At first glance, you are probably wondering what this is. All you can see are sticks, a dart, and a big rock. This was the children expressing their compassion toward lost trees.
It was one of the most memorable moments I had as an Early Childhood Educator. We can all learn from children’s compassion; I sometimes wonder if children are better at teaching.
In this article, I’m going to share my experience of learning from children’s compassion.
Where did the story of children’s compassion begin?
The story began when we found out about the installation of a wastewater tank in the forest. Many of us, including the children, raised a voice to save nature. Unfortunately, the plan got approved and the construction started.
We saw the gradual change in the forest. First, we saw surveyors and marking with tape which caught the kids’ attention. Then, we saw some clearings that indicated the outline of the site. Shortly after, the fence went up. Just like many grownups, I could tell our children were upset by the quick change.
At the same time, we knew that the worst part: the tree removal was coming.
Heartbreaking & Heartwarming events
One morning, the disheartening sound of a chainsaw filled the area. No bird (like owls in the earlier picture), no deer, no happy sound of anything. We spent our day in the upper part of the forest, but we all knew what was happening down there.
A couple of days later, we decided to visit the site. We were heartbroken by the view of our forest. (see some of them in the picture above) Our nature friends, the trees, were lying there in a big pile.
Although some of the younger children enjoyed watching the big tracks, others kept quiet – grieving. I felt so small and hopeless…
What happened next?
One of the older children caught my eye. She was holding a rock and placed it gently by the fence. I asked her what she was doing. She told me that the rock could be her (during her absence), so the trees wouldn’t be sad. She wanted the trees to know that she was there. Other children joined us and started placing the rocks in a single row. They looked as if the children were watching through the fence. (see the picture above)
Their empathy and compassion instantly warmed my heart.
Children’s compassion for the trees
About a month later, a couple of boys were busy poking/digging the ground in the forest. The ground was dry and hard, so one of the boys’ sticks broke in the middle. Unlike other days, he didn’t let go of the broken stick.
Interestingly, he laid the stick carefully on the ground and started making a dirt pile. I kept watching with curious eyes…what were they doing?
Shortly after, he made a pouty face, so I finally asked him what he was doing. His face loosened and replied, “We are planting the trees. Our trees are gone, so we need to plant them!” He picked up the stick and put one side into the dirt pile. “See! Now it can grow!” Of course, the stick kept falling sideways. That was the very reason why he was frustrated.
How did I help?
So I put a couple of support pieces to make it stable. Before I knew it, little helpers brought more wooden pieces. We carefully placed them around the bottom as a base. As a result, the stick stood upright as if it would start growing. Of course, this resulted in big smiles on our faces!
What I learned from the children’s compassion
Losing something you enjoy/love is hard and sometimes devastating. But with compassion, there is always hope. The possibility of that stick becoming a tree is very low, but we can’t say NEVER! Children have great imagination and the ability to find a solution even when everything seems impossible. If we act with compassion like them, we can create a better world.
Our children may be the key to overcoming any challenges we currently have and living in harmony.