There was a new girl in my art class today. I think she is about three. She is funny and sweet and had no problems with the other kids. She had so much fun in art and participated the whole time. We made temporary sculptures from objects we found around the room. We stacked them up, taped them together, and then took them apart and did it again. This new girl made a particularly successful sculpture of a small boy doll taped between two pieces of plastic bread.
After art class and lunch, most of the kids take naps. A few kids go home early. This girl was one of the kids leaving early. Her mom would be arriving in a few minutes. Seemingly out of the blue, she starts crying out that she misses her mom and she wants her mom to hold her. I tell her that she is in luck because her mom will be coming in a few minutes and she will give her a big hug. Still crying, she looks me in the eye, and very clearly, like she is explaining something to a one or two year old says: “I know but I want her to hold me right now,” and then starts crying even harder. I rubbed her back and told her I knew how hard it was to miss your mom and then I told her that when she saw her mom she could tell her about all the fun things she had done. She looked up at me hopelessly, so clearly thinking: “you just don’t get it.”
She was really suffering. She wasn’t scared that her mom had forgotten her, or that she wouldn’t show up. She was just expressing with absolutely no shame at all, how much it hurt her that she couldn’t have what she wanted most at that moment. It was heartbreaking, but also so beautiful. She hasn’t yet learned to hide her feelings because they don’t make sense to other people.
I picked up a book and started reading it to her. Still whimpering, she climbed in my lap and listened. I had just about finished the book when her mom showed up. At the sound of her mom’s voice, a huge smile broke out across the girls face. She jumped out of my lap, sprinted towards her mother, and leapt up into her arms. Her mom asked her if she had fun and she said “yes, but I was very sad because I needed you to hold me and you weren’t here. Then she sighed and said “I’m better now, but I’m still a little sad.”
Here is the sculpture she made: