Some days are more challenging than others, even when you’re three years old. Maybe especially when you’re three years old.

My assignment, a companion to Haidor’s recent photo essay, was to follow Mihai through one whole day at our Seedlings program. It ended up being quite an eye-opening experience for me. As a veteran Seedlings parent (two kids in Seedlings for two years each), I realized that even though I’d amassed a ton of co-op helper days over the years, this was the first opportunity I’d ever had to exclusively sit back and observe–one kid, for one day.

And what a day. Mihai, the teachers told me, has been struggling recently to find appropriate ways to express frustration, communicate, build friendships and learn empathy. In typical three-year-old fashion, he has a tendency to express himself physically–with pushing, hitting, throwing sand–rather than with words.

But he’s learning. More than once, I watched the conflict resolution/empathy-building process as Mihai first reacted physically, then (with guidance from a teacher or parent helper) found words to express his feelings and talk to the other child. Minutes later, Mihai and his new friend would be happily playing together, their differences completely forgotten.

It’s truly a beautiful process–one that, I imagine, would not be allowed to play out in many traditional early childhood settings.

This, I realized, is why I send my children to Sunflower. Sometimes life is messy, but that’s when we all learn the most.


© Jaime Greenberg and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2012