating and working with this family, the youngest member of the team just seven months. Sometimes this Fest takes place at the end of the school summer term, sometimes at Christmas. This year this Fest took place just before Easter.

I sat at the end of a long table with ten people seated. From there it was difficult to join in much of the conversation but it was a wonderful spot to observe from. We sat together for three hours and, apart from a break to eat a few morsels of delicious food, Littlie did not stop talking and laughing. It was a delight to see, and when she asked me “What’s up?” I replied that as she is the host I was waiting to be entertained some more, and off she would go encouraging stories and now even telling some of her own.

There are two young people in our Integrated Kindergarten team who Littlie loves, they will leave us this year to carry on with their studies but there is now doubt about it that they will visit us in the future and mainly because of this little Princess who so much enjoys their company.

Growing up

Growing upwards is one thing that Littlie has been longing for but it is the getting older that is bringing her so much enjoyment.

Her ability to communicate with anyone who is willing to listen is bringing a wealth to her life that she will continue to benefit from always. She has a social sense that I have rarely seen in the children whom I work with. She is observant, she learnt to lift her head at an early age just enough to spot the mimicry of others and she can spot the mood of a person and the atmosphere in an environment immediately. She has always spotted changes in her physical environment and always asked why they have taken place or wanted to know what we will be doing with new equipment or prepared materials.

Most importantly she smiles a lot, shrieks with laughter and opens up her soul, and by doing so makes the souls of those in the team around her smiley too.

1 comment:

Kasey Gray said...

Dear Susie,

I love how you write about Princess Littlie! I feel like I know her!

Kasey