Last summer I was sat in a grassy park enjoying the sunshine watching a bright yellow buttercup blow in the wind when a memory from my childhood floated in to my consciousness. As a child I remember large green playing fields at the school I attended and as a young girl, with my friends, we used to spend our time in the warm summer days picking the buttercups. I liked the buttercups and also the white and yellow daisies which always grew close by. Once we were done looking or playing with the flowers they would get thrown aside, ending their life. I would only play with them for a few minutes at most.
Growing up I was taught that if I see a flower I liked we can pick it, take it home and put it in a vase of water. (This was of course until it dies and then it would get thrown in the trash). This seemed perfectly normal to me until as an adult a friend gave me a bunch of flowers. 'WOW' I thought, so beautiful, the colours and vibrancy. I took them home and did everything I was supposed to and cared for them. I cut the stems, put them in water, mixed in the plant food and placed them on the dining room table where they would get some light. Wonderful, I thought.
Two days later the gorgeous flowers had started to go limp and the colourful petals were turning brown. I changed the water and still did everything I could to keep them glorious but soon I had a realization - they were already dead. As soon as someone had cut the flowers that was their fate sealed. I felt sad that these wonderful things were living then had to be cut in their prime for our own fulfilment.
I have never again wanted anyone to buy or give me a bunch of flowers. I was always perplexed as to why I would want to watch beautiful flowers diminish and die on my dining room table. I prefer the living variety of plant. My boyfriend learnt this very quickly, so now when the need arises he gives me potted orchids!
He got me one for valentines day one year, a stunning crisp white and purple flowered orchid plant. I vowed to take care of it and keep it alive. When all the petals fell off I still kept watering it every so often. I watched as a large leaf fell off and two of the stems turned brown. I carefully cut these off which only left one small leaf and one small stem. Still I watered it determined to see it flower again the next year.
Six months later my boyfriend asked if the plant was still alive, he wanted to get rid of it as we were moving and it would be one more thing to pack. I refused and carried the plant in my hands to our new place. I found it a good spot and kept on watering it. A whole year later and all you could see was that the stem had grown, but that was all. I did start to wonder if it would't flower again.
A few months later I noticed tiny buds and was quietly excited, I carried on watering with new hope that I may get to see the plant flower again. Eventually in May (15 months later) one beautiful crisp white and purple flower bloomed! It was such a moment of excitement for me as I had been waiting and cared for this plant for it to finally bloom again!
I certainly learned that time and patience really do pay off in the end. I started to realise that life was teaching me a valuable lesson in this moment. I had cared and not given up on the plant and tried to see it thrive. I did not notice and pick it at its most beautiful time, I was there all of the time through the whole process even when I couldn't see if my care and attention was helping or not, but I offered it anyway. I could have easily given up and tossed the plant in the trash but remembering how wonderful the plant was with its blooming flowers made me want to see the plant bloom again.
I started to think about all the children I have cared for over the years and if I had put the same time and energy in to seeing them all bloom. Did I stay patient with them knowing that in their own time they too would have their moment to finally open up to share their beauty with the world? Did I nurture them and give them the little things they needed to support their growing? Did I add nourishment to their curiosity and learning? Did I continue to be patient with my teachings even when I couldn't be sure they were even listening?
It was in these moments of self reflection that I truly understood the depth of my role as an early childhood educator. I need to be caring, supportive and quietly wait for each child's moment to bloom. Everyone needs a chance to bloom and everyone needs their time to grow. If I give up on them or try to rush them I am not allowing them to bloom fully, I am merely awaiting for the flower so I can pick it for my own fulfilment. I now understand that the flower is not mine to pick, it belongs to nature, it belongs within each child and it will bloom again and again when their own cycle of growth flourishes at each stage of development. I can admire the flowers, notice their vibrancy, but I must be aware to not cut them down in their prime, if I leave them to naturally grow I am leaving the space for a natural cycle to emerge. All children will flourish if given the time, patience and care each of them need. All we need to do is carefully observe and wait.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!