A zillion years ago, I taught Montessori school.
[Montessori is an educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. With an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development, the Montessori ideal utilizes a myriad of learning styles suited to an individual’s needs and interests.]
This particular school enrolled children between the ages of 3 and 10. The younger children were in one classroom, the older in another. A lovely lady named Ginny and I were responsible for the wee ones. Ginny and I worked with 18 preschool age girls and boys and we had our hands full.
For the most part, the children were inquisitive, friendly and cooperative. Some of the parents of these children were, well – different. Montessori education seems to appeal to a few hippy, bohemian and radical type moms and dads.
Cases in point.
Aaron was a three year old who was bright. His parents felt that they had birthed the Golden Child and that Aaron should be nurtured with only minimal boundaries. Aaron could write his name in print as well as cursive and touted this accomplishment everywhere. “Aaron” was washed off of shelving, tile floors and doorways. It appeared that he relished signing anything his little fist of crayons could reach.
“Aaron, come with me,” I requested as we headed toward the bathroom. His pudgy hand in mine, I guided him to a stall where his name was displayed on the wall, in…ready?… poop. Yes, he had found a new canvas to decorate, yet his choice of medium was with questionable taste. He and I washed his signature away and I decided to share this little episode with his mother at the time of dismissal. “You see,” I concluded, “hygiene is an issue here.”
Was mom taken aback, embarrassed or the like? Absolutely not. She hugged her son as she glowed, “Aaron, you are SO imaginative!”
The Smith triplets were four when Ginny and I had the pleasure of instructing them. The two boys and one girl were slightly behind cognitively as they were born almost 2 months prematurely. Little Isaac was a hitter, Joshua was a bitter and Cynthia howled at the drop of a hat.
“Cynthia, “I quietly called out, “come over here, please.” Her screeches were disrupting all and I had a theory as to the quelling of this habit. Whispering, I said, “Honey, you are very loud right now. The other children and I can’t learn when you are loud. Please tell me why you are crying by using your words. You might say, “I want a puzzle or I’d like to paint.””
Gulping her sobs, Cynthia managed to state, “Joshua says that I got a red penis that is this long!” Holding her toddler hands at arm’s length to demonstrate the size of said appendage, she concluded, “It isn’t red and it isn’t this long. It is a tiny one that looks like a ‘wovely’ flower mommy says.”
Taylor was an absolutely gorgeous 5 year old. Her long brunette hair was always meticulously and adorably coiffed with a rare hair out of place. Taylor’s parents had explained during our enrollment meeting that they would, “never stifle her creativity or innate desires,” and they held true to form.
Hair styling aside, Taylor was known to arrive each morning in an assortment of couture. A ballet tutu and a plaid button down shirt was a favorite as was a navy superman t-shirt worn backwards and a pair of neon yellow shorts. Two different colored socks completed this winter attire.
On the day that the children’s photos were taken, Taylor sported pink overalls and a sleeveless orange shirt. A pair of boys briefs were worn over the overalls and a green man’s tie had been fashioned as a belt about her tiny waist. “Well Taylor,” I cooed, “don’t you look fancy today!”
“Yes,” she replied. “I’m Daddy’s little democrat!”
Ginny ended her teaching career when she developed debilitating Lupus and I moved on to teach horseback riding at a prestigious show stable. I also taught little ones at this facility and again learned that kids do and say the most obtuse things!
Often known as mythical, Alexandra K. Trenfor wrote, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” And the infamous Dr. Seuss said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”