Like any living person on the planet, I’ve had my share of regrets. All the “shoulda, coulda. wish I woulda” things that constitute a human life. In that regard, I’m no different than anyone else.
And yet, I mostly feel blessed by the world and my choices in the world, mostly can look back at what I wish didn’t happen and realize how it had to happen for me to understand where my next step would fall. To look back over the years of all the trodden paths and accept them all, embrace them all, feel them as necessary and important, is a rare gift and not one I take lightly.
But today I felt that full weight of one regret. Not unfixable for the future, but sad to realize what I’ve been missing. Can you guess?
Well, around five years ago, my colleagues and I had to re-juggle our schedules to allow for the Intern Program to happen and each of us had to give up at least one class. Reluctantly, and with constant reminders that “he owed me one,’ I let my colleague James teach my beloved 3-year-olds. Whaaaaaaahhhhhhh!
Of course he does a marvelous job, but the fact is is that I always tell people my favorite ages to teach are 3-year olds and 8th grade. And yet I haven’t taught the little ones for five years!
But today I did and it all came flooding back why I love them so much. The 5-year olds are still pretty fresh from Creation, but they’re already getting into senior slump in the Montessori preschool, trying out some bullying, thinking they know more than the teacher. The 3’s are a different animal altogether. And of course, they have their issues.
But today, I did a game about making faces and no 5-year old and certainly no 14-year old and maybe not even a French mime, an Indian Kathakali dancer or an Oscar-winning actor or actress could compete with those expressive faces! And then when we started exploring the imaginative potential of paper plates, using them as wings, as steering wheels, as boats to sit in and row, as ice skates, as tails, as hats— well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. The 3-year olds are saying in their own way: “You get us! We love this! You’re not so bad as a 3-year old yourself! And we are so happy you let us be ourselves!”
When I get back home to teach school, I’m going to have a serious talk with James.