Stop, children, what's that sound...
I work at a preschool that uses Montessori philosophy, and it's been quite the learning curve, but I'm finally in a nice groove with my coworkers and the students. The general idea is that you provide structure while also kind of staying out of the children's way as much as you can, and gradually their own intrinsic desire to work, maintain order, and, in a sense, self-govern, will emerge, and ultimately the class will kind of run itself.
We had a bumpy transition for a number of reasons, but it's starting to come together. The thing that's so hard about it is that a child is like a mirror, they watch every single thing you do and whatever you're doing, they do that thing. How would you like to work with 33 mirrors? It can get intense.
If you're agitated, they're agitated. If you're calm, they're calm. If you're sad, they all look at you with worried eyes, even the little ones, even the "naughty" ones, and instead of bounding up to you to give a boisterous hug, they tiptoe up almost sideways with their eyes big, tentatively reaching out a hand. Even if you try to smile through it, they know you're faking. So you have to be real.
The nice thing about the way we do things here is that the children's whole lives matter, and their emotions too. We just had a team meeting the other day after an observation and the notes were things like, "This child is a born leader. He needs a hero. These two siblings both try to hide their tears when they cry. Let's make sure that at school they feel safe to express their emotions. This boy might be on the autism spectrum, let's make sure he gets a chance to really socialize with the other children."
I'm in charge of nap time with the youngest children. One of the nappers is my secret "favorite," a chubby cheeked, stubborn little Capricorn who is the definition of ornery and impish at the same time. As my boss said, it's so hard to be firm with him when he's misbehaving because he smiles at you and "you just want to kiss his little cheeks!" But he likes me, so in the afternoons on days when he's kind of tired, he'll follow me around while I straighten up the room and ask to help me, or ask for a hug. He's like a tiny old man (like most Capricorn children) in a newly three year old body, kind of gruff and loud, but very diligent when focused. So seeing him smile and open his arms wide and say, "Hugs!" is just over the top adorable. And he always stays awake the longest at nap. At first I thought he was just being defiant, then I realized it's so he'll be the last one I pat on the back and tuck in (for the hundredth time) and whisper, "Have a good sleep," to on my way to my table and chair.
The boy we think is on the spectrum is in here, too. He's adorable but he is often kind of in a world of his own, and any time we get him to engage with us fully we celebrate behind the scenes. He is scared of the orange light on the coffee maker that's in the napping room, so I always turn it off or cover it for him. He needs a lot of gentleness and quiet when he gets agitated, and you can't fake it or he'll feel it and get even more upset.
I've also got twins in here. Sisters, but they're not identical. Still, the younger one won't close her eyes until the older one does first. And they both ask me to sit next to them until they fall asleep. Today the younger one kept reaching her feet over to her sister's cot, who responded by grabbing her toes and tickling her feet. I didn't have the heart to stop them, they can't help it, they shared a womb. Until the toe tickling turned into toe biting, then I intervened.
If you're a Reiki healer, you'll know that sometimes the reiki in you kicks on and starts flowing out of your hands when you're around someone who needs it, whether you know they do or not. It just goes where it needs to. Every time I walk into the classroom at work, the reiki kicks on and my hands get hot (that's how you know it's working, it heats up your hands because those are the chakras it comes out of). It's become a "thing" with the kids. They call me either by my name or "Oven Hands." A few of them consistently check them multiple times a day. They grab my hands and go, "Are your oven hands on?" or, "Are they warm?" and either press them against their cheeks or tuck their own little paws inside them. Right now sitting here at nap time, my fingers are cool. But as soon as those little pups wake up they'll heat back up again. I guess spirit is giving them what they need and it's not really any of my business. It's super cute when they check my hands, but I have to gently push them away and send them back to their work.
You can't interfere too much with them. They are still young and in touch with their "inner guide," (that's the real Montessori term for it) and the goal is to make sure that they stay that way. This means taking your ego out of the picture so you don't serve your own desires, like striking up a conversation with a child who is concentrating on their work, just because you were bored for a second and wanted to tell them you like their shoes or whatever. This means you have to get real conscious of all your own stuff, real quick. And this means that you're about to get real uncomfortable, real quick. But you get used to it, and it's ongoing. And before long you are so present in your day and in the things you do that you eventually realize you've come a long way and you've done some halfway decent personal growth.
For me, there have been some parallels in my life outside of the classroom. Like I realized that there have been times where I bumped into these soul connections seemingly out of nowhere. Like golden gifts. I didn't seek them out, I didn't have to do anything to make them happen. They were a surprise. Then my ego, that little a-hole, started to feel left out (because it's not in the divine flow, it throws rocks and builds dams in the divine flow, also known as super annoying but apparently necessary "lessons," or whatever) and decided to get involved. To present some very logical and compelling arguments that I should definitely be afraid of losing those gifts (you can never lose a gift like that in the Big Picture but I didn't know that at the time). And it started to clench and contort and interfere and get stressed and meddle. Until those gifts turned into these fear attachments that felt a lot more like suffering than anything else.
I got to a breaking point and had to have a reckoning with myself. I'm seeing now that this was facilitated by all the self-reflection I have to do every day at work. I had to sit down and ask Great Spirit to take away any chains, meddlesome energy, tampering, and general ego malarkey that had come from either party in one of these surprising gifts. Myself or the other person, just to be safe.
I didn't want to throw away a golden, surprising gift, but I didn't want anyone to be burdened by the ego stuff either. I just want what's best for us both. And if what's best for the other person is for them to not be with me, then I can accept that. (Spirit was like, "I need you to really be sure you mean that. Don't just say it assuming that you'll get them back for saying you were willing to lose them. Think about it. Are you willing to lose them if that's what I say is the best thing for them?" Well, damn. [long pause] Yeah, I am. "Really, though? " Sigh. Yes. Of course. I just want them to be happy. I can handle it. I love myself a lot more now. I have my daughter. I have my creative life. If they're not meant for me, then maybe someone else is. Or maybe I'll just have my tribe and finish my work this lifetime and see what happens next time. It's okay. Just do what you think is best.
And I meant it. I didn't meddle. I didn't go visit. I didn't whisper through the ether. I didn't look for signs and omens. I didn't do any of that. I just focused on being present in my daily life. I got so productive that I mentioned to a friend of mine that I felt like my spiritual life was being a little neglected because I was so busy kind of catching up on my "work" here on Earth. I checked in with Spirit and was like, "Hey, um, is there anything you want my to do for you? I'm kind of just like in cheerful productive mode over here but I can light some candles or something and be available if you need me to. Anything?" "No. Just rest now, while you can." (It didn't sound as ominous as it looks.)
Later that evening, I had a tough conversation with someone close to me, and when I finally crawled into bed, I didn't mean to but my soul just visited someone who had once felt like a gift.
Just needed to stop by for a quick second, didn't want to wake them.
But it seemed they were already up. Or maybe they hadn't been to bed yet.
Then the next day, I got a message from my soul sister, another gift, saying she had heard me and felt me around her for months.
I didn't do anything. I swear.
Maybe it's just that the pieces fit. Nothin' I or anybody else can do about it. If not, it will be okay.
But, maybe that's just the way it is.