Two things have happened this week to make me mindful of my grip. I went to a physical therapy session for some pain I am having in my elbow. The therapist told me the pain originates in my hand and that when I prop my chin up with my fist or sleep with my hand closed in a fist, it will make the problem worsen. Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a colleague and we were talking about remaining open to changes that are being suggested for our school. I thought of my clenched fist and how it might be getting in the way of our seeing the possibilities in the change.
Working with young children demands that we keep our hands open, that we unclench our fists and approach each day with a light grip. As a classroom teacher, there were times when I had the perfect day planned only to have the children arrive with plans and ideas of their own. On those occasions when I tightened my grip, I also left feeling that I had not been a very good teacher. It is a hard-line we walk. So much we want the children to learn, so many skills we are told they will need in order to succeed as they move forward in school. But I believe the joy of working in early childhood education is that of the light grasp. That little hand grabbing at mine as I am pulled toward the block area where an amazing tower is being constructed. That soft hand resting on my knee as I read a story over and over. When I hold on tightly, I miss the flutter of ideas, stories, and learning. Young children, like the butterfly fresh from the chrysalis, pause just long enough for us to catch a glimpse of how they are growing before flying off to explore and learn something new. Maybe if we hold on lightly, they will return to share some of that with us.