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I Didn’t Mean to Be a Hedgehog

He is able to introduce himself in front of the class using a low voice. After finishing speaking, he will say “Thank you”. During handcraft classes, he can sit next to his mother quietly, waiting for us to give him the materials. He can sit down and finish paintings, string beads and do Chinese paper cutting following suggestion and guidance.

His name is Yu Jiawen, a lovely little boy from Jiangsu Province. He lives with his parents and older brother in Beijing. His brother is an 8th grade student who lives at school on weekdays. His father is the bread-earner of his family who makes a living by doing house decoration. His mother is a housewife whose biggest hope is that the whole family can be happy and healthy together.

Jiawen is now part of our Early Childhood Development Program for preschool children. He and his mother attend the parent-child class every day and are currently in the middle class.


At first, he was just like a little hedgehog for he would neither let other people touch him nor communicate with others. During class, he would start running around as soon as he took off his shoes and stepped onto the mats. No matter what class it was, when he got bored, he would run between the mothers.He often swayed his body back and forth, and even shouted from time to time. We tried to talk to him, but he would not listen. His mother tried to make him sit down for the whole class, yet he reacted fiercely when she held him, shouting loudly and moving wildly. We had to take him out of the classroom and let him quiet down outside. The scene would repeat during the Reading Class… His mother is not good at communication. As she put it, “I don’t know how to talk to him. Even if I do, he will not listen to me. I could do nothing but hit him.”

This semester, Jiawen’s mother took part in the Mother’s Reading Club. Inside or outside the classroom, the teachers would sometimes teach her how to communicate with Jiawen according to his mood.
Recently, I have found that she has gradually changed. Once, a kid took something from a teacher and wouldn not return it. Jiawen saw this, then walked towards the kid and hit him on the head. Jiawen’s mother and I attended to them at once. “Jiawen, did you see him take the teacher’s thing and do you want to ask him to return it?” I was surprised to hear that from Jiawen’s mother. She can understand what he means now. She used to grab him and said, “Why did you hit him? Did he do anything to you? Apologize, now!” And Jiawen would be angry at her immediately. But this time, he simply nodded. She then said something to him yet he was not angry at all. I was stunned.

Best of all is the boy behaves quite well now and often talks to us. “Take a look at the dumplings I made!”, “I have a painting for you!”, “I made something out of these bricks!”, “I’m coming…”, “That’s my string of beads!”, "Please hand me a piece of paper…”I can now pat his head or his back while talking to him. He also smiles a lot now and enjoys protecting things from other kids. When some kids took something, sometimes Jiawen would make the kids return them by force. We told him that, “You can make that happen with your words instead of your hands.” He nodded and went back to his mother.

Every child wants to be good and easygoing. If I look like a hedgehog, that’s because you didn’t understood me. Mom, I will gradually grow up. Trust me that I didn’t mean to be a hedgehog.

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