Our “outdoors discovery center” at a preschool where I teach is really just a glorified playground.
Today we are all about sandbox and water play, and I am in for a special treat of pretend-tasting sand cupcakes, sand ice creams, and chocolates with mud gravy. I finally declare myself “very full” and hop to the bench to take a break from all the delicacies.
After about a minute, little Mia runs up to me holding something in her clenched fist. “Ms. Sveta, look! I brought it for you!”
I fully expect your typical sweet preschooler’s offering—a rock, a dead bug, or maybe a flower petal or, if I am particularly lucky, a live spider.
Mia’s eyes are sparking with anticipation of my reaction. She looks around to make sure no one else is listening, and says, “It’s a secret!” Mia lets me peek into her fist, and I can see that it is empty. I get my ear close to her and she excitedly whispers, “It’s nothing!” I think I get it. Still a bit puzzled, I look at her expecting her to laugh at this great joke she played on me. But Mia looks completely serious, with that “you are my co-conspirator now” look on her face.
“You want it?” she asks. I quickly nod, and she signs for me to open up my palm. She carefully opens up her fist just a bit, and slowly transfers precious nothing into my palm, helping me to close up my fingers in a firm fist.
“You can keep it!”
I promise her I will take good care of it.
A few days later, she inquires, “Do you still have our nothing?”
I whisper back, “Yes, of course!” We both smile knowingly, and I feel so proud to be a keeper of this special gift.
By Svetlana Nikitina