This banana cupcake, to me, is the sweetest cupcake by far!
Last summer (in the Philippines, summer is from March to May), our Montessori school joined a pre-school fair in a local mall where some 20 schools set up mini classrooms to get the children to try and the parents to see what it would be like to attend their classes, to get them to eventually enroll.
I was there one Friday afternoon and I met Isabelle, a 4-year-old girl, an only-child, raised in Singapore. She and her parents have been going around the different booths and stalls, with Isabelle's mom encouraging her to let go of her hand or her dad motivating her to walk instead of being carried, and to go work with a teacher or explore the materials.
My co-teachers and even teachers from other schools who were at the fair before me told me that they have been at it the whole day the day before and that morning (they live in a condominium right next to the mall, so the mall was pretty much home to them, too). But I guess she needed more time.
When they, Isabelle holding her mom's hand, finally stopped in front of me at our little Montessori classroom set up that Friday afternoon; I remember giving her a little smile and telling her that I liked the little flowers on her dress and that when she's ready, we can paint flowers as well; but I honestly do not know what happened differently that time around, but she finally agreed to work with me! I guess she just said, she was ready that time.
She was pleasant and we talked about our favorite ice cream flavors and she said she'll come back on Sunday when I'm at our booth again.
Come Sunday, her mom said our little girl wanted to go to me as soon as she woke up. But then her mom thought I'd be at the fair in the afternoon just like Friday. So she told Isabelle to swing by the grocery with her dad first and maybe after lunch, I'll be in our booth. But then she passed by our booth after grocery and saw me there. She rushed to her mom back at their house and said, "She's there! She's there!" And she was panicking because she hasn't bought her cupcakes for me yet. So they went to get cupcakes--chocolate for her and banana for me--and gave me another visit. She gave me a hug, too.
When Isabelle finally enrolled and joined our class, she needed a little time to warm up to her other teachers and classmates as she would only work with or near me. I'd reassure her that I was just around if she needed me, always telling her where I'd be if I can't be with or near her, and if I'm suddenly not where she thought I'd be, she can play a little game by pretending she has binoculars and she can use her eyes to look for me. Over the first couple of weeks of classes, I did distancing exercises with her (more about this on another post).
Pretty soon, she gained independence and friends (I wonder which came first for her). She became one of the more independent and friendliest in class, well-loved and sought after by her peers.
So it was even sweeter for me as I watched her a couple of days ago on her birthday when she went around the eating table by herself, smiling, giving out cupcakes to all her classmates. And while I'm happy that Isabelle can now work and interact with others "as if I did not exist", I thought it was also sweet that she didn't forget, on her birthday, to give me another cupcake.