We’ve all got it. When someone messes with our kids it’s easy to switch into Momma Bear mode. It’s pretty hard for me to take a breath before I do it, and they’re not even my real babies. I have no idea how you, the real momma must feel when someone hurts your kid’s feelings!
There’s one thing I do know, though. Things always turn out best for my kiddos when I remember to do three things:
- Take a deep breath.
- Assess the situation.
- Proceed by using humor or a heart-to-heart.
It always turns out better than when I switch into Momma Bear Mode.
The other day, Mr. Million Questions tapped me on the shoulder when his reading group ended and the other kiddos were going back to their seats.
“What’s up, Mr. MQ,” I asked, my back turned, grabbing books off the shelf for the next group.
“Miss L, I have to talk to you about something.”
I paused before I turned around, after hearing the quiver in his voice, knowing that we were about to have an important conversation. I turned around, sat down so that we were at the same level.
“What’s going on, bud?”
“Erick said I was weird!” he whispered, as his eyes welled up with tears.
I paused as I went through the three-step process above, before responding, “That’s awesome.”
“What Miss L??? What are you talking about?”
“Mr. MQ, do you think I’m weird?” I asked.
“No way!” He shook his head vigorously. “You’re awesome!”
“Bud, how am I different than other teachers you’ve had?”
He looked at me for a moment. “Well, I’ve never had a teacher that let us read to stuffed animals before. And you sing in class sometimes, and wear tap shoes. And you’re the only one that’s let us come up to the classroom to teach us martial arts or just to play at lunch.”
“Don’t you think that’s kind of weird?” I asked.
Our eyes met. “Mr. I’ve got to tell you something. I am weird, and it makes me happy.
Weird people are the ones who take chances, make crazy new inventions, march to a different beat. They make the world interesting.
I’ll be honest, kid, you’re kind of weird, too. That’s why I love you so much.
When someone calls me weird, I think in my head, ‘Oh, so you’re boooorrrriiiiinnnng!’
It’s actually kind of a compliment.”
His eyes dried up and a smile washed over his face.
“So being weird is good!” he exclaimed.
“Yes, friend. It’s one of the best kept secrets of all time.”
He gave me a big hug before heading back to his seat.
I didn’t lie when I told him that. He likes to sing opera, and knows everything there is to know about the Beatles. He build’s these crazy creations when he has the time, and daydreams like mad. He’s quirky, which really is why I love him so much.
When I was driving home, I was remembering when my uncle taught me that lesson when I was a kid, and it was pretty powerful.
I felt pretty blessed that I was the one that got to teach it to Mr. Million Questions.
Melissa Spiegelman is the founder of Tandem Teaching, where she provides strategies and solutions for parents whose children are experiencing classroom struggles, and an expert consultant to the USC/LAUSD/RAND/UCLA Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools. Melissa also teaches art playgroups for toddlers. Contact her for a private coaching session.