Friday, March 27, 2009

Fuse Beads

There is a time guzzling drug marketed specifically to 4 and 5 year olds- It's manufactured in a multitude of colors, with or without glitter, transparent or opaque... Yes! Fuse beads! If in your youth you missed out on this activity of wonder, there's still hope- somehow adults are willingly lured into the fuse bead festivities of their children-

Today at work a valuable lesson was reintroduced to me. Gabriel had be slaving away at a circle template with a deliberate color pattern. This had involved asking everyone at the table to excavate their individual fuse bead bowls for a few rare and precious black fuse beads. Then he had to convince the other 6 children that they wanted to devote their coal colored beads to him. It was an arduous process. I had been so proud of him for working hard to obtain his goal.

Meanwhile, one of the girls was drawing a crowd at an adjacent table with her 3 pokey-backed black caterpillars she'd captured at home. Gabriel and "Carlito" left for a moment of admiration and upon return, Carlito's elbow sent Gabriel's beads rocketing across the deck- Gabriel's face dropped, his brow crinkled, he huffed a few understandably flustered words and jetted to the structure to be alone-

My heart ached, especially because Gabriel refrained from retaliation (a common response at this age). I wanted to scoop all the orphaned beads into a bowl and recreate his masterpiece for him. As a Purple Side teacher, I know that fixing or saving a child from disappointment is a big no-no. Still, I let my natural response mode get the best of me, at first. I collected as many black, green, red, and white beads as I could find from the floor, put them in Gabe's bowl and even started beading the black periphery. Years of training began creeping into my mind.

Am I helping Gabe by trying to take this negative experience away? It might make me feel a whole lot better. In the long run though, kids need to go through hard things so they learn how to handle trying situations, the emotions *and appropriate solutions* that accompany them.

I dumped the beads back into Gabe's bowl, set the template on top, and asked another teacher to check in with Gabe. No immediate response. A while later he started playing with Ricky. Then! A half hour later he returned to the table. This was terribly rewarding to see.

I offered him the scavenged remains and his barren template. He refused the template saying he wanted to use a square instead of a circle. With the same color scheme, he created a white door with a black nob and deemed it far superior to the original. In his words, "I didn't like the other one. This one is a lot better."

As he made this remark Andres' fuse beads spilled from his template. Disgruntled, he began chucking the beads across the table. I stopped him and explained how Gabe had lost his work that day and that sometimes when we are forced to start over, it is an opportunity to assess where we've been and create something better- :) The principle clicked and Andres began a new project, agreeing that he could like this one even more than the last.

Great lessons for life. I heart preschoolers!


sara said...

I love this story. I wish you could have been my teacher when I was younger. :)

sarahlove said...

dawn, loved this day, and love your account of it (and love you as well!).

NariceatL4 said...

Another great post! What fortitude to not 'save' Gabriel, and to let him grow. I'm glad you have this job, and all the joy that comes with it!