One time, during free choice in my classroom, a child was crying because his block tower had been knocked down. It would not be a big deal had it not been the fourth tragedy in an hour that happened to this child. To help soothe fried nerves, I called him over to come vent his feelings in private in our classroom library.
We sat on the carpet. He was very upset. He was looking down at the ground, but wasn’t really looking at anything. You know what I mean? He was lost in upset thought.
“Bobby,” I say. “How are you feeling?”
Bobby is looking down and doesn’t speak. I’m trying to think how I can lure out of him a conversation. After a couple of seconds, I begin looking for stuffed animal. Where’s the turtle?
Then, just as I spot the stuffed animal and begin to lean forward to grab it, I feel a tug on my arm. I wince a little. I sit back down. Bobby has a hold of my forearm.
Bobby starts talking. One-word statements. A little here about the block tower. Then a little there about not being the line leader. He has a lot on his tiny mind.
As Bobby continues to talk, I continue to wince. I have to deal with little pings of pain. Bobby still has a hold of my arm. But, he’s not holding my arm or even grabbing. He’s tugging my arm hair.
That’s right. My arm hair is his icebreaker for therapy. It’s better than a stuffed animal or the turtle which I had spent weeks teaching children “This is who you can talk to if your mad or angry.” He’s petting my arm and yanking on individual hairs. Nothing is getting plucked, but man it stings.
Not only is my arm hair used for therapy, but it has a name. The kiddos have noticed and asked questions about my arm hair. So much so, my students say I have “arm feathers”. Yeh. Like a bird. Excellent.
Time and time again random students who sit with me and need to vent their feelings start petting my arm. I know it’s coming and I know it’s going to be a long therapy session for me too. The only thing I fear more than a child tugging my arm hair is having a band aid yanked off my forearm.
Use what you got I guess? It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the classroom. But, my son is a toddler. He’s starting to express emotions. Will “arm feathers” make a comeback? My poor, poor arms.