A Five-Year-Old’s Discourse on Dealing with Anger

25 Apr

Today I listened to a wise teacher’s discourse on the topic of anger.  My teacher’s name is Leopold and he’s 5 years-old.  To solve the emotional stress of our busy lives, it seems more likely that one would seek counsel by downing a crap-load of booze, or by reading a self help book, or by visiting your local dandified drug-dealer also known as a psychiatrist. I found the answer by listening to a kindergartener’s teaching:  if you’re pissed off, scared, or stressed, then sit down, shut your mouth, and meditate.  

It was Math Workshop.  My kids were all happily engaged in a fun counting activity.  Leopold and Sami, my two visiting kindergarteners from downstairs rushed up to me and begged to have some time to play outside the classroom.  I really wanted to deny their attempt at circumventing the assigned math activity.  However, I was not ready to fight this battle for the sake of attending to the rest of the class.  I allowed Sami and Leopold to build with Kapla blocks. 

“Ok, but we also need to run around the school while we play,” Leopold said with sincerity. 

“Oh?” I replied.  “And why do you need to run around the school?”

“Because we’re Adventure Cats!” Leopold informed me with total seriousness. 

He and I negotiated a compromise that they could play ‘Stationary Adventure Cats” and then made them promise that they would stay involved in building instead of running around.  Leopold and Sami agreed without argument and I went back to my classroom to facilitate the math activity with the rest of the kids.  Five minutes later I came to check on Leopold and Sami.  Leopold was seated on the carpet floor in a meditative position; legs all twirled up like a pretzel.  His eyes were closed and his palms were held together forming a prayer position in front of his chest.  He looked peaceful.  But I wondered what he was doing and why.  I quietly knelt down to his eye level.  He immediately sensed my presence and opened his eyes.  “I’m meditating,” Leopold said calmly.  Then he closed his eyes again.

“What inspired you to meditate?” I asked.

Leopold responded by first shifting his gaze at the disorganized pile of Kapla blocks. “I’m meditating because I am angry.  My Kapla tower fell down.  And I got angry.  That’s why I’m meditating.”  His voice was tranquil, his body stone still, his heart bravely unruffled by the ill-fated circumstances.  I stared at him in awe.  He closed his eyes and returned to the motionless position in which I initially found him. 

I couldn’t help to stay quiet.  I reverently thanked him for reminding me how to deal with the most haunting sensations of the heart: anger and fear.  Leopold reminded me what to do when we come face-to-face with such painful feelings: with a heart of peace, compassion, and patience.  Thank you, Leopold!



One Response to “A Five-Year-Old’s Discourse on Dealing with Anger”

  1. jaimebecktel April 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Beauty-ful. 🙂 I love that, and I instantly love any child named “Leopold.” Destined for greatness, that one!

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