Mischievous and impish, little 3 year-old Johnny ran across the classroom, delighted with his new-found ability to piss me off. I walked after him.
“Johnny, please show me how we walk in the classroom.” He looked at me quizzically, took three steps, and then took off running again. I sighed and went after him.
“Johnny, we don’t run in the classroom. Let’s walk together.” I took his hand but he darted off across the room before I could show him how to walk. Another sigh. Thus goes a morning in a new Montessori classroom, but then…
Johnny and several other children lined up to go to the bathroom. We walked out of the classroom and down the hall, with Johnny scampering after the group. “Johnny, please come back and walk,” I called out. Of course, Johnny ignored me and dashed into the bathroom, where he proceeded to horseplay with a couple of boys.
I took his hand and sternly marched him out of the bathroom. His eyed widened like saucers as I squatted to his eye level.
“Johnny, this is not a game. The bathroom is not for playing, do you understand?” He nodded silently. “Please go back inside and wash your hands.” He turned and walked into the bathroom to do what I had asked him. Then he came back out. I smiled as an idea flitted through my worn-out brain.
“Oh,” I exclaimed in my most dramatic voice. “It would make me SO HAPPY if Johnny could walk all the way to the classroom by himself like a big boy. Do you think you could do that?”
Johnny’s eyes lit up. A challenge!! He turned towards the classroom and walked slowly, calmly, and with utmost control for 60 feet. I watched him fade into the shadows of the hallway, my heart in my throat. He turned right and disappeared into the classroom. I held my breath.
Johnny’s head popped back out and he looked at me. I grinned and gave him a silent thumbs-up. He raised his little hand and returned the thumbs-up with a broad smile, before disappearing once again into the classroom.
In my list of moments that make life worth living, that’s in the top 5. I’m hooked.