"Gank oo, Wowa!" One year old's eyes nearly danced in his head with the sheer joy of life. And my heart turned into puddles of swelling love for this man child. He is a wild child, full on power and might, running headlong with no thought of consequences. His sweet words to me came easily, as though thankfulness was second nature, as I lifted him into the "wing" so he could soar to his heart's content into the "guy". I wondered, as I often do, how I got to be so blessed. But, of course, to be fair, this heart puddling happened after I had had to clean up spilled formula from every crook and cranny of the place (Thanks, One year old.)
Recently, I was asked how I respond to the question of discipline in interviewing for a job in childcare. The inquiry sort of stunned me, i suppose because after 9+ years, you don't think much about it. You just kind of do the job. But I couldn't quite shake the question. To be fair, back in the day, this would have been my primary concern as well. Now? It might not even come up.
When I take an honest look, I suppose I have grown and changed as much as anyone. I do know that my "discipline methods" of today would not even be recognized by my yesteryear methods.
Bear with me as I bring up the Mennonite culture. Keep your feathers smooth. I use them because that is what I know. What troubles me is that Mennonites tend to latch on to one verse in the Bible at the expense of a gazillion others. In this conversation it would be "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." Proverbs 13:24 (KJV)
As I said, keep your feathers unruffled. I am not against discipline. My inner thoughts were certainly disciplining as I was cleaning up the aforementioned formula mess!
I have learned many powerful lessons from the children I have cared for. And maybe before we run to immediate discipline, it would serve us well to get down on one knee, look a child deeply in the eyes, and learn the lessons they are yearning to teach us. "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me." Matthew 18:4,5 (KJV)
This one lesson I've learned, above all, has probably become my most important "method" if you will. It is this: A child will do anything you ask of them if they first of all know that you love them, are on their side, and that you care about their opinions and feelings. Do not let this ruffle your feathers any. I can already hear the Mennonites creating sermons on the importance of immediate obedience, no matter what. (Sorry, I just had to go there.)
I have learned so much from these little people. I want to be on their side, to guide them to Jesus gently as He Himself would. And I never, ever want to be the reason a child's joy gets snuffed out. So help me, Jesus!