The College of the Canyons Center for Early Childhood Education is soon celebrating its 30th anniversary of running the Child Center Program. The Program is dedicated to providing an enriching, safe, and nurturing environment for the children.
“I just love how they think they view the world with such beautiful eyes. I wish we all could do the same. Every day they come in my office and they have so many wonderful things to say and they have so many wonderful views to share. It reminds me I need to do the same.” Wendy Ruiz, Director of Infant and Toddler Program said.
Sitting in her office, she was very frank about her experience over the years, and when asked “What would be the most unexpected lesson you have learned from a child?” she replied, “Remembering today. They focus so much on what’s happening ‘now’ and not focusing on what hasn’t happened yet. Which as adults we tend to always look at the future and we have to prepare our children for what’s happening next, where we are going to be next; and children don’t do that. They focus on where they are now and what’s important about this moment; what’s important in their life, whether it’s a rolly polly they just found, a hebba-topter they see in the sky- that is their focus until the next joy comes up and the next moment comes up. What I’ve learned from them is to live moment to moment and not worrying about what hasn’t happened cause if you always focus on what hasn’t happened you’re never going to get there.”
It’s nice when you’re in the classroom you get the hugs every day, all the children think you’re a rock star, but when you’re in administration they kind of don’t really see us so much, we’re kind of behind the scenes, so it’s really nice when you can make connections with the children too.” Ruiz said. “ The little girl that needed her hug every day from me didn’t realize how much I needed them just as much as she needed them so it was hard to see her go. I missed her, and still miss her. When the children remember you, when they think of you, when they call your name, that’s really rewarding. I try to keep toys here in my office so they know it’s a safe place where they can come and play that it’s not just a principles office.” Ruiz tearfully said.
To think of the Center not being there was an unthinkable thought to Ruiz, “I can’t imagine how many lives would be affected by it. There are so many employees on campus that have had their kids here, and so forth and so on. We’ve ran into college students that used to be preschoolers here. I can’t imagine it not being here because it wouldn’t be the same place. We hope that parents realize they can come in and talk anytime, that it’s not just a place of ‘drop off and go.”
She connects with the Parents on a level many times unseen by the public or even known.
“Sometimes we get parents that come in and they’re crying because they’re going through separation and anxiety” Ruiz said, “because they are afraid to leave their children and are sad that their children won’t need them as much. Just being there for them, being that shoulder to cry on to see that it’s going to be ok, that they’re going to be ok, and that their children are going to be ok and that they’re not doing a bad thing by bringing their children here but they’re actually doing a good thing and helping them.”
When asked ‘If the children would write a new verse, what would that verse possibly say?’ Ruiz replied, “From a child’s eyes, probably what they would say is ‘enjoy the rolly pollies, enjoy the mud, enjoy the planes in the sky, just enjoy everything, and play, never forget to play.’ That would be it.”
Ruiz was very encouraging to everyone that if they haven’t been to the center to ‘please stop by’.
“We’re going to keep on going. We’re open here for students, staff, facility and community but students are the main priority. If you ever just need somewhere to come and relieve some stress, just come and watch the children; come and play with some play dough. We’re so fortunate that we get to. We tell people, ‘Come on by! Just come play with some play dough because it really makes your day all better!” Ruiz said smiling through her tears.