Today most of the children attended the home school Lenten retreat at our parish. It was amazing. Over 170 children from preK up to high school. Truly a labor of love for the creative moms that brought it together.
I brought Johnny along. He has not been in any play groups or preK classes or activities before. When he was smaller I found that he sometimes quickly became overwhelmed in some settings with lots of strangers and noise and just too much going on for him to handle. Sometimes he would just shut down and cling to a parent or big sibling. Sometimes he would cry and tantrum. But I decided to give this a try today since I would be able to stay with him and help him out.
Sure enough, we walked into the room with the other little children and his body stiffened. He did not want to color. He did not want to listen. He did not want me to leave his side. He did not want to be there. Period. I sighed. I whispered to him that I would be right there, that I knew he would have fun if he gave it a chance, all he needed to do was try. Poor little man had the sourest look on his face. But he sat. Stiff, not coloring.
Then the leader took out a book. I smiled. I knew things would be fine. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. His absolute favorite. He knows it by heart. When he saw the book I saw him turn his body to face the front. He looked up. His face softened, and I tell you, I could visibly see his body relax. He started to smile and mouth the words as she read. By the end of the book he was grinning, eager to see what other "stuff" he would learn and do.
Just like that. Almost instantly. The words and pictures of a familiar and beloved story change the day for my son. Amazing. Wonderful. Powerful.