Many children have comfort items and in fact, so do some adults. There are adults who take a favourite pillow when they travel, or wear a bracelet that makes them feel connected to a loved one. We do these things because they help us to feel safe, to feel secure, to feel at home.
Have you ever said "I work in the nought to two room" or "she's in the zero to three room"? You wouldn't be alone if you had. When I first did my training back in the early 2000's, this was a pretty common way to phrase it. And yet, what does that term say about our image of the child?
Yesterday morning I sat at my desk watching the kookaburras and the magpies forage in the grass - the incessant rain having bought worms to the surface. And then I spotted her. A child of about three stepped across the soggy grass, her gumboots squelching, toward the birds.
A small sticky hand slides into mine. I know that if his mama were here, it would slide into hers. Laughter erupts as I tickle her belly. I know that if her daddy were here, she'd be laughing up at him. They trust us. Each and every day, parents, grandparents, foster carers and guardians step into this place we create. They step into this place knowing that when they walk back out the door, they leave a part of them with us. They say goodbye, their noses pressed to the gate, fighting back tears as their little one wails, or...
Sometimes I hear from educators that mud play is too much work, that the inevitable clean-up is too hard, that the time spent is too long. But I have to ask the question - what else are we doing that is more important?