The Child Who Is Not Yet There

A Poem by Mariana Bissonnette

There was a child I’d never seen before
That I caught a glimpse of today
But when I approached to introduce myself
She turned and went away1

I stepped back, confused, what had I done?
And where did that child go?
She was a new and different child
Than the one I’d come to know2

This child had love in its purest form
But not quite the love you’d expect
This was a love beyond family or friend
It was the love of self-perfect3

Yes this was a love inspired by doing
All that she set out to do
It was a strong and capable love
That for the child, made these things true

So there I sat in both awe and despair
And I took out my notebook and pen
I wrote down all of the wonder I could
With the hope that I’d see her again4

And just as I sat, watching and waiting
She suddenly appeared once more
And because I had learned my lesson last time
I kept my feet flat on the floor

Yes, today was the day I saw someone new
The potential of the child to be
And I now understand that to see this new child
I must find the new teacher in me
— Mariana Bissonnette

1 ”Even a smile” Montessori spoke of could distract the child concentrating. Our role as adults is not to lay judgment on the child’s activity, but rather to stand back, observe and try to understand.

2 In Dr. Montessori’s 1949 London Lectures, she talks about “new children” whose abilities and behavior were a surprise to everyone when give a “Prepared Environment” like a Montessori classroom built to meet their developmental needs.

3 In Dr. Montessori’s Education for Peace, “The First Lecture,” she talks about how love is a foundational part of peace and the love her saw in the Montessori environments was a love of work, activity and one’s environment.

4 Observation is our most essential skill as Montessori guides. It is when we take a step back, that we start to see these “new children” for without observation, they may have appeared and no one would be the wiser because we weren’t paying attention.