Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Take a drink

In my few years of teaching, I've come in contact with quite a few very troubled students. Their troubledness combined with the fact that they are also only 5, brings some big crying fits. And I'm not talking about little temper tantrums. Most people would think, "Kindergartners can't do that much damage when they are upset." Let me assure you that some of the most violent angry outbursts I've ever seen came from a former student that was a 30 pound 5 year old.

That being said, I've tried lots of different approaches with these angry fits. And there is one ridiculously simple approach that I swear by and seems to work most of the time. 

I just tell them "Take a drink."

I have a little girl that has taken many a trip to the water fountain in my classroom. She is a scraggly haired girl, with holes in her uniform clothes, and shoes that are 2 sizes too big. She is normally happy, but when she snaps, she snaps big. 

I walk her to the water fountain. She doesn't even know that's what she needs, so she doesn't take a drink when asked. I have to turn the knob for her and gently push her head toward the flow of water.

Its pretty amazing to watch her (and other students who have done the same thing) as she takes in the rehabilitating water. She is still trying to scream as the water is being gulped in. But within a few seconds her eyes close, she grows silent, her body loosens from stubborn stiffness and she is guzzling in this water that she didn't even know she needed.

When she is calm, she pulls away and I always ask, "Are you better?" She gives a calm nod and then we are able to have a reasonable conversation.

There is something about drinking water that is calming and satisfying for these types of students. It regulates their breathing so that they can no longer cry and scream. It also distracts them from their intense emotions and current situation.

I see so much of myself in that scraggly haired girl in those moments. I have moments of hurt feelings, ruined plans, or pushed buttons that make me completely melt down. Yet there is this readily available to me. And I forget that I need it.

"...But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -John 4:14

We, by nature, have desert souls. We are dry and desperately thirsty. We crawl through the desert reaching for worldly pleasures to temporarily quench our thirst. But yet, there is a spring right before our eyes that will leave us eternally satisfied. Thank you, Jesus, for letting me take a drink.