I have a bit of a problem. Actually, it’s more than a bit of a problem—it’s kind of a big problem, and it’s caused more than a few ruptures in my past relationships, but I’m working on it, and thanks to my work as a teaching artist at a state-of-the-art early childhood program, I’m learning from the best.
My problem, you see, is that I have a hard time speaking up when something’s bothering me (like the whole beach pass vs. summer in Europe thing).
Fortunately, my three year olds do not.
Last month, a particularly tiny beach ball came running up to me, tugged on my sleeve and pointed to his face.
“Hey Lady,” he announced (he still has trouble remembering my name). “My eyes are crying!”
Two seconds later, he was back bouncing along with his friends so I’m not sure exactly what his eyes were crying about but obviously he felt better after unburdening himself.
A few days later, one of my four year olds turned to me and said, without prompting of any sort, “I’m sad.”
Not “So-and-so pushed me” or “I want to go home” but simply, “I’m sad.”
How simple was that?
It turned out that his woes were in fact due to the usual trials and tribulations of being four years old (So-and-so had pushed him, and as a result he did want to go home) but I couldn’t help but wonder how much easier my life would be if I’d retained the communication skills I had as a preschooler.
Then I could say things like “I am tired and I would like to take a nap,” as opposed to “Would it be too much to ask for a cup of coffee???”
Or “I am not your friend anymore!” instead of “This relationship really isn’t working for me but maybe it’s just bad timing?” (Which is, admittedly, what I kept telling myself about Date #7 during what I’ve come to refer to as my own personal Dark Age.)
Or “I’m hungry” as opposed to, “Yeah… you know, I wouldn’t mind a bite to eat.”
Of course, in order to succeed in life with so little finesse, I’d have to work on my preschooler survival techniques (cutting in line, refusing to share, throwing temper tantrums to prove my point and coughing without covering my mouth to infect my enemies with various communicable diseases) but I’d like to think there’s some sort of happy medium to be had.