B, C and I attended our last music class of the summer today. It is a class for toddlers and preschoolers that is run by an elementary school teacher that I worked with. He is wonderful, the kids love it and so do I.  Every class, the teacher reads one story aloud to the children. Today’s read aloud was “Mortimer” by Robert Munsch.

The teacher introduced  the read aloud by building some background.  He told the children that Mortimer was a boy who had trouble falling asleep and asked if any of the children had trouble falling asleep.  Of course my B, who has had over a year’s worth of struggles with sleep, (If he doesn’t nap during the day he is tired but falls asleep at 8.  If he naps he is rejuvenated but falls asleep at 11 and battles with us every hour until then) raises his hand. He announces to the class that he sometimes has trouble falling asleep but makes sure that he is in bed by 10:00 because that is the time that the police come to the house to see if all children are asleep and if they are not the parents get in trouble. (I may or may not have told that story a few times in great desperation not realizing that my little white…story would be exposed in front of a colleague, several parents and grandparents and a group of toddlers and preschoolers.) Luckily, the teacher responded that there happened to be police in the story that he was about to read (they were actually called because the child would not go to sleep and was being too noisy!), too, and it became a great opener for him to begin reading the book.

The story was delightful and quite relavant and when my hubs asked about music class at dinnertime, Ben was quick to recount the story.  I remembered that there were several Robert Munsch ebooks that I could access through my library and at bedtime tonight we picked one to read and laughed the whole way through.

I have been teaching elementary school for fifteen years but have somehow missed the bulk of this man’s work.  Curious, I went onto his website to read his biography.  It was incredibly interesting and inspiring.  I learned that this enormously successful author gets most of his stories from listening to children. In his bio, Robert Munsch states, “I hope that everyone will talk to their kids honestly, listen to them, and help them do their best with their own challenges.”

This is something that I have always believed.  What children think, feel and say is enormously important and many adults seem not to respect that. But it was a good reminder to me. Four-year-old B has a great deal to say. But he says it through stutters of um, um, um, um, the, the, the, the, that, that, that, that… It can prove to be very frustrating and I often would like to cut him off and finish his sentence and move on with my day. Especially when I am tired. But then, that wouldn’t be fair. It would make it appear that, as his mother and the person who should love him the most, I am disinterested in what he has to share. And then, would that mean that what he has to share lacks importance?

So, this impromptu author study will be a reminder, then, of how important it is to listen to children.  Their perspectives are fresh and not jaded. They experience without judgement and report  without bias. They are funny. They are bright. And they are a piece of who we are that has been lost over years of hardened reality . We should listen.  I will listen. And I will appreciate and respect the amazing stories and perspectives that come from these silly little people that still have so much to teach us about life.

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