The Five-Year-Old Teacher

The Five-Year-Old Teacher

I’m Yves and I practice conversations with people.

I’ve noticed practicing conservations can help us face our fears before we jump into the real conversation. The power of this really hit me after a conversation with a five-year-old

My nephew – who was five at the time – and I, were spending an afternoon together.

After a walk in the park we were ready for lunch. We ordered apple juices and two sandwiches inside a Le Pain Quotidien-like bakery.

It was pretty warm, so we sat outside on the bench to eat our sandwiches.

Just two guys relaxing, enjoying the sun on our faces.

I sure wasn’t aware of the danger lurking just around the corner…

And it started quite innocently, after we’d finished our sandwiches.

My nephew said: “I would like a croissant.”

I said: “Sure thing,” and grabbed some money out of my pocket and gave it to him.

He took the money and then something strange happened.

My nephew hung his head down.

I gently asked: “What’s up?”

He replied with: “I’m scared.”

“Huh”, I thought, paused a second and then asked: “Would you like to share what you’re scared about?”

In a whispering voice, still with his head down he said: “I don’t know what to say to the woman in the bakery.”

I was touched by the honesty and vulnerability and I didn’t say anything for a couple of seconds.

In this silence the idea came to me: if practicing conversations works with adults, it might just work with a five-year-old.

So I checked in with my nephew: “we could practice the conversation, where I play the woman in the bakery and you play yourself…would you like to try that?”

A small smile appeared on his face and he nodded.

I stepped a couple of feet away from him and pretended to be the woman in the bakery, as I started the practice: “Hi, what would you like?”

A croissant,” he replied.

Me: “OK, let me just make you a croissant.”

And then he interrupted me, pointed at the imaginary table with pastries in front of me and said: “NO! The croissants are already there, in front of you.”

Me: “Oh…uh…yeah, I forgot about that.”

I put the imaginary croissant in the imaginary bag and handed it over to him.

But before he received the bag, he had already run to the bakery.

I waited outside for a couple of minutes, curious to see what would happen.

My nephew returned three minutes later, with both of his hands stretched up high.

In one hand holding the bag with the croissant, in the other hand the change.

On his face, a smile from ear to ear.

He did it.

And I was smiling from ear to ear as well.

A smile that came from seeing someone getting in touch with their courage and doing something which they were previously afraid to do.

Yeah, I’m inspired to face more of my own fears and to take on some of my challenging conversations.

I’m also curious about you.

What does this story of the five-year-old teacher inspire in you?

Disclaimer: the people who teach it, usually need it the most.