There are two security guards that work at M’s school. Their job is essentially to keep everyone safe. However, these two men go so far above and beyond their job description every single day. They know the name of every parent and child in the entire school. That’s insane, y’all. They greet us by name every morning with a smile and a high five. Often times the carpool line stalls while the children go through this ritual since it is such an important part of their morning routine. The message these gentleman send to our children each day is one of value, importance, and recognition. “You matter” and “I see you” is what their actions say. They make a difference in our days and in our lives. They are extraordinary.
Recently, M needed to have some lab work done. I could tell from the lab tech’s greeting (or lack thereof) that this was probably not going to be a positive experience. I sat down with M in the chair and started to explain what the supplies were and what was about to happen. She immediately became very anxious. I was in my child life damage control mode, since I did not have much advance warning or any time to do medical play to help dissipate M’s anxiety. Without warning, the lab tech put the arm of the chair down across us, and that was the beginning of the end for my sweet M. She became hysterical. I held her in my lap as she wailed while another lab tech held her arm in place. My mom was also there for support (more for me at this point!). M continued to scream for what felt like forever. The tech doing the actual lab draw kept saying he was sorry (more on that later), and at one point another tech who I am sure meant well came over and got right in front of M trying to comfort her. It. was. a. mess.
Somehow we managed to survive all of that and successfully obtain the sample. M continued to cry as I carried her out of the lab, as I loaded her into her car seat, and for the majority of the ride home. Did I mention I have sensitive children?! When it comes down to it, I was actually very proud of her. She had certainly been loud, VERY loud, but she did exactly what we asked her to do which was to keep her arm still. It really was a success, albeit it an emotionally traumatizing one.
While he did nothing wrong, I couldn’t help but compare that lab tech to the security guards at M’s school. What if he had taken the time to look M in the eye, to greet her by name, to establish 5 seconds of rapport with her? What if he, through his actions, had affirmed to her “I see you” and “You matter.” What if instead of repeatedly saying “I’m sorry,” he had validated her feelings and said “I know this hurts. You are doing a great job keeping your arm still.” Did he do his job? Of course. Did he successfully draw the labs? Absolutely. However, just think how much different the experience could have been with a little bit of extraordinary magic! It doesn’t take much for our little ones to feel valued, to feel reassured, and to feel safe. Often times we can meet those needs simply by looking them in the eye, by kneeling down to their level, or by saying their name. When those needs are met, the results are incredible.
I’m taking notes from our preschool security guards, and I’m going to do everything I can to put a little bit of “extra” into the ordinary moments. The “extra” is what changes our children. Who wouldn’t be committed to that?
Find the joy~