Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Bigger Kids and Littler Kids"

Kyle & Owen are currently obsessed with the whole notion of age-time-growth-"bigger kids and littler kids"...

K & O's school is pre-K through grade 8. And the school is very pro-active about explicitly encouraging and fostering children's social relationships across age groups. This is one of the things we love about the Waldorf philosophy. Time is given and time is built in for kids to develop genuine social relationships that cut across ages and grades. K & O are in the Acorn room (the "nursery" class; i.e., Pre-K), so they are two of the very youngest kids in the entire school. As it turns out, for K & O, the relationships they've developed with some of the older kids at their school are a huge part of what they seem to love about their school. The best thing about these relationships is that they are truly organic, initiated and maintained by the kids themselves (and supported by the teachers and parents involved). For example...

Each day this winter when it was time for the Acorn Room kids to go outside to play, the 4th grade class would come down the hall to the Acorn classroom, and all of the 4th graders were responsible for getting the Acorn Room kids into their snow gear. When every day the "bigger kids" are helping the "littler kids" into their snowsuits, boots, hats, mittens, etc., it is pretty much a given (at least when you're K & O) that some real relationships will develop. Sure enough, K & O became enamored with some of the 4th graders. And, as we've come to hear from the teachers involved (and many of the kids' parents), some of the 4th graders became enamored with K & O too. Kyle fell in love with one 4th grade boy in particular -- David (pronounced 'Dah-ved'; and Kyle pronounces it perfectly).

About halfway through the winter Kyle started insisting that he go to see David in his classroom before school started. So, each morning at drop-off, on their way to the Acorn Room, Kyle, Owen, and Braydon stop in at the 4th grade classroom for a visit. K & O walk right in and smile huge, sometimes doing silly funny 3-year-old things. David is sweet with Kyle. He greets Kyle warmly each morning, hugging him, shaking his hand, rubbing the top of his head with his hand, saying "good morning Kyle!" But all the other kids get in on it too-- The 4th graders all clamor to get up from their desks to greet K & O -- the girls hug and kiss them, the boys hug and high-five with them, and the kids (two 3-year-olds and a class full of 4th graders) all fool around with each other for a few minutes before their school day officially begins. The 4th grade teacher encourages it. And so a daily ritual is in place. A ritual that continually builds and cements relationships between some kids who in another school setting would probably never cross paths. It is lovely.

David, age 10, has become Kyle's idol. Kyle talks about David incessantly. He wants to "run so fast just like David!" He wants to "wear a coat and a hat just like David!" He wants to "eat so well so he gets big and strong just like David!" He wants to "be TEN! just like David!" When I go to pick up K & O from school the 4th graders are having recess at the same time as the Acorn Room kids are being picked up. Kyle and Owen will stand for as long as I'll let them, just staring at the bigger kids playing. Sometimes David and his friends will stop what they are doing to come over and hang out for a bit with K & O. They chase each other around, rough-house together, and do silly stuff. K & O look up to these "bigger kids" like they are rock stars!

With the infatuation with "bigger kids" has also come a new awareness about "littler kids." K & O are adoring of babies (as anyone who has been reading this blog knows). But they've started to differentiate between "babies" and "littler kids." This past Saturday we got together at the playground with our friends the Jellisons. Their son Noah is almost 2. K & O kept calling him "Baby" at the playground, but in the days that have followed they've been talking about Noah as a "littler kid." Kristen, Darin, Braydon, and I watched and laughed as K & O played "bigger kids" to Noah on Saturday. They embraced the role thoroughly -- 'teaching' Noah how to climb up the playground to the slide, 'showing' Noah how to duck and crawl under the bridges, and dragging Noah all over the place hand-in-hand. Later that night as I was putting Owen to bed he asked me, "Mommy, is Baby Sister going to be as little as Noah?" I said, "Much smaller! She is going to be tiny!" "Right," he said, "she isn't even going to be able to walk! We're going to have to teach her how to walk! how to crawl! how to sit! how to eat! how to talk! everything!!!" I said, "Yes, that's right." And Owen said, "I'm the bigger. I'm the bigger to Baby Sister because I'm going to be the Big Brother. I want her to come out of there right now!"

Right now K & O are loving the notion that they are --to some "littler kids"-- the "bigger kids." This whole idea of relativity is just coming alive for them. This morning on the way to school Kyle said to me, "Mommy, I am a David to the Baby Noah."

Photos below from Saturday morning, courtesy of the Jellisons. :)


Kristen said...

I love how you captured the essence of the "big kid/little kid" relationship! While Noah is not yet aware of age and what it means to be older or younger than another kid, he sure did look up to K and O at the playground! He tried to do everything they did... and has been talking about the playground, and K and O, almost every day since... Be sure to tell your boys they did a great job being "David" to our Noah.

Life in Fitzville said...

I love schools like that! We are fortunate to live in a very small town where all 3 schools are on one campus, and they take advantage of that. Our Kindergarteners have 3rd grade reading buddies... the 4th graders come down to do skits with the 1st grade, the highschool kids come and do science experiments with the 4th graders etc. It's just awesome.

They are going to be such great big brothers!

Beverly said...

That is cute. Glenys is fascinated with who is she older than and who is she younger than. Sometimes it drives me crazy.


Malia'sMama said...

That last quote is positively amazing out of the mouth of a 3 yr old. Sure they're not 30?? :)