Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Age & Opportunity

“She’s not allowed to go to the class since they changed the age limits.  We’ll have to try to peel her off of the tour somewhere along the way and take her to do something else while 1 and 2 are in the project portion,” I whispered to mom-person.  (At least I thought I’d whispered it.  I’d soon be proven wrong.)   

We were riding on the bus to a local museum where the kids were taking part in a class that had been re-imagined, which was to say that the age ranges had been changed.  While almost 3 y.o. No. 3 had been welcome last year, this year she’d been uninvited by the new age range that started at 5 y.o.

Class-time was divided into two parts.  The first section was always a tour of the museum that included exhibits related to a project everyone would do independently in the second part of the class.  We could fudge 3 into the tour portion, (everyone’s allowed to walk around the museum right?), but we didn’t think we’d be able to get her into the project.

My task of peeling 3 away from the rest of the class was simple enough.  I’d done what needed doing any number of times without really thinking about it.  I’d smile at 3 during the tour.  She’d gravitate towards me and hangout by my side.  If that worked this time, I’d just steer her to the cafe, or some other different, but hopefully appealing activity.  It seems though, that she was on to me.  Each time I glanced her way, rather than smiling back at me, she quickly swung her head away, focusing even more intently on the teacher leading the tour.

As the tour proceeded, it became more and more apparent that 3 knew exactly what was going on, and wasn’t going to play the game.   She stuck right with her sibs 6 y.o. No. 1 and 5 y.o. No. 2 who were leading the tour group pack of kids.

Finally, I acquiesced, slid up next to one of the project teachers, and asked, “Could 3 come to the project space with you all?  We’ll still be in the building if it doesn’t work out, and we’ll come get her.  1 has a phone, and can call us.”  

The teacher looked at 3 trucking along with 1 and 2, “I think that will be fine.”

We made sure to keep our phone on the table while we had a cup of coffee waiting for the hour long project portion to be over.  The call to retrieve 3 never came.

As we headed back over to the project space near the end of the class the gang came back out.  3 approached us beaming with the boat she’d built!  I asked the teachers if everything had gone OK.  They beamed!  “3 worked methodically through the whole project.  Your family works like a well-oiled machine.”  When I talked to the museum’s education coordinator later that week I was further thrilled to hear that the teachers mentioned they’d never seen a 3 y.o. focus on a project quite like 3.

It was particularly gratifying for me to see 3 step up to the pate like that!  She’d decided she wanted something, and was going to prove everyone wrong, and she did it!  Wow!  In the end, we wound up back where we started.  I have to find a way to distract 3 lest the parents of other less-focused 3 y.o.s get the wrong idea about breaking the age limitations.  It was worth it though.  It’s amazing what kids can do when given the opportunity!

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