When I was around three or four (age is of no consequence or importance in stories told by mom, as she never can remember them), I was suffering from extreme sensory overload one Christmas Eve, due to the fact that to accommodate our big extended family, Christmas ran several days. My mom kept insisting that I go to sleep, but I simply wouldn’t. Apparently, when she came into my room for the final time, we had a conversation that went something like this.
MamaSquare: “SquareGirl, you need to go to sleep.”
SG: “ I don’t want to go to sleep, I’m not sleepy.”
MS: “Well you need to go to sleep so that it will be Christmas”
SG: “When’s Christmas?”
MS: “Christmas is tomorrow”
SG: “What’s tomorrow?”
MS: “Well, It’s when you go to sleep…”
SG: “I don’t want to go to sleep. I’m not sleepy.”
And so the conversation went and apparently I eventually went to sleep because the next day, while we were opening presents, I looked up during the middle of all the mayhem and announced “It’s tomorrow!”
Of all the stories my mom could’ve chosen to remember, I am quite glad that she chose this one, as it is a constant reminder of how more abstract concepts about time such as “later”, “tomorrow” and “next time” can be taught and reinforced. It also reminds me how important it is to honor these phrases that are all too often thrown out without follow through in order to gain rapport. While I am going to be honest and say that I am not always perfect about this with the adult friends in my life, I make every effort to follow through when I tell a child I work with “next time I’ll bring you…”, “Wait a minute and I’ll…”, “tomorrow we are going to…”, “later you will get to…”. And because I honor my commitments to all of my little friends, I find that I build, a really important thing that often goes unmentioned in the training manuals and books, called rapport. Rapport doesn’t happen overnight, but I have found that the more I make promises of doing something at a future time and follow up, the more rapport I gain (imagine that!). The added value of building rapport is that you through rapport are also teaching more abstract concepts such as time, and you never know when one of your little students is going to look up at you to let you know that "it’s tomorrow."