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Friday, April 17, 2015

Lessons from the Maternelles

Once a week I teach English to a group of 3 and 4 year olds (called 'maternelles' in French).  In the few moments during our hour together when they aren't plotting my demise, they can even be a tiny bit adorable.

(Their strategy, by the way, is ingeniously simple.  Fire-teams in the larger platoon exploit their strengths in a shock and awe campaign.  Clément and Antoine are in one corner poking and kicking each other.  For Océane and Luddine, however, their specialty is a sort of tactical chatter/singing/ asking about the bon-bons they spied earlier in the closet/twirling in circles diversion.  For Quentin and Anne, they are clearly in the run around in circles division.  Delta Company.)

Despite this, they can be cute.  Watching them interact a few weeks ago, seated in their tiny chairs at tiny tables, I realized that I could even learn from them.  The main obstacle with getting tiny beings to accomplish the clear-cut, simple, age-appropriate task in front of them is that they are too interested in what the other people around them are doing.  I often have to interrupt the whines and protests of "Luddine is not coloring!" or "Marc won't stop staring at me!"  This frustrated me until I realized...I do the exact same thing. 

I am constantly looking around me at what others are accomplishing instead of putting all my time and effort into the totally achievable (even if it doesn't seem like it immediately) task that God has planned and timed and packaged and set right in front of me.  For the little kids, wielding scissors and a glue stick might seem boring or laborious, but that eternal hour they are in English lessons would go much faster and be more beneficial if they just focused on coloring and cutting out that kangaroo.  Likewise, I realize how much more I could get accomplished if I quit worrying about Jessica's promotion, Carl's new happy marriage and house, or the fact that Kelly is licking the green marker and hasn't even finished gluing her tiger.  


2 comments :

Halle said...

I am laughing/crying. This is so true *licks green marker*.

wem said...

I wrote this and then it actually happened on Friday. This mom came to pick up her tiny daughter and the girl had green ink smeared all under her bottom lip. The maternelle teacher was like, "What?! That just happened. She didn't look like that when she left the classroom 10 second ago!"

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