I try to help out children whenever I can. However, there are times when I feel it is necessary for one to put on their big boy/girl pants from time to time and figure things out for themselves. I can point them in the right direction but ultimately they need to do the work themselves.
One such incident occurred rather inconspicuously when one of the Gaggle was tasked with a job. This child set off to tackle their responsibility and promptly returned to me with the finished result. I stopped what I was doing to see what was being shown. I don’t exactly remember what it was but I remember being impressed at the work and I said, “Stellar.”
The Gaggle was confused. “What?” they asked.
I repeated, “Stellar.”
“What does that mean?”
“Look it up,” I replied.
Let me stop here to give you a little backstory. When I was in elementary school and we didn’t know what something meant or how you spell it, we would ask our teacher. Our teacher would direct us to the numerous dictionaries thoughtfully stacked along the side and back of the room. There were plenty of dictionaries to go around so no problem if one or more of the students were trying to spell or define something. I have since become a better speller, reader, and writer for this and thought I was just helping someone be a better student.
They looked at me with a slight expression of fear in their face.
“Look it up,” I repeated.
“In a dictionary?” they asked me.
“Yeah,” I nodded. “In a dictionary.
I led the Gaggle to a bookcase and introduced them to the numerous dictionaries that have accumulated over time. I don’t know how we came to have so many but there they were, ready and waiting for whoever needed help. I selected one for them. “Here you go,” I said. “Let me know when you find it.”
I gave the Gaggle a few minutes before checking on them.
“Did you find it?” I asked.
“Where are you?”
“Page 116,” they answered
I tried again. “What letter are you on?”
“You’re a little ways off,” I told them. Try further in the dictionary.
I heard sniffling. I heard whimpering. I returned to the room where the Gaggle was enduring their torture. “What’s wrong?” I asked them.
The Gaggle cried, “I don’t know how to use this. You just give me this and I’m supposed to figure it out.” The gaggle continued to cry and I waited for them to stop and catch their breath. I wanted to make sure they heard me.
“What letter are you on again?”
“B,” they answered.
“What does ‘stellar’ start with?” I asked.
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll give you a hint: the alphabet hasn’t changed in about 1100 years.”
I saw a light go on in the Gaggle’s head. He looked up for a second then back down at the dictionary. He flipped through the pages, found the letter, found the word, and gave me (and himself) the definition. I gave him a hug for surviving such an ordeal.