One day, my Pre-K class and I were busy running around playing on the playground on a nice spring day. Our outdoor space is phenomenal, but during those nice months full of bloom and pollen, I struggled. I have a very high level of seasonal allergies, and am also allergic to a few other random things, such as dust, mushrooms and mold.
We were having such a lovely time outside, despite my sneezes, but one young lady – Kaitlin – in my class asked me if I was sick. I explained to her that I wasn’t but sometimes things in our air or around us can make me feel that way. Not long after we had this heart to heart about my sneezing, Kaitlin ran up to me with her friends – hands FULL of freshly hand-harvested wild mushrooms. They were so excited and dumped them in my lap and I couldn’t help but shriek! They were taken aback at first, and looked worried. I quickly explained that I really loved how they found such amazing things in nature, but asked them to share their discoveries with my assistant teacher. I explained I wanted to see them learn about the mushrooms, but the mushrooms were another thing that can make me very very sick if I am around them. The girls understood, went along with their discoveries was the end of that – or so I thought.
Kaitlin was a super precocious young lady. Pretty suddenly, that spring she became very independent at lunch time. She wouldn’t let me help her open her thermos at all. She got her straw through her juice box, her gogurt open…all on her own and she wouldn’t accept a bit of help. I thought she was kicking butt and getting ready for Kindergarten!
Fast forward to the following fall – her younger brother was now in my Pre-K classroom and she was in Kindergarten in our before and after school program. One day, early that fall the teacher from Kindergarten got on the walkie talkies we use and called for me. She said “Miss Megan, Kaitlin is very worried up here and she wont tell me why, can I bring her down to you?” … well absolutely! I wanted to make sure she was okay! I thought maybe she was homesick, that Kindergarten was stressing her out, or that she was worried about her brother.
Turns out, she was worried about me.
She opened up her lunch thermos upstairs and realized the leftovers from their dinner the night before, Beef Stroganoff, were for lunch. She was worried that I would open her brother’s thermos and get sick from the mushrooms and she panicked.
It was so heartwarming to think that those few innocuous incidents added up to that moment…and more than anything, that this small being cared for me that much, that she remembered a very innocent and small conversation and made changes to protect me in any way that she could. From that conversation about what allergies were and what I was allergic to, she spent the rest of her time in my class opening up her own lunch so that I never once had to be around her mushrooms and she did so without a word. Just out of love.
This is why we do these jobs. To love these children, help them grow and learn, and become compassionate, kind and giving people. The bonus is that most of the time, they love us just as much.