Learning patience from preschoolers

Cassie Lajeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

Patience is a virtue. I know I’ve heard this a million times, and I’m sure other people have as well. I’ve always appreciated this saying, but I didn’t truly understand the value of patience until I spent my summer working at a preschool in my hometown. 

Preschoolers are weird, but if you need a lesson in patience, I couldn’t recommend anything better than spending time with some toddlers. Beyond patience, I learned many lessons from the kids that I spent all my time with. I went home from work every day this summer with hilarious stories of the children I managed to follow around all day without pulling my hair out. 

I started work every day at 12:30. One day, I had to clean up after not one, but two boys who peed on two different bathroom floors, all within the first hour. By the end of the summer, this became just another day. 

I think the time that my patience was tested most was at nap time each day. Someone needs to explain to preschoolers how much they will value naps when they grow up, because those kids wanted to do everything but sleep. There were days that they ran around the room and days that they asked to go to the bathroom five minutes after they had just gone. There were days that they made noises for no reason and days that they stared defiantly up at me when I told them to close their eyes. Through this daily routine, I learned that sometimes, the only thing you can do is take a deep breath and wait. 

My absolute favorite learning moment this summer was the day that I, a 19-year-old college student majoring in English, got into an argument with a three-year-old about the proper usage of the words “lay” and “lie.” This little girl was precious, but she loved to stall at nap time. This particular afternoon, I told her to lie down. She looked me right in the eye and said, with all the sass a preschooler can muster, “Miss Cassie, it’s LAY down.” I was appalled. I firmly believe in correct usage of the English language, so I saw this as an opportunity to educate this little girl. I calmly explained to her that the correct word was “lie”, but she continued to argue with me. My patience was tested, and I had to remind myself that she would learn eventually, and that arguing wasn’t helping anyone. 

I experienced many similar situations throughout the summer with these adorable, infuriating children. There was the day that a little boy decided to repeat everything I said to him in the most obnoxious voice I’ve ever heard. There was the day I had to chase a kid around the room in order to put him in time out. There was even the day that two boys decided to pull down their pants in front of their friends while I was the only adult in the room. 

This summer, I learned an important lesson in patience. There comes a time when it is pointless and undignified to argue with a preschooler, or to argue with anyone, and you just have to sit back and be patient with people who refuse to listen. 

Among other things, I also learned that for every bad, frustrating moment in life, there will be many wonderful moments. Though there were the kids who drove me crazy, those same kids told me they loved me or hugged me when I walked in the room. Each kid I worked with had the ability to love anyone and anything. They could fight with their friend over a toy one minute, but turn around and hug them the next minute. I admire this capacity for acceptance and love, and I think we should all aspire to be more like these big-hearted preschoolers. My summer with preschoolers taught me that we all have something to learn from tiny humans, whether it be about patience, the capacity to love or finding the good in every day. 

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