The One and the Many
by Tina Blue
November 4, 2001
During the years that I ran my home daycare, I frequently had to remind the children in my care (my own included) that there were limits to the demands they could reasonably make on me.
One common situation was when I was preparing snacks or otherwise getting something for them that everyone was eager to have as soon as possible. It takes awhile for very young children to learn to wait patiently for something that they really, really want. It's a lesson that adults must teach often and reinforce constantly. And no matter how often you remind them, there will be times when the little ones will forget that lesson and clamor loudly for what they want, for fear that you will take care of other children first--or that you will neglect to accommodate their needs or wishes at all.
One beautiful day in early summer I had taken the kids across the street to play in the Cordley Elementary School playground, as I often did when school was not in session. The group at that time consisted of my 4 1/2-year-old son Michael, my 3-year-old daughter Becky, another 3-year-old, two 2-year-olds, and an 18-month-old. All of them were quite verbal, and all quite vocal as well.
We played at the park for about an hour, then returned home for their mid-morning snack. It was warm and we had played hard, so everyone was hungry and thisty.
As I worked to get their snacks and drinks ready, my hungry, thirsty little crew began to gather at the edge of the kitchen, clamoring for the food and drink they could clearly see was on its way. The chorus of "Tina, I want . . . " grew louder and more frantic with each passing second.
Exasperated, I stopped what I was doing and turned toward them, hands on hips, to say firmly, "Children--calm down! I am getting your snacks, but you must remember that there is only one of me, and there are many of you!"
At this my 3-year-old daughter did a startled double-take and looked down at herself.
"But, Mommy," she exclaimed in surprise,
"there's only one of me!"