Written by: Lindsay Lichty
I look over just in time to see a child with his chest puffed out and his head thrown back, letting out a long howl into the sky. When the long winding sound pulls the final bits of air from his lungs, he inhales, through a wide toothy grin, staring into the crooked, bobbling, plastic eyes of the brown and white dog puppet on his hand.
I imagine that the puppet, a silly looking dog, has never felt braver, bolder, and more honourable. I imagine the puppet recalling a sort of ancient knowing, the lingering flavor that you can’t quite identify, as with the faint memories of a dream that calls to our memories just below the surface.
I remind myself that the puppet is thoughtless, and instead, reimagine all of that power, that ferocity, and that boundless spirit, embodied by the child. As though on cue, the child breaks his gaze from the puppet and calls to me, “Did you see that?!”
I throw my head back, thrust my fists toward the ground, and release my own howl, allowing my lungs to churn out any remaining stale air, only ending my sound when I’m finally empty and gasp to refill myself with the air that’s been stirred around me—from the forest, from the wings of the birds, startled from the branches, the quick exhalations from the laughter of children, who have abandoned their narratives to join the call of the wild.
I am a woman who runs with wolf cubs, and I take it upon myself to protect their knowledge, their spirit, and their wisdom that calls to us to abandon our narratives to participate fully in the present. I am an early childhood educator.
“If we don’t populate the dialogue as early childhood educators, who will?”
I heard this message Wednesday night on a video conference call for leadership in early childhood education. The message sent an electric current down my spine. The current traveled, like a defibrillator, resuscitating my heart.
What are the stories that we tell about ourselves as early childhood educators?
“We need to unearth the old stories that live in a place and begin to create new ones, for we are storymakers, not just storytellers. All stories are connected, new ones woven from the threads of the old.”
-Robin Wall Kimmerer
Through early childhood education, I connect with my inner child. That is not to devalue our profession, rather to acknowledge the value of children. I am inspired to look at the world with curiosity. What a skill!
As adults, we can lose touch with the unknown, and we can become comfortable in the predictable, the measurable, and the certain. In this fixed way of being, anything that challenges our “knowing” can provoke a sense of fear.
Children carry the tools of curiosity, of wonder, of experimentation. We assist them, perhaps because they inspire us. Their creative ways of doing remind us of the endless possibilities in life. When we watch children, we learn, we are reminded of our own innate knowledge.
When we tell the stories of children’s knowledge, we are reminded of our own knowledge. When we observe a child playing outside, using what the fir tree, has offered, we are reminded that we already have enough. We move from a place of needing, into a place of abundance. We are moved to return to the present. If we give them enough time and space to explore the present, they are driven to discover. We are moved into a place of possibility.
“What else can you offer the earth, which has everything? What else can you give but something of yourself?
-Robin Wall Kimmerer
Today this is what I offer.
I offer a story of my journey of knowledge.
I offer my story of learning about the depth of being, from the pleasure of fully existing in a moment.
I offer a story of early childhood education as a radical profession with the capacity to challenge our culture narrative of not enough. Children are enough.
Imagine if each person could remember that they are enough.
Imagine the blow to consumerism, to over consumption, to our insatiable greed.
Can you embrace a world brave enough to stop “doing,” if only for a moment, and to make space to howl?
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