"My baby sister thinks when she does this..." she held her hands over her eyes, "No one can see her." We were sitting together at snack with the 4- and 5-year olds, a great time and place to find out the latest news. We had just read a story about how a boy covered his parents and little sister with vanishing cream to make them disappear so it made sense that a disappearing sister would be part of the news for the day.
I told her that my dog simply looks away to become invisible and that humans believe -- until they don't -- that closing their eyes (and super closing them with hands) will make them invisible and make the thing/idea in front of them disappear. She nodded, cataloguing this Important Information for future reference, but she also had this look that seemed to say, "Say what you will, but I never believed that covering my eyes made me invisible or would make things go away."
We all have ways of making uncomfortable things go away and we also have ways of convincing others that everything will be alright to keep your eyes open through the scary bits.
A few weeks later we read a book about Tam Lin. During drama, our never-invisible girl tried to convince a friend that "if we leave this money on the carpet square it will open a door to another world. The fairy world." Her friend was not-having-it. No way. Our never-invisible girl tried to convince her, "What if we have a map? We would know how to get back!" she held up and waved around a piece of paper, "You can draw the map!" Her answer was the slumped shoulders, shaking head, lip out, I am saying no with every fiber of my being kind of answer. "We have a situation with coins opening a door," the I'm-not-going-to-another-world player reported later.
So she tried "What if we use jewels instead of the money?" or "We can only go for a minute and come right back!" When you think about her solutions, you realized that she touched on every worry we have for our own children and the children we teach as they head out into the world -- will you know the way, will you find your way back, will you have all the tools you need, how long will you be gone? And this from an almost 5-year old who already knows how to get to the edge bitty and back!
This is the what we get from carefully selected children's literature and rich and hearty discussion about the stories found there...
Recently, we held a morning coffee at our school for parents and staff and each of us brought in examples of books and each book was filled with opportunity for discussion and seeing life and materials from different perspectives. These are the gifts that books give us, the opportunity to look from a comfortable and cozy distance to experience, sometimes through the web of our fingers covering our eyes, but eventually with an all-clear, open, and steady look at the experiences of others. We add these experiences to our emotional knowledge set and by talking about the situations and the responses of the characters we figure out our own personal push and pull with adversity.
Please note: The term "Edge Bitty" was discovered via Claire Warden's blog in her post, The Dark Woods, Children Exploring Fear. I think it is a perfect descriptor for that feeling and place of scary situations that we both crave and shy away from.