Yesterday morning as I was washing the hands and faces of the little ones who had finished their breakfasts my daughter leapt from her chair and shrieked, “Spider!”
I of course sprang into action to remove the eight legged invader from the table because spiders are a source of much fear for my eldest child … but the little arachnid was still, it’s legs curled up so it looked like a ball rather than a creature. I began to sweep him on to a piece of paper to toss into the trash.
“It’s okay, he’s not a live spider. He must have died,” I said offhandedly as I cast a glance at my daughter. The other kids had moved on to trains and cars and racing round the circle of the living room.
“Maybe he fell against the window and died,” she said matter-of-fact, chewing on the hem of her sleeve.
I whisked the little spider-body to the trash for a less than ceremonious “funeral”. When I looked at my little girl again her eyes were welling up with tears.
“I kind of feel bad for the spider,” she said, her voice cracking as I walked towards her and knelt beside her. Her entire five year old self fell into my arms and she cried for the little spider who died on our kitchen table.
Children have such big hearts, filled with empathy for even the smallest creatures on this planet.
Yesterday I learned to slow down as I helped my child find her way through her sadness. Grief is a hard thing to cope with, even when that sorrow is for the lost life of a little spider; children’s feelings are just as valid as our adult emotions.
Every moment I spend in the profession of early learning and care I am growing as an educator. I learn as much every day from the children that I work with as they learn from me and I’m lucky to have such kind little teachers.