Touching the octopus and other acts of bravery

Yesterday was another hard day.  Our one child is in a tailspin, presumably because things are very bad at home, and brings to our peaceful little classroom a tornado of terror, rage, and stress.  The three adults are barely coping, and it feels terrible.

But.  It does help to look for good things that are happening, in spite of it all.  And yesterday’s Good Thing was when Crow touched the octopus.

Last fall when we studied animals, the afternoon teacher brought in some really cool plastic animals, each about 7 inches long.  There was an octopus and a lobster in the collection, and Crow freaked out.

“I’m scared of the octopus!  I’m scared!” he would say over and over.  He loves blocks, but couldn’t play there when those two animals were out.  So we hid them away, and the children just played with the alligator and polar bear and the rest of the animals.  And that was that for quite a while.

Our water table plug has a leak, so we can no longer have water in it.  Recently, the afternoon teacher filled it with cotton balls and a tub of little sea animals (yes, it’s a weird combo, but the kids love it).  Crow soon discovered that there was a tiny (1 1/2 inch) octopus in with all the fish and turtles and sharks.

“I’m scared of the octopus!  I’m scared!”  He couldn’t play in the water table, even though he wanted to, and sometimes if he was in the house corner and looked over, one of the mischievous boys would hold it up just to see his reaction.

Yesterday, he kept saying he wanted to play at the water table.

“Honey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.  The octopus is there.”  But he kept insisting, so I changed my tune.  “You want to go to the water table?  Okay.  The octopus is there, but that’s okay, because you are NOT afraid of the octopus.”

He nodded.  “Not scared of the octopus.”

Crow went to the water table, and played.  The octopus was hidden in the cotton balls, and the other kids didn’t look for it, out of kindness.  Every once in a while Crow would get frightened and back away, but with some soothing, would go back.  The octopus showed up, and he backed away, but the kids helped him to return.  Then a while later, I heard the kids calling me.

“Mrs. X.!  Crow touched the octopus!”  And there he was, with the octopus sitting on the table next to the water table, proudly touching it carefully with his index finger.

I ran and got my cell phone to take a picture for eternity.  Then at story time, we talked about it, and the whole class applauded Crow.

Later, our troubled student got on the bus to go home, without a tantrum or running away, as happened the other days this week.  That was brave, too.

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