If you’ve read my blog recently, you would know that I recently became a grandmother again, to a quite small granddaughter named Imogene. We are happy to have this new person in our lives, and look forward to knowing her as we know her older sister, and older cousin. Because of this new arrival, I’ve had the pleasure, with a few challenges, of caring for Imogene’s older sister who is a few months over two. We’ve had as good a time as ever one can when life is rather disrupted and we didn’t really plan for this because we thought there was about two more weeks left, and of course, two year olds don’t plan ahead at all! Really, it has been a pleasure to have more time with this lovely young lady. Her name is Ingrid and she has spent one night with us often, but not three or more! And, certainly she’s never been asked to visit her parents and this new small and uninteresting thing, and then say goodbye to them each day. We’ve asked her to comprehend a new idea, while continuing her usual good behavior, and then to go live for a while with people she loves and is comfortable with, yet we know she misses her home and her parents (although she’s too young to realize it). We’re asking a lot!
As I have cared for Ingrid and watched her behavior these few days, I have wondered if there is something to connect to our students in this. Throughout the year, we ask similar things of all the students. We want them to act civilly, no matter what, to work with new people-adults and classmates, to meet challenges without falling apart, and even to eat differently than usual. With a two year old, it’s not so easy to know what she’s really thinking, but I’ve found that a hug and maybe even a glass of juice helps divert attention from something that seems frustrating. In the classroom, one of the things I often do is to suggest that a student who appears to need some kind of break should go get a drink, take a walk down the hall and back, and sometimes I even get a big glass of ice water for the student, a small token that shows I care. Drinking the water gives the student time to relax and to contemplate what is really going on. Often, he or she is then able to confide more, and I am able to offer some advice. With a two year old, diversion is the key, and a hug along with that diversion gets us going again. With any other age, words can be the ending help, but not before the break in the behavior. A gift of a glass of water helped me often.