I just returned from a trip to Rome, and the phrase that resonates in my mind, that was repeated to us as we meandered the streets, was piano-piano, which in a direct translation means quietly. However, the intention of the message was to move at a slow pace, which would be lentamente. However, we got the gist of it.
In this two word phrase, sits a message for anyone who has children or works with them.
Go slow my friends.
When we move slowly, we are present in the lives of our children. We are able to assist, support and learn together and appreciate the changes that occur on a daily basis.
Piano-piano is what offers us the opportunity to truly know and understand our children and how our actions impact their lives.
When I hear a child cry or throw a tantrum, my first instinct is to intervene and assist. Often times the solution is an easy one. A tantrum is a cry for assistance, many times driven by physical needs; sleep, thirst, hunger, over stimulation. A parent who pays attention, is in no hurry, would know well ahead of time when a child is headed for a breakdown.
If we place children in an adult world and expect them to behave in a certain way then we should expect them to not.
The day is hot, the stroller is being jostled by hundreds of people. The child is over heated, thirsty and tired. What do you think will happen-melt down. Slow down and listen to the cues.
A child strikes at his father while walking through the park, prior to that he tried repeatedly to get the father's attention. The father was too busy hastening through the park to get to who knows where. Frustrated the boy slaps the father's legs. The father in turns gives him two slaps on the bum. What did the father accomplish other than showing him that hitting is okay. The little boy caught sight of a merry go round and was trying to tell his father. All he needed to do was stop and acknowledge his little boy's excitement. Slow down and listen.
In our classrooms, we can exercise the art of "piano-piano" by just stepping back. The dash between these two words is where the magic of our days exists!
Where are we all racing to? The end of this day will come whether we push through it like bull dogs or we move like snails.
Of course we need to get to each part of the day's schedule but do it with mindful practice. If lunch is late because we stayed outside to play an extra ten minutes, it is not the end of the world. In those ten minutes, a child found a worm, or caught a ball for the first time, or finished a tower.
Give children time to finish their work instead of saying, "okay tidy up". Ask yourself, would you like it if someone snatches your cell phone out of your hand as you are messaging or turns off your movie right before the ending? I'm sure the answer is no. Then why do it to children?
If you take the time to truly see, work intentionally, get to truly know the children in your classroom, and live in the moment, then you have mastered the art of piano-piano!
Trust me, your child will grow up faster than you can imagine. Savour every moment, every bed time story, every kiss and hug, every time they call for you. Live the moments fully and with intention. Go to the park, splash in the water, build towers, hunt for treasure, chase ducks! There will be plenty of time to be on your phone, watch tv, nap or clean the house when those little hands are grown.
Have no regrets because tomorrow does not come piano-piano.