I work as a special education classroom assistant, and I have to tell you that besides a heavy dose of patience and kindness, you need to have a lot of understanding, some good running shoes, the ability to lift 80 lbs. of limp weight, and must have a hardy sense of humor.
Take one day, for instance, while we were in a music class. The teacher’s plans included dancing to the hokey pokey. Sounds like fun, right? The music started playing, one child covered her ears because it was too loud. The other decided it would be more interesting to climb the risers instead. Still another was transfixed on a computer screen in the distance. We brought them back into the circle trying desperately to make this dance look like great fun as we smiled and clapped and demonstrated the steps while they watched disinterested. We were almost tempted to give up.
Then all of a sudden it happened…that one brilliant moment in time when they got it. All of a sudden they’re all putting their left foot in and out and shaking it all about, They’re smiling and doing the hokey pokey as they are turning themselves around like it’s nobody’s business. They’re laughing, they make eye contact, and your heart lifts and soars at this totally wonderful accomplishment. They get it for this one brief shining moment, and all is well in the world. Then as fast as they got it, it’s over. One continues her quest of mimicking all the sounds of the instruments she sees on the poster on the wall, another rolls around on the ground speaking in a language only she understands and the other one stares off into the distance at nothing in particular.
Although these children have behaviors that are not always considered the norm, I couldn’t help but wonder, if in a way, this is actually what life is all about. Sometimes we get it; sometimes we don’t Sometimes we want to listen to loud music and dance; sometimes we want to cover our ears and be quiet. Sometimes we want to put our hands and heads and feet in and shake them all about, while other times we’d rather just stare off at nothing in particular. Sometimes we want to smile and have fun when we’ve actually gotten something right, and sometimes we’d rather just climb off to somewhere else instead.
I couldn’t help but to ask myself, “What if doing the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?!”