“Help!”

tuliptreeadminElm House Blog5 Comments

By Bee

Last Wednesday the sprouts were busy preparing for meal time. Flip was frustrated with her chair and began to cry.

“Help. Help Flip”

I turned to Luca and signed, “You said you want to help Flip?”

Hannah verbally responded to the question I signed to Luca, “Flip cry.”

Luca walked over to the closet purposefully and reached into the lowest cubby of our organizer. He rushed back to the scene, tissue in hand. IMG_20160203_143249247“Help Flip. Tissue.”

Flip turned to Luca, noting his approach. I believe I observed Luca struggle internally. His body was amped up, excited, but also taut with restraint. It seemed like his eagerness to assist, and his desire to be gentle, were at odds with one another as he worked to hold both feelings in the same space. IMG_20160203_143245532Luca reached out and brushed the tissue against Flip’s face. Flip remained still, eyes focused on Luca. IMG_20160203_143247377Perhaps unsatisfied with his work, or believing that Flip needed more support, Luca reached out towards Flip again.IMG_20160203_143259998 This time Luca cupped the other side of Flip’s face as he softly, but diligently, cleaned up the evidence of her distress. IMG_20160203_143301856Luca smiled. Flip said, “Thank you.”

I was so overwhelmed by the complexity of this moment. Luca’s empathy. Flip’s acceptance of Luca’s ministrations. Hannah’s quiet concerned presence. I found it profound that not only did Luca recognize Flip’s emotional state, but he wanted it to be different. What do you see when you look at this exchange? Do you interpret this as an adorable instance of mimicking observed behavior, or does it feel like something else? What motivates us to help others? How do we know when help is needed or wanted? Why and how do we accept help? I invite you to reflect on these questions or wonderings of your own, as you look at the following photos of a similar scene taken five days after the ones posted above. IMG_20160208_084451501IMG_20160208_084449405IMG_20160208_084443016

Due to the sprouts’ intense focus on caregiving rituals, and their growing importance in our classroom culture, I implore you to share any questions, musings, or fleeting thoughts you experienced during your reflection in the comments below. Thank you!

5 Comments on ““Help!””

  1. It is such a beautiful thing to see the sprouts caring for one another! Thank you for your observations, Bee. I love seeing these photos.

  2. I can’t see this as anything but felt, humanely-motivated care… empathy. The looks on their faces, the reception of the kindness. Maybe that’s where the genuineness is invoked. Perhaps the exchange is the most meaningful part, not solely the giving or receiving, but both hand in hand. Mutual understanding. And deep communication.

  3. I agree that it’s more than mimicking observed behavior. This group seems to genuinely care for each other and will stop their other activities to help one another through the tools they have from observing these events, their teachers, parents and siblings. We see this with Hannah at home. She loves to do what we do or what her big sister does and blowing her nose is a great example. But if there is a real issue with her sister, like a boo boo and tears, Hannah will stop anything to tend to her.
    Thanks for sharing

  4. I’m sure that the reason Lucy talks about Luca and Hannah and Bee and Flip all the time at home is that there are real interactions happening daily between these little (and bigger) people while they are at school. Often hearing that my child has been struggling, I am likewise encouraged that not only the teachers are wanting to help or be present with her, but also the kids. Lucy perks up her ears and comments when any child is crying, but she also laughs when she hears laughter… I am thankful for this community and what the members can teach each other about living.

  5. Since reading this post, I have talked with Luca about how he helped his friends when they were sad. When Luca has become upset at home, we have talked about how he helped Lucy and Flip when they were sad. He calms down when I initiate these stories, and they have become great social stories to use as we talk through sadness.

    In addition to helping out when they are sad, Hannah will sometimes prepare an activity for Luca when he arrives at school in the morning. She seems to want to do things that will make him happy, sometimes by picking out something that she knows he likes.

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