Listening to the Children

by John C Westervelt

In my weekly letter to my family, I often share what is happening in my volunteer job at Asburyís weekday preschool. Iíll share some with you.

Thursday October 12, 1995

Miss Helen meets the three-year-olds at their car in the circle drive. The children gather in the outer foyer until all fifteen have arrived. As Miss Jane held the door, one little girl burst inside to say, "Me and my daddy are going on a date." I thought, "What a wise father."

Thursday November 9, 1995

Youíll remember that several weeks ago a three-year-old girl said, "Me and my Daddy are going on a date." Today this same little girl was wearing a tee shirt with the message, "My Daddy is a Promise Keeper."

Tuesday November 28, 1995

Todayís theme for the three-year-olds was "My Church." At eleven oíclock Miss Helen explained that we would line up and walk through the church before going to the gym for playtime (it was too cold to go outside). After touring the sanctuary, we stopped beside the office of Senior Pastor Tom Harrison. He invited the children into his office. It is not as if I should take off my shoes, still there is a certain aura about entering Tomís office. The childrenís attentiveness showed they had captured the mood.

Tom explained, "Jesus is serious in this wood carving. In this painting, He is laughing, and I think Jesus laughed a lot."

Selecting pictures from the long bookshelves, Tom said, "This is a picture of my family. I have three children. In this picture I am baptizing a baby."

Holding up a picture of a wedding with a bride in a long white dress, Tom asked, "Do any of you know what this picture is about?"

A three-year-old answered, "Married."

Our smiling, gracious pastor then asked, "Does anyone have a question?"

A little boy spoke right up, "Can we go to the gym now?"

Tuesday April 1, 1997

When the three-year-olds began preschool in the fall, Megan would sometimes cry for her mother. Today this self-assured child arrives at school with a bounce in her step and a talking smile on her face. You may remember Megan as the youngest Asbury Steven Minister from a letter last fall.

While helping at the play dough table today, I could see that Megan had the heart shaped cutter upside down. She was trying to cut with the blunt side rather than the sharp edge of the plastic pattern.

I turned the cutter over and pressed it into the play dough for her. Unknown to me, Meganís tiny finger was under the play dough below the cutter. By now so very mature, she didnít cry, but I could see her looking up at me with a grimaced expression. I felt so terrible that she could see pain in my eyes. With eyes on eyes, she said, "Thatís okay, Grandpa John." A deep love for this child grew deeper.

Tuesday April 22, 1997

Abby, one of my three-year-olds, told me that she gets to see Mickey Mouse when her daddy comes home. At Thanksgiving time her daddyís military unit was called up to go to Bosnia. His return is scheduled for sometime in July. Apparently her daddy has promised her a trip to Disney World when he gets home. A justly deserved reward, Iíd say.

Jordan showed me his stuffed rabbit that he brought for show and tell today. As I gently stroked the rabbit, I said, "His skin is so soft." Jordan replied, "Thatís not skin, Grandpa John; thatís fur."

Thursday January 22, 1998

Emily is the youngest and tiniest of the three-year-olds. Today for the first time, she wouldnít let Miss Helen help her out of the car. Finally, her mother parked and carried her into our waiting area. Miss Jane asked about the problem. Her mom pointed to Emilyís hair and said, "She is having a bad hair day." Her hair was mussed with a small ponytail on one side. I thought, "This seems like an early start on what can be a serious problem for girls."

Thursday February 19, 1998

Miss Jane and Miss Helen recognize the vehicles that drop off and pick up each three-year-old. On Tuesday, Will came in a car instead of the family van. He said, "My mother has a new car (probably rental) because her van was in a wreck, but not squished." I asked if his mother was hurt. Will responded, "She wasnít hurt, but she cried anyway."

Thursday March 19, 1998

Stefanie, a three-year-old, handed me a black dress from the basket in the play area. Then holding her arms over her head she asked me to help her put it on. Her eyes were serious as she said, "Donít mess up my makeup; donít get my lipstick on the dress." The only colors on her face were put there by God, so I assume she has been listening to someone at home.

Tuesday January 25, 2000

All sixteen three-year-olds were in preschool today. Looking into the eyes of Melissa, who was wearing a forest green dress, I wondered if her eyes were green or if they picked up the color of her dress. I asked, "What color are your eyes?"

She answered, "Green and white."

Thursday March 28, 2002

Easter was the theme of three-year-old preschool today. Miss Sue had put materials inside plastic eggs. During circle time, she took one egg at a time out of the basket and shook the egg. Inside were things like rice, macaroni, brown beans, and cotton. The children were asked to guess what was inside by hearing the sound. They didnít get very many right, but they were excited to guess. After opening the eggs, Miss Sue asked where the material inside came from. When she asked about cotton, Cole said, "Cotton comes from the doctorís office."

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