I got to hang out with munchkins today. And by munchkins, I mean little people. And by little people, I mean kids under the age of five. I started volunteering at the community centre where I have taught workshops in the past. I decided that it was time to re-introduce kids back into my life in a large way. I have missed them so.
Both when I was in private practice and in my local Jehovah's Witness congregation, I spent a lot of time with children. I loved them and they loved me. I had forgotten how much I loved them and how much they loved me. Some things are worth remembering.
At this community centre, there is no shortage of munchkins. Today, there was easily over twenty-five little ones running, crawling and playing, along with their parents or caregivers. Picture one very large room with semi-controlled chaos ensuing. Yup, lots of fun.
My way with kids has always been to just get into the middle of things, play to myself and then let the kids make their way to me. I like to blend. Since I'm the newest face around, I wanted them to have the opportunity to get used to me on their terms. With kids though, this never takes long.
I gravitated towards the playdoh table. I love playdoh. I think it's because the constant motion of my hands, rolling, sculpting and moulding the playdoh, keeps me grounded and in my body. Other parts of the environment can become overstimulating and overwhelming for me. I've never been a jungle gym or hopscotch kinda girl. And, I assume that the kids that end up for long periods of time at the playdoh table are probably much like me, which means we'll all get along just fine.
As I predicted, a like-minded group developed around the playdoh table. Within a short time, the group had warmed up to me and was making me playdoh hearts by the handfuls. Nothing like playdoh love.
One girl in particular arrived with her Dad. She had been there the week before as well when I showed her how to make playdoh donuts. She is a very petite, very timid two-year-old who spends more time observing the other kids than playing with them. She talks very little and keeps her Dad very close.
When she arrived today, she came right over to me at the playdoh table and sat down. Her Dad joined her and said, "She doesn't warm up to people easily. She likes you." I smile. I like her too. She ends up hanging by my side the rest of the morning, even allowing Dad to drift off to chat with other parents. She leads me around the room by my pinky and stops once in a while to say a few words.
I don't say much when I'm around children. I prefer to just be open and let them be who they are with me. I listen a lot, to what is said and what is not said and I watch. Much like my new little friend, I'm an observer. I like to watch how things unfold and be with what is, as it happens. And besides, I trust that the kids that most need a calm, centered, loving adult to be around will gravitate towards me and we'll spend some time together just being who we are, as we are. I never used to think that that was enough. I'm learning that really, it is.