“Exclusion, girls, and also ‘exclusive’. It can mean ‘to reject’. In this situation, it means that if next time someone here won’t play with you because they are being unfriendly or won’t let anyone in their group or say mean things as reasons not to play with others, then I want to know. Because I won’t have my children being mean and hateful, not here. Do you girls understand me?” I ask them firmly but gently.
“Yes, miss.” Two little heads nod in agreement.
I doubt they understand everything I just said, but when children agree with me I take it as a positive sign.
Then Cindy asks timidly, “Miss Nysa, what is ‘bad-mouth’?”
Before I can start on another impromptu teaching lesson, little Bianca pipes up, “It’s Billy! He din brush his teeth dis morning!” then she giggles!
Yep, nothing gets her down for long, especially for a chance to get her brother in trouble!
But for goodness’ sake, she probably believes that that is what ‘bad-mouth’ means too. Cindy certainly seems to believe her, if her nodding head is any indication. But then, Cindy seems to believe everything Bianca says, so therein lies the problem.
I face-palm inwardly while struggling to hold back my own chuckles. Dear Lord, little angels these are, but nevertheless give me strength!
‘To ‘bad-mouth’ someone means that you say bad and untrue things about them, kind of like what Bianca said earlier when she told me that Billy did something he did not do.” I say simply but give a meaningful look at said little girl.
For all her sauciness, Bianca is quick to catch on. She immediately looks contrite, and mumbles, “Sawry!”
She mumbles something else.
I say, “Pardon me? Did you say something, Bianca? And can you look at me when you speak, please.”
She obediently looks up at me and says clearly, “Billy brush his teeth dis morning, Miss Nysa. Sorry I lied.”
I am so proud of her. It doesn’t take much to get her to understand that bad-mouthing and lying is wrong.
I give her a gentle smile, and said, “Well, that’s okay then, Bianca. I’m so proud of you for admitting your faults and apologizing for them. That’s my girl! Just don’t lie again, alright? Or as we learn today, don’t ‘bad-mouth’ someone!”
“And brush your teeth!” Shy Cindy unexpectedly cheers. I stare at her for a moment, then laugh. At which, both girls burst into laughter too. Bless them, they probably don’t know the reason for my laughter, they just like to laugh.
Still chuckling and shaking my head a bit, I say, “Now, no more lies or speaking bad things about others, all right girls? We’ll see tomorrow if you both can play with Billy and the others. Maybe we’ll find a game we all can play together, how about that?” I look first at Bianca then Cindy.
Two little heads nod obediently, their bright faces beaming at me.
“Good. Now, it’s almost time for our next class, so there is no time to play ‘salon’. So, why don’t you collect your toys together and get ready for our next lesson, while I get the rest of your classmates ready.” I stand up and clap my hands lightly.
Both girls, already distracted from our previous talk, say quite happily, ”Yes, Miss Nysa!” and run off to pick up their things from the corner where they have been playing, talking enthusiastically with each other all the time. It takes them a while to collect everything, but that is the case with all their classmates, so what else is new?
Clean-up done with, the girls then walk hand in hand to their shared table.
I go around the classroom directing the children to collect their toys and get ready for our next lesson.
Soon every single one of the children are seated at their tables. They are all upbeat and happy, not a pout or sulk in sight, all previous fights or quarrels being minor and a thing of the past, not worth remembering.
They even seem excited for our next subject!
I stand at the front of the class, arranging my books and teaching props. Surreptitiously, I watch the kids for a while, once again thinking how easy and simple it is to teach life to children. They are so trusting and accepting, living life fervently.
If only this attitude could last well into their teen years.
I give a mental shake. I will not be their teacher in a year or two when they move up to their new classes and teachers in elementary school. For now, they are mine, and I will teach them everything I know about being a person who loves, laughs, shares, being thoughtful and kind, having understanding and to be accepting, to forgive and to forget, all with a pure heart.
On that subject, they will teach me a lot of the same, too.
That day, they certainly have taught me to not dwell on what cannot be changed, to spring up again and not stay down, to be resilient and determined that the best happens. Like Adam, Cindy, Bianca and their little friends, to move on in hope and expectation because the next lesson is already in session.
With that, I push aside my own grievances and feeling of rejection which have lessen by the minute, and focus on my children.
Class is ready to begin.
Maybe this will be another experience I can write about in my new book. And hopefully there will be readers for such writings.
…to be continued next chapter…
For more previous chapters go here