Monday, October 25, 2010

the learning week

I've tried three times to write this blog entry, and three times I stopped because I was so angry I wasn't making any sense, just ranting in text.  And that isn't what I want to do.  I can rant in private, where no one can see or hear what I am saying, and get it out of my system.  I had just about decided not to write about Maddie's week last week, then I woke up this morning with her face in my mind.  She was looking straight at me and had a somber look on her face.  And suddenly I knew what to say.

I could tell you all the details of what happened, and about how angry it made me, and how Maddie suffered humiliation, but the details aren't important.  What is important is how my daughter Jen, her mom, handled it and how Maddie learns from this experience.

For those of you who don't know Maddie, she is five years old and a wonder.  Maddie is smart, athletic, curious about the world and just seems to soak up knowledge like a sponge.  She has a wonderful sense of humor. and is very protective of her twin brother, Duncan.

Last week, Maddie experienced humiliation. It wasn't anything she did herself, it was something that happened to her because of what her teacher told her.  Maddie, although she understands things way beyond her five year old comprehension, is still only five, and did not understand the meaning of something her teacher told her.  Because she didn't, and wouldn't speak up for herself, she had an accident. 

She was humiliated beyond words.  What upset me when I found out was the fact that the teacher was angry with Maddie because it happened.  After my anger passed, I realized that what that woman did was done in ignorance. 

A child will learn in a positive atmosphere.  Safe to ask questions and explore their world, they will thrive and absorb things around them like a flower absorbs water and flourishes.  If you humiliate and treat a child with anger, they shut down.  They learn to hide their thoughts and feelings, and turn them inside where no one will see them.  Children who learn to hide what they think and feel grow into angry adults.  I think that Maddie's teacher must have been treated with a lot of anger as a child, because she deals with the children very often in an angry manner.

In steps my daughter Jen, to explain to Maddie on the way home what the teacher had neglected to explain.  And to repair the damage that had been done.  Jen is wonderfully gifted at explaining things to children on a level they understand.  Because she fully explained things to Maddie, they were able to move forward.  (She also made sure the teacher's supervisor understood the incident from Maddie's point of view.  Because Maddie trusts her mommy, she told her exactly what had happened, and Jen was able to put the whole puzzle together.)

We, as adults, can make growing up mostly positive for children, and help them grow into adults with strong self esteem, a thirst to learn, the ability to love and forgive, and a better understanding of the world around them.  Or we can teach them to hide their feelings, to feel as though they have no self worth, and to grow up with prejudice and fear, anger and hate.  It is up to us.

Every day a child lives is a chance to make a difference in their lives and how they deal with things in life, both the positive and negative experiences.  We can't totally protect them from the negative, but we can lessen the impact, and teach them how to deal with bad things that happen.

Humiliation wasn't the only lesson learned by my Maddie last week.  She was still searching for that green tray, so she could win a trip to Disney World for her mommy, daddy, and brother.  Jen discovered when she read the box, that the contest had ended weeks ago, at the beginning of October.  So Maddie learned another important lesson.  She learned how to deal with disappointment.

My girl is strong...she will survive both these hard lessons.  It hurts me to see her have to learn these lessons, but I know it is an important part of growing up.  In my mind, I see Maddie years from now, strong, beautiful, compassionate, with her quirky sense of humor, and a keen understanding of the world.

And that will be my reward for not going to her aftercare and knocking the shit out of that teacher for hurting my girl.  SO I guess I have learned a lesson too.
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