The Montessori daycare where Ben attends part-time has acquired new scooters for their fenced-in playground out back.
Oh the drama these scooters have caused! I never realized that something like this can cause such heartache amongst 4 year old boys! And not just mine, but also other boys. Or so I hear from parents…
There are only so many scooters available. Naturally, almost all kids are interested in trying them out. But the teachers, from what I see, don’t really facilitate the kids to take turns. They leave it up to the kids to figure out.
In some ways I can understand this approach. Usually when my two get into it in some way or another, I keep an eye but don’t interfere unless deemed necessary by reasons of personal safety (since the younger one is still a toddler).
Lately at the school however, there seems to be a situation every single day concerning those new scooters. Every day, several little children are upset and on the verge of crying for not having had a chance to play with them.
Like yesterday. I get to the parking lot a few minutes early and sit back inside the car to watch the kids play. The teachers, 5 of them, are talking amongst each other, and the kids all seem occupied with their little groups. Some are climbing the structure, some or sliding down the slide, some are playing in the sand, and some are riding the scooters.
At one point, I see Benjamin emerging from behind the structure. He sees some girls sitting on the scooters talking amongst each other, and he stands next to them by the fence. The girls I recognize as a little older (5 and 6), and they don’t notice a little 4 year old standing beside them throwing wistful glances in their direction.
I get out of the car at noon just as they teachers are rounding up the kids to put the toys away and line up, and Benjamin, who usually happily runs to his teachers to say goodbye to them upon seeing me, makes a face. He’s close to tears.
I ask his teacher what the problem is and she said “oh, it’s always about the scooters”.
She encouraged Benjamin that the scooters will be there again the next day, and that they are not going anywhere.
Benjamin wasn’t satisfied. He was sad and mopey. And he looked so little and so vulnerable, standing there by the fence, all alone, passively waiting for someone, anyone, to notice him.
Benjamin is a fairly sensitive child. Not so much that I would label him that way daily, or that his sensitivity is prevalent over other characteristics. But I see some of me in him when it comes to circumstances that require a certain amount of self esteem. It is probably a source of anxiety for him to get ready for outdoor play since his main concern is to be the first in line in order to be the first to get a scooter. And when he fails, it sets the tone for the rest of the time of outdoor play.
My heart was breaking when I saw my little guy’s face. He was so patient, and for the second day in a row, his patience didn’t pan out how he hoped.
So on Thursday night I suggested to him that two things could happen on Friday at school.
First, he could speak to the other children and ask for a turn on the scooter. If that doesn’t work, he could approach a teacher and ask for help.
Second, if this approach render him scooter-less once again, I promised I would stay behind after playtime was over, wait for the kids to go inside for lunch, and then enter the playground with him to allow him a few minutes on the scooter. Just him and me, all alone.
He seemed ok with that solution.
Friday arrives. I get there a few minutes early, and see this:
All is well again in the world of 4 year olds!