Restorative Justice lessons from a 4 year old.

My nephew is a doll.  He’s 4 years old with a full vocabulary.  However, he has a bit of a speech impairment.  He was evaluated and his parents were informed he would grow out of it.  When he talks to you he is very confident of what he is saying.  He’s outgoing and strong-willed.  I have come to love him to pieces.

We have had tons of fun.  At the moment his most prized possession is a little felt brown bear.  We made it together from a little sewing kit.  He calls it his “son”.  When the glue didn’t hold on one eye, he quickly modified to an acceptable “glass eye”.   We’ve bonded and I’ve been reminded of a few Restorative Justice lessons from the little fellow.

Reminders about listening, sharing and kindness.

We were having a little before bedtime conversation.  His Mom’s routine is a few questions, best part of your day, worse part of your day.  I couldn’t quite catching what he was asking me to tell him.  I asked him to repeat himself several times.  He finally felt beside my head, touched both ears and exclaimed: “why can’t you hear me, you have two ears!”

Adorable.  A reminder of how important it is to listen to each other.  We all want to be “heard” 4 or 40 and I so appreciate about Restorative Justice that we allow people to be heard.  We set up a special kind of listening as we create safe space for dialogue about our stories.

Nephew had a soccer ball, the family dog took it over.  The partially deflated thing is a fetch toy.  The dog loves it, if you toss it once you are in for the game as long as you are in the yard.  Nephew was tired of the dog playing with his ball.  He would toss it over the neighbors fence.  The dog acted as if she lost a friend.  The dog loves the old soccer ball.  As the ball went back and forth over the fence, I finally negotiated a deal with nephew.  I asked him to just “give” his ball to the dog.  I saw that sharing was just too darn hard for these two.  Both nephew and the dog wanted to own the ball.

Sometimes sharing is just too darn hard.  Nephew let it go, I asked him not to share but to give it away.  Which he did.  I have been using positive reinforcements like crazy and so now, I can remind him of how kind he is that he gave the dog his ball.  The neighbors can also quit wondering why the ratty soccer ball keeps ending up in their yard!

It hurts to be the victim of any crime.  Eventually people come to a letting go, of sorts.  I have seen people come to realize that hurting, resenting and being angry about being victimized is only a page in the chapter or maybe just a chapter in the book.  As I’ve said many times, every situation is unique.  Nephew found that giving is receiving when he gave his dog his ball.  He got to know how good kindness feels.

We were holding hands crossing a street.  He randomly asked me how many more days I would be staying.  I answered him, “14 bedtimes”.  I thought to myself that must seem like a lifetime to a four-year-old. 

His response “I’m dunna miss you”.