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We can learn a lot about community from children, particularly when spontaneity arises. This story highlights the essence of community. This story is from my own experience I had with the children I was working with about 2 years ago. They were in my therapy group for various reasons. The common element being that they manifested behaviors that cause them to get rejected socially. Here is my story:

Our Social Skills Kids Club went on a field trip to the woods for a Heroes and Hero Adventures day to learn team building. These 6 children, age 7-10 had never been together for so long a time. Their parents had been a little nervous about them getting along for so long as most had attention and behavior problems.

Our day began with several emotional melt downs as the children got their feelings hurt by each other and then refused to cooperate with each other or with the group leader when they didn't get their way. The attention was going in all different directions. I sucked in my breath for a very long day of dealing with fights, healing tears, and gradually gaining ground with building cooperation. Then a miracle happened!

One of the children found a green, scaly lizard about 7 inches long ( I think a salamander but they thought a lizard) in a pipe under  the path. They were so excited! The group claimed her as their pet and named her Miss L. for Miss Lizard. They put all their attention into taking care of her. They built a home for her out of rocks, twigs, mud and leaves. They found water for her so she could swim in her new home, and they built a tower so she could sun bathe. They even tried to find her a husband. They really loved her and did everything they could to make her a good, comfortable home. Miss L. became very contented with all the love she received.

Miss L. also became a great teacher. To care for Miss L well,  the children had to  agree on a lot of  things, sometimes having to  put the need to have things their way aside. They had to make rules about who owned her, how to take care of her, who was to hold her and when,  and what to do with her as they carried out their field day activiites that I planned for  them. There were a lot of  hurt feelings in sorting this out, but the hurt feelings did not seem to matter when they put the care of Miss L as the most important thing. In fact they honored and tried to understand each others tears as the best care of Miss L. became the highest goal to reach for. They were able to  move through their hurt feelings to wonderful cooperation, honoring and respecting each other. One of the children, all on his own, noticed that loving Miss L. had brought them together and helped them be a team. All of the children agreed.

When we left the forest, after our long day,  the children decided, in truth, that no one really owned Miss L. and we had a ceremony to say goodbye to her and return her to the pipe under the path. There were a lot of tears and we had to agree on turns to say farewell. As we did, each held her and said a prayer for her health and well-being and thanked her for the time that she spent with us to teach us the lesson that friendship comes out of focusing on loving others first. We don't have to be attached to what we find on the path. The blessing is in sharing the experience of it.
Thank you Miss L. for your blessing of our group.
Susan Burns


Also see Self Esteem in Children

Read Poem Invocation for the Children of the Future

Kids' Club

 

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