Friday, February 15, 2008

Imitation, The Highest Form of Flattery and Insult

Picture: The lead teacher with the students. I was standing by the bathroom door in partial darkness, waiting for the next two-year-old in my Preschool class of fourteen to awaken from naptime when I heard one of our "rough and tumble" boys say in a soft half-whisper, "Wake up, Sweetie. D'ya have a good nap?" His hand rubbed and patted the fairy princess girl's back like it was a fragile crust being placed into a pie tin. Soon, his clumsy boy fingers stumbled over the top of her curly golden head and then rested for a moment on her cheek.

"Wake up, Madilynn."

It was precious how he could be so gentle all of a sudden, when his normal mode of interaction consisted of pushing, wrestling and other "boy" types of communication. There he was soothing and pampering.

He's copying how I wake the children everyday! He even has the sing-songy rythm of my voice down like an impression!
I listened and watched as he eased up close to her face and spoke soft syllables into her ear.

"Time to get up, Sweetie."

It's been said over and over again, that imitation is the highest form of flattery. In this case, the evidence hit me like an epiphony. Other times, I see my faults and negative attitudes reflected as if I'm looking in a mirror. I am human. I make mistakes. I hear myself in the scolding tones and the frustrated "stop that" commands a child uses on another child who is bothering her or when one child tells another "Go to Time Out!" (Today was one of those days.)

Children learn what they live and they will live what they learn.

They are tender, so easily influenced. My classification of students can be called the "Terrific Twos" or the "Terrible Twos". Everything they learn becomes obvious in rapid abundance.

It's a joy to hear them speak and imitate language skills, to do things for themselves for the first time, and to see them learning that share does not mean just taking from someone else what you want. It also involves giving up something you possess to make another person smile, though, there is never a bigger smile than on the face of the one learning this. They learn to that it is better to give than to receive.

Over all, there are three principles that stand out to me today as I write.

1. Kindness is better caught than taught.

2. "And a little child shall lead them."

3. The last and most important: Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.

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