I teach a weekly story time yoga class at a family-owned and run (not my family) toy store in the neighborhood I live in. It is pure magic for me. I get to share two of my loves, movement and books, with little ones between 3 months and 2 years of age. We sing songs, learn basic yoga moves, work on movements to help develop gross motor skills, clap our hands, stomp our feet, and drum on the floor to create rhythms together, read a book, move a little more, blow some bubbles, then wind down and say good-bye. It is a half-hour filled with smiles, meltdowns, wiggles, giggles, waning attention spans, tears of frustration at not being able to climb the cement stairs that lead to our room without assistance mid story, and glee as a new word slips out or a new movement is finally mastered. I love the time I get to spend with these little ones each week.
Something that struck me recently was how diverse these little ones are. (It can be hard to zoom out and take in the big picture while surrounded by such cuteness.) There are children who are African-American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Jamaican, Polish, Trinidadian, Ukrainian, and I’m sure I’m missing some. Some children come with their mothers, some with their grandmothers, some with nannies (who represent a whole host of backgrounds as well), sometimes a grandpa will come along (no dads yet). These little ones interact with one another without regard for any obvious differences. I am fully aware that in the not so distant past this would not have been possible in this country. They are filled with curiosity, constantly pointing at things then looking at their caregivers or myself with inquisitive looks or their versions of, “What’s this?” My hope is that they retain the same curiosity throughout their lives. When dealing with someone who looks different, sounds different, or acts different the curiosity and intrigue of the unknown will allow them to ask questions and explore as opposed to judging, discriminating, or walking away.
In reflecting on the diversity within these classes I am reminded that there is no one “right way” of doing things. I see the world through one set of lenses, but that does not mean the set of lenses others see the world through is wrong or less than, it is simply different. I have learned words in different languages and had traditions of different cultures explained to me through my interactions with these little ones and their caregivers. I have also learned that little ones giggling with abandon or joyously dancing (no matter what their skin color or what language their first words may be) fills me with hope that the next generation will be filled with greater curiosity and acceptance and less judgement and discrimination.